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Captain Midnight #0 [Review]

captainmidnight000frontWritten by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Victor Ibanez and Pere Perez
Colors by: Ego
Letters by: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover by: Raymond Swanland
Back Cover by: Steve Rude
Designer: David Nestelle
Editor: Jim Gibbons
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Captain Midnight #0 has a lot of things going for it.

First (and primarily, for me) it is only $2.99, but it’s a “full size” issue. Looks like a full issue, feels like a full issue, reads like a full issue.

Secondly, it has a really nice-looking cover that grabbed my attention in spite of myself. Often, the cover is not going to grab me–I’m solely looking for the TITLEs (which is how I often wind up with an UNwanted variant edition: I simply see a title logo and issue number, and it’s not til I’m home about to read that I realize it’s NOT the image I wanted.) Additionally, there’s ANOTHER full-cover image on the BACK of the issue: instead of being a whole separate EDITION to have too purchase to have, this cool image is included with the “standard” cover, but I still get to look at it, in-print, ON the issue I bought!

Thirdly, this is a #0, but not proclaimed on the cover to be “of ____” and so it more effectively stands alone–it’s not specifically saying that it’s the first issue of a mini-series. It may be a prologue, a foundation-stone, a beginning that sets up a mini-series or ongoing series, but in and of itself it’s just a single, one-shot stand-alone issue.

And this is all without even getting to the contents of the issue itself.

captainmidnight000backThis issue made it to the bottom of my (admittedly small 4-issue stack) of new issues for the week. Yet–much as I enjoy TMNT stuff from IDW these days–this wound up being my favorite issue of the week. I’d bought it on a whim–see paragraphs above–but had found myself with second thoughts, ready to write it off as a stupid extra purchase in an otherwise “small week.”

We open with a World War II-ear plane suddenly appearing…and present-day military is not at all thrilled at this out-of-the-blue Bermuda Triangle invader. They’re even less thrilled when the pilot does more than parachute out of the plane–he’s dressed in a unique uniform–with “wings”–allowing him extreme maneuverability beyond any expectation.

Complicating things further, their new “guest” refuses to give up information about what he is doing–his mission–claiming that to be “top secret” information. He is recognized as looking like a hero who disappeared during WWII, but most of those involved can’t believe him to be the same man, the “legend” or “fairy tale” they’ve heard about for years. A past associate of the man is brought into things, which opens the door to other revelations.

I’m not familiar with the artist for this issue–not consciously, anyway–and truthfully, I hardly even NOTICED the art as I read…which in this case means it did its job extremely well. It simply gets the story across, I’m not left wondering what’s going on or wasting extra time trying to piece together the action from what I see in any given panel. The art IS the visual of the story, it flows smoothly, and I have no problems with it whatsoever.

The story itself is engaging, well beyond any best-expectations I had for the issue. Though I mentioned earlier this made it to the bottom of my stack, that was words unread, visuals unseen but for the cover. When I started reading the issue, I immediately “assumed” this was going to be yet another WWII-era story somehow, and one way or the other resigned myself to something I wouldn’t particularly enjoy. Yet, I quickly found myself, page after page, hoping the next page was not a cliffhanger, not the end of the issue. And when I did reach the end of the issue, little as I even now know of the characters, even cliché as the situation is (think: Captain America via different ‘delivery’ to the Present), I’m interested.

Though this is largely prologue-type material, quasi-origin-issue and such, and doesn’t answer a whole lot or really have a particular ending (keeping it from being a fully self-contained issue), it’s well worth checking out; if it’s going to hook you, it will…else, it’s still something “new” “tried” for one issue at 25% less on the cover price of the umpteen double-shipping Marvel books.

Combined with the relative “bargain” pricing of $2.99 and being such an enjoying read without me feeling suckered, I have every intention of picking up #1 next month, regardless of whether Captain Midnight is “only” a mini-series or an actual ongoing series.

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10 Favorite Superman Covers

I’m not much of an art person when it comes to comics–I tend to prefer story over art…but that’s not to say that art doesn’t play a huge factor! And through the years, there have been a number of Superman comics whose covers have particularly stood out to me, for one reason or another. In this series, I presented 10 of my favorites and why they are favorites. Click the covers below to go to the original posts.

01  02  03

04  05  06

07  08  09

10

I posted this series for 10 days from Wednesday, June 5 through Friday, June 14–opening day of Man of Steel. Click any of the covers above to see the full post for that issue.

Trinity War [Checklist]

JUNE 2013
PRELUDE: Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1

JULY 2013
PART 1:
Justice League #22
PART 2: Justice League of America #6
PART 3: Justice League Dark #22
TIE-IN: Constantine #5
TIE-IN: Trinity of Sin: Pandora #2

AUGUST 2013
TIE-IN:
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger #11
PART 4: Justice League of America #7
TIE-IN: Trinity of Sin: Pandora #3
PART 5: Justice League Dark #23
PART6: Justice League #23

trinitywarchecklistfront

trinitywarchecklistback

source: promotional postcard (pictured above)

Digitally Unchained: Superman on Comixology

Comixology has provided a nice alternative to my frustration with contemporary Superman comics: a bunch of digital back-issues–favorites–that I can now read on my tablet!

Where I’m not interested in newer stuff, I’m quite enjoying being able to go back and re-read favorite stories/issues without rootin’ through all my boxes at present.

I haven’t read For All Seasons in ages:

comixology-supermanforallseasons

And I’ve long held Secret Identity as one of my all-time favorite Superman stories…in large part due to having looked forward to sharing it with my Grandpa.

comixology-supermansecretidentity

I was surprised (pleasantly) to find Superman #1 “free,” (I may yet break down and snag Action Comics #1). The Annual is For the Man Who Has Everything, one of the earliest “modern” Superman stories I’d ever read, the first I’d learned of Mongul, and likely the first thing I ever read by Alan Moore.

comixology-superman1939

For the price, not about to buy one chapter of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and not buy the conclusion. I also used this sale to fill in my digital Death of Superman collection.

comixology-actioncomics1938

I decided to go ahead and snag the Supergirl Saga and what issues are available of Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite as well:

comixology-adventuresofsuperman1986

I’m fairly certain this Superman #1 was also free…

comixology-superman1987

Superman: The Man of Steel got me on Doomsday and the first issue…I’d bought the #0 last year during a Zero Hour sale, but only recently downloaded it to my tablet.

comixology-supermanthemanofsteel1991

So…I have plenty of reading, just with Superman stuff…makes it that much easier to “pass” on current stuff that I’m not enjoying.

Not a Poster (and where are the chains?)

supermanunchained001variant001While I was quite impressed by Man of Steel, I found myself rather disappointed (to say the least) in Superman Unchained #1. I think THE primary problem for me with Superman Unchained was the issue of the extra $1 to the cover price (already going to be $3.99, the poster’s inclusion bumped the price an entire $1 to $4.99!)

And yet…the poster is not at all what I personally would consider an actual poster. To me, a poster is a stand-alone image, where the art speaks for itself. It might be an oversized (or same-sized) cover image, or reproduced from interior art–a panel or splash-page.  It might be a wholly original image, perhaps an artist’s work not usually associated with a character. And if it is captioned, it’s intended as a stand-alone.

What we got with this issue is simply a detachable fold-out to allow for two panels at 4 times the usual page-size (or double the size of a 2-page splash).

supermanunchainedposter01

The first side is simply a falling satellite with Superman smashing through…but just looking at the image, I can’t even tell what it’s supposed to be. Some sort of spaceship exploding or otherwise breaking apart…but no CONTEXT. Can’t even tell that it’s Superman there…and it’s certainly no poster-worthy Superman depiction–no heroic pose, nothing that truly “says” Superman here.

supermanunchainedposter02

On the reverse side, we do get a MUCH closer-up view of Superman…you can tell that it’s Superman, that he’s punching…something, so we’re a little closer to expectation. But the image is spoiled by the awkward, off-center pose, and all those text boxes. They may not be overly noticeable at first glance from a distance…but while that MIGHT be a slight strength at first, it leads into another problem: you have to get up close to the poster to read anything on it, and it’s hard to un-notice the text once you notice it.

supermanunchained001variant002And since this comes from within the issue itself, is a part of the story, this does not at all stand alone–you lose the context of that story that ties to the text boxes. It also means that you’re missing these details from any later re-read of the issue itself if you’ve removed and hung the poster, rather than tucking it back into the issue where it–obviously–is intended to belong.

Basically, the reader is asked to pay extra so that the artist can have art shown off at an abnormally over-sized perspective for no real gain to the story itself (to say nothing of losing all flow of story by having to take the time and hassle to remove the thing from the issue in the first place! Why not a clear polybag? DC already uses those for the “combo pack” editions, I believe!)

Then, the issue is swamped with variants–many actually appealing for their nostalgia factor AS a comic book. Rather than simply having a different image under the company logo, title logo, and UPC box…the entire trade dress of the cover is redone in the classic styles, with the classic company logos and so on.

Granted, the visual style would evoke different periods of the comics. But going with the different logos and trade dress, you truly wind up with an entirely different comic by the cover alone–whether something that looks like it came out of my grandpa’s cabinet, or from the midst of the era of Superman I most enjoy.

supermanthemanofsteel050But the variants aren’t stopping with the “celebration” of this first issue–nope, they’re continuing with the next issue at minimum, if not beyond. And while I’d thought to “give in” and give the issue a “pass” for being a #1…keeping this up–especially with RATIOED variants–is absolutely not gonna keep me around (in fact, it’s soured me entirely!)

Add to all of the above that I didn’t pick up on anything within the first issue to really warrant the title Unchained, vs. the long-rumored Man of Steel or something else. Depending even on where the story goes based on the first issue’s cliffhanger, I don’t see Unchained coming from that–perhaps if we actually saw a Superman breaking free of SOME sort of imprisonment (chains or otherwise)–or being imprisoned (and so having something to break free from) it would make sense.

The standard cover at least has debris and sorta looks like chains on it at a glance…but unless that’s a requirement for every standard cover to justify the title, even that sort of gimmick will likely wear thin its welcome in quite a hurry.

In the end, I suppose all of this is simply further indication that I’m not the target audience. And since I’m not enjoying what’s being done at present–I’ll stick to my back issues.

Superman Unchained #1 [Review]

Superman Unchained #1The Leap

Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Assoc. Editor: Chris Conroy
Group Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

So…$4.99 for this Superman Unchained #1. It’s functionally a 20-page story with a 2-page “epilogue” or “backup” or “extra feature.” 22 pages for $4.99. BUT there’s what was billed as a “tipped-in POSTER” included. This poster is just a double-sided foldout allowing for two single images roughly 4x the size of a normal-sized page, the most “poster-like” loaded with caption boxes. Maybe technically this counts as an extra 8 pages…but that STILL only brings the pagecount to 30…for $4.99. Removing this so-called “poster” involved peeling it off a bound-in piece of tagboard–something which I would assume complicated the printing/binding process in itself to put in, plus the folding, placement of the glue, and the placement of the “poster.” And the “poster” itself had a couple dots of this glue, keeping it from flapping open.

All this hassle, and it’s basically for one side of a “poster” being this huge image of Superman crashing through a satellite, and then an extra-large image of him narrating the situation on the other side. Hardly something that would really make sense on the wall as a poster, more just some comic page pulled out of an issue and stuck on the wall.

$4.99. Five dollars. And while I read the first arc of Superman when the New 52 began–so have a BIT of context of Lois, Perry, and Clark’s relationships…I’m not even that clear on what things are here. And the issue’s big “reveal,” the thing that’s such a big deal, isn’t. Not to me. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t interest me. It doesn’t change things.

So, objects are falling to Earth. Superman’s trying to stop them, letting one go since he sees it’ll fall “harmlessly” while he stops this huge “Lighthouse” satellite that’s gonna hit like a gigantic nuclear bomb. He confronts Lex Luthor, who has an alibi, and as he seethes over this, learns someone stopped that object he’d let go–but if it wasn’t him, Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern–then who, exactly, WAS it that stopped the thing? We learn of General Lane’s involvement, and of a secret weapon against Superman that goes back to the beginning of things.

Visually…the art’s good. It’s Jim Lee, whose art I’ve tended to almost always enjoy. Maybe I’m just irked about the “poster,” and/or the price and/or my own lack of context for not keeping up with Superman the last 15 months, but the art doesn’t blow me away. It’s good, but it’s not the “great” that I’d’ve hoped for. It’s not the Jim Lee art that a decade ago prompted me to NOT drop the Superman titles but rather keep up a few more months until Lee‘s run on an Azzarello story would begin.

Story-wise, I’m just not interested. I know a lot of people are loving Snyder‘s work, and will consider this to be great Superman…but unfortunately, this is NOT “my” Superman. Perhaps the collected volume(s) will end up being my thing, if I myself hear enough good about it to warrant checking them out. But for now…this issue just doesn’t do anything (positive) for me.

I have no intention of grabbing the next issue, and it’ll depend on others’ reviews whether or not I even bother returning to this title in any form, outside proper bargain bins. For your page count, you’d be better off grabbing the first Superman: Earth One graphic novel and reading that, especially if you’re looking for a specific tie-in to the Man of Steel film.

Favorite Superman Covers: Superman: The Man of Steel #37

I’m not much of an art person when it comes to comics–I tend to prefer story over art…but that’s not to say that art doesn’t play a huge factor! And through the years, there have been a number of Superman comics whose covers have particularly stood out to me, for one reason or another. In this series, I’m presenting 10 of my favorites and why they are favorites.

A Superman cover dominated by Batman…Batmen, rather. There’s something to that contrast that in and of itself makes this stand out for me. Also that this was–as I recall–one of the earlier tie-ins to the Zero Hour crossover…which I’m thinking was my first real “comics-universe-wide” such experience.

There’d been Eclipso: The Darkness Within and Bloodlines, of course…but this was a story that was taking place in the actual, regular (“real”) issues of the actual comics and not something constrained to special Annual issues.

supermanthemanofsteel037

But there’s also just something about Superman facing all these Batmen that’s…fun. This also would have been a time where I’d become aware of the lengthy history of the characters, and through Grandpa’s old comics, and library reading, I’d’ve even been aware of many of the versions of Batman on this cover.

I’m aware of a poster–double-sided, I believe–that promoted this issue…with a flip-side showing Batman surrounded by Supermen. Said poster can’t be easy to find…but would be a welcome one to have.

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