Action Comics Weekly #632 (DC)
This is apparently one of the final Action Comics Weeklys. I know this because the letters column addresses this. Unlike DC's later weekly comics, this was an anthology series that borrowed the flagship more closely associated with Superman for about a year. Rather than addressing the content from this particular issue, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the material that spun out of the experiment, at least as announced in the letters column...
The first is Blackhawk, which I actually got to sample a few months back and was impressed by, even though I was surprised to see sexy art from Rick Burchett. Although being surprised by sexy art from Rick Burchett was a response the original Action Comics Weekly material garnered as well, and this was before Burchett ever did material based on Batman: The Animated Series. The surprise from this point was actually from scandalized readers...The second title is Green Lantern, the relaunch that led to "Emerald Twilight" and Kyle Rayner, featuring the creative team of
Asylum #2 (Millennium)
An anthology title (another one???) scored a lucky break (although it lasted only one more issue...) by featuring Neil Gaiman, who provided a straight-up horror story (much of Sandman was basically horror). So when I saw that I bought the issue just to read it. That's pretty much it. Among the other material is P. Craig Russell providing a piece of artwork for an old Edgar Allen Poe poem, "Eldorado."
The Books of Magic #26 (Vertigo)
The Books of Magic #32 (Vertigo)
This was something conceived by Gaiman and later continued by others, featuring young wizard Tim Hunter as he explores the magical world. I've long wanted to read something, anything, from the concept, and so finally took the opportunity. Of course, Harry Potter later completely usurped the genre of young wizards, and Vertigo later had The Unwritten, which was more or less the imprint reclaiming the concept in a very meta way. The issues I had a look at bookend a trip to America ("Rites of Passage") from the British youth, featuring bits of continuity that the letters column helps spell out for neophytes (wherever they may be coming from). I liked what I saw.
Civil War: The Confession (Marvel)
Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #3 (Marvel)
The Fallen Son issue is written by Jeph Loeb and features Tony Stark (Iron Man) convincing Clint Barton (Hawkeye) to become the new Captain America (for about the length of the issue). That's all fine and dandy, but it's more The Confession that fascinates me. Civil War was a Mark Millar comic, but Confession is written by Brian Michael Bendis, and is perhaps the comic that anyone looking for the best Civil War material should read. This is literally the two main characters from Civil War, Stark and Steve Rogers, presenting their closing arguments in the polarizing debate that split the Marvel universe apart. And it's absolutely brilliant. If none of it ended up meaning anything more than a bump in the road for everyone involved, even the temporarily assassinated Rogers (Ed Brubaker ended up making a mockery of the whole thing by wrongly co-opting what Grant Morrison was doing with Batman at the time), then the concept endures somewhere other than the forthcoming Captain America: Civil War in theaters in a spin-off one-shot that completely transcends typical superhero storytelling. I read it when it was originally released, along with Civil War itself, and I remember being impressed then, too, but I think its value has increased with time, knowing what Marvel actually did post-Civil War (the next big event involved alien shape-shifters infiltrating Earth, which is about as opposite Civil War as you can get).
Legionnaires #0 (DC)
I sometimes dabbled in the two Legion of Super-Heroes titles from that era, and so revisiting it is hardly a tough call. This issue, part of the original zero issue month post-Zero Hour, features Mark Waid co-writing, and conveniently enough a speedster (at the time Waid was best-known as the writer of The Flash) named Jenni Ognats, granddaughter of Barry Allen and soon to be known as XS (not to be confused at all with Bart Allen, who was known originally as Impulse). And yes, this is her first appearance, so that's a good thing to have in a collection (for a Waid fan, at the very least). She, ah, appears only on Page 20, however. She next appears in the following month's Legion of Super-Heroes #62.
Punk Rock Jesus #1 (Vertigo)
I think I mentioned at the time this mini-series was originally being released how impressed I was by it. Sean Murphy had previously ended up on my radar thanks to his work on Grant Morrison's Joe the Barbarian. He would later work on Scott Snyder's The Wake and Mark Millar's Chrononauts (his current project, actually). I still haven't read the whole thing, but I'm continually impressed with Murphy's turn as writer/artist on the project, for my money easily one of the most interesting Vertigo titles of the recent past. Scientists use the Shroud of Turin to create a clone of Jesus, which is then featured as the star of a reality show in the vein of The Truman Show. The sacrilegious baby is surrounded by a mother who isn't entirely comfortable with the whole thing and a bodyguard with a traumatic past. And it can only get better from there, right?
Saga #4 (Image)
I was reading this series pretty much from the beginning, but to randomly revisit it from somewhere near the beginning is to be reminded all over again how fascinating Saga really is. First of all, The Will is featured on the cover along with Lying Cat (can it get any better?), and the bounty hunter is featured inside as well (in other comics, this is never a given). Given that The Will has been largely absent from recent issues, and he's basically my favorite character in the series, this was hugely welcome to read again. The letters column also features the inaugural Saga Readers Survey results (so soon???). Apparently Brian K. Vaughan was a huge fan of the movie Haywire at this point. It makes sense. But that was also the last time Gina Carano was culturally significant, right at the moment where she was poised for her biggest breakthrough. Now all her thunder's been stolen by Ronda Rousey. But c'mon folks, Gina Carano!!!
Zot! #10 (Eclipse)
Looking back, it's incredibly bizarre that Scott McCloud ended up becoming such a notable name in the field of comic books. Until 1993's seminal Understanding Comics, the only thing he'd really done was write Zot!, which was a part of the deconstruction of the superhero form that the '80s featured a number of ways, culminating in Alan Moore's Watchmen. Eclipse was a publisher was a little like the Image of the day. It was one of the early publishers of Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer (which until the later movie was much more important than it seems today) as well as the stateside home of Miracleman, among other seminal projects, Zot! being among them. It's incredibly common for someone who succeeds in comics to begin thinking they've more or less transcended the form as practiced by everyone else, and McCloud was among those who began thinking of himself in that way. This was supposed to be the final issue, but a few years later he picked it back up and continued for a while longer, but then more or less abandoned work as a regular creator (this year he released a new graphic novel, The Sculptor), working almost exclusively as someone trying to push comics into some imagined future (I first became aware of these efforts when I attended a McCloud seminar in college about the possibilities of the Internet). I'd read some of his more elaborate later Zot! (I'm pretty sure on the Internet), so to see some of the early material in its original form was certainly interesting.