Archive for DC Comics

Year End Book Report: My Favorite Books/Comics I Read in 2022

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, comic books with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2023 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

2022 was, for some weird reason, a very productive reading year for me. I reached the highest amount of books/comics read, EVER. So let’s dig into that.

You can find my reading log on Goodreads. I log everything I read there. My reading goal for 2022 was 150.  And according to Goodreads, I finished out the year with 241 books.  I smashed all my previous reading totals. I was even in a position in December where I was within readch of 250, but work was really busy at that time and I didn’t really try to read a few quick things to up the number. Gotta leave some goals for next year, right?

Let’s take a look at some of the GoodReads stats for 2022.

Year in Books 1

It’s not all novels, obviously, I read a lot of comics as well.  And depending on how GoodReads has you log them, it can inflate your totals.  But I’m pretty happy with how much I got read this past year.

Let’s look at the numbers of some of the things I read.

Year in Books 2

Here’s my shortest and longest book I read.  Shortest is an issue of a comic.  Not surprising.  I started that Tom Taylor Nightwing series last year and I’m loving it.  It’s so good.  The longest is, surprisingly, another comic.  I reread the X-men: Inferno story arc.  I hadn’t read that since it came out in 1989.  And I only read the collection of the main mutant titles; X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, and X-Terminators.  Even just that was a lot, but there’s a whole separate collection of all the tie-in books.  At least 20 more issues of tangentially related books.  I had to draw the line there.  Inferno is great, but…no.

Year in Books 3

Here are my “most popular” and “least popular” shelved books.  Most popular was Jurassic Park.  I re-read that last year for the first time since the summer the movie came out.  It’s still a pretty great book.  I’m hoping to re-read the sequel, The Lost World, this year.   Look at that, over a million other people shelved Jurassic Park last year.  That’s crazy.  Wow.

And the least popular book I shelved was The Story of Breakin’.  Which is supposed to be an oral history of the making of the movie.  Don’t get me started on that.  It’s enthusiastic, but it’s not great.

Let’s move on with my recap of my favorite books I read this year.

Rules are the same as every year.  Only books/comics I read for the first time in 2022 are eligible for this list.  No re-reads, of which I typically had a few.  I don’t usually read brand new stuff the year it comes out, but it happens.  This year I read 5 novels that were released in 2022.  One of those 5 was a “did not finish”.  Let’s see if any of them made the list.

Here are the top 5 books I read last year in no particular order.

Images and links are from GoodReads pages.

Books

Rule of Wolves
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
– The currently final book in the Shadow and Bone series. All of this series has made it onto my year end lists in some form or another. The final two books are a duology focusing on Nicolai, who is my favorite character. The book before this, King of Scars, was a very slow starter, so I was concerned going into this.  However, this book was a fantastic ending (?) to the saga.  The story was good, characters arcs wrapped up nicely, it was so much fun.  This whole series is good, but my favorites are the middle two books, Six of Crows, and Crooked Kingdom. Leigh Bardugo is currently one of my favorite writers.  All of her books are really fun and have really good dialogue and characters.

Showtime!
Showtime!: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman
– I’m a huge fan of pre-2000s NBA documentaries and biographies. I’ve read a couple huge oral histories of the NBA and the ABA, and tons of books about players and teams including Larry Bird, Pete Maravich, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Celtics.  This was one I never read.  It’s what the HBO series Winning Time! is loosely based on.  So after really enjoying season 1 of Winning Time! I decided to give this a shot.  And it’s everything I wanted it to be.  Pretty much an oral history of the Los Angeles Lakers starting around the year before Magic was drafted in 1979 and ends right around his (first) retirement in 1991.  It’s a lot of information but it’s a lot of fun to see all the locker room shenanigans the team got into.  And not just the players, Jerry Buss was kind of a wild man as well.  This was a really fun read.

Just One Damned Thing After Another
Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St Marys Book 1) by Jodi Taylor
– Being a huge devotee of time travel books, I’ve been lurking on these St Mary’s books for a while.  Currently I’ve read a short prequel to the series, this first book, and the second book.  I think there are currently 14 books in the series.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to finish the full series, but the first two books are really really good.  There’s a St Mary’s Institute for Historical Research at the University of Thirsk in London.  It studies historical events in “contemporary time”.  Which is a fancy way of saying, they travel back in time and study historical events.  In this book time travel exists and this research institute uses it to bolster the human record of the past.  However, the quirky staff at the Institute are disaster magnets and anything that can go wrong will.  It’s the characters that are the highlight here but there is some good time jumping action.

Kaiju Preservation Society
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
– I’ve always wanted to read John Scalzi but I never pulled the trigger. I read a sample of his book Redshirts, but never actually finished it.  However this came out in February 2022, and my library had a copy online, so I quickly checked it out. And this is a lot of fun.  At first glance you think, “It’s essentially Jurassic Park”.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I read another book in that pastiche that I liked a few years ago called The Great Zoo of China.  They can be a lot of fun.  This story obviously isn’t Earthbound.  The goverment discovers a portal to another dimension and a land filled with kaiju.  They set up a research station in that dimension to learn more about the creatures.  It doesn’t really go the way you expect, ie the kaiju run rampant killing people.  It’s actually more of a people villain that causes a bunch of havok, but it’s certainly a lot of fun.  And the way the research station works and the variety of kaiju are definitely interesting.

Jack West Jr #7
One Impossible Labyrinth (Jack West Jr Book 7) by Matthew Reilly
– I started this series way back in 2010. It’s showed up on my year end list several times, as has the author, Matthew Reilly.  This is the final book in Reilly’s Jack West Jr series which is a big, epic, adventure series akin to Indiana Jones, but even bigger.  There’s a lot to digest here, it’s not just a one off book, you’re gonna need to read the series from the beginning or you’re gonna be lost.  And as a finale, this book nailed it.  I love this series, but the last three or four books have just been exquisite.  Reilly really knows how to write action and keep the plot moving.  So fun.

As usual, I also read a bunch of movie novelizations this year for I Read Movies.  However, I don’t include those in this list.  I do a separate write up for I Read Movies year end.  Check it out here.

Let’s switch over to comics! Here are the top 5 comics I read last year in no particular order.

Comics

All-New Wolverine
All-New Wolverine by Tom Taylor and David Lopez
– I love Laura Kinney (X-23), so I was very curious about this title where she takes over the mantle of the dead (at the time) Wolverine. I think this was also the title that introduced me to writer Tom Taylor.  This is such a great series.  I read the first three volumes in the title and I love every minute of it.  Laura gets a quirky group of characters around her and they have these awesome adventures.  I really enjoyed it.

Nightwing
Nightwing by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Neil Edwards
– So I loved Tom Taylor from All-New Wolverine, and I kind of do like Nightwing. Actually, it wasn’t really Nightwing that drew me to this, it was Taylor and all the buzz he was getting about how good this title is. So I gave it a shot.  Taylor takes over in issue #78 and I’ve read through about issue #94.  The title is GREAT.  I love Dick as Nightwing in this.  I love Barbara Gordon.  I love that the Titans show up every once in a while.  Blockbuster is the main villain, but he’s more a terrifying mob boss than he is the smash first monster that I’m used to.  This is a really good title that I’m continuing to read because I enjoy all the characters.

Squirrel Girl
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
– I’ll admit, the buzz for this one actually kept me away.  The art is weird, I didn’t get the character, and it just seemed like this whole Squirrel Girl “thing” was just not for me.  But I kept hearing from people it’s really good, so towards the end of last year, I decided to just give it a shot.  And you know what?  I really liked it.  Ryan’s humor is a lot of fun.  He writes extra comments in the margins of the comic that are pretty weird and funny.  The first page of each comic is a Twitter-like conversation between Squirrel Girl and other heroes which is hilarious.  I just really enjoyed Squirrel Girl’s positivity and outlook.  I’ll be honest, Erica Henderson’s art takes some getting used to.  Everyone looks weird.  But over time it just works.  You get used to it.  North’s Squirrel Girl adventures remind me a lot of Christopher Hastings Gwenpool series from a few years ago.  Very much enjoyed this.

Batman 3 Jokers
Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok
– I was reluctant to get into this one because I don’t really want an investigation into the nature of The Joker.  The Joker, to me, is a force of nature, an agent of chaos.  I don’t need him defined.  This does that, to a point, but it’s a really good look at how the Joker has affected the lives of Jason Todd, Barbara Gordon, and to an extent, Batman.  In the book we learn there are three Jokers; The Clown, The Criminal, and The Comedian.  And we learn how each one works.  It’s really well done and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  Jason Fabok’s art is fantatic as well.

Maniac of NY 2
Maniac of NY vol 2 – The Bronx is Burning by Elliot Kalan and Andrea Mutti
– The followup to the original Maniac of NY.  I really like this book.  This continues the story of how New York City would deal with having a mysterious, unkillable movie slasher that can disappear and reappear at will.  You have the burned out detective on the slasher swat squad, you have the disaffected mayor, you have the cynical police force.  It’s really good.  However, there are some frustrations, but I think the comic knows they are frustrations.  The book lays out a few “hints” to the back story and nature of the killer, Harry.  Total plot threads like certain spots of the city that he seems to avoid.  And a few other things that point to a possible weakness.  However, nothing is ever picked up on.  They are completely left dangling.  It’s possible these threads will be picked up again for the possible upcoming part 3, but as a reader, that’s fascinating and frustrating in equal measures because I really enjoy this book.

And those were my favorite books and comics I read in 2022. I’ll maybe have a followup article to this talking about some Honorable Mentions.  You know, things that maybe I liked that almost made the list, but also things I didn’t like and really want to talk about.

Hope you enjoyed this article and found something new that you may eventually love.  Let me know if you do!

Okay, that covers EVERYTHING I’ve read.  Next up…MOVIES!  Stay tuned.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Elvira’s House of Mystery

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, comic books, Halloween, holiday, pop culture with tags , , , , on October 9, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

Continuing my chronicling of Elvira’s pop culture appearances, let’s take a look at comic books.  One comic book in particular.

In the 80s, Elvira was so mainstream that DC comics licensed her image to become the new host of their classic horror anthology comic, House of Mystery. She would debut in the first issue of Elvira’s House of Mystery in 1986.

Elvira HOM 1 Elvira HOM 5

Elvira would introduce the stories and provide an epilogue. While the host, she introduced many different stories based on horror, science fiction and even westerns all written and drawn by a revolving door of DC talent.  The cover of the very first issue was drawn by Brian Bolland.  The cover for the final issue would be drawn by The Rocketeer’s Dave Stevens.

Elvira HOM 10Elvira HOM 11

Ultimately the series would last 11 issues.  Towards the end of the run, around issue 9, the original host of the House of Mystery, Cain, returns.

And then Cain’s brother, Abel, who normally hosts the House of Secrets, also returns.

It’s interesting because Cain and Abel had been “in retirement” for a while.  Then Alan Moore brought them back towards the end of his Saga of Swamp Thing run.  Then Cain shows up in Blue Devil when he discovers the House of Weirdness.  Then they show up in Elvira’s book.  Cain is trying to find out where they’ve been but no one can remember.  He tells the things he can remember and it’s all the things I just mentioned.

After this, Elvira would last another issue then disappear.  There was no real tie up to why she left.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: The Nobody by Jeff Lemire (2009)

Posted in comic books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by Paxton

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The Nobody is the first graphic novel for Jeff Lemire. It was published by Vertigo in 2009.

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The whole comic is sort of a re-imagining of HG Wells’ The Invisible Man novel. The setting is changed from the English countryside to a small town in what I presume is the New England area of America.  We have this drifter named Griffen, covered in bandages and wearing goggles, mosey into the tiny fishing town of Large Mouth and by just being there he causes a stir.

People speculate about why he has bandages and he generally becomes the gossip around town.  Griffen winds up befriending the town sheriff’s daughter, Vickie.  They strike up a platonic friendship that sort of grounds the book.  Soon, a few strange occurrences happen around town and all of a sudden everyone wants to blame the weird bandaged drifter.  Queue town mob and frantic search for the truth.

the_nobody_030 the_nobody_108

I’m a fan of Jeff Lemire, especially as a writer. He’s written a lot for DC including being heavily involved in the New 52 including the titles Superboy, Justice League Dark and Animal Man. He has a quirky, dark style that I kind of enjoy so when I discovered that he had written a re-telling of The Invisible Man for Vertigo, I had to check it out. And to be honest, the only reason I found it was because I was doing The Invisible Man for AWESOME-tober-fest. So, thank you for the billionth time AWESOME-tober-fest.

The story is quirky but endearing.  It’s slow moving but fun.  It’s light until the very end when it gets a bit dark with a great “sort of” twist ending.  The artwork perfectly reflects the tone of the story.  Stark blacks and whites, tons of shadows with accents in blue and simple yet oddly complex drawings and page layouts.  This whole comic is quirky and odd but in a perfect way.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it’s fun to see the slight parallels to the source novel, but make no mistake, it certainly goes it’s own way in a pretty cool story that I’m glad I discovered for this Halloween.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: Batman vs the Invisible Man (2009)

Posted in Batman, comic books, monsters, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2015 by Paxton

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You may remember a few years ago when I did vampires for AWESOME-tober-fest 2011 that I covered a Batman vs Dracula comic by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones called Red Rain.  Well, 18 years later, Moench and Jones reunited to pit Batman against another monster.  The Invisible Man.

Batman Unseen 1 Batman Unseen 2

Batman Unseen was released in 2009 as a 5 issue mini-series.  It seems very appropriate they got Moench and Jones to do this particular story.  Especially Jones.  I’m not a huge fan of Jones’ particular style when it comes to normal Batman stories.  He’s all odd angles, deep shadows, giant cowl ears and ridiculous f**king capes that’s more weird than it is enjoyable.  However, that style works perfectly in these off-kilter Elseworlds tales that mix Batman with the supernatural (vampires, ghosts, invisible men, etc).

The gist of the story is that The Black Mask has hired a scientist who has been fired and disgraced from his previous job to work for him.  His task?  Continue work on an invisibility serum and get it to work.  The story follows the scientist as he works on the serum and uses himself as the guinea pig.  The serum starts to work but it also drives the man insane as he constantly has to administer an overdose of the chemicals to keep the effect working for longer periods of time.

Batman Unseen - Invisible Man

I really like how the creators have the scientist working on making each body layer invisible a bit at a time.  First he makes his skin invisible, then his musculature, then his skeleton, then his organs, etc, etc.  As the serum’s effectiveness (and the scientist’s insanity) progresses, he begins taking advantage of his invisibility by getting revenge on people he believes has wronged him.  Batman follows the trail of dead bodies and the eye witnesses who say they only saw floating gloves or knives.  Can Batman get to the scientist in time?

The story is very good.  It’s also fairly violent.  Batman takes a beating from the invisible scientist.  Hardcore.  Plus there are several graphic murders.  All perfectly in tone with the story Moench (and Jones) is trying to tell.  Moench also does a great job of deftly working in layers of story elements.  Besides the scientist’s revenge plot, there’s a subplot about Batman losing his intimidation factor among the criminals in Gotham.  It seems they’ve become used to Batman being around and they aren’t scared of him anymore.  Batman is worried about this and tries to think of ways to fix it.  It drives some of Batman’s motivations at the end of the comic.  Very fun and atmospheric read.

Like I said, the art works perfectly for the story they are trying to tell.  But damn, Kelly Jones likes his cape porn.  I thought McFarlane loved to draw capes, but Jones may have him beat.  Some of the panels in this comic have some of the most ridiculous Batman capes that have ever been drawn.

Batman Unseen - Cape Porn

How would Batman get around with a cape like that? It’s absurd.  And that’s just one example.  Jones also likes to draw giant shish-kebob ears on the cowl.  Like I said, not really my favorite but honestly, it mostly works in this book because of the subject matter and tone.

I would recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed Moench/Jones’ previous Batman and Dracula team up.  It’s a cool, weird little story.  But lots of fun.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: DC’s Blackest Night mini-series (2009)

Posted in comic books, monsters, Superman, The Flash, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by Paxton

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Summer of 2009 began the DC event, Blackest Night.  At the conclusion of the Sinestro Corps War, DC teased the coming of the Blackest Night prophecy.  The Guardians of the Universe told of the coming of 5 new Lantern Corps, each backed by a different color of the emotional spectrum.  This fracturing would lead to a war of light, the coming of the Black Lanterns, the dead rising and the eventual destruction of the universe.

Blackest Night 3 Blackest Night 5

The Blackest Night mini-series was eight issues long and first appeared in June 2009.  The story starts with Black Hand walking amongst the tombstones of a cemetery. He grabs Bruce Wayne’s skull and carries it with him (this was obviously during the time just after Bruce Wayne’s fate is revealed in Final Crisis).  Black Hand keeps talking about a coming war and retribution.  And the coming of “him” (who we’ll discover later).

Black Hand

We see black rings invade the Lantern crypt on Oa and start reviving all of the formerly deceased lanterns.  These “zombie” lanterns become the beginning of the Black Lantern Corps.

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