Saturday, September 23, 2017

Comics Lust 9/23/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/pancake fanatic Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). <blah> Something happened Sunday night/Monday Morning that made me ill to my stomach and kept me from doing anything except binge-watch the last eight episodes The Flash Season 3. It’s not exactly my style to sit around all day doing nothing, but I guess my body was telling me to slow down and chill out for a change. Luckily, I had my puppy executive team to help me out and to explain the finer points of the show—I actually think they just wanted to watch The Flash versus doing any kind of work, but I guess they needed the day off, too. Anyhow, rest up and drink plenty of liquids to avoid any kind of illness that’s going around, and check out some great comics while you’re at it. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Bring on the Bad Guys (Part 1)

Who says the villain can’t carry his/her own story? Or that without the hero leading the charge a comic cannot be every bit as compelling when the evil-doer takes the spotlight. It’s not an easy thing to do, to be sure, but throughout the years and in the right hands, some titles have managed to be quite successful and a heck of a lot of fun to boot.

Suicide Squad is a much-loved comic from 1987 centering around supervillains that ran for 66 issues, an annual, and the Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special. Written by John Ostrander and illustrated by Luke McDonnell, this incarnation of the Suicide Squad made their first appearance in the six-issue, limited-series event Legends #3 (plotted by Ostrander, scripted by Len Wein, and illustrated by John Byrne) before gaining their own series. The story is essentially about the team created by top-level federal agent Amanda Waller to take on the most dangerous of missions and to combat the largest threats to the world. These missions are tough, some might say impossible, others suicide. Only the bravest of the brave or the foolhardiest fool would dare take on these assignments, and oftentimes, Waller’s end goal is too morally questionable to enlist Earth’s mightiest heroes to take up the task. Waller needs people who have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, so she conscripts the worst of criminals forever locked away in inescapable prisons to do her bidding with the promise of a reduced sentence, but if they step out of line at any time a flick of a switch will end their life before even their impossible mission can. The original team consists of Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Enchantress, Captain Boomerang, Plastique, and Mindboggler and continuously shifted as, true to their name, some characters never made it back. Even though the series was eventually canceled, it spawned a Deadshot four-issue mini-series, a 2001 12-issue series, an eight-issue 2007 series, the New 52 version ran for 31 issues, and DC’s recent “Rebirth” shift currently has Suicide Squad rapidly approaching 30 issues as well. The exploits of these bad guys have been so popular as to deliver them to the silver screen with 2016’s hit Suicide Squad film adaptation featuring Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Enchantress, El Diablo, and Katana. The original comic book series, however, is definitely worth your time, and one I need to go back to in the near future.

As enjoyable as Suicide Squad may be, the similarly themed Secret Six, written by Gail Simone, captured my heart from start to glorious finish. Now, there was a Secret Six kicking around in the late ’60s, but the series that ultimately spun out of DC’s Infinite Crisis event is the one most near and dear to fans of villains taking the lead. Comprised of Deadshot—who apparently is so notorious in his wrongdoings that he gets a spot on any bad-guy team—Catman, Scandal Savage, Rag Doll, Cheshire, and Darkseid’s stray Parademon are gathered by a shadowy “benefactor” known only as Mockingbird to go on the shadiest, most dubious of missions that neither heroes nor many villains condone. What drew me in most to Simone’s series is her ability to humanize these oftentimes terrible individuals and give some a shot at redemption while showing how difficult just such a road can be. Rag Doll is completely deranged, Deadshot a total d_bag, and Catman—a character previously used as the butt of many a Batman joke—an occasional noble character. The thing about the Secret Six is that there are always six on the team, but that elusive sixth spot has a tendency to be vacant whether because of characters dying, quitting, or being fired. Such notable characters as Mad Hatter, Bane (the ultimate Batman villain is great in this series), the mysterious Jeannette (wait until you find out about her!), Knockout, among others grace the series for various lengths of time. The main problem with reading the whole Secret Six saga is trying to piece together the order of things, which the 2015–2016 trade releases do fairly well—omitting only the Birds of Prey material—but here is the reading order for those who want to read this fine series piecemeal:

There is also a 2015 release, New 52 Secret Six that I have not read that ran for 14 issues, but I think I will reread the material from 2005–2011 before taking a look at the most recent stuff.

The great thing about DC Comics is that although Suicide Squad and Secret Six are their most highly regarded “bad guy” team books, the company took plenty of other plunges into the villains-as-stars arena throughout the years deserving of mention. 1976’s The Secret Society of Super Villains (written by Gerry Conway, illustrated by Pablo Marcos) ran for 14 issues—one of which I had in my treasured stack of comics as a kid—and boasted an impressive roster of villains (Grodd, Sinestro, Star Saphire, Floronic Man) with plenty of heroes (Captain Comet, JSA, Green Lantern) to keep them busy. Even before The Secret Society of Super Villains, in 1972, DC was heavy in their reprinting and repackaging phase with the release of Wanted: The World’s Most Dangerous Villains, which pulled bad guy related stories from such titles as Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and others. Kobra (written by Steve Pasko and illustrated by many different artists, including an issue by Jack Kirby) also came out in 1976, ran for seven issues, and followed the exploits a treacherous cult leader. The year before that, Denny O’Neil and Irv Novick released The Joker, following the Clown Prince of Crime as he fought good guys and bad guys alike for nine issues.

Jumping ahead to the early ’90s, one of the more successful solo-villains (going purely off of number of issues released) to carry a comic all by his lonesome for many issues over multiple years is Slade Wilson, better known as Deathstroke the Terminator. This is where I once again fall into the shadowy realm of regret, as this is a series I sadly have not read…but I desperately want to read. Created by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne, Deathstroke first appeared in The New Teen Titans #2 and became so popular he got his own series in 1992 that ran for 61 issues and four annuals. Since his debut, Deathstroke has become a force to be feared in the DC Universe and has had three followup series over the years: Deathstroke #0–20 (2011), Deathstroke #1–20 (2014), Deathstroke #1–23 (2016, ongoing). This is one I hope to catch up on in the very near future.

If we are going off pure popularity, then it is hard to argue against Harley Quinn being DC’s most popular supervillain to hold her own comic of all time. Although her first appearance was not even in a comic book, but rather the phenomenal Batman: The Animated Series, Harley has gone onto multiple solo series, multiple team series, movies, cartoons, and has gone on to inspire cosplayers around the world to imitate and expand on her instantly recognizable look and style. Although my experience with the Clown Princess of Crime is fairly limited, I love Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Chad Hardin’s humorous and exciting 2014 run. Here are a few good places to start for your Harley needs:

At this point, I’ve only trained my eagle eye (with corrective lenses, of course) on DC comics for which I haven’t even mentioned a certain cat burglar written and illustrated by two of my all-time-favorite creators, or a certain spacefaring ringbearer. I also haven’t touched upon the other half of the Big Two, or one of my favorite indie villains by one of my personal superstar creators, but that will have to be for another time!

The Week’s Reading List

Descender #24 (Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics) You already know that Descender is one of my top books on the stands, right? I already have a soft spot for sci-fi space opera, but when you mix an ’80s tone with oh-so-lovely watercolored art, I’m a goner for sure. Despite all the nervewracking madness of the “Rise of the Robots” storyline thus far, we take a sidestep back to check in on Driller and his new companion, Mizerd, as they make their way across a treacherous swamp planet. Dang…I love this comic. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Future Quest Presents: Space Ghost #2 (Written by Jeff Parker, illustrated by Ariel Olivetti, lettered Dave Lanphear, published by DC Comics) I already loved the 12-issue Future Quest, but my main complaint—aside from delays and artist shifts—was that there were too many characters running around. Here it’s just Space Ghost, his gang, and one of the Herculoids exploring a freaky cavern and it is a heck of a lot of fun. Beautifully written and illustrated, I am excited to see what comes next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

X-Men Epic Collection: Second Genesis TPB (Written by Len Wein and Chris Claremont, illustrated by Dave Cockrum and John Byrne, published by Marvel Comics) If you claim to love the X-Men but have not read the first adventures of the team comprised of Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Banshee, Cyclops, Marvel Girl/Phoenix, then you have not properly experienced the X-Men. I read all of these stories ages ago, but this collection was just too good to pass up. You have the first appearance of the new X-Men, guest appearances by Iron Fist and Spiderman, and the start of Claremont’s legendary run all in one volume. It doesn’t get much better than this. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


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