Hello all, Humphrey Lee here again to do what he does best and that’s bludgeoning a horse until it reaches the horsey afterlife and doubling down on the whole “reviews everything!” schtick. Though, really, what is going on here is that I just happen to be sitting on two weeks of books because life is hell and I’m drowning in an eternal magma pit of “works seemingly every moment” and that two week’s worth of books happened to be mostly things I hadn’t happened to chat up when I threw twenty-plus paragraphs everyone’s way last time. So, I figured, what the hell, why not talk up the rest of my pull list so everyone has my quick impressions of essentially 80% of my (extensive) monthly reading pile? Aaaaand, yeah, let’s do this…


CAPTAIN AMERICA #695

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This is my first time back on this title since the end of the Ed Brubaker era and, man, is it nice to see Cap back to being a blue-eyed, blonde-haired white guy again! …. No, wait, that’s not it. Sorry, I happened upon the wrong end of Reddit yesterday and some of it must have lingered. Man, it’s great to see a Steve Rogers Captain America WHO ISN’T A FUCKING NAZI again. At the highly capable hands of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, and under the LEGACY banner, this issue is just a wonderfully packed flurry of Cap punching fascists while coming to grips with what he even symbolizes to the public these days after SECRET EMPIRE turned his red, white, and blue reputation turd brown for a year. It’s twenty-some pages of pure boy scoutery as Waid and Samnee hammer home what makes Cap Cap: The strong protect the weak but everyone pitches in for the benefit of each other. It’s the foundation of the character and the country he represents can’t possibly be emphasized enough, which is something Waid takes to heart as he reiterates almost every other page: Captain America is beyond hacky cash in job events, he’s the stalwart symbol of what superheroes are supposed to represent.


SUPERMAN #34

Writer: Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason
Art: Ed Benes, Jackson Herbert
Publisher: DC Comics

What I still can’t get over in this REBIRTH SUPERMAN run under the scripting hands of Peter Tomasi, is that how often he’s just casually thrown story arcs into this book that would have been something that crossed over with all, like, seventeen Superman books on the shelf when I was growing up. Just somewhere around six months ago in three issues (I think) he has this big blow up where he’s infected by Parallax and throws down with Sinestro and then like liberates a planet and holy shit, it’s just so much in so little space. Now we’re on to a storyline where Supes and his family plus the goody two shoes Luthor that still creeps me out because I rarely see him in the books I read so I don’t know exactly what the deal is are pulled onto Apokalips for a bit of prophecy fulfillment. Everyone is separated, everything is chaos, Lois immediately impresses Granny Goodness (of course) and Luthor is still acting goddamn weird and it creeps me out and, yeah, it’s a solid arc so far. I’m sure it’ll wrap up in two more issues or something which has actually been the weakness of this run so far in that these “big impact” stories could have used an issue or two more to breathe, but at least it’s preferable to the alternative of making me buy four issues of books I’m not already reading to participate in the festivities.


THE FLASH #34

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Michael Moreci
Art: Pop Mhan, Ivan Plascencia, and Steve Wands
Publisher: DC Comics

As much as I have really dug this Joshua Williamson REBIRTH FLASH era of the character, one of the weak spots of it was the “red hot” relationship with scientist turned super speedster Meena. It was supposed to be this big deal I guess that Barry had eyes for someone other than his beloved Iris, except for the part where it lasted something like one and two-thirds of an issue. Now, almost a year later, Meena is back and she’s THE EVIL! now and I guess that is supposed to mean something even deeper because her and Barry went on one and a half dates over the span of a week. I dunno. On the bright side, I like that she’s back because even though she was too brief of an actual love interest to really register, she was around for a solid eight issues and seemed like an intriguing character, and her heel turn could be something righteous given her involvement with the Black Hole group that has sunk into the shadows since the first couple arcs. Also, anything that gets Barry out of another whiny phase induced by the Negative Speed Force and the “oh I’m so sad” aspect of those powers where he kindasorta destroys everything nearby when using them (boo hoo) is welcome.


PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #6

Writer: Chiop Zdarsky
Art: Michael Walsh
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Chip did it. That mad, lovable, horny bastard did it. Since this one hit two weeks ago while I was away I’m not going to hold back on spoilers, and I know this isn’t the first time this has happened in the history of Spider-Man, but this revelation of Pete to J. Jonah Jameson his actual identity as Spider-Man really did hit a bunch of good notes. It didn’t feel exploitative or desperate to garner additional sales, it just feels like Chip has a really good feel for the usual ridicule into frustration into anger back and forth Spidey and Jonah usually have and figured with their more heavily intertwined lives since BRAND NEW DAY, something had to give. This issue really is a good summation of their relationship and how Jonah has essentially witch hunted the arachnid superhero for years out of some demented sense of accountability and his own powerlessness, but he also does have a CIVIL WAR-esque point of the dangers of vigilantism and power unchecked “hiding” behind a mask. It has a lot of emotional punch, it has a bunch of the classic JJJ and Spidey clashing personality stuff on display, and artist Michael Walsh was a really good fill-in choice for the issue. He’s got a very grounded and expression driven style that reminds me of Paul Azaceta’s art and that really hits all the right beats as this “interview” plays out.


PAPER GIRLS #17

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Cliff Chiang
Publisher: Image Comics

Like a couple of the books I talked about last time I did this, PAPER GIRLS is very much in that class of book I read where now that we’re deeper into it, and because I consume so damn much media, I’m kind of lost as to where we are and sorely need to reread. I’m usually able to pick up the main threads whenever I grab an issue, but I’m not kidding myself that between the time periods these plucky ladies have visited, their interactions with past, future, and alternative selves and what we’ve gleaned about their personalities from those encounters, and just what the hell is going on with the future peoples after them that I have an inclination as to what is what more than 50% of the time. But, the Cleveland Dead Tree Hurlers are still an enjoyably sarcastic and exasperated group to watch go on this whirlwind adventure they’re on, and Cliff Chiang’s art is so gorgeous you all. I’ve got the first deluxe hardcover of this coming in this week as an excuse to reread the series and solidify my knowledge on all that mess above, that’s how much I enjoy this book even if I only know half of what’s going on half the time.


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #146

Writer: Gerry Duggan
Art: Marcus To
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Man, Gerry Duggan has a plan and is just rocketing (hah!) through it. We’re over a dozen issues into this run of his with a cavalcade of artistic talent and he’s just still pulling in all the Marvel Cosmic goodies. Just what Duggan and company established in the first handful of issues with the Guardians doing some work between the Collector and the Grandmaster and there being some stuff going on with Groot’s inability to grow full sized, Drax’s pacifism, and Gamora having weird visions of her older self would have been enough to drive a GUARDIANS book. Since then, though, Duggan has incorporated The Gardener into the Groot side of things, the Nega bands and Raptors as foils for their questing across the galaxy, and now we’re on a full Nova Corps revival (that has also really tied into the Raptor stuff the past couple issues). His brain is apparently just a blender of everything that has made the Marvel Cosmic universe cool for the past thirty-five years and he’s just laying it out rapid fire in a space epic comedy that I have to assume he’s got dozens more issues of plans for on a run where even I was like, “oh, the guy who has been doing good DEADPOOL work the past few years, this should be entertaining.” Silly me. Oh, and Ant-Man is on the team now! Fucking cool. Love this book.


STRAY BULLETS: SUNSHINE & ROSES #29

Writer: David Lapham
Art: David Lapham
Publisher: Image Comics

Me after reading SB:S&R #28 – Whelp, I guess I’m never eating a banana ever again.

Me after reading SB: S&R #29 – How do you go from all that weird (mouth) fucking banana stuff to this pile of drugs, murder, more drugs, more murder and bottomed out nihilism and make it a family tale?

Because David Lapham, that’s how. I don’t know how he isn’t receiving his mail in a padded cell writing this stuff for two decades.


DEATHSTROKE #25

Writer: Christopher Priest
Art: Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, Norm Rapmund, Jeromy Cox, Trevor Scott, and Willie Schubert
Publisher: DC Comics

What I have always loved about Christopher Priest’s writing is how he turns convention on its head. Right off the bat, this “Defiance” era of the book and Slade Wilson’s “righteous” turn has been a great take on the character because he is the same manipulative shit he has always been, he’s just wrapped in almost “Evangelical” (aka hypocritical) armor while being so fervorous, making him twice as frustrating and entertaining as something that resembles the term “anti-hero.” And I love how it’s a “trial” by the Secret Society that puts everything into perspective and digs into how things have gotten to this point and sums up this without more or less reducing itself to just a big villain on villain battle, though we get that too for a couple brief pages. This whole run has just been one deep but stylish character examination for a character that’s motivations have been murky on a good day but still manages to have some demented personal code underneath them, and for all of that it has been and remains one of my top books on this heap of dead tree I purchase monthly.


BATMAN #34

Writer: Tom King
Art: Joelle Jones
Publisher: DC Comics

How the fuck did Tom King make the goddamn Batman adorable? Sure, he’s still able to cripple a man nine ways from a slight crouching position. Yes, he almost skewered the Riddler for the mayhem he caused Gotham during Riddler’s war with the Joker. And, yeah, I think you have a better chance of getting a mummy to smile, but his interactions with his new fiancé, Selina Kyle the Cat, just ooze *ugh* cute. Not my Batman, dammit! But in all seriousness, I do highly enjoy how King has managed to keep this book the level of grim you expect from a Batman titled but puts just the right amount of light into it via all the secondary characters in the Bat’s world, just as it should be. And this relationship between him and the Cat, finally gone to the next level after years of flirtatiousness into fleeting passion, is the perfect levity to his darker tendencies. They are so double ugh “totes adorbs” together in how he fumbles over himself as they couple up to do Batman stuff, it’s just the right pitch of light into the Bat’s world. That balance has always been the key to a great BATMAN run and King has really found it by bringing their relationship to just under the highest level it could and currently plans to reach.


MISTER MIRACLE #4

Writer: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads
Publisher: DC Comics

When I finally did myself the long overdue favor of getting out to a big Comic Con for the first time in several years, I was naïve to just how big Tom King has landed now that he is “Batman Scribe Tom King” and MISTER MIRACLE hype as the first two issues had just dropped. It finally hit me as Tom King wasn’t so much a table presence as a man commanding a constant line of people seeking handshakes and signatures; two things I decided not to pursue because, quiet frankly, I have become such a mark for his writing that I would be afraid I’d say something super awkward like “I want to be inside you” if ever in his presence. That’s pretty much where my praise for his body of work is at now, especially MISTER MIRACLE here, I honestly don’t know how this book exists. It literally is everything; an homage to one of the all time great comic creators, a dissection of the cosmic brand of comic book storytelling, and one of the most emotional journeys into the psyche of a superhero I’ve ever experienced. And if you think blurting out awkward phrases about penetration (loving, gentle penetration, I swear) over the writing is just next level, you (and I, honestly) don’t even want to know what would come out of my mouth if ever face-to-face with Mitch Gerads, who is every bit and probably more next level on this book than even King’s writing.

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to AICN COMICS and now at MLMILLERWRITES.COM. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to – funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He’s a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn’t the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.