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TBR Challenge: The Last Days of Krypton

lastdaysofkryptonA good friend gave me this book a couple years back. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to reading it right away…and it sat on a shelf with several other comic-related/adapted novelizations.

Then last year I came across Superman & Batman: Enemies & Allies, and wound up starting that randomly one day. I finished it fairly soon after, and realized I’d have to read The Last Days of Krypton before long–the writer had certainly proven himself to me with Enemies & Allies.

And, of course, there was that reading challenge I decided to adopt at the start of the year…this book was part of my list’s core, perfectly fitting the purpose of this challenge: to read books that I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t been around to reading just yet. I decided to start the year out with this one, though didn’t think it would take me almost a full month to get through. (Though I determined several days ago to finish it tonight–or BY tonight–so I could start another book for February, as I should go through at least one book per month to achieve the goal of the reading challenge).

Just tonight I got to thinking a bit more "metatextually" about this book–how, in the final hundred pages or so–I wasn’t even thinking about the story being set on Krypton exactly–not as an alien planet with a different culture, anyway. It was simply the setting. Characters like Jor-El, his wife Lara, the politically-minded General Zod…they’re just who they are, in this book.

And it’s a shame, because I do think that was part of what put me off at first–I was hesitant to get into a story dealing with Krypton itself, before Kal-El was even born (even conceived, at that!). Yet, after over a year of the comics having the whole World of New Krypton thing going on…this wasn’t as much a leap as it might otherwise have been. And proved far more enjoyable.

Anderson shows a great bit of craftsmanship in the telling of this tale. At the start of the book, Krypton indeed comes off as alien–as it should. But somewhere along the way, it just simply…is. It’s no different than when I first opened Dragons of Autumn Twilight early Freshman year of high school and first discovered the world of Krynn, or the first time I read The Fellowship of the Ring and found myself in Tolkien‘s detailed landscape…or for that matter, turned the pages of a comic in which a man could fly or dress as a creature of the night and fight crime…in the daytime.

Even as events unfolded–especially toward the very end–in a way that I didn’t expect, nothing actually contradicts what I already know about Superman and his background. A couple characters have names I’m unfamiliar with, others have names that would almost have to be intentional plays on words…but nothing truly contradicts stuff.

In fact, toward the latter part of this book, I was put even more in mind of the Donner movie continuity, as certain elements came together in such a way that I was visualizing what I think I recall from the original film’s time spent looking at the end of Krypton.

Even though this book details–as the title says–the last days of Krypton, and you’d have to have zero idea who Superman is, his background, and probably not even see this book’s cover to not know how it ends….it’s the story leading there that draws one in. And Superman fan or not, this makes for a nice, solid sci-fi story…just that it has something extra going for it knowing what it technically "leads into."

All in all, a very enjoyable read–one I’m glad to have read, and I look forward to possibly tracking down some of the author’s other works at some point down the line.

Booster Gold #14 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Stars in Your Eyes, Part 2

Booster and a questionable ally seek the point in time at which to stop the Starro infestation before the whole of Time can be infected…a feat that may have a large cost to accomplish.

boostergold014Writer: Rick Remender
Penciller: Pat Olliffe
Inker: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Chris Batista and Mick Gray
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue begins with a Booster Gold trapped in a sea of malevolent starfish intent upon taking control of the hero. Showing some smarts some don’t credit him with, Booster quickly escapes, but finds that his challenge might just be insurmountable–Starro has (through Rip Hunter) gained access to the Timestream itself and is taking over, eradicating from existence anything and anyone who might be able to stop him. Finding an unexpected ally, striking a (figurative) deal with a lesser of the two evils, and utilizing access to the Timestream, Booster fights back, risking not only his life but the whole of free-thinking reality to try to save Rip Hunter and set time right.

While certainly not my favorite Booster story, this issue certainly wades in deep with the sort of adventure the "All-New" (as opposed to "Pre-Infinite Crisis") Booster Gold is meant for. The story has some decent moments, characters are believable (even if I didn’t know before who a certain villain was prior), and shows that while maintaining an ongoing story it is very possible to have stories done in less than six chapters. This is a solid story, and well worthwhile for Booster Gold fans (or fans of Starro).

The art is of strong quality. I have no real complaint with it, as characters are all unrecognizable and distinct, there’s a good amount of detail (especially if you look closely at points), and the story comes across nothing but enhanced by the visuals. A panel on the last page in particular–while perhaps not entirely true to that character–almost made me laugh as my mind fills in the blanks from what we’re shown.

I’m sure you could find issues better than this within this series and others. But honestly? You could do so much worse than this issue. If you can find the previous issue to go with this, I recommend snaggin’ both for a good, simple two-issue read.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

X-Men #7 [cxPulp Mini-Review]


Review posted to cxPulp.com
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Overall: 4/5

Age of X: Alpha #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Booster Gold #13 [Review]

Quick Rating: Not Bad
Story Title: Stars in Your Eyes, Part I

Booster & Michelle vs. Starro-Rip in a battle with huge consequences.

boostergold013Written by: Rick Remender
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inks: Jerry Ordway
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Chris Batista & Mick Gray
Publisher: DC Comics

We open this issue with an image of Superman being punched to the ground, as Booster and his sister move in to save a life Superman (would have been) unable to save. Booster explains why they can’t just save everybody, and the two return to Rip’s lab, only to find Hunter with a starfish…er…Starro Spore hugging his face. The possessed Rip heads into the timestream, and it quickly becomes apparent that Starro has taken over Everything. Booster and Michelle head into the timestream themselves, set on preventing Starro’s takeover. The two find out how the Starro Spore came into contact with Rip, as well as just what it means to face a world that Starro has conquered…and Starro reveals something rather personal to Booster.

This feels like a pretty "standard" sort of issue for this title. The story fits the characters: we have an opening that showcases Booster & Michelle in action doing their time-travel set-things-right-one-life-at-a-time thing. We’re then introduced to the beginning of the primary story, and thrown into the action. This is what Booster’s supposed to be doing, at least as the premise of this title as set up over a year ago, so no problems there. On the whole, this feels like an issue of Booster Gold, the Greatest Hero You’ve Never Heard Of.

The art’s good, as well–no real complaint there. It’s not quite a match for Jurgens‘ art…but it’s darned close, and having had a few weeks since reading my last issue and not thinking about it going in, the difference was not particularly noticeable–which I feel is a good thing. Visually, this book certainly holds its own in terms of definite quality. I also have to give it credit for consistency, as I did not once think to myself anything or anyone looked funny or out of the ordinary.

On the whole, though, this feels like a so-so issue. It’s good, don’t get me wrong–but it’s not quite up to what I’ve come to expect of this title. There weren’t any scenes that made me smile, or wax nostalgic, or any of those things that have made so many of the other issues such great reads. Though I’m familiar with the existence of Starro, the character is not a character I’m all that familiar with in particular. Nor am I at all interested in the character. Having such a character as the villain of the piece lessens my emotional investment in the story–as does knowing that this is only a two or three part story, and then I believe Jurgens returns to do both story and art…which leaves me very confident not much of consequence will happen in this story (except perhaps Booster figuring out what was revealed to the readers at the close of Johns‘ tenure on the book).

I certainly will not recommend against this issue…but it’s not an example of what’s made me so enjoy the previous issues thus far.

Ratings:

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #0

favoritesofwaltcomicshopslogo

When I was introduced to comics in late 1988 and early 1989–ages 7/8–comics were found in a pretty fancy spinning thing at Waldenbooks at the local mall, or in a "traditional" wire spinner rack at Finast (later became Tops), the local grocery store. My grandfather and uncle could get comics at a local drug store, and Kmart occasionally had bags of comics. Hills, a local department store, also occasionally had shrink-wrapped 3-packs of comics.

A couple years later, I discovered a mail-order company that specialized in comics. I’d receive their monthly catalogs: Entertainment This Month, where one could pre-order new/upcoming comics. And American Entertainment, where a select quantity of particular comics was available at marked-up prices.

Back then, I loved getting to stop in Waldenbooks to look for new Superman and/or Batman comics. Sometimes I got a couple issues with consecutive numbering…but in many cases, I’d be missing a "middle" issue. It was just an accepted thing. There just weren’t other outlets for finding those missed issues. Frankly, I don’t think I even fully noticed that. I mean…I was only vaguely aware that Robin had died–and I got that from The Mud Pack chapter 3, where Batman’s confronted on the cover by a ghostly image of Robin, and the story had him referring to Robin being dead. And I wasn’t even sure what was going on with Superman–he was in space and needed some sort of breathing apparatus, while someone was struggling with who they were on Earth and became Clark Kent.

One of my friends was also "into" comics at the time, with a similar background. During the summer of 1992, he’d obtained a Superman #1 comic, and it was really thick. It was about some guy possessing people, starting an even bigger story. Turned out it was Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #1, part of the Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover.

There was a store in the same mini-plaza where his mom took him for a haircut that sold comics. Like…the store itself was basically selling nothing but comics, and some sports cards and such. It was a comic store. Which was quite the amazing concept to me at the time. Who ever heard of a store that only sold comics and the like?

I was 11 at that point, and was standing on the edge of a whole new world…a world I live in to this day, despite all the twists and changes and events that have happened since then. But it seems most probable that it was my introduction to the Direct Market, to comic shops, that took what I often imagine my parents figured for a casual hobby and turned it into a regular part of my life, that has in one way or another informed much of my life for the last couple decades.

Over the next several weeks, I intend to share a series of short posts about the various comic stores that have been any significant–or at least, a repeated–part of my life. Some are still around, others are long gone.

This weekly journey begins Friday, February 4th with Capp’s Comics…my first comic shop.

Booster Gold #12 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good
Story Title: Vicious Cycle

Booster & Michelle continue to “fix” time…

boostergold012Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencil Art by: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Jurgens & Rapmund
Publisher: DC Comics

This second chapter picks up with Booster and his sister in the Batcave, at the mercy of Alfred–Batman’s butler…who intends the heroes stay put until his master returns, and holds a shotgun to back up his words. With a little help from Skeets, the two manage to abscond with some necessary (and perhaps not-so-necessary) resources, and continue their mission. Of course, though simple enough conceptually, their plan’s execution is a bit wanting, resulting in some further complications.

Dixon‘s writing portrays the characters quite well, and seems a perfect fit for a brief excursion into the Bat-corner of the DCU for this tale. Everyone seems to be in-character, and we’re provided with a number of cool “moments” and some fun nods to longtime fans (I assume plenty of people can identify with Booster in some of his comments about The Car, for one).

Jurgens & Rapmund continue to keep me impressed on the visuals. I really can’t find anything about the art that doesn’t work for me. From the opening page to the closing cameo panels…everyone looks spot-on, and that leaves me to simply enjoy the pretty art with a fun story.

All in all, another good issue of this series. While perhaps “just” a fill-in story between major creative lineups, the issue doesn’t feel like filler–it continues the basic premise of the series, and even sets things up for potential stories down the road a bit should anyone choose to follow up on certain points.

As the 2nd chapter of a 2-part story, this isn’t the best single issue to jump in on…but if you can find #11, the story makes a nice, fun point to jump on-board, and get a done-in-two story without needing to jump in for 6-some issues.

Recommended.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

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