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Action Comics #870 [Review]

Brainiac: Finale

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inkers: Jon Sial & Bit
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assoc. Editor: Nachie Castro
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Gary Frank (variant by Andy Kubert)

As the issue opens, Brainiac has kidnapped Metropolis (putting it into a bottle as he did Kandor and countless other cities from alien worlds), and is preparing to destroy the Earth. Though somewhat down, Superman proves that he is far from out, as he breaks free of Brainiac’s ship and fights not only for his own life, and the lives of every citizen in Metropolis, but for the entire Earth as well (and this time, lacking the backup he’d assembled during the 1992 “Panic in the Sky”). The battle extends beyond the ship, and Superman is able to–with backup from Supergirl–rescue not only Metropolis, but Kandor as well (c’mon, that was spoiled months ago!). And with Brainiac’s final attack, many–but not all–lives endangered are saved.

I’ve come to really, really appreciate Frank’s art on this book. For this “new,” “Post-Infinite-Crisis” Superman, he seems PERFECT. We get a very realistic-looking Superman (and supporting cast), we get excellent detail, and yet, there’s a certain subtlety to it that just makes for a great visual result; I’m ready to add Frank to the top of my list of favorite Superman artists, holding rank with Dan Jurgens and Jim Lee.

Story-wise, this is solid Johns all the way. On the whole, no real complaint with the writing in and of itself–stuff seems consistent with prior issues, and this just continues the story begun over the past several chapters. The issue’s end…well, I’m not sure how I feel on it quite yet, but will hold judgement until I see how it plays out (hopefully by Johns, through the upcoming “New Krypton” arc and beyond).

For something like what ocurred in this issue to come as a surprise to me adds immensely to the power of the story–I honestly did not see it coming. I figured I had things nailed, given that we’re just a week or two away from the start of “New Krypton,” and that this would be like “The Death of Superman.” You know how it ends going in, but read to find out the HOW to it all. Instead, I got something much deeper.

This is a kick-butt (no pun intended) action-filled issue that will have certain, immediate, deep ramifications across the Superman family of titles and characters. If you’re a Superman fan, and/or thinking of checking out the “New Krypton” story, this issue would be well worth picking up.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8.5/10

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Green Lantern Corps. #29

Sins of the Star Sapphire: Love on the Air (part one)

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inkers: Drew Geraci & Rebecca Buchman
Color: Randy Mayor & Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editors: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza
Cover: Gleason & Nei Rufino

This issue introduces us to a couple of lovers in space, who love each other very much, and their lives are wrecked when Mongul–still alive, but horribly injured after his encounter with some Green Lanterns and the Black Mercies. Their encounter gives way to the introduction of a member of a new Lantern Corps. At the same time, Kyle and others are securing children of various Lanterns, making sure families of the Corps. are safe and not allowed to be threatened (after so many parents were recently murdered). Finally, Guy and Ice have some discussion as to their relationship and where they are and where they’re going.

The story of the issue works pretty well. I’m not all that interested in the Star Sapphire stuff myself–I’m more interested in remnants of the Sinestro Corps. and/or any hints to be had toward Black Lanterns. Still, the story progresses things in a believable fashion–we know these other Lantern Corps. are coming into existence; it’s also well within reason that after parents were threatened, GLs would check on children/family in general. Similarly, it’s totally believeable seeing Guy and Ice hash out their relationship issues. Even with the power(s) they both have and their lot in life, it’s cool to see them at least trying to make a go of things, and dealing with the pressures each is under.

Visually, I’m not the biggest fan of the art. It works–characters are clear and distinct, there’s no issue following what’s going on, and all that. Something about the style just doesn’t suit me, though, and it’s all the more noticeable since this issue shipped alongside Green Lantern #35, whose art by Ivan Reis is some of my favorite GL art to date.

Overall, another solid issue of the series. Nothing bad to it, but nothing particularly blew me away, either. As we head into the tail end of 2008, with 2009 on the horizon with the promised Blackest Night, this title’s got a lot to measure up to as I’m nearly a year after it was announced still chomping at the bit for a story that’s probably at least a good seven to eight months away.

This is the first issue of a new arc, so as good a point as any to jump in; worth the pickup for fans of the GL Corps and their ongoing adventures in general. For more casual fans, I’d suggest waiting for a collected volume to get the whole arc at once if it interests you.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6.5/10

Ender’s Game: Battle School #1 [Review]

Creative Director & Executive Director: Orson Scott Card
Script: Christopher Yost
Art: Pasqual Ferry
Color Art: Frank D’Armata
Lettering: Cory Petit
Story Consultant: Jake Black
Production: Irene Lee
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Consulting Editor: Nick Lowe
Senior Editor: Mark Paniccia
Cover: Pasqual Ferry & Frank D’Armata (variant by Emily Warren)
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It’s been a number of years since I last read Ender’s Game. Much as a movie based on a book rarely holds up to the source material, I’ve found that to be the case with most books-to-comics adaptations as well. Still, I decided to give this issue a try, given the source material, and wondering how it’d translate.

The issue opens with a young boy–Andrew “Ender” Wiggin having a monitor device removed from the back of his neck. Though the procedure doesn’t go as routinely as expected, the boy soon returns to class, where fellow students take note of the monitor having been removed. Lacking “status” granted by the device, Ender finds himself having to stand up–alone–to some bullies, and gets away with his fellow students looking at him thrugh much different eyes than earlier. As the issue progresses, we are introduced to the rest of Ender’s family, and the reason he had a monitoring device attached to him, as well as other elements that set up the story.

The art here works well, though it’s not entirely to my taste. The style has the feel of something trying to resemble CGI, or at the least of trying to mimic real life models or of being based on human actors, as a comic adaptation of a movie. That said, it’s quite interesting to put some actual visuals to characters I’ve only previously seen in my own imagination. This version doesn’t match what I’d imagined…but is in the unique position of providing me imagery going in, and as the story progresses, to continue to add to what I recall of the story.

The story is what I remember, though some subtle details I’d forgotten. Having words and pictures rather than just words to tell the story, many details obviously are sacrificed, even as others are enhanced by having visuals to SHOW what’s happening rather than just TELLING. A picture being worth a thousand words and all that, after all.

Overall, not a bad outing for something of this nature. This issue is billed as the first of 5…but from what I can remember of the novel (and that this is subtitled “Battle School”) I get the feeling that this mini-series-to-become-graphic-novel-collected-volume is just the first of multiple arcs that as a whole will give us (at least) a visual AND words adaptation of Card’s original novel.

I think that this might have been better suited for an original graphic novel format, as the story would probably work much better in a much larger chunk all at once instead of the little story segment we have here.

If you’re a particular fan of the novel and eager to read the story in a new format, this issue ought to be worth checking out. If this is a passing curiosity or otherwise…I think you’d be best suited to wait for a collected volume, and go from there.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6.5/10

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