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The Rest of the Stack #3 – Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

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Last week, I was able to redeem some “reward points” from Best Buy which I then applied to a purchase of the “Special Edition” of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. That made for a darned good price…even though I had to go to TWO Best Buys to find the edition that came with the Batman figurine. I must admit to some disappointment that this Batman is NOT part of the Infinite Heroes line…unlike the Green Lantern figurine that came with Green Lantern: First Flight this past July.

I was really looking forward to this new animated movie…particularly for the fact that the characters–Superman, Batman, and Lex Luthor–would be voiced by their “classic” voices from the Batman, Superman, and Justice League/Unlimited animated series.

In anticipation of the movie, I read the graphic novel the day before it came out, which was both blessing and curse. It was a blessing in that I got a real kick out of things that were taken word-for-word from the source material…but it made changes and omissions that much more glaring, having the original so fresh in memory.

The basic plot of the movie is that Lex Luthor has been elected president (he ran on a promise of change/improvement to horrible economic conditions throughout the country). As president, he’s brought meta-humans under government supervision…and those that refuse to work FOR him personally (such as Superman and Batman) are outlaws. Luthor is then made aware of a huge kryptonite meteor heading toward earth, and seeks to manipulate things to set Superman and Batman in poor light while raising his own status in the public eye to even higher levels. When he puts a bounty on Superman’s head, the super-powered baddies come outta the woodwork, including villains not normally fitting in a story such as this.

The thing I noticed immediately with this film was the animation itself. It seemed really simplistic, with a lot of static backgrounds, and limited movement in the foreground as I watched. Something about it throughout the film seemed to be of lesser quality than the Green Lantern film from earlier this summer.

At the same time, I really dug the visual style of the characters–I liked their visualization, based on Ed McGuiness’ art from the source material. This combined with the classic voices is enough to almost overcome the animation limitations…at the least, I’m willing to let it go for my enjoyment of the visual design and the voices.

There are some minor omissions–the future-Superman doesn’t show up, and there’s no sign of nor mention of Green Lantern. The change that bothered me the most, though, was the ending…especially with a character’s role being swapped, when the character swapped out actually appears in this same movie (it’s not like it had to be changed because the character wasn’t used!). I get that the change was made presumably to keep this as much more of a “buddy flick” rather than the first arc of an ongoing series…but to me, the original ending would still have been perfectly valid here.

All in all, I was thoroughly entertained by this film, even though it’s incredibly short. I get that it takes time to create animation, and so an animated film will be shorter than live-action…but I’d rather wait a bit longer to get a film with a bit more to it.

The extras with the special edition make the package worth far more as a whole than just the film itself. There’s a Blackest Night documentary looking at the opening of the story–I’m pretty sure this is recycled from the Green Lantern: First Flight DVD. There’s also a nice documentary looking at the history of Superman and Batman as a team. This was quite interesting, and I tend to enjoy analyses of the characters, so this was right up my alley. It also allowed me to put a couple more faces with names I’m familiar with.

There are some other extras that–honestly–I haven’t gotten to yet.

Overall, I’m very glad I picked this up. It’s not quite up there with Green Lantern: First Flight and Justice League: New Frontier…but I enjoyed this more than Wonder Woman…and CERTAINLY far, far moreso than I did the Superman: Doomsday film (I hold to this day that the only worthwhile bit of having bought that one was the retrospective documentary about the original Death of Superman comics).

Even if you aren’t into buying dvds…this is well worth renting to just watch it once. It’s nothing deep, but makes for a little over an hour’s good entertainment.

Green Lantern #46 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Blackest Night: Titans #2 [Review]

Bite the Hand That Feeds

Written by: J. J. Krul
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Scott Williams & Ed Benes
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Rob Clark Jr.
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editors: Eddie Berganza & Brian Cunningham
Cover: Benes, Hunter, & Pete Pantazis (variant by Brian Haberlin)
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s a fair amount going on in this issue. Donna deals with the Black Lantern versions of her late husband and child, battling the emotions brought to the surface seeing them back. Dove deals with Black Lantern Hawk who has just killed her sister, a newer Hawk…and of course the implications of a recently-deceased individual in proximity to black rings. Beast Boy deals with the deception presented him, and the whole team winds up facing the imminent attack from old enemies newly risen as Black Lanterns.

This was a pretty good issue, though I didn’t “get” everything that was going on, not being overly familiar with many of the characters…even less familiar with their specific current status quo. However, that doesn’t detract much from the story, I don’t think–just that I’d get more out of it being more familiar with recent stuff. There’s plenty of forward movement story-wise (really, for the middle chapter of a 3-parter, that’s part of what’ll make or break the series). Everything introduced in the first issue that I can recall is followed up on, and we’re left with enough that it’s hard to believe there can be a complete story here with only 3 issues TO the mini.

The art by Benes is top-notch; really no complaint there. The characters are all recognizeable, and even in the yuckiness of the Black Lanterns, this is some of the best I’ve seen these characters…a state of affairs I’ve gotten rather used to in the case of Benes-pencilled works. I wonder just a bit at Williams not inking the entire issue…curious if it’s a timing issue or some such. Despite wondering, I didn’t even notice that UNTIL I specifically looked at the credits for this review, which is saying something (positive) about it in MY book.

This is a bit of a niche book; probably best suited for those familiar with the Titans side of the DCU and seeing how they’re affected by Blackest Night. But if you’re simply following Blackest Night itself, this issue (and the series it’s a part of) seems to serve as a good instroduction to key characters in the Titans family of books.

This is another high-quality issue, well worth getting in context of the above-referenced conditions.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Superman #692 [Review]

Down Time

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

I feel like I missed an issue somewhere. The way this whole “Mon-El is dead, killed by the Kryptonians” plot thread is getting so much play-time seems somehow out of proportion. To me, the big reveal of Codename: Patriot was Sam Lane being what the story’s title was in reference to. Mon-El being killed, or SUPPOSEDLY killed just was not something that really jumped out to me…so I either missed an issue, or failed to “notice” something that would be played out as so significant.

This issue provides some context on the destruction of Metropolis’ sewer/water system and why it’s not simply being fixed by Earth’s metahumans; we also have some references to other characters of recent significance. We see the Guardian reacting to the apparent death of his new friend, as well as what is surely the premature announcement of Jon Kent’s death, though the in-story context speaks to its timeliness.

The art’s pretty good overall, though doesn’t really strike me as other art teams’ work has. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t stand out as wonderful in and of itself. It gets the story across and does what a comic’s art should, but doesn’t strike me as a “selling point” for this particular issue.

All told, not a bad issue in and of itself, but I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I think the New Krypton stuff is beginning to wear a bit thin for me, and I’m also waxing nostalgic for Byrne, Ordway, Jurgens, and other art teams from the late-1980s and early 1990s…so current artists aren’t measuring up to what I hold in memory and nostalgia.

A worthwhile issue if you’re following the title or the Superman family of books. Nothing really here to justify it as a jumping-on point.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

The Web #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

The Web
Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5

The Hangman
Story: 4/5
Art: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

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