And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 36

AstroCity36Image © Juke Box Productions.

Continuing and concluding the story from issue 35, a long-standing vendetta against three generations of the hero Jack-in-the-Box comes back to life when the villain Drama Queen takes up the fight begun by her grandfather, Drama King. Amid the battles, new information comes to light that surprises both sides and changes long-held perceptions about what really happened to cause the mutual destruction of the first hero and villain. Kurt Busiek’s story is as good as always, and the excellent fill-in art by Ron Randall on both issues is a joy to behold. Even the inherently silly expanding legs and arms of Jack-in-the-Box looks believable here, no easy task. Well done all around!


And Then I Read: DOCTOR FATE #13

DoctorFate13Image © DC Comics.

Paul Levitz has come up with a lovely way to enhance the resonance of his new Doctor Fate, Khalid. He’s made him the great-nephew of Kent Nelson, the original Doctor Fate. I don’t know the back story of Kent Nelson in the current DC continuity, but here he’s a powerful figure taking time to talk things over with his successor of sorts (though Kent can still wield the Doctor Fate powers) and they work together against a new attack on New York City. Khalid is hoping at first that Kent will take back the heavy responsibilities of the mask, but it’s not to be. Khalid has been chosen by the gods, as Kent once was, and must fulfill his own destiny, even if he still feels somewhat lost and inadequate. Working with Kent is a good morale booster. The art this time is by Ibrahim Moustafa, whose style is more realistic than regular artist Sonny Liew, though still not completely so. It works well here. I enjoyed this issue a great deal.




Lynne is recently separated from her husband Kurt, and trying to find ways to bond with her grumpy teenage daughter Dinah. Camping seems like something worth a try, and Lynne has the chance to buy a classic old Covered Wagon camper made in the 1930s from an elderly friend. Dinah is not impressed, but gradually takes an interest in fixing up and refurbishing the trailer with her mother, and they plan a weekend trip to a nearby park with campgrounds. When they wake up there after their first night in the camper, they are stunned to discover they’ve traveled back in time to 1962. Lynne and Dinah manage to avoid making the other campers suspicious of their true home time period, though it’s not an easy thing to do, and after another night in the camper, they’re back in the present.

Further adventures are had in a second camping trip that puts them back in 1954. This time they narrowly avoid worse trouble when other campers suspect them of being Communist sympathizers, but a third trip carrying them to 1946 gets very scary for Dinah when she’s taken hostage by an escaped prisoner on work duty at the campground. Lynne and Dinah agree they should put a stop to the trips, but a family fight results in Dinah going back on her own to the 1930s. When she doesn’t return, Lynne and Kurt must work together to follow and try to find her.

This was a fun read. Nortman obviously knows a lot about camping, and a lot about family life, and has done her research to make the past episodes real and believable. My only quibble is the time-traveling aspect is never explained, but that doesn’t harm the story.


And Then I Read: UNFOLLOW #8


We, the readers, are following the followers, specifically the remaining 137 inheritors of the vast wealth of a deceased billionaire. The trick is, the smaller that group is, the more for those who remain. The reality of this has now sunk in with many, and they are looking for safe havens. One member of the group is the Japanese guru Akira, and he has invited some to join him in his guarded compound, but Akira is now regretting the move, feeling he can’t protect the group sufficiently. Other members are ignoring the danger, appearing on talk shows and such, while a few have followed another member of the group to Russia, where they hope to gain protection for money. In all, it’s an episodic issue with several new shocks, and no one seems to have a good plan. The characters and story by Rob Williams are keeping me reading, and the art by Mike Dowling is excellent, reminding me at times of Frank Quitely. I’m curious to see where things go from here.


And Then I Read: SWAMP THING #6

SwampThing6Image © DC Comics.

Writer Len Wein and artist Kelley Jones bring their miniseries to a satisfying conclusion in this issue. The true villain emerges, and he’s a familiar one. It takes the combined efforts of The Spectre, Zatanna and the Phantom Stranger, as well as Alec Holland, to bring his world conquest plans to a halt, and even then the occult powers they bring to bear must be used in unexpected ways that will cost Holland dearly. The writing has few surprises, but lots of enjoyable moments all the same. The art by Jones gets a little weirder than usual in spots, especially with anatomy, but it’s as visually stunning as always. The love of both creators for the project comes through clearly, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Kudos also to colorist Michelle Madsen and letterer Rob Leigh for fine work throughout.