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It's warm out today, to the tune of almost being actually hot. It's significantly warmer outside than in the house. This does not happen here. We often have snow in April. I do not want six months of Ottawa summer, I want seasons.


Less than a year to 50 and I still buy comics. I don't consume them the way I used to, though, picking up a stack every week and reading them right away. Instead, I go every few weeks, get the stack, read the magazines (Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek, Locus, whatever), and pile the comics in a closet. Then every so often I sort them out and read a good long run of a title or two.

Just recently, I grabbed all of the issues of Madame Xanadu and Zatanna I hadn't read yet, as well as the first few Justice League Dark comics, and the first issue of the resurrected Night Force.

I don't bother with regular superhero comics at all these days, unless you want to count those Gotham Central collections as Batman comics, but I've always loved the supernatural side of the mainstream comics world. Doctor Strange ruled my world in the late '70s and '80s, I discovered Tomb of Dracula as it ended then bought dozens of back issues of Wolfman/Colan goodness, and their original Night Force comic freed me from the ranks of Marvel zombies (though I was already buying underground comix). I've bought every issue of Hellblazer so far (my longest run with any comic, I'm sure) and I haven't reread Sandman because I only have the original comics, which are a pain to dig out. Anyone want to swap for trade paperbacks? The comics are not mint. But they're the originals. I digress.

Madame Xanadu was another reasonably good Vertigo title that never seemed to really find its audience. It was very much in the post-Sandman style, with occasional touches of Promethea and other things, so may have been a bit too familiar and comfortable to really grab people. Plus it was nice just to have her in a regular title. I came in by way of Engelhart and Rogers's unfinished Scorpio Rose series, which came about after they did a Madame Xanadu one-shot. There was some nice Doctor Strangeness there but there was so little material it made a disproportionate impact. (Scorpio Rose reappeared many years later as a backup in Coyote, and many years later yet I bought those issues. Anticlimax.) All of this to say that Madame Xanadu in the 21st century was a pretty different proposition, but I'd have liked it to continue.

I know Zatanna has been around forever in DC comics, but I never really got into them. I had a one-shot or miniseries or something -- I remember a Brian Bolland cover and not much else -- but I thought this could be fun. And it was. It was firmly set in the DC superhero continuity, and it felt more like a good old-fashioned fun comic than anything I've read in ages. I enjoyed it but it fell victim to the New 52.

Which brings us to Justice League Dark. John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, and various others become unwilling partners in a supernatural all stars group. And I'm not really digging it yet. It's generically modern comic book darkness and grimness and crossoverness, with none of Zatanna's sheer fun, none of Madame Xanadu's mythic feel, or even the kind of darkness that Hellblazer's all about. I'm not too worried about sticking with it for the long run because I don't think it'll be around for the long run. I know nothing about numbers, but it's a weird mix that doesn't do any favours for any of its cast of characters.

And, finally, Night Force, which looks like more of the same except with fewer familiar faces. Feels wrong without Gene Colan doing the art. But... too early to tell.


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