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General Mills Presents: Justice League #1 [Review]

Unstoppable Forces

Written by: Scott Beatty
Art by: Christian Duce
Colors by: Allen Passalaqua
Letters by: Wes Abbott
Cover by: Dan Jurgens, Sandra Hope, Carrie Strachan
Associate Editor: Kristy Quinn
Group Editor: Ben Abernathy
Senior Art Director: Larry Berry

It’s been years since there’s been anything worth buying cereal for. Well, that phrasing may not be entirely accurate–I’ve been a cereal guy all through this time. But it’s been a lotta years since there was anything extra–a “prize” or “bonus” or whatever–contained in the cereal box as any true incentive in and of itself. But now, select General Mills cereals include a “free” Justice League comic book, making up essentially a 4-issue mini-series. They’re labeled as 1-4 “of 4,” anyway.

This first issue is rather bland, but in a fun sort of way. You have the various characters–Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman–but virtually nothing of their secret IDs, and the story isn’t all that deep. It’s really a done-in-one, out-of-continuity sorta deal.

Some time back, the heroes manage with some difficulty to subdue something called “The Shaggy Man,” and go on with their lives. Years later, a real estate developer breaks ground on the very spot the Shaggy Man is in stasis…awakening the creature. The Justice League springs into action, and ultimately find a better solution to keep the world safe from this Shaggy Man’s threat.

The art isn’t bad, though it suffers (for me) from a strong sense of being generic–this IS a “free giveaway” in a box of cereal, after all. It also feels rather weird seeing these characters in their “old” costumes–this giveaway comes barely 2 months into the relaunch of DC’s superhero line, so it would seem to have been a better thing to have this wait or at least have featured the new versions of the characters. Heck, make it a four-issue thing detailing some of the backstory of the New 52…or even reprint some prior material (do 2 issues of the Heroes’ origins from 52, and 2 issues of Villains’ origins from Countdown or some such).

The story is self-contained, and aside from that sense of being generic, the art IS NOT bad…though I’m not familiar with this artist. This is definitely something you could give to kids…it skirts deeper issues in favor of vagueness, and there’s no real depth of character for any of the characters here…but that only irks me as a fan of continuity and stronger stories.

The cover features an image by Dan Jurgens which helps offset the interior art; it also features a subtitle “Unstoppable Forces,” and the story is truly a done-in-one, which makes the “1 of 4” a bit strange–there’s no “To Be Continued,” so this didn’t even need a number. Seems the number is there to “legitimize” there being 4 different comics, and make this look more like a “real” comic.

Despite my complaints and whatever negativity…the truth is…this is EXACTLY the sort of thing I would have been THRILLED with at age 8 or 9 or 12 when I was first getting into comics, being exposed to multiple heroes and seeing them doing heroic stuff. Long before I came to care about things like depth of character and the sort of stuff that’s lacking here. The back cover shows all four covers to this “mini-series,” and even has caption “Enjoy reading all 4 comics together as a family!” I don’t know about anyone else, but I figure that would be a splendid idea–you’ve got the cereal, you’ve got the comic, and you can spend some time reading with your kid.

Or if you’re an adult…enjoy the simple stuff about comics that made them a joy to get into when you were a kid.

Story: 6/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 7/10

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The Rest of the Stack: Week of November 2, 2011

allofthestack

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

ANIMAL MAN #3

animalman003I liked the first issue quite a bit. I liked the sound of it even more, which is why I picked it up at all, though I did so a week or two late after hearing reviews. By now, though, with this issue…I’m just finding myself not enjoying this. The story’s good, yeah…but the art just bothers me. I know this is a horror book, it’s basically a Vertigo book under the DC banner…but the imagery just really bothers me, beyond simply being creepy. And so really, I’m getting the increasing feeling that this is not a book for me, or at least not in singles with monthly doses. I’m more a fan of Animal Man the super-hero…and this seems to be specifically moving away from that, saying that the super-hero stuff was a phase, to be there for a time in preparation for what comes now. So it’s a case of…this is not bad, in and of itself…but I’m realizing that it’s not for me. I may stick around for a couple more issues, finish out this story…but time will have to tell, on that. (6/10)

INVINCIBLE #84

invincible084I’m not terribly thrilled with this title in general. There’s something that just doesn’t exactly work for me, and I don’t find myself all that engaged with the characters. Perhaps it’s going from feeling like I only have to read this title to realizing there’s more going on–Guarding the Globe, and at least one other tie-in mini-series, and all those backups I couldn’t get into that I skipped (or read but don’t remember the content). AND YET…and yet, this title is doing something smart. I’m finding that I like this new method the character is trying: instead of just punching things, he’s trying to talk things out, figure out underlying motivations, and generally do more than just maintain some status quo. In this issue, he sees that despite putting the villain behind bars, the same exact result the villain was going for is being carried out…so maybe the villain isn’t as much in the wrong as thought. Which gives Invincible something to think about…and though the results are looking sort of familiar, the motivation seems a bit more genuine–and permanent–than just some one-off story arc for where I’ve seen this thing done before. And since the title’s still at $2.99 and I’ve dropped so many others recently…I’m gonna stick around awhile. Maybe get the Invincible Compendium and a couple trades to fill the gap, and get caught up. Might even be able to engage more. (7.5/10)

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #3

justiceleagueinternational003I’m sure I’m coming off as some sort of curmudgeon this week with the whopping 4 new comics from my pull list. I’m not exactly excited about stuff, and finding it far too easy of late to drop stuff. Reading this issue…I realized that I really don’t much CARE about these characters. Booster–the character and reason I’ve been getting this title to begin with–doesn’t have room to really be developed and shine, he’s just another character in the bunch. I can get more Guy Gardner over in GL Corps; and I’m getting Batman in his own title. But just as I’m ready to simply write this title off, yet another to wait and potentially consider via collected volumes, there’s a seemingly “key” moment. Something about August General in Iron that I did not know, and which adds something else to the character, something deeper that I’m a bit curious about. It reminds me of what I’ve read about X-Men, and the way the Wolverine character was developed out of an art mistake. And it’s stuff like that, that I miss about comics. So, maybe I’ll at least stick around for the rest of this arc…but after going from no DC to 13/14 DCs with the New 52 relaunch…my patience for 20-page issues isn’t there, and I have a feeling I’m not yet done dropping titles. (7/10)

SWAMP THING #3

swampthing003I kinda see this title going hand in hand with Animal Man in a loose sense. Swamp Thing deals with “the Green” while Animal Man deals with “the Red.” We also learn in this issue of “the Rot,” which means there’s more to be explored and developed. Of course, this title’s visuals are less disturbing than Animal Man, and I do have a bit more “history” and reading experience with Swamp Thing…so this is a bit more interesting. Abby Arcane finds Alec Holland, and brings him up to speed on stuff. She needs his help to save a boy who could end the world…and as the issue progresses, we learn how. And also–who this boy is, which ties to long-time continuity (if you know your Swamp Thing history) but is simply the current threat if you don’t. Of course, the cover blurbs do not seem to fit this as a relaunch–there has not yet been time to even delve into the character’s past…so “Once his greatest love…now his deadliest enemy?” suggests a lot more history than 3 issues. I’m interested, though…and of the 3 DCs I picked up this week, I’d say this one’s the safest from being dropped. (8/10)

22 Years Later…finally watched ‘An American Tail’

americantail1A long time ago, in a life far, far away…well, ok, a little over two decades ago… there was this movie. An American Tail. “Tail” as in mouse-tail, rather than “tale” as in “story.” And it was about this dumb little mouse with a hat. And this whole thing about supposedly “no cats in America,” these mice were celebrating. And I didn’t like it, and though my family had it on–I don’t recall if it was a video rental or just on TV–I didn’t pay it much attention.

Of course, looking back, that “There Are No Cats In America” song stuck with me…never coming up or staying in my mind for very long, but it was there, a part of me and my life, something that would (rarely) be brought to mind.

americantail2And there was that OTHER song, that I didn’t like hearing. It seemed stupid, and somehow just bugged me. Something about someone being out there. And maybe it’s my 30-year-old self analyzing my 10-year-old self, but there was probably some confusion there, between a song being sung between brother and sister, which was then repeated with different singers that was a “love song” or whatever I interpreted back then.

Now, I may remember stuff from years ago, but the more recent past is a bit jumbled in my mind–some details may be slightl off. But I want to say it was just a few weeks ago, I noticed the double-feature DVD of both An American Tail and Fievel Goes West. And it didn’t seem so hokey to me. But I didn’t think much of it, consciously, at the time.

This week, something someone said to me brought that song “Somewhere Out There” to mind, which then spent much of the week on “repeat” in my head…first the obvious, and then after finding the Ingram/Ronstadt version on YouTube, the song as a whole (and I am STILL irked that if I want that via iTunes I have to buy the ENTIRE Ingram album!)

But thanks to that song, I really decided I wanted to actually watch An American Tail. And since it’s not available through Netflix streaming, and I cancelled my subscription to their DVD service…couldn’t just put it on. And so I wound up finding the double-feature at Target, and went ahead and spent the money to buy it.

Friday night I watched An American Tail…and this morning I watched Fievel Goes West.

Continue reading

Tales of the TMNT #54 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Mere Appendix

Raphael accidentally damages the Fugitoid during a bar scuffle, which leads Professor Honeycutt to some questions about his past.

talesofthetmnt054Script: Andrew Bonia
Pencils: Bob LeFevre
Inks: Mostafa Moussa
Tones: L. Jamal Walton
Letters: Eric Talbot
Cover: Bob LeFevre, Mostafa Moussa, Steve Lavigne
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Publisher: Mirage

Beginning the issue, we find ourselves with the Ninja Turtles in a brawl at a local pub on the planet Queexox V. (This is apparently the homeworld of Professor Honeycutt, known to most as “the Fugitoid.”) During the brawl, Raphael accidentally puts a sai through Honeycutt’s eye, badly damaging him. With damaged Fugitoid in tow, the Turtles escape to the Utroms. After determining that the utroms don’t know enough to truly fix the robot body, the Turtles take him to his old lab for him to attempt self-repair. make a break for it, seeking Honeycutt’s old lab so he can attempt to fix himself.

The art for this issue is very blocky, with thick lines and rather cartooney proportions, even for something like the TMNT. The art in itself isn’t bad, but the style isn’t to my own liking–it puts me in mind of manga-style art, while coming across a bit generically and without striking me as being manga-styled. If manga-ish art is your thing, you should have no problem with this.

The story itself is pretty good, drawing very nicely on TMNT backstory, with flashbacks to Professor Honeycutt/Fugitoid’s first appearance (the one-shot Fugitoid). This story is set at some point in the TMNT story, though no definitive time is referenced. The Turtles themselves are virtually background players in this issue–something to initiate the conflict of the story and then follow events along. The heart of the story is about Fugitoid exploring his past and determining the nature of the accident that long ago transferred his mind into a robot body, and raising the all-too-human question about “who am I?”

As a whole, this is a solid issue focusing on the Fugitoid and injecting some humanity–and question–into it. Longtime fans ought to find their knowledge of the character refreshed and fleshed out a bit (at least in terms of the character’s motivation), while newer fans will discover more about a character that hasn’t had much of a spotlight in a lotta years.

Recommended.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 3/5

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