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From the Archives: Superman #650

superman0650Up, Up, and Away! (part 1)

Writers: Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Nachie Castro
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover Artists: Terry & Rachel Dodson
Cover Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: 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. ]

It’s been a year since Superman apparently disappeared, and the fine folks of Metropolis have moved on, though many take an evening to revisit the past, watching a retrospective on the life and times of their favorite son. Among the spectators are Lois Lane and Clark Kent, who discuss the authenticity of the retrospective with a couple different viewpoints. Shortly after, other familiar elements of the Superman story are reintroduced–Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, Perry White. A familiar "villain" is introduced here as well–one that may be familiar to older readers, but I’m not sure this character has appeared in the Superman comics since the mid-80s reboot. As this villain is attended to, we as readers are clued into at least part of why Superman has been absent for a year.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this issue. I’ve been concerned at the idea of "my" Superman–that is, the character (re)introduced in Byrne‘s Man of Steel mini-series–being shuffled off to the side in favor of yet another/different reimagining of the character. While this is only the first of an 8-parter that re-establishes the character post-Infinite Crisis, the writing team of Busiek & Johns has assuaged some of my concerns as several aspects that have defined the character and supporting cast for the last 18+ years are re-established here. However, there seem to be a number of minor or subtle shifts that distance things from the past, settling the characters very much in a sort of "timeless" present.

Busiek wrote my favorite Superman story in 2004’s Superman: Secret Identity. Johns on the other hand has written some other very compelling stories that I have really enjoyed over the past several years (including pulling me into following The Flash for 30 issues after never previously caring for the character). That said, both writers have a lot to live up to in my eyes, and for the moment, I’ll cautiously advance the idea that yes, they have lived up to those high standards.

The writing here is clear and definitely gets across the idea first of the broad strokes of Superman’s history that just about anyone will be vaguely familiar with (whether you know the character solely from last month’s issues, the Christopher Reeve films, Smallville, Lois & Clark, a parent/grand-parent’s stack of older comics, or just picking up on elements from years of the character’s suffusion of popular culture. If this is the first-ever comic starring Superman that you’ve read, you’ve got yourself a good starting point. If you’ve been following these comics for 20 years, you’ve got a good read that revalidates the character for the present, showing that both the old and newer elements can come together in a single well-written manner that gives us a story of Superman.

Offhand, I am unfamiliar with Pete Woods‘ art, but this issue makes for a good introduction. Everything seems nice and clear/clean–reading along with the story, the art shows exactly what is going on and pretty much just does it’s job of enhancing the written word to contribute to the overall look and feel of the issue. The art’s not perfect–but very little is. The main quibble I have is the depiction of the S-shield; it comes across a bit too "shiney" or metallic for my own tastes.

However–whether in Woods‘ art itself or the coloring (or both)–this issue somehow has a "brighter" feel to it than a lot of recent DC issues–by design or not, this lends itself to this being an upbeat, bright start to a new "generation" of Superman.
I very much recommend this issue, whether you are a new, old, or an on-the-fence reader.

superman0650_blogtrailer

From the Archives: Batman/The Spirit #1

batman_the_spirit_0001Crime Convention

Storytellers: Jeph Loeb & Darwyn Cooke
Inks: J. Bone
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Comicraft
Assoc. Editor: Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor: Mark Chiarello
The Batman created by: Bob Kane
The Spirit created by: Will Eisner
Special thanks to: Denis Kitchen
Cover Art: Darwyn Cooke
Publisher: 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 don’t know where this story takes place in continuity exactly (or even whether or not it IS in-continuity). But thankfully, that doesn’t really seem to matter.

Essentially, we get a story opened by the meeting between Gordon and Dolan, and their discussion leads into us (as the readers) discovering the story of “How the Spirit met Batman…” The story itself doesn’t seem particularly deep, and actually evokes a classic Silver-age feel, when events were just taken at face-value, simplistic, silly, and new as they might be.

A bunch of Batman’s rogues and a bunch of the Spirit’s rogues get together; and it’s up to Batman and the Spirit to foil the baddies’ plans. While things are going on, the vigilantes’ confidantes are each ‘seduced,’ and play their own role in the story’s ending.

I know next to nothing about The Spirit as a character. I know that he was created by Will Eisner, and something about the creator adding the mask to please someone with a say over the character being published or not (someone correct me if I’m wrong). The character’s identity, supporting cast, rogues, adventures, and in-continuity history are a mystery to me. Batman, on the other hand, I do know.

One might expect that to detract from the story, but it doesn’t. I got the feeling that a lot of characters were almost analogues of one another, in the way that one could compare Green Arrow and Hawkeye, Aquaman and Namor, and so on. Given that, you need only really know one side or the other to “get” the most basic concept of characters, and have at least some idea of what they’re all about.
The art seems at points almost overly-simplistic at first glance, but that (like the story itself) lends beautifully to a “classic” feel. Additionally, upon slightly deeper examination, it reminds me of the “Animated DCU” visually, which lends further enjoyment and timelessness to this story.

Overall, the issue reads rather like an extra-length episode of Batman: The Animated Series…and for me, at least, that is far from a bad thing. Possibly the worst thing about this issue is the price. I looked past the price due to the novelty of these two characters being thrust together and wonder at how (or even if) this will have any play in the new The Spirit ongoing. Was it worth it? Yeah…I’d say so.

This is a fun read, not so completely hokey as to make one check the date in the indicia, but by no means as serious-toned as a lot of other recent stuff coming out of DC. I can’t speak to longtime/familiar fans of the Spirit, but just for knowing the Batman-side of things, this seems like quite the enjoyable, faithful sort of mushing together of two characters who’ve never (to my knowledge) met prior.

From the Archives: Batman – Streets of Gotham #1

batman_streets_of_gotham_0001Ignition!

Writer: Paul Dini
Penciller: Dustin Nguyen
Inker: Derek Fridolfs
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Steve Wands
Assoc. Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: 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. ]

This may be only the first issue of a new series…but it feels like something I’ve been reading for ages–and I mean that in a good way!
We open with Gotham’s police responding to an alarm to find Harley Quinn in civilian guise on the scene. Batman steps in, and we see Dick’s interaction with her (as well as an amusing bit from the new Robin, displaying his personality quite well). As the issue moves on, we’re introduced to Firefly and his latest scheme, as well as the interaction Batman has at present with Gordon and his police.

In some ways, this is a typical Batman comic. Then again, typical as it might be, there’s a whole lotta "new" under the top layer, as we have a new Batman, a new Robin, and with them whole new dynamics with existing characters (particularly Jim Gordon and the Gotham City police).

The writing is great stuff–Dini certainly knows his characters. I’ve enjoyed his issues of Detective Comics that I’ve read; and brought the expectation of that sort of enjoyment to this book. Thankfully, he delivers. Though not a focal point for the issue as a whole, the scene with Harley made the issue for me–I heard the character’s voice from the animated series in every word she spoke here, and it was a blast to read. She’s one of very few characters created for a tv show that I think works perfectly integrated into a comics universe afterward.

Nguyen on art is also a blast from the past–and still quite enjoyable. Some of the linework and shadows seem just a bit strange and over the top–but on the whole, a specific gritty, darker-but-not-too-dark tone is established that works really well for the book. The visuals are a bit stylized, and won’t appeal to everyone, though.

This series seems set to focus more on Gotham City and the things going on in the city and her people moreso than on Batman and Robin. That the two are the primary protectors of the city necessitate their appearance, but it seems we’ll get more of the GCPD in here, with Batman and Robin serving more of a well-noticed supporting role. While it’s no Gotham Central, this issue ges off to a good start, and has me interested in seeing more of the character interactions–almost more than finding out what happens after the cliffhanger.

Manhunter

Story Title: Strange Bedfellows
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Penciller: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Karl Story
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Colors: Nick Filardi
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts

Manhunter/Kate Spencer moves to Gotham to take a new job. While we see her interacting with her new surroundings, we get flashbacks showing us what brought her to this point, giving context to the new status quo for the character.
Overall, I’m unfamiliar with the character, but for whatI’ve seen of her, this segment does not seem out of place. I’m not sure if the story here sums up what happened in the end of the ongoing singular-titled series or not, or if this story is simply the bridge from that series to the new status quo we’ll get as the co-feature in this title. Either way, the story’s simple, to-the-point, and not bad.

The art’s good, too. It’s not spectacular, but it is solid stuff and gets the story across with no trouble.

Whether the character was moved to Gotham because of the move to a co-feature in a title such as this I don’t know–but it works for me. All the more because we’ll get to see even MORE of Gotham through this character and her corner of things. The primary drawback is that with just under half a standard issue’s page-count, there’s less room to really get into the story–just as it gets moving, the segement concludes.
It’ll definitely be interesting to see the writer play with pacing given the page-count and whether or not–or how–it affects the story.

Like Blue Beetle in Booster Gold, this is another co-feature that actually feels worthwhile to me–I’ll probably never be thrilled paying $3.99 for a comic, but for the main story and the co-feature…this is a combo I can definitely handle for now.

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.

Some Thoughts On the Week’s Comics (Week of April 5th, 2017)

Once again, real life got in the way, and I’m not going to get around to formal/proper reviews of any of the week’s titles. However, in a bit more of a free-form fashion, I do have some thoughts to put out there regarding the several issues I actually did manage to get read from the most recent week’s purchases!


X-Men Gold #1

xmengold_0001I actually surprisingly enjoyed X-Men: Gold #1, until the weekend hubbub over subversive/hidden messages from the artist. Sure, the issue includes newer/modern/contemporary elements and characters, but if definitely had the right sort of "Rebirth"-y tone to it that would make it appealing…particularly if the title was going to be a MARVEL $2.99 book. Price it lower, like $2.99, and I’d probably give even a book like this as a WEEKLY a shot (barring other things turning me off entirely).

The story was strong, and where I "went in" expecting not to like it, I enjoyed it, and was able to figure out enough as I read along to compensate for missing the last several years of continuity. It would be a solid "welcome back" type of issue and launch if I was planning to stay with it for any length. But while I opted to go against my initial intention of not getting these whatsoever, I went in planning only to try Prime, X-Men Gold #1 and X-Men Blue #1. Gold would have convinced me to come back for #2 if it was not to be $3.99 and $3.99 twice-monthly. I just can’t get past Marvel‘s pricing compared to DC…and I was down to not even bothering with DC, either, prior to announcements of major shakeup (Rebirth, Final Days of Superman) and the reversion in cover price.

I’ll wait for discounted collected editions, which admittedly do comic shops little good, though even this will depend in part on how hard I stand on the "issue" with the artist’s hidden messaging, and where that goes.


Superman #20

superman(2016)_0020In the "casual reader" sense, between not "getting" the entirety of the ending to Superman Reborn and not yet having the follow-up/epilogue exploration that I believe is coming in the next couple issues of Action Comics, I don’t feel like I have any major differences to look for. So this issue read primarily like "just" another issue, drawing on prior continuity from this series itself at least–such as Batman showing up again, Superman meeting him outside instead of inviting him in, etc. Of course, this time, Lois insists Batman and his son come in, that all may interact civilly, not just outside.

And ultimately, this was a fun issue, that seems steeped in continuity without actually giving us much…though it did reveal something about Clark and Lois’ neighbor, which seems like it may impact that status quo a bit, though if so, it seems like it could be a real shame. Time will definitely tell on this story, though.

I’m not enamored with the art, though it fits earlier issues and isn’t really out of the norm…but something about it seemed to just not connect right with me. Still…even a Superman issue like this is far better than the titles have been in years, and I continue to thrill at the fact that nearly a year in and I’m STILL week in and week out looking forward to the next week’s Superman issue, and disappointed on "fifth weeks" when there is NOT a new issue.


The Sovereigns #0

sovereigns_0000Darn it…I wasn’t gonna try this. Yet another "relaunch" for the Gold Key properties, where the last three in recent years didn’t seem to last more than for a year’s worth of issues (number-wise, if not dragged out by lateness). But Dynamite did well to utilize the "promotional price" of "only" $1 for this issue, which meant I’d at least buy it for my "dollar-or-under" self-mandate even if not for the content/title itself. But HAVING the thing, decided I wasn’t going to NOT read it. I was curious.

And darned if it didn’t pique my interest a bit. I’m willing on principle to give this take a shot, this reimagining of the characters.

Unfortunately, there are several catches:

  • Price. I don’t like the $3.99, so that’s a turnoff. This isn’t TMNT, after all.
  • Variants. While I do buy titles that seem to have variants on every single issue, Dynamite (to me) has a reputation as one of "those" publishers, for whom the variants are much more of the "selling point" and that do NUMEROUS variants on EVERY SINGLE ISSUE, far more egregious than "simply" every issue having *A* variant.
  • Lack of trust. The initial Dynamite relaunch didn’t last long at all, relatively speaking (though they did get 3 collected editions from the three ongoings and one from the mini). I’d much rather have a singular complete story or collected edition to read all at once, and having been burned by that relaunch and again by the "only" 5 issues of Gold Key Alliance as a quasi-reboot/failed-reboot/whatever…"Fool me once" and all that.

So while I’d be inclined to give the stuff a shot, I’m unwilling to plan on it, given the multiple burns I’ve had. At the same time, at least said burns have not been the flat-out anti-longtime-reader things that Valiant has done, and I’d be willing to buy these because they’re NOT Valiant, at least.


The coming week’s new books include X-Men: Blue as well as Weapon X and several True Believers reprints. The reprints I’m actually looking forward to. I’ll probably still give Blue the first issue chance, given I’ve already got Prime and Gold. Surprisingly, Weapon X at least looks to be a $3.99 #1 instead of $4.99 or higher…so we’ll see what else is onhand and how finances look. I’m most looking forward to the new Action Comics issue, and there’s a new Spawn issue which means I need to actually catch up on the previous issue.

superman(2015)_0020_blogtrailer

Some Thoughts On the Week’s Comics (Week of March 29th, 2017)

I didn’t (and haven’t, and won’t) get around to full review treatment for any of last week’s issues at this point, but I did have a few thoughts on several issues. Unfortunately, I haven’t actually gotten around to reading all the new issues I bought, as Real Life has continued to be a bit of a hindrance in that department. But given a couple of purchases were made with the intention of writing about them, I figure I probably should actually write about ’em.


X-Men: Prime (2017)

xmenprime2017When I (premeditatively) decided I would actually go ahead and pick this issue up–despite having originally decided flat-out not to touch any of these ResurrXion titles–I’d had no idea that I would find it completely sold out at two shops before 6pm its day of release. I found a copy at a third shop, which was down to only four copies at that point, including the Venom variant.

The second shop actually did have the Venom variant as well, but I didn’t even recognize it as an X-Men issue, let alone this issue, THE issue I was very specifically looking for! (Way to go, Marvel and stupid-*** variants!)

I bought this issue largely on the premise that I was already buying several $5 issues, might as well lump one more into the mix…plus, I’d have no room to talk about it if I didn’t at least give it a shot myself, right?

The art wasn’t all that bad…it certainly didn’t put me off the X-titles. But it’s far from being enough in and of itself to pull me in. The multiple art teams wasn’t terribly jarring, though it was noticeable…particularly when it came to Storm, due to the character’s hair style(s).

The story felt rather forgettable…nothing really drew me in, and I did not feel like there was really even a full STORY here…more a through line to give us a quick tour of characters and situations that’d make up a number of too-expensive biweekly series and such.

This certainly trades on NOSTALGIA, in title as well as the notion of the ResurrXion thing in general, and the forthcoming X-Men: Blue and X-Men: Gold titles. It cerainly suckered me into stuff.

xmenprime2017xmenprime1995

I read the ORIGINAL X-Men: Prime back in 1995 the day it came out, a week after X-Men: Omega, the end of the Age of Apocalypse saga.

At that time, I’d been following the original Uncanny X-Men series, the original X-Men series, the original Wolverine series off and on, with a spattering of other titles…and having gotten and read the entirety of the X-family of titles the month prior to the Age of Apocalypse and then the entirety of that saga…so I was pretty "up" on the books at the time going in and coming out, so I was a ripe target for such a book, to touch briefly on numerous characters and stuff that’d "spin out" into other titles that I was planning on trying to follow.

This time around? Not so much. It’s telling that I almost have more to say about the original from 22 years ago than this one from a week ago!


All-New X-Men (2015) #19

all_new_xmen_0019I can firmly blame my purchase of this issue on hype from Bleeding Coo, and a curiosity for more detail, and to get some actual context. There’s also something about that cover that hit a bit of the nostalgia-trigger for me as well…perhaps the banner at the bottom identifying this as a finale, perhaps the fonts, I don’t know…but it’s telling that I was more interested in this AS a final issue than I was in a #1 for this or any of a number of other X-books when they’ve hit over the last few years.

The art for this wasn’t bad; nothing overly distracting or such. I actually rather like the costumes and general character designs overall (though Jean looks a bit "off" for this cover despite my otherwise liking it). I especially like the young Cyclops’ costume…a lot like the ’90s version that I’d definitely claim as my favorite and consider THE most iconic of the character’s looks.

Though I already knew it going in, this issue "reveals" that the "past" these X-Men came from and have "access" to presently has their younger selves as if they’d never been pulled out of time…and thus, this young team has nowhere else to GO, and are apparently separate from the adult versions they’ve thought where their own older selves.

I can’t begin to guess at all the continuity or lack thereof in the last couple years since I read most of the original run of the original iteration of this title (from 2012/2013)…but this seems to cut these characters "loose," where there’s no longer a "question" of when or if they’ll go back to their own time–the adult X-Men have past selves properly in their own time, and these five apparently aren’t it, so whatever they do, they’ve got their own future/fate to forge in the present, simply AS themselves, and all their new/recent status quo elements.

The novelty has worn off for me on these versions of the characters…there may still be some interesting-ish stuff to be done with them, but overall, I’m less than thrilled at the notion that these are simply THE "replacements" overall for the characters I grew up on, and am not thrilled at any notion of continuing to follow their adventures (I believe they’re X-Men: Blue?)


Booster Gold/Flintstones #1

booster_gold_flintstones_0001While hardly on the same level as Robin, Superman, or the TMNT, Booster Gold is definitely a draw for me.

Already curious about the re-imagined take on the Flintstones, realizing this was coming had my interest…all the more when I saw this cover (which may actually be a variant…I which case it’s a rarity as I far, Far, FAR prefer it to the other cover!)

The story’s a bit light and goofy, and rather irreverent…and I don’t get much of a sense of Booster himself as a character here nor of the Flintstones characters. In a way, I guess that makes this a good stand-alone issue, as I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything with any of the characters involved.

The Booster side of the story seems largely predicated on what I’d consider an outdated take on the character, drawing visually on more recent takes on the character while not seeming to use his most recent ongoing series (that touched into and ended with Flashpoint back in 2011). I’m not sure how it ties in with his general New 52 stuff, but that’s because I haven’t read much of that.

I was curious as well, once I got the issue, at what the Jetsons story would be, and suspected from the image on the cover that it’d involve a new take on the robot maid…and I was definitely right! The story proved to be an interesting glimpse into a new version of the characters’ lives/status quo, while also telling an interesting story of how a robot maid would be able to be such an integral part of the family.

Though the $5 cover price is a bit much, for the length of the issue and its contents, the two stories, it’s mostly worthwhile. I enjoyed the issue overall, probably more for the Jetsons than the lead feature, but I did not feel like my money was wasted by having bought this.


I still have the Green Lantern/Space Ghost and Adam Strange/Future Quest issues to read, as well as most of the first Flintstones volume, and assorted other "recent" issues. I’m hoping to keep this week a bit "small," after such an expensive week last week…looking forward to the new Superman issue, as well as needing to check for the AvP: Life and Death #4 that I missed last week.

Also looks like a season of omnibii is approaching, which may get very expensive very quickly…and only a couple weeks or so until The Button, which with Superman Reborn now completed, is probably the story I’m most looking forward to for a few weeks.

Time will certainly tell!

xmenprime2017_blogtrailer

General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #4 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0004Alien Justice

Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Tom Grummett
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Sotocolor
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: John McCrea
Cover Colorist: Mike Spicer
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

This is the fourth and (presumably) final issue this time around. Several years ago, they did a run of #s 1-4, and the next promotion had #s 5-9…so I would not be shocked if that happens again (or not, either way). But to my knowledge, for the current promotion, there are only four different issues, of which this is the last.

For me, personally, this is also the most common and plentiful…as of this typing I have something like 9 or 10 copies! It’s become the one to LOATHE seeing when I pull it from a cereal box. That said…

This was probably my favorite read of the four. Perhaps its the immediacy of it–the most recent one I read–as well as the generic feel of #3 that this certainly topped by far. But I really enjoyed this in and of itself.

A giant alien ship shows up over San Diego, and begins sucking up the ocean just offshore. Aliens broadcast to the world what they’re doing and why–they’re taking Earth’s water, as Earth has too much of it and their world doesn’t have enough, and that’s just a huge injustice! The League springs into action, attacking this threat on multiple fronts, each to their strength/specialty. As this is an Aquaman-centric issue, he gets more page time and we get stuff more from his point of view…including the requisite (for this series) “flashbacks” to his youth. As the present-day situation continues, we flash back to see a young Arthur dealing with being of mixed heritage–part surface-dweller, part Atlantean. He sees people react to the notion of someone different, and then talks with his dad, who advises him on the wisdom of finding common ground when one is so different from another. Young Arthur gets a tangible opportunity to put that advice into practice when he encounters some Atlanteans threatening some local fishing boats. The lesson apparently stuck with him, as back in the present, he devises a solution and quickly acts to implement it. With help from (perhaps unexpected) sources beyond “just” the League, a bad situation is halted, with a bit of potential redemption coming out of it, with elements of a win/win scenario.

I was comparatively quite disappointed with the last issue and its feeling of being so generic after the first two issues of this “series.” This issue gets us back to “Name Creators” that I recognize, and is a second Bedard-written issue…with art from Tom Grummett, another creator whose work I quite enjoy, period. As such, it should not have surprised me to enjoy this story as I did. It’s a self-contained piece, and does include a bit of that “special message” peachiness to it…but that’s mitigated quite a bit by my relative lack of familiarity with details of Aquaman…he’s a character I’m pretty aware of while having quite the significant blind spot. Though I’m certain this issue’s flashbacks are “new” and involve a version of the character perhaps different from others…it doesn’t bother me as I have so very little to compare it to.

That lack of familiarity also lent itself to my being able to TRULY appreciate this as I believe one would hope the target audience would/could: this makes me a little more familiar with the character and his background, shows me some important elements of the character, and generally serves as a bit of a touch point for me. It sets some of my character-specific expectations for Aquaman in a way that the other issues did not do for the leading characters…and reminds me a bit of the impact The Untold Legend of the Batman had on me as a kid and my then-knowledge of Batman, or that The Man of Steel #3 “audio comic” did for my understanding of Superman.

Grummett‘s art carried a definite sentimentality for me…the visuals for this issue reminded me of other work he’s done, particularly his prior work on Superman, as well as Robin and Superboy. That’s certainly a good thing–as is the art in itself. This is not just a good-looking “cereal comic,” but a good-looking comic, plain and simple!

Though I’d be inclined to choose Superman or Batman first…this Aquaman issue is definitely THE treat of the set, and very well worth reading if you find it!

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