One book, plus several comics in trade paperback (#SFWApro)

After the original 1940s Captain Marvel stopped publishing, a British comics company filled the gap by creating Marvelman (who transformed from kid Mickey Moran when he said the word “Kimota!”), Kid Marvelman and Marvelman Jr. (corresponding to Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr.). Then in the 1980s, Alan Moore helmed a revival which is now out in TPB form, starting with MIRACLEMAN: A Dream of Flying by Moore (who opted to be credited as “the original writer” after learning when he was working on it the publisher probably didn’t have copyright) and multiple artists. The concept—Mickey is pushing forty, has these odd dreams about his past as a super-hero, then one day transforms again—is better than any of DC’s grim-and-gritty reboots of Captain Marvel, but Moore’s deconstruction of the super-hero is way too heavy-handed (this was very early in his career). I was underwhelmed when I read it from Eclipse in the late 1980s (they reprinted the earlier strips) and it hasn’t improved much (the end half of the volume, involving the alien Warpsmiths, lost me completely).

SUPERMAN: Back in Action by Kurt Busiek and Pete Woods is set during the One Year Later period right after Superman returns from being depowered and inactive. Now he has to prove to the world and the other heroes that it’s really him (in contrast to the multiple imposters who showed up in the 1990s after the Death of Superman) and stop the alien Auctioneer from stealing Earth’s heroes. It’s good but not great, and even though I remember that period the various character reboots of the time (such as an All New Aquaman) now feel very WTF? The backups are several team-ups from the Super-team-up book DC Comics Presents, with various authors and Jose Garcia-Lopez as the artist.

BPRD: Metamorphosis by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and various artists spotlights Johann: in his ghostly state, is he losing touch with humanity and the vulnerability of the other BPRD agents? Would he be more effective if he puts on the armor of the WW II hero Sledgehammer? This is more interesting than the monster battles have been in the previous few volumes; I’ll have it added to the Hellboy Chronology later today.

THE NEXUS ARCHIVES by Mike Baron and Steve Rude focuses less on Nexus’s missions of execution and more on his relationship with Sundra and the growing changes in Ylum, which forms its first government in one story. We’re also getting hints as to the origin of Nexus’ powers and missions, which I already know, but it’s still interesting to watch. One big setting, the Bowl Shaped World, didn’t really grab me, but overall this series holds up well.

DON RODRIGUEZ: Chronicles of Shadow Valley was Lord Dunsany’s first novel, chronicling the somewhat picaresque adventures of a 33aSpanish nobleman’s son as he sets out with a Sancho Panza-ish servant to find a war where he can make his name. The tone here is almost closer to Dunsany’s Jorkens stories than King of Elfland’s Daughter, Dunsany at times sounds like he’s mocking his own writing style (observations he’s trimmed the florid language the characters really said to suit the conservative taste of the time). Not Dunsany’s best work, but charming and there are several outstanding bits (I particularly liked the author comparing a wizard showing off his great secrets to a collector who insists on showing you his best pieces and detailing the stories behind them). Cover by Bob Pepper, all rights with current holder.

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