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Superman (2016) #2 [Review]

superman(2016)_0002Son of Superman Part Two

Storytellers: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Gleason, Gray, Kalisz
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Early September 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

In a way, there’s not much to this issue. At least, in a simple way of looking at it, there are just several main things. First, Jon accompanies Clark–Superman–on a mission, to save an icebreaker. While Jon proves reluctant, he is shown–“live”–his father in action AS Superman. We also see that Clark is aware of what happened with the cat, and Jon confesses. They head home to allow Lois in on that. While Lois and Clark discuss the outing, Jon is joined by the neighbor girl, and they discuss things sitting in a tree before the branch they’re on breaks. She and her grandfather soon arrive at the Smiths’ door, where the adults’ meeting isn’t the greatest. Meanwhile, a Kryptonian energy signature is detected in Antarctica, drawing the attention of an entity not seen in quite awhile.

[Spoiler warning for further into the review]

I’m pretty sure I’ve had an issue with Gleason‘s art in the past. Assuming so, I feel like that’s made up for here. The style is not 100% to my preference…but it’s growing on me. Perhaps it’s not even the art, but the designs–elements such as the more familiar version of the “S” in the S-shield, or that Jon and the neighbors are new characters, or that I’m flat-out simply enjoying the Rebirth stuff in general so far. The art in general carries a sort of simplicity that is working well for me, as well as conveying the story in general. There’s plenty of other art stuff in that–especially the colors, that I’m liking. I never minded “the trunks” in Superman’s costume, but I’m appreciating this new look that kinda blends the classic with the new.

Story-wise, I’m really enjoying Superman as a father. Not just a father-FIGURE (we can go back 8 or 9 years to the stuff with Chris Kent for that) but an actual father…an older Superman (old ER, not “old”), with a 10-year-old son.

We’re still in early issues of this status quo…less than a year including the Lois and Clark series, and even including the Convergence issues. And this is “only” the 2nd issue of THIS series…and it feels like it. We’re getting development that feels natural and authentic (if a BIT quick), and as the STORY title indicates, the focus is on the SON of Superman…essentially, we’re seeing Superman in his own book as his son transitions from “kid who discovered he’s heat-resistant” to being active “out there” with the “S.” And we know that’s coming, in the Super-Sons book that’ll pair Jon with Damian (Robin), so Jon has to go from some kid who learns he can reach through fire to someone who can keep up with–and perhaps keep in line–Damian.

[Spoiler warning for further into the review]

Earlier in the issue, I wondered at what it was that was homing in on Clark, on the Kryptonian energy–and had my suspicion as to what it could be. Namely, that it would be interesting if it was a new version of a certain Kryptonian artifact…even though Clark did not have one in his fortress, nor did this Earth’s Superman in his (as discussed in the Superman: Rebirth issue). Seeing my suspicion borne out on the last page–and the LOOK of that last page–just made me smile.

[Final Spoiler warning for just below this line]

I love seeing the visored figure…and we’re presumably back to it being just what it looks like. I’ve–since 1993–always enjoyed stuff with the character, though didn’t care as much for what they did with it for and after the Imperiex stuff with Our Worlds at War in 2001…but any time you involve this character or the three contemporaries, I’m generally a sucker for it. I’d been used to the Eradicator’s later appearance…but seeing it back in this form is a real treat, and leaves me totally chomping at the bit for the next issue.

That an issue did that–it’s a great sign. I didn’t just passively “not dislike” this issue…I truly ENJOYED it. And seeing the last page as I did…reminds me how much I’ve missed in the Superman books, for years–aside from an all-too-brief blip, it’s been close to a decade.

Obviously at “only” #2, at “only” a chapter of the first arc that’ll be inevitably collected into a graphic novel/thicker format, I won’t say jump in on this issue. But I dare say that THIS is the title for lapsed Superman fans, those who were reading 10, 15, 20 years ago…even as it paves the way with a new character (Jon) from the new, dealing with events and a world born of the New 52, in which that Superman did exist, did live, did do the Super-thing.

I definitely recommend this title, and this issue just serves to solidify my being glad to be “back.” Anecdotally backing that–I have the issue pre-ordered as part of a “bundle,” but rather than wait for the end of the month, this copy that I read is a “duplicate” copy that I bought, at full price, just because I want to read new Superman stuff–that I’m enjoying–every week. (This being biweekly, alternating with Action Comics–which I’m also thoroughly enjoying–makes for a weekly, enjoyable Superman experience for the first time in ages!

Superman/Wonder Woman #29 [Review]

supermanwonderwoman0029The Final Days of Superman part 7: Fire Line

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Karl Kerschl
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

This is it–the penultimate chapter of The Final Days of Superman, and of the New 52 Superman’s story, period, it would seem, at least as he’s been given to readers since September 2011.

We have Solar Flare Superman facing New 52 Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, Convergence/pre-Flashpoint Superman gets his wife and son to the fortress he’s kept secret from them, and he and his Lois have a ‘discussion’ over the matter. While Batman gets New 52 Lois away from Solar Flare, New 52 Superman and New 52 Wonder Woman do a number on Solar Flare Superman, before the Flare entity gains the upper hand. Learning of the ongoing battle, Supergirl leaves the DEO only partially-powered to join the fray, and we leave off with New 52 Superman in the clutches of Solar Flare.

Which is all a slightly obtuse, quasi-intentional way of expanding on the fact that not much of anything really HAPPENS here, except some pieces are moved around the board, marking time for the concluding chapter yet to come as we head into Rebirth itself as well next week…and to emphasize the fact that we have three different Supermen in play in this issue alone, as well as two Loises who don’t even meet.

Story-wise, this isn’t BAD at all–that’s not what I’m saying. But we basically have a big fight scene punctuated by accounting for several “subplots” (as much as such things actually exist in 2016 DC comics). Being well aware of this being chapter 7 of 8, and of what’s about to happen, and expecting it to unfold in the final chapter of this story and spill into the big Rebirth issue next week, I can’t truly fault the writing for not being able to DO much in this issue except move pieces around the board.

Visually I’m not enamored…while everyone’s quite recognizable, the linework just makes everyone look a bit “off” to me…and that is something firmly accentuated with the addition of color effects, to say nothing of just not caring for–or being used to–a Superman in any sort of armor, whatever its backstory/reason/necessity (or lack thereof). I also don’t care for the layouts…though they vary page to page, many pages seem to have too-big panels with too few words…and whether that’s art expanding to fill a lack of script or a script allowing an expansion of art, I’m not sure…but it makes $3.99 feel that much more expensive for the quick read this issue is as a whole (particularly compared against comics read this week from 1996, 20 years ago, purchased for 20 cents each!).

Finally, the cover isn’t all that appealing…I’ve not gone back to check out later printings of earlier chapters, though I saw a couple in passing and this one seems to fit those. The cover copy “Burning Love!” seems ill-placed as well, and the entire image is a bit misleading as Supergirl is not involved in the core action of this issue.

All in all…this issue is for those following the entirety of The Final Days of Superman, or completing a run of this particular title. If you’re just looking for the apparent death of the New 52 Superman, that should be next week; and if you’re not already following stuff, this chapter does not give enough to justify itself in and of itself for anyone to try to “jump in” just for this particular issue as any sort of “random” purchase.

Legends of Tomorrow #1 [Review]

legendsoftomorrow0001Cover Art: Aaron Lopresti with Chris Sotomayor
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: May 2016
Cover Price: $7.99

I hadn’t paid attention to this originally when I saw it solicited…I noticed the “title” and chalked it up as yet another soon-to-be-failed tv-tie-in of near-zero consequence, at least to me and my following the “regular” continuity of DC stuff. I’m not sure if the tv show had premiered yet or was just about to, but I had no interest in yet another digital-first thing seeing print, and thus ignored it. Then recently there was an ad for it that caught my attention, and left me curious. I was a bit put off learning the thing would be $7.99…even for a double-length issue, being frustrated with $3.99 price points, essentially $8 seemed a bit MUCH for just one issue of something I wasn’t overly familiar with. Still, I resolved to wait and see, not swearing to avoid the book but not intending absolutely to buy it, either. When it came out last week, it was a small week for me, so the $8 wasn’t terribly steep…plus the issue’s squarebound with the title on the spine, so it can actually go on a shelf like a mini tpb, and not simply disappear into a box.

While I’d expected a “lead” story and the others to essentially be “backup” features…if I counted correctly, we have 4 20-page stories in this issue, giving the thing excellent “value” for the content, if one is interested in or doesn’t mind what’s included (vs. say, wishing it was Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, or Green Lantern content).

Firestorm – United We Fall part 1
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciller: Eduardo Pansica
Inker: Rob Hunter
Letterer: Corey Breen
Editor: Jessica Chen

I remember checking out Firestorm: The Nuclear Men title at the launch of the New 52, and it didn’t hold me enough to stick with it past a few months. I’ve never been a huge Firestorm fan, but I’d been loosely aware of the character at points–though mostly it was after the introduction of Jason as the new Firestorm and the apparent demise of Ronnie in Identity Crisis that the character was fully on my radar; and then the Deathstorm stuff around Blackest Night. Now there’s been a fair bit on the Flash tv show and Legends of Tomorrow, so this “lead” story was a good enticement for me to buy the issue.

We open on Ronnie and Jason testing their powers, with something going on with them, and then the two split, and we get a glimpse into their personal lives–individually, and at school with a mutual friend. We also have the introduction of a new/old villain, and come to see that there is something up with Jason, and with the Firestorm Matrix in general, which leads to a cliffhanger promising imminent destruction.

In addition to the above preamble, I think another draw to THIS take on Firestorm is that it’s written by the character’s co-creator, Gerry Conway…with the added element that I’ve attended a panel where he spoke several years ago, so there’s that quasi-personal-ish connection for me.

I like that the Jason/Ronnie mix has not been scrapped, and that along with both of them we also still have Professor Stein…indicating, for my limited experience with the character, a certain mix of original/classic and newer character elements and an observance of history for the characters. Yet, this also reads as a first issue, showing us bits of stuff with Firestorm and that it requires two people, and there’s this “matrix” thing that allows them to join AS (a) Firestorm; We’re “introduced to” Ronnie and Jason and see a bit about them–Ronnie’s into sports, Jason’s more into academics; We see a bit of “supporting cast” in Stein as well as the boys’ mutual friend; as well as a bit of rivalry between them. I’m familiar enough to simply enjoy the re-introduction/”confirmation” of stuff I figured I knew, and I’m interested in where this story goes.

I’m not sure if I’ve seen Pansica‘s art before or not…but I had no real expectation going into this. I was not disappointed by the art…it’s good, and worked for the story, avoiding random weirdness that’d put me off or have me wondering at anatomy and such; and I was never left trying to figure out WHAT happened or was going on. It’s a good match for the story itself.

I’m not sure exactly how this would rate for me as a first issue wholly on its own…though I probably would not have bought a Firestorm #1. But this was only the first quarter of the issue purchased…

Continue reading

Superman: Lois and Clark #1 [Review]

superman_lois_and_clark_001Arrival, part 1

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Lee Weeks
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterers: A Larger World Studios’ Joshua Cozine & Troy Peteri
Cover: Lee Weeks and Brad Anderson
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marion
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve been looking forward to this, at least in concept. Superman…and Dan Jurgens. It can’t get much better than that, right?

I came into the thing expecting this to be “my” Superman sent back to help stop the Crisis and then picking up 5 or 9 or however many years later–with him, Lois, and their son (born in Convergence: Superman). Maybe I never thought through the details, maybe I was hung up on the notion of actually, finally getting “my” Superman (of sorts) back. The pre-Flashpoint Superman.

What I’ve found is that Superman apparently living on the New 52 Earth (or one very much like it), with things striking me as being pretty much the same as the “current” DC Comics Superman. Having realized the world was quite different, he stuck to the background, and even went “underground,” taking the name White, and operating strictly in secret, restraining himself from getting involved.

Since the New 52-ish world is similar in many ways, he’s–while operating in secret–sought to do what he can to prevent the rise of certain entities, prevent certain events from coming about. Meanwhile, Lois has written a number of books as an anonymous author, impacting the world as she can that way, while together they raise their son Jon.

When I think of Dan Jurgens on Superman, everything goes back to 1992’s Superman #75, The Death of Superman…particularly VISUALLY. It’s an unconscious thing, that issue, that story being such a key part of my childhood and early days in comics. As a result…it’s a bit jarring and such when my brain wants to see Superman one way visually and get something different.

Though he’s the writer, the art is actually be Lee Weeks, with a style distinctive from Jurgens‘ own. Getting past that, I like the art in this issue. Aside from “noticing” it’s not Jurgens‘ art, I really have no active/overt gripe with it. I never got pulled out of the story, out of the reading experience by any surprise or “weirdness” or such; there was no oddity to my eye with the depiction of the characters. And maybe it’s my earliest issues of Superman/Adventures of Superman–when I was introduced to the modern version of the character–but I really dig Superman/Clark with a beard.

Story-wise, this was a bit of an odd experience…having a lot of loaded pre-conceived expectations and notions as to what this should be, what I wanted to see, how I hoped the characters would be shown, etc. Given my personal “history” with Superman–the character being THE core of my comics-reading experience and the reason I was even first introduced TO comics–I freely admit that there’s really no way this was going to live up to my idealistic hopes.

What I got is mediocre compared to what I’d hoped for.

In and of itself? This was a solid issue. There’s some flashback/exposition that I’m not sure would make MUCH sense to someone just jumping onboard to “try” this, without familiarity with pre-Flashpoint continuity or having read Convergence and the Superman 2-parter from that. It provides just enough for me, to get around the lack of a textual “previously” page (and sets this up for the inevitable “graphic novel”) and to clarify that yes, this is the pre-Flashpoint Superman, yes, he went back and helped end the first Crisis, yes, he’s aware of this world’s other heroes, and despite reservations, he’s left them to their things and focused on protecting his family while helping in secret as he can.

We’re introduced to a couple of elements I don’t believe have been dealt with in the New 52 Superman stuff (or if they have, it’s not been in the limited handful of stuff I have personally read/been made aware of). Intergang, and Hank Henshaw. Lois is working on something with this world’s Intergang (a dangerous proposition)…while Clark seeks to make sure that Henshaw’s spacecraft does not meet the same disaster it did in the world HE remembers.

Of course, as always…the world is different, and there are other forces at play, and this is only the first issue of four or six or some such (though I’d love for it to be an ongoing series).

There’s not enough here to truly display the historical significance of this version of Superman/Clark and Lois, or of their having a child, being married, etc. The significance comes from being an “old” fan, to fully appreciate the unspoken, unmentioned context that gives plenty of weight to this. I can only assume that otherwise–to a newer reader–this is nothing more than an alternate, older version of Superman. That this Superman is now what the “Earth-2” Superman may have been to others in the silver age comics, or the “pre-Crisis” Superman to readers in the time I was getting into comics.

This book can surely be enjoyable for new readers and old alike, but I am on-board as the older fan/reader, and appreciating this bone I’ve been tossed, as SOMETHING for me that isn’t New 52 or some “out of continuity” one-off.

Batman and Robin Eternal #1 [Review]

batmanandrobineternal001Story: James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder
Script: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Tony Daniel
Inks: Sandu Florea
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tomeu Morey
Asst. Editor: Dave Wielgosz
Editor: Chris Conro
Group Editor: Mark Doyle
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Against otherwise better judgment, I decided to check this out. I’m sure it had plenty to do with being a #1–a chance to “check it out” from the start, before things get deep. Also that I got the impression the series is due to focus heavily on the previous Robins–Dick, Jason, and Tim–which is something I’m quite interested in (particularly Dick and Tim). I also have the hope of it being a lengthy but mostly contained story, and while I’m really not thrilled at the prospect of a WEEKLY $4 book, since it’s not like I’m really following anything else from DC and Marvel at the moment, I might be able to tolerate a weekly dose at the higher price.

We open with a flashback, then jump to the ‘present’ with Red Robin, Grayson, and Red Hood pursuing someone; a bit of an action sequence. Scene skips abound as we get a moment with the new Batman interacting with would-be Bat-protégé Harper Row, then more flashbacky stuff, and Grayson encounters a costumed figure that could have used lethal force but doesn’t; we’re introduced to this “Mother” as a concept, and “The Orphan,” and ultimately get a fairly disturbing “reveal” for the ending of the issue.

Aside from the concept, probably the first thing I noticed with the issue was the art. I tend to enjoy Daniel’s work, and even on a hit-or-miss basis, this one’s a hit for me. I really liked the look of the issue on the whole–including Dick and Jason looking rather similar (thanks to metatextual knowledge of Jason’s creation/introduction back in the ’80s). Really no complaints visually.

Story-wise I’m less-keen on stuff. Structurally, I definitely appreciate the issue. I liked that we’re dropped in on action right away (rather than some “talking heads” situation), and I like that we get a bit of an overview of the characters that seem poised to be focal points of this weekly series. It’s silly details that hung me up–stuff like “The Narrows” as a location I don’t ever remember in Gotham prior to the Nolan films or the Arkham games, as well as stuff from Dick’s flashback to his first “super-villain” tying to those films. I can’t quite put my finger on why that bugs me, but it’s there. Hardly a “dealbreaker,” though. I have more concern with Batman–Bruce’s–actions and potential motivation, perhaps just on a metatextual level.

Whatever the specifics…I enjoyed this on the whole. The issue also felt thick (and it is–I count 30 pages of story to the usual 20ish) and so the issue is much more worth its $3.99 cover price.

Seeing the third volume of the paperbacks for the previous Batman weekly–Batman Eternal–also out this week plants the seed in my mind all the more that I might prefer to just wait for collected volumes…particularly given how quickly I lost track of DC‘s weeklies last year. If I’m not going to get around to/keep up with weekly issues and binge-read anyway…might as well wait for my preferred format.

Still…a good first issue, working well as a “pilot” issue and getting me interested, confirming that yes, I am (myself, at least) interested in where this story goes, whatever the format. And as a first issue…this is well worth checking out if you’ve any particular interest in Batman’s sidekicks.

Earth 2: Society #1 [Review]

earth2society001Planetfall

Writer: Daniel H. Wilson
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover: Jimenez & Rauch
Associate Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published By: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

For a guy who was intending to ignore DC output in June and consider Convergence an endcap to stuff for awhile, I’ve still managed to find myself picking up 3 books in 2 weeks. Though of those three, I think this was the most disappointing, and that’s almost surely due to this being only an opening chapter of a larger story. I expected something “more,” though…but then again, a series fulfilling its “premise” in the first issue is hardly a series, right?

I picked this up specifically because of the notion of it continuing from Convergence, and the premise of our seeing the development of a new world a new Earth 2. I suppose I expected to see a fully developed yet “young” world, and from the cover I definitely expected to see a number of the various characters…not basically “just” Batman.

The issue starts “one year from planetfall,” or one year in the future showing us a new city, the first new city on the planet, and a Batman in action with communication to an unseen individual. Then we flash back to said planetfall, as the survivors of the previous Earth 2 begin to arrive, having followed Green Lantern’s beacon. Something goes wrong and the ships begin to crash, and it seems this is something intentional by the person who designed them. Meanwhile, we see a man lamenting the loss of the use of his legs, as well as his family. I believe this is the Earth 2 Dick Grayson, but I’m not 100%. Jumping back to the one-year-later, Batman captures the man responsible for the thousands of deaths in the planetfall event…

Where I’d felt that Batman Beyond #1 and Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 gave me well-rounded issues (giving us an establishing situation, introduced us to the main character and some part of a supporting cast, and set something up for future issues) and generally felt relatively self-contained while setting up an ongoing series…Earth 2: Society feels to me like just another opening chapter of something larger. We don’t really get the full cast, the cover is misleading about characters’ involvement/prominence in the issue), and the time-jumping cuts in half the amount of information we get about “then” and “one year after.” This will probably read quite well in a collected-volume/graphic novel format where one can read the entirety of the arc in one go…but I’m left rather disappointed in this based solely on this one issue as a single issue.

The art is good…pleasantly “invisible” in the sense that it gets things across and isn’t jarring or weird, and I didn’t noticeably find myself stopping to wonder just what the heck was going on in a panel. I’ve found the “controversial” candy bar ad annoying, consciously forcing myself to ignore it and not focus on it, while trying to keep my eyes strictly to the actual content that *I* paid for, and my annoyance over that translated into my mind wandering slightly as I tried to think about the same double-page ad layout influencing my enjoyment of the other DC books the last couple weeks.

While I imagine it would not be terribly difficult to use this as a jumping-on point for the series, I’m pretty sure this book is more for continuing readers, with threads of the original Earth 2 title and the weekly Earth 2: World’s End having gone into Convergence and this is the result of what came out from that. One can start here, but there’s plenty I’m sure I’m not picking up on that I’d be better able to appreciate having READ what came before. That this does not feel like a quasi-standalone issue but merely the first chapter of a six-chapter collected volume leaves me thinking that unless you’re particularly invested and eager to get a monthly dose of the Earth 2 characters (and primarily Batman, in this issue), you’d be better off waiting for a full story in collected volume format.

As for me…I gave this a shot, interested in the start of things post-Convergence for these characters, and while I definitely support the $2.99 price point, I’m pretty sure I won’t be back for #2.

Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 [Review]

constantinethehellblazer001Going Down

Writers: Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascensia
Cover: Riley Rossmo
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Assistant Editor: Amedeo Turturro
Editor: Andy Khouri
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

I was planning on skipping this. I don’t much care for a watered-down version of the Vertigo/Mature Readers take on the title character, gave up on Justice League Dark early-on for not “starring” Constantine, and generally figured there’s more “history” for the New 52 Constantine than I really care to spend money playing catch-up on. But…this is a #1. New creative team (far as I’m aware), and it’s “only” $2.99. So I figured I’d check it out, give it an issue or so to show me what it’ll be…might as well for the price.

We open on a naked Constantine in a store, using his abilities to “con” a fresh set of clothes out of the employee. When John’s ghost-friends cause a stir, he ultimately finds himself in the company of a female demon who he finds is arranging to have a “soul farm,” so he winds up working the situation to a fairly predictable conclusion through his usual means.

Of course, that “usual” is based on my knowledge of the character from the past, from the original Hellblazer title (that was part of the initial Vertigo line and long anchored the imprint until a couple years ago) moreso than I know of the “mainstream” New 52/DC version.

The art for this issue was a bit off-putting for me when I opened the issue…particularly as I wasn’t even sure the character on the first page was actually John Constantine or not. Granted, I’m not used to seeing the character in the Birthday Suit, and some of the blame probably could be placed on the writing as well, the issue opening as it did. Once things move along a few pages, the art grew on me a bit, to where I’ll accept it much as any other Constantine or Hellblazer artist. Though, with only this single issue, I cannot say I’m likely to count Rossmo among my favorite who’ve worked on the character. However, I can definitely say that I enjoyed a 10-panel double-page spread with a sideways layout…it was different, engaging, effective in conveying so much in that part of the story, and really stood out to me for not just being more of the same.

The story was pretty good overall, and other than the obfuscated colorful language, this really felt like it could be a Vertigo issue. Though we do get left with a cliffhanger, and join the story “in progress” in and of itself the issue does give a “complete” story: We’re introduced to Constantine, his ghost entourage, and see a bit of his personality and nature by his actions, obvious intent, narration, and characters’ commentary. We’re introduced to a particular threat/situation, see his reaction to it, and get a resolution. Then we’re given a question that (ideally) hooks us into coming back for the next issue. Or in short: this is an effective first issue, doing what I would expect of a first issue.

While a first issue is not much to go on, the fact that this issue is devoid of superheroes/superheroics (only a passing mention that they even exist) is a welcome thing. My hope with this title is that it’ll be DC‘s way to have their cake and eat it, too: a solo title featuring John Constantine, BEING John Constantine, without the superheroes’ interaction…just Constantine doing his thing in his own world of sorts. But he’s part of the “main universe,” too, and thus remains available for stories that would call for his brand of involvement. I enjoy seeing him dealing with the superhero crowd…but when I pick up a book starring him, I’m not doing so for superhero stuff.

This title’s “subtitle” of The Hellblazer seems tacked-on and like some afterthought given its size and rather obviously being “just” a font rather than a focused part of the title logo. That strikes me as being a sort of appeasement, like saying “Ok, ok, we get it, y’all want a monthly comic with Hellblazer in the title!” (Granted, I understand the title Hellblazer was only ever initially used because Hellraiser was not available).

As a first issue and not knowing how dark the title may go, how long it’ll last, whether it will cross over directly with and mingle with the superhero stuff…taken by itself I think this is as close as we’re gonna get to a return to the classic Hellblazer book. As a fan of that series, I do recommend giving this a shot. I suspect readers of the recently-ended Constantine will appreciate this as well. And overall–in this day and age of seemingly EVERYTHING being $3.99+, this is a $2.99 book for the moment, so I’d recommend getting this even just to “support” the price point if you’re a single-issue buyer.

I’ll probably be back for the second issue and go from there. For my $2.99 this time, the issue was definitely worth the purchase and read, and my buying any more issues at all will be due to this fact, as I’d had every intention of outright ignoring anything DC put out for the foreseeable future.

Batman Beyond (2015) #1 [Review]

batmanbeyond(2015)001Brave New Worlds, part 1

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Chang with Maiolo
Editors: Dan Didio & David Pina
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

I truly had no intention of buying any DC stuff in June, let alone trying any of the nearly-half-as-many-as-the-New-52-launch-not-even-four-years-ago new titles. Yet, despite not yet reading most of New 52 Futures End, I had stuff spoiled for me, namely the death of Terry McGinnis and that Tim Drake was the new Batman Beyond…and given it’s Tim Drake, from the present shunted out of his time into the future (not the Tim Drake seen in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker that progressed to the time in a linear fashion), I was interested.

Add to that that this is "only" $2.99 cover price (and I feel like I haven’t seen a $2.99 comic in AGES!), I figured I’d check it out….AND show SUPPORT for the price-point!

We open on some Jokerz, and a fight with Batman…excuse to show off the time period a bit, the Bat-suit’s abilities, the Alfred AI (think Iron Man’s Jarvis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and that the character now is a man out of time. The Jokerz were stealing a device that would reveal Gotham to Brother Eye, which would allow the city to be targeted and destroyed. Batman goes to the closest thing he now has to "home" and interacts with a new supporting cast–Nora and Matt. Matt is Terry’s younger brother, who appears likely to have some definite "issues" with Tim, and Nora took Matt in after the Brother Eye attacks. Tim then heads out to see if there’s more left of the world than Gotham, and winds up fighting a Brother Eye cyborg Superman, and then meets an old ally who is in the present through linear progression.

The story works…and definitely does well for me AS a first issue. We’re given a good structure for an introductory issue: shown a dangerous, criminal act in progress (one that actually threatens the entire city), we see the hero in-costume enter the situation and defeat them, saving the city. We see the man behind the mask, we’re introduced to a couple of major supporting-cast characters, and exposition gives us some background on recent goings-on and status quo details. We’re given a larger, more dangerous situation for the hero with some story threads tying back to the big story that led to this title existing, and then we’re introduced to another likely supporting character with a cliffhanger to leave us wondering how this character will factor into things. We see the title character, we see him in action as well as downtime, meet supporting characters and touch on the general status quo, elements to play into the larger arc (if not series in general) are seeded, and we’re given cause to come back for the next issue.

I applaud Jurgens‘ work here, and would like to say that I’ll definitely be back for the next issue…but I’m honestly not sure about that, and I’ll detail why below.

The art is very good–the issue’s a treat to look at; character designs are good, the flow of action is easy to follow, and it does what the art should without calling attention to itself AS art.

Probably my biggest problem was the double-half-page candy bar ad breaking this up…it was annoying and distracting, and very unwelcome in an age where I’m not mentally trained to "expect" such ads. I pointedly ignored it as best I could but it was a case of "the more you try to ignore it, the more you notice it."

I should want to come back for the next issue on price point combined with Jurgens‘ writing combined with the nostalgia factor for the classic Batman Beyond cartoon combined with this being actual DC Universe combined with THIS Batman Beyond being Tim Drake, a key character I have grown up with in comics since his very introduction. If any of those reasons are of interest to you, I certainly recommend this.

But on a personal level I’m not really interested in contemporary New 52 DC stuff (which this is, even if the branding/label has been dropped), and I’m reading between the lines on things that shunting Tim Drake into the future is a means to remove him from "present-day" continuity where his presence has been quite problematic for the established timeline and would run counter to the use of Damian as Robin (Dick is presumed dead and now works as a spy, Jason is off doing his own thing as Red Hood, and now there’s no longer a Robin/Red-Robin running around to muddy up Damian’s claim to the title).

If Batman Beyond remains a self-contained title and all, I may try keeping up with it for a bit just for the Dan Jurgens and Tim Drake factor. That will be an issue by issue basis and be heavily influenced by its ship-week and however many other issues I’m picking up and how interested I am "in the moment."

Convergence #0 [Review]

convergence000The God Machine

Writers: Dan Jurgens & Jeff King
Art: Ethan Van Sciver
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Van Sciver with Maiolo
Editors: Dan Didio and David Pina
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $4.99

This issue is an appalling $4.99, for “only” 30 story pages. Yea, that beats the heck outta 20 pages or so for a $3.99 book, but that’s STILL $5! The cover seems to be the shinier/glossy higher-quality (physically) stock, so at least there’s that, too. There are several pages of backmatter, basically showing off a bunch of different “cities” that will be part of this event, and a tidbit about them, along with a classic (-ish) cover image to go with them…some of the covers more relevant than others. This certainly is not as hefty as an Annual or other special issue. At $4.99 weekly, this would be an absolute no-go for me. However, a bit of internet digging yields the notion that this is an oversized issue as a prologue, and next week’s #1 is oversized as well kicking things off, but then will drop down to the $3.99 for fewer pages.

The story of the issue is basically filling in a “gap” of time from the end of Superman: Doomed, where Superman found himself elsewhere/elsewhen, but then found himself back in regular space/time with no memory of what he experienced. Turns out that what he experienced was meeting numerous incarnations of Brainiac and seeing a number of versions of Metropolis, domed cities on a strange/alien world and railing against the notion of the people within being held prisoner…while learning from the Brainiacs that the main entity has apparently grabbed these cities from just before their timelines would have been destroyed and preserving them.

While it felt (and in my summary above probably sounds) extremely “basic,” it works as a prologue. I’d read Doomed last year, so this sorta adds a little bit to that. It also sets things up for Convergence as an event over the coming weeks.

I can’t help but think that Jurgens’ involvement on the writing side is why certain scenes and versions of Brainiac got shown as they did. I’m not familiar with King though the name is familiar (further internet digging suggests this is his comics-writing debut though he’s worked on tv stuff like White Collar that I’m familiar with). Given the co-writing credit, and not having read other comics stuff by him, too early to tell if I like King’s work or not. I suppose if I continue with this series I’ll be finding out as it looks like he’s got the reins for the main run of the series.

I’ve long enjoyed Van Sciver‘s art, going back a good decade-plus now with his Green Lantern work. While there’s a bit of a “feel” to me in this issue that’s “off” just a bit, I really enjoyed most of the art in this issue. I think the “off” stuff is a combination of things, including Superman’s armor looking strange to me compared to the classic (non-armor) suit. Despite that, I was thoroughly struck by the depiction of the classic Death of Superman scene, and really dug the bearded Superman look by issue’s end–if you look closely, he starts the issue clean-shaven but sports a short beard by the end.

While I was certainly glad to see the classic, “true” (to me) Superman and Doomsday in that one scene, I was quite disappointed to not “meet” any of the non-New 52 Supermen in this issue. I was desperately hoping to get at least a “live” glimpse of “my” Superman. But this proved equal parts Superman: Doomed and Convergence : Prologue…either way a Superman story.

I do not relish the notion of EIGHTY $4 issues (on top of the main Convergence mini)…and though this issue has me chomping at the bit for more non-New 52 DC stuff, I’m truly torn on buying into this as single issues, or waiting for the inevitable collected volumes. Given my “giving in” on Villains Month in 2013 and Futures End Month last year…I may just say the heck with it and see what grabs my attention with the covers of #1s, what most rings that nostalgia bell for me and makes me think “ok, that’s freakin’ cool and I really wanna read that!”

Though this sets stuff up, I haven’t a clue how essential it’s actually gonna be in the long run. However, it’s served its purpose in grabbing my attention (against better judgment). Now having #0–and as such essentially the first issue of the series–I’ll probably grab the big #1.

If you’ve no interest in Superman, or only intend to pick up select 2-issue minis due to favorite characters and such and don’t care or intend to follow the core Convergence story, I’d skip this. If you’re considering the series, dipping in…and can stomach the $5 price…Convergence has technically started with this.

DC Futures End Month, Week Four

FUTURES END: SUPERMAN#1

futuresendsuperman001While the Green Arrow one-shot gave some interesting background details to get me a bit more interested in getting back into the ongoing Futures End book, and the Booster Gold issue added to that, those were general things, and more interesting than anything else. This issue is the first of these one shots to specifically address any of the “mysteries” I was expecting to be dealt with in this manner. Namely…who IS the masked Superman? It seems the secret was revealed a number of weeks ago, but I’d missed that. So here, now, this finally shows me who’s behind the mask…and why. And it makes sense on the powerset, and even the motivation…though Lois makes a good point, and it’s good to see the characters tep back out of the shadow of Superman to do their own thing by the end. Given the Superman title itself seems to be off doing its own thing while the other Superman-related books have been dealing with Doomed, it’s nice to have this issue firmly in-sync with the other DC titles. Also love the cover…quite a nice one and certainly one of my favorites of the month.

FUTURES END: FLASH#1

futuresendflash001It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read/checked in on Flash. To be honest, I’m not even sure I bothered to give the title a chance at the relaunch–I grew up on Wally, and was thoroughly tired of Barry being forced back to the forefront in his place toward the end of the pre-52 (though I was ok with Flashpoint). That said, this issue seemed to have *A* Wally, just obviously quite different than the one I was used to, and unfortunately set in a future that may or may not ever come to be, so it’s more tease than not. I’ve always enjoyed the “legacy” nature of the Flash stuff (I think in some ways that’s part of what drew me to the title initially), and that’s on display here, making for a rather enjoyable issue. I’d be interested in more with the characters seen in this issue, and further expansion on the situations hinted at. For an issue that I wasn’t certain I’d get until I actually grabbed it off the shelf, this was worthwhile as a one-shot…though I’m not sure it changed my mind any regarding the current ongoing series.

FUTURES END: RED LANTERNS#1

futuresendredlanterns001One of the earliest comics I can recall getting at the start of my “second phase” was Guy Gardner #1. I had no idea who this character was, what his story was, but hey…it was a #1 issue, he’d cameoed in that Action Comics Annual, so hey, check it out, right? And through the years I’ve had mixed feelings on the character, but here it was rather interesting to me to see him as a hopeful character, seeing the positive and good in the universe rather than the aggressive, angry, in-your-face sort. Sure, that’s partially the influence of a blue ring, but it’s far from inconceivable that Guy would be capable of such a change, and it adds another layer to the character. I snagged this issue to round out having gotten the other Lantern books this month. Yet–perhaps for simply being the most recently-read–I think this one was my favorite, sort of capping off Guy’s story as well as stuff with the Red Lanterns (that I have not been following) and it seemed more fitting and certainly a happier ending than in the other Lantern books.

FUTURES END: SINESTRO #1

futuresendsinestro001While I quite enjoyed the role Sinestro took on during Johns’ run on the GL title, this is the first solo issue I’ve picked up. I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s Sinestro, and come to think of it…it’s thus a Lantern book (five now?). I’m not sure I totally “got” the way things worked for harnessing the yellow, or any light energy, as shown in this book and Sinestro’s escape. However, this touched on some “interesting” points, and the way it ended, giving Sinestro a whole different spin, certainly seemed feasible and far from being out of the realm of likelihood. I don’t know that I’d want to read anything ongoing with that, but I’m quite glad to see the continued use of the various Lantern Corps and that they seem to have “legs,” to have become a fairly permanent element/addition to things. I’d worried they’d be a limited time thing heading up to and as part of the “fallout” from Blackest Night. As a character practically as old as Green Lantern in general, it’s good to see Sinestro fleshed out, fairly complex-ish, and not just some “joke” of a villain. I’m glad I didn’t pass on this particular issue…though again, it’s not enough to hook me into the ongoing series.

FUTURES END: HARLEY QUINN#1

futuresendharleyquinn001Harley’s become a sort of “DC’s Deadpool” it seems, and for that reason alone, I wasn’t gonna even bother considering this issue. But then it was the last copy there, and after some annoyance earlier in the month tracking down issues, I figured I’d grab it–worst case, the issue sucks, but at least I wouldn’t change my mind and face the hassles of tracking the issue down LATER. This wasn’t a bad issue, though I wasn’t particularly enthralled. I get that characters have to grow and change rather than be chained into their original appearance (literal and in the sense of being introduced to us), but I’ve not care much for the “New 52-ization” of Harley in general. This issue, though, was fairly “fun” in putting Harley and Joker back together, dealing with a wedding for the two and reminding me of the messed-up nature of both characters, and how much better Harley is having HAD a history with Joker but getting beyond it. I would not have picked this up as just some Harley issue..u.but as a one-shot it was worthwhile, and I’m glad to have gotten it and having this “check-in” with the character, though (like a lot of the other issues this month) it doesn’t necessarily tie directly to the “core” story running through the ongoing weekly Futures End title.

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON WEEK 4

futuresendboostergold001I’m definitely quite glad to be done with the month, given how wildly expensive it got! Still, it’s a once-a-year thing, and having been through two of these now…three if we count the initial launch, as I skipped the Zero Month a couple years ago. I might actually look forward to next year’s thing and pre-order to get more of a discount. I still wound up with more than half of the books, and am convinced that I’m going to go ahead and catch up on the main weekly book, and maybe follow this thing through to the end after all…or at least further than I left off!

Definitely loved the Booster Gold book–it was such a standout that I gave it the solo treatment for a review. But as it is, for the upcoming week’s worth of books, looks like it’ll be more than 50% cheaper than any of the past month’s weeks, which is a releif, though I might offset that a bit with a bulk catch-up unless I go with a several-week thing.

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