The Reading Pile #24

Be Gloop Meka Mu, boys and girls! Perhaps you can see from the image above that I was bonkers about Old Lady Harley this week. Keep perusing as the eternal question, “Is it worth your time?” will be answered in The Reading Pile right now!

Stronghold 1, Aftershock Comics, 2/27/2019
Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Ryan Kelly

Blind pick up, though of course Andy Tomberlin covered it here. I usually enjoy Aftershock books on some level. Book looks good. Aftershock gets good artists. Let’s get into the content, soooooo here we go.

Strong (ha) start: Insurance company adjuster, Michael Grey, saves a drowning child after a bridge accident. Uh, he seems to have some abilities.

Second act we are introduced to the Stronghold: a sort of place, I think, where folks with powers embrace a brotherhood and hone their skills. An estranged daughter, named Claire, does battle with her mother and is soon reunited with her father.

Weird, Grey has a therapist who is Claire’s mother and later he receives a package from Claire, herself. Obviously, Stronghold is keeping an eye on him.

Things get complicated at this point, so I’m going bullet list:

  • Grey asks Claire out on a date; Mom doesn’t approve.
  • The two get stuck on a rail train in St. Louis and Claire leads them, walking, to an abandoned building. Cough, premeditated, cough.
  • Claire reveals that the Stronghold believes Grey may be a divine being that holds the balance of the world in order.
  • Grey thinks she’s crazy, Claire isn’t so sure of these claims herself. So she has invited a biker gang to attack them.
  • Grey dismantles said gang effortlessly and with the brutality of someone not of this world.

Lots of detail I’m leaving out, in case you want to read the book. Story is cinematic in scope, but that’s not to say I loved this. There were things I liked and things that annoyed me. Still, I gots to recognize the storytelling craft of this book. 3.5

Conan the Barbarian 3, Marvel Comics, 2/27/2019
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud A. Asrar

That Jason Aaron can really spin a yarn, I tells ya. Here we have Conan at 17, who had been caught trying to steal gold. In THIS village that’s a crime punishable by death by hanging. There’s more than one act of nature that helps Conan cheat death and anyone who read the last issue knew the child servants of the Crimson Witch would show up at the end. I’ve read somewhere that Aaron’s Conan is a lot like his Thor title, only much more violent. I agree it’s a lot more violent. This was a fun read and it's totally worth your time. 4/5

Old Lady Harley 4, DC Comics, 1/30/2019
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Inaki Miranda

Loved the chaos of the last issue, so I am back to review issue 4. This book is funny. This will be a stream of consciousness, bullet list review.

    • Mind Chip nonsense that introduces us to Colonel Kraken at the Kraken barrel.

    • Harley beating the crap out of ANYTHING that reminds her of Mistah’ J in a flashback.
    • Old Man Lobo

    • Lobo and Harley romanticizing: the couple we never knew we wanted, but it makes perfect sense.
    • Lobo is the mayor of Las Vegas
    • Naked stripper aliens, “Be Gloop Meka Mu, Big Boy.”

    • A journey to New Atlantis, where it is believed the remains of the Joker have been buried.
    • Atlantean hipsters.

    • Wow, Joker fish!

  • Finally, Old Lady Harley comes face to face with Old Man Joker.

So this issue was awesome: a near perfect combination of humor and adventure. I dare you to read it and not laugh your ass off. 4/5

Old Lady Harley 5, DC Comics, 2/27/2019
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Inaki Miranda

Two Old Lady Harley reviews in one issue? Had to do it y’all. I've enjoyed the series that much; I particularly liked issues 3 & 4. I'm sure everyone knows about the heat on this issue. It went from all of the regular priced copies drying up on day of release and now the $10-20 copies are getting a bit scarce, too. I was a little worried the issue would be disappointing: a journey that’s better than the destination type thing, but boy was I wrong.

I'm not going to go too in depth here, but a Harley/Joker kid is NOT what I was expecting here. Bravo, DC Comics, for surprising me. This was good and I thought the story could maybe even have benefitted from an even more dramatic take on it. You know, write a psychotic type Harley Quinn like the one going on in Heroes in Crisis. People tend to hate the way she is written in her regular series as it is fairly light weight and based in humor. But those are her origins in the Batman Animated Series, so I don't necessarily have an issue with it. This series, which struck a really nice balance of adventure and humor shows it can be done right, but it's hard to do. The elements aligned here and we got a story I really enjoyed and possibly one that garners some respect and further interest in the future. 4/5

Here are my reviews of the other issues if you're interested:

Quick Hits

Now on to some stuff I wasn't so crazy about.

    • Honor and Curse 1 – Made it about 10 pages before I put it down. I just don’t like this style of art.
    • Justice League 18 – Sorry to say I’m done with this title. Stories haven’t been up to par and now even the art is off putting.

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

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  • Avatar

    Undercutters are showing up for OLH5. One person even put one up for $13 OBO (and sold for $10 + 2.75 shipping…giving it away).

    For those who bought copies to flip, I do recommend holding on unless you’re desperate. This one feels like a TT12 or TAH22. Low print run, first full appearance (two of them!) and a cover shot, and NO VARIANTS! (TT12 only had an A and B open order).

    Recipe for future high returns. Holding my 3 remaining copies for now.

    • Dan Piercy

      Yah, I think folks think this will be a typical flavor of the week spec book and want their quick money. But the series was great, the cover is fairly iconic and the first full appearance of the Harley/Joker child. It has all the makings of a future coveted Harley Quinn book.

      What was the print run 14k? That doesn’t seem small, I did see a lot of less than mint copies out there, though. Will be interesting to see what 9.8 copies sell for. I would guess at least $100 out of the gate.


      • Avatar

        14K may not seem small, but even Harley 57 and Batgirl 23 were in the mid to upper 20k. Granted it was the variant covers that made those popular and no one knows what the ratio of the A to B was….

        I think none of my copies of OLH5 are 9.8. The copies I left on the stands were not NM.

  • Avatar

    agreed. Key books with 2 new appearances. This will go up with time. Pick up your copies now while it dips.

  • Avatar

    Comic Book have a foundation and legacy of being “funny pages,” so it’s refreshing to see flat out humorous entertainment in comics being published albeit a bit risque and toilet humor at times, where I’d rather either see keen wit or something geared towards kids under 12 to get them interested and reading. I’m not sure if I’d buy into them as investments for the long term as it’s such an early speculation before characters are even developed. Comic Books are going the route of the Sports Trading Cards, where in sports these “prospect” who have not even played on the professional level yet are highly touted often command higher values than proven vets and enshrined hall of famers. I can’t believe an Immortal Hulk, Spider-Gwen and other characters debuting in the last 5 years can have valuations more than let’s say DC’s Power Girl 1st appearance.

  • accustomfigures

    Just found 2 copies of OLH5 on the shelf at my LCS this past Saturday for cover. A rare occurrence indeed.

  • Adam Lebednik

    I should have listened about OLH.

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