The Reading Pile #20

Hello, 2019! So really my only resolution is to keep some more current books in The Reading Pile from issue to issue. Having said that, I have a bunch of books from December to review. These are worth discussing so please accept my apologies. I did get a chance to read the new Conan book, so let’s lead off with that.

Conan The Barbarian 1, Marvel Comics, 1/2/2019
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud A. Asrar

Love Jason Aaron and have been looking forward to this. The opening 2 page spread with nods to the 1970s’ series is quite awesome. My mind is wandering and I wonder if they considered Brian Wood for this series? Duh…he did that awesome Conan series for Dark Horse a few years ago that I read.

So far so good! Sword fighting in an arena and Conan just got seduced by a beautiful woman who turns out to be a witch! Of course he gets out of this situation and many years later we come upon a bearded Conan who is now a king, on a conquered battlefield. He stumbles upon two orphaned children and that same scarlet witch from years’ past. This review ends here; I really enjoyed this and look forward to the second issue. 4/5

Hardcore 1, Image Comics, 12/19/2018
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artists: Adriano Lucas, Alessandro Vitti

Book is a great mashup of science-fiction, crime and spy genres, with a cool and a fantastic cover by Dan Panosian. So why is my enthusiasm somewhat tempered? Because we’ve been through this dance before with Kirkman and Skybound, e.g. Clone, Thief of Thieves and Outcast. Book roars out of the gate and is written to be pitched to TV or movie execs and is abandoned when it isn’t successful or picked up in those mediums. This was a great read, but I’m not getting my hopes up. It’s a shame I’m skeptical, but I’ve seen this happen before, like I said. 3.5/5

Immortal Hulk: The Best Defense, Marvel Comics, 12/5/2018
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Simone Di Meo

This was great! I’ve been reading a lot of my unread Immortal Hulk books, issues 6-11, but I thought this was the best book in the lot. This really makes me look forward to the new Defenders series with Hulk, Doc Strange and the Silver Surfer.

Anyways, this interspersed classic Hulk panels, from the sixties, with the more modern art and I enjoyed it very much. The kind of thing that makes me happy to be reading comics.

Let me bullet list a summary real quick:

  • Banner has found Dr. Strange’s skeleton and it’s missing his amulet.
  • Banner is having violent confrontations with these small town inhabitants until he finds the person with Strange’s amulet.
  • More violence and Banner has to let the Hulk out.

Great issue and, as I said before, I am REALLY looking forward to the new Defenders series. 4/5

Shazam! 1, DC Comics, 12/5/2018
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Dale Eaglesham, Mayo “SEN” Naito

I have never quite taken to Shazam! though I do tend to gravitate to the more obscure characters. Was happy to find the variant cover and it’s looking like Geof Johns wrote this, so let’s goooooo…

This seems a bit goofy, a few pages in we are introduced to The Lighting League: a team of Shazams. I wasn’t terribly impressed with this, unfortunately. Just typical origin story stuff, along with getting to know The Shazam Family. This wasn’t bad, but there has to be a little more sizzle if you want to hold my interest. Seems to be written for younger kids, too. 3/5

Old Lady Harley 2, DC Comics, 11/28/2018
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Inaki Miranda

Ugh, as I write this I’m realizing the 3rd issue is out. Apologies for being so late with this.

Starts off like a lot of Harley books do: lame attempts at humor. There’s even a Walking Dead TV show reference, which is kind of odd. We do eventually get into where we last left off with Harley and Batman Beyond. You won’t believe what’s happened to Bruce Wayne and in this timeline Harley was once married to SPOILER Nightwing.

Ummmm, this reads too much like Harley’s regular book: just lots of puns and humor. Some of it bad and some of it is funny, to be fair. I kind of want to know what happens so I guess I think I am in for the duration. 3/5

Call me…Ocean Master

Saw Aquaman yesterday with a carload of kids. It was certainly epic in it’s scope and delivery and I liked it. It certainly wasn’t without flaw and it did feel a bit long. Still, I’d give this a B.

Best of 2018

Here are my 10 favorite reads of 2018:

  1. Monstress – one of my favorites. Read more about it here. This is coming back soon and I’m glad.
  2. Black Hammer – I’ve reviewed more than one issue this year, but this one was my favorite.
  3. Hillbilly – issue 12 was one of my favorite things I read this year. Review is here.
  4. Paper Girls – very underrated title; review here.
  5. Doomsday Clockissue 7 was my favorite, I think.
  6. Justice League – a few issues were clunkers, but when this was on it was on. I also love the Legion of Doom. Issue 4 had one of my favorite covers this year.
  7. Immortal Hulk – who expected this to be so good? I reviewed a bunch of these issues and here’s the review for issue 2.
  8. Ice Cream Man – another book that came out of nowhere that was really fun. Where did your life split?
  9. Kill or Be Killed – it’s easy to take for granted the work of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. They perhaps have the greatest synergy in the game. I reviewed issue 20 way back in July.
  10. Dead Rabbit – hope this comes back with a different title after all of the controversy. Review of issue 1 is here.

Whew, did you make it this far? I want to plug my ebay store real quick. Sales from

That’s it for this issue, be good to each other and read some comics.

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