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From the Archives: The Atom and Hawkman #46

atom_and_hawkman_0046Bye Bye Birdie!

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Ryan Sook & Fernando Pasarin
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Color: Hi Fi
Editors: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza
Cover: Ryan Sook
The Atom/Ray Palmer and Hawkman created by: Gardner Fox
Published by: DC Comics

[ This review originally written for and published at comiXtreme/cxPulp some time back while the issue was new–within the first days to a week that the issue was available for sale. ]

I’ve never been a huge fan specifically of these two characters, though I’m familiar with them and have read a number of comics they’ve appeared in. They’ve just tended to be on the outer edges of the books I read, showing up for the occasional guest-starring role or cameo, or as part of a team in a team book. I’d read the Return of Hawkman arc in JSA a few years back, and a few issues of his own series heading into Infinite Crisis. The Atom I feel I’m most familiar with from Identity Crisis, and material I’ve read online about both Ray and the new Atom and their adventures post-Infinite Crisis.

That said…this issue was quite enjoyable, rather accessible, and yet seems to have plenty for fans with ties to the characters going much deeper and much further back than mine.

In the "tradition" of many of the Blackest Night tie-ins, we open with a recap sequence of sorts, focusing on the character’s life, leading up to their death. This time, though, it’s a recap of the character’s compassion, and why Ray Palmer–The Atom–was chosen by the Indigo ring for recruitment into the Indigo Tribe. The Black Lantern Hawks (as Hawkman and Hawkgirl were killed and raised into the Black Lantern Corps way back in Blackest Night #1) then attack, and there’s the usual discourse between Black Lantern and Hero, as Hawkman tries to get Atom riled up and his heart ripe for the taking. As the fight wraps up for the present, Indigo-1 tasks Atom with protecting her–keeping her alive–while she contacts other Indigos across the universe who can reach the other Lantern Corps (so they know to get to Earth, where all the Black Lanterns are headed). While protecting Indigo-1, Atom is forced to recall the events that lead off Identity Crisis, as he again faces the horror of what Jean did to attempt to win him back. As the issue closes out, Ray makes an important request–one that seems quite obvious, and is something I would love to see accomplished.

This is definitely one of the better Blackest Night tie-ins. It seems that this issue’s events are more important and meaningful to the overall story than most of the tie-ins. While we do get some Atom/Hawkman interaction, it hardly seems like enough to satisfy expectation. It is, however, appropriate enough to an issue of a two-character book, as it’s natural that one or the other character may take more of a leading role, depending on the given story. As what is essentially a one-shot, though, it’s a bit misleading.

The issue having an important tie to the overall story is something that I suspect comes from this being written by Johns, essentially the orchestrator of Blackest Night in the grand scheme of things. The story touches on a number of elements–Ray’s role with the Indigos, a demonstration of what he can do with the Indigo ring, a confrontation with the Hawks, some resolution to things with Ray and setting a new course for the character–which makes for a very strong read. The recap at the beginning did more to clue me in on the past of the Atom than anything else I’d yet read (and I’m pretty sure answered my unasked question as to the premise of Sword of the Atom).

Sook‘s art is high quality as well, and does a great job of getting across the visual aspect of the story. It just fits the story, and worked very well for me.
All in all, a very strong one-shot issue within the Blackest Night arc. Though it remains to be seen how much–or what part(s) of this issue get recapped in the main mini…this seems to be a tie-in very much worth getting if you’re following Blackest Night, even if you’re not generally snagging the tie-ins.

Definitely recommended.

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On why I’m staying away from Flashpoint

The other day, seeing all the hype for the then-about-to-debut first issue of Flashpoint, I posted the following to Twitter:

I count 22 issues tied to Flashpoint for June. IF they come perfectly evenly staggered…that’s a 5-6 issue commitment EVERY *WEEK*! And if these are mini-series that will continue even 2-3 issues…Well, that’s just far more than I can afford right now. As such, I’m refusing to join the hype or give in to it. Gotta find myself a NEW comics “happy place.”

flashpointchecklistI also posted that I was refusing to buy Flashpoint #1. Later that day…I bought Flashpoint #1. The thing of it was…I gave in because I had given in a few weeks back and bought the first issue of Marvel’s Fear Itself premiere. And I also figured that if I was to have any room whatsoever–even just a small toe-in-the-door–to talk about this event, I couldn’t just be someone who hadn’t even done so much as pick up the first issue of the main event book itself.

I posted my review the day the issue came out…and it was a bit more positive than I maybe would’ve “liked,” but there’s no denying the “potential,” that Johns has a strong handle on the writing, and that was some great art in the issue.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I have every intention of consciously staying away from anything else involved with Flashpoint right now.

The Price

flashpoint001The event’s core book, Flashpoint, is $3.99. I am so sick and tired of the $3.99 price point (more than people are sick and tired of hearing about it from me!) Sure, it’s only 5 issues, but for that $20, I’ll wait for the collected edition hardcover that’ll have the whole mini together in one volume without ads and no waiting a month or 2-3 weeks between chapters.

I keep seeing mention of 15 or “over 15” mini-series attached to this event. Even if there are only 15 minis and all only have 3 issues…that’s 45 books. At $3 apiece, that’s a $135 investment ($155 with the core series). But I counted over 20 for June between the minis, Booster Gold tie-in, main title, and a special or two. That’s a $60+ investment in JUNE above and beyond the comics I’m already buying. I can’t afford that. Plain ‘n simple.

Continue reading

Action Comics #890 [Review]

The Black Ring, part one

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: David Finch, Joe Weems & Peter Steigerwald
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

This issue opens with Luthor strung upside down over the edge of a building…many, many stories above the ground, being threatened. He takes it in stride, though, knowing that if they wanted him dead, he’d already be so, and that his captors want something else. While he waits to see what that is, he reflects on how he wound up in this position…from his deputization as an Orange Lantern during the Blackest Night, to his growing obsession with learning the secret of the rings–any ring, but particularly the black ones–as reflected in a conversation he has with “Lois” before he gets ready to suit up (remember, he has that goofy purple and green battlesuit) and head off in search of a ring.

The story is fairly reasonable…after having access to such incredible power, Luthor naturally would not want to give it up…and being stripped of it, would naturally seek to get it back. That it was an orange ring (avarice/greed) makes this all the more fitting. And as Luthor is supposed to be this evil genius, one of the smarter men on Earth in the DCU, he’s likely to find a way to at least get close to a ring again. This makes for an interesting status quo, and a show of actual repercussion from the recent event. Though I’ve yet to see any numbers or time-frames…no one has said “for this arc” or “for the next year” or anything regarding how long…Lex Luthor is presently the star of Action Comics for awhile, as Superman is embarking on a lengthy walk across America in the main Superman book under Straczyinski‘s direction.

The art is familiar…I got fairly used to Woods‘ work during the New Krypton stuff. Something about the style works a lot better for me here with the Luthor cast than involving Superman/Kal-El. And even apart from comparisons…it looks good here. Nothing to really complain about.

Though this is issue #890 of Action Comics, it’s essentially Lex Luthor #1. As first issues go, it’s not bad…though one jumping in totally fresh might lack info about Blackest Night, and one should note that this takes place–apparently–after the events of July’s Superman #701 which I assume is when Superman will leave everything behind to walk across the country. This is very much a “spin-off” of Blackest Night and not just some arbitrary “new title.” It continues Luthor’s story and does not try to reinvent it. The cover even sports the Blackest Night trade dress, albeit with the word “Aftermath” added.

If you’re a fan of Luthor, this is a good point to jump on and dig in. However, if you’re “only” a fan of Superman and only want to read about the adventures of Superman himself, this is not a book for you.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Red Robin and Booster Gold: A Tale of Two Books

Red Robin

I’ve long followed Tim Drake’s adventures. His first appearance was in the Batman: Year Three arc, the final issue of which was my very first-ever Batman comic to own. The very next Batman arc was the Lonely Place of Dying 5-parter crossing over with New Titans, that officially introduced Tim Drake to the Robin role. I had initially missed–but quickly caught up on–the original two mini-series the character had, bought the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annual that summer, and the first year or so of the ongoing series following Knightfall.

While I’ve not been a completist regarding Tim Drake’s series (I have the 3 minis and the ongoing up to One Year Later as well as a couple of the Batman: RIP tie-ins and the series finale), I’ve generally enjoyed keeping up with the character. His changeover to the Red Robin identity brought me back, and while I was somewhat interested in where the character’s headed, told myself that I’d stop at Yost‘s final issue (Red Robin #12), as the end of that story seemed as good a jumping-off point as any.

However, I couldn’t resist checking out what Nicieza‘s going to do with the character, and bought the first issue of his run–Red Robin #13–and quite enjoyed it. I’m fairly torn on sticking with the single issues, though and lean toward simply waiting for collected volumes. At the least, I’m confident that Nicieza‘s got a good grasp of what Tim Drake’s all about, and the character is in good hands moving forward.

Booster Gold

Along similar lines, Booster Gold is a character I’m familiar with going back to 1992’s Doomsday / The Death of Superman arc. The character has matured quite a bit since then, particularly throughout 52 and the current ongoing series. Aside from guest appearances, the character was largely off my radar, though, from the late 1990s until 52.

I initially picked up the ongoing because of Geoff Johns‘ writing, and having been hooked back into the character during 52. I considered leaving when Johns left, but the announcement that Booster Gold’s creator, Dan Jurgens, would be taking over after a short interim team kept me onboard. With Jurgens‘ departure, I decided that I would probably step away as well.

Still, like with Red Robin, I couldn’t resist picking up the first issue with the new creative team (despite an ugly cover) to check ’em out, see what they seemed likely to be doing with the character. And again, I have to admit that I’m intrigued. Though this is the “Bwa-Ha-Ha” creative team, they keep a decidedly serious angle on the character (just with that humor thrown in), which is a welcome element: both in having the humor as well as them not in their very first issue discarding everything that’s come before. Instead, they seem to be leaving in place what’s already come, and are simply building from it…moving forward with a look back in the rear-view instead of turning the whole car around to GO back.

Also as with Red Robin, I’m not sure I want to stick to the single issues…but I’m definitely likely to be interested in the collected volumes. Lack of interest in the single issues is a comics-in-general thing for me, and not indicative of the creative teams’ quality.

Other thoughts

In the wake of the huge Blackest Night event across 9 months or so, and the majority of comics seeming to be hitting the $3.99 price point with virtually no stop in the $3.25 or $3.50 range, I’m burning out. I’ve also been increasingly frustrated at collected volumes either being over-priced for what they contain, or being a superior “package” to the single issues, as they often make me feel like I’m almost being “punished” for buying single issues.

Rather than burn myself out entirely and buying strictly out of habit and such, I’m looking at starting from scratch as to what titles I’m going to buy and keep up with, and probably cut loose a bunch of others for a time, as I can play catchup later if needbe–whether single issues at a convention or collected volumes from the comic shop or Amazon.

Red Robin‘s the only Bat-book I’ve been getting after deciding to bail on the Batman Reborn stuff last summer, and Booster Gold‘s been the only “general-DC” book I’ve been getting after opting to stop buying JSA when Johns left (I tried the first issue after and wasn’t sold on the new team).

And now as I look to pare down my buying even further…I’m likely to let these two titles go primarily for budgetary reasons. Red Robin will likely tie in to the Return of Bruce Wayne and/or whatever follows that, and Booster Gold‘s likely the same, as well as having ties to Brightest Day and Generation Lost.

If you’re interested in either character, where they’re going, or the creative teams…I still very much recommend them, and my choosing to let ’em go does not feel like a statement of quality as much as sacrificing books that seem likely to play into larger stories I’m not willing to risk getting pulled into on top of these books.

Plastic ring quest VI: White Lantern (or, “Almost Complete”)

With Brightest Day #1 out this week, we also get the White Lantern ring…the TENTH in the series of rings that DC Comics has produced as promotional tie-ins to its comics over the past 10 months.

As with all the other Lantern Corps rings, this is pretty standard…it’s just the symbol on the ring, and the color of the plastic that differentiates this from the others. Nothing wrong with that, though…not at all. (I was surprised several weeks ago when the Flash Ring was an entirely different shape and was two-colored instead of one solid color).

And now, the Ring Collection is again complete for the moment.

But there’s still one more totally obvious ring that I’ve NOT seen solicited yet.

The Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring.

Seems so obvious a promotion for Legion of Super-Heroes #1…but to my knowledge at present, there are no plans for that at the moment.

I’ll hold out, though…I can’t see them doing 9 Lantern Corps rings and not doing a Legion ring now. Especially as I’d be perfectly happy with the Legion ring simply being the same as these Lantern Corps rings, but gold and sporting the Legion symbol.

Just…if you’re listening, DC…please don’t make it some “Con Exclusive.”

Green Lantern #53 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Brightest Day #0 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

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