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Convergence – Week of April 8th, 2015

Convergence–the two-month “event” that covers for the absence of the “regular” DC books while the editorial offices are transferred from the East coast to the West–is officially in full swing with this week’s release of the #1 issue of the core mini and nearly a dozen #1s for tie-in 2-issue minis.

convergence001_wraparound_full

I’m not at all impressed with the cover, particularly as it appears just as an issue…but I give DC credit that this is a wraparound cover rather than having the two-panel image be an “interlocking” variant.

Rather than try to cover stuff singly, I decided–for this week, at least–to just do one huge post for the Convergence stuff I bought this week. We’ll see how coming weeks go, in this regard.

Convergence #1

convergence001Somehow, I was expecting a LOT more out of this, especially for the price. $4.99 is an awfully steep price for ANY single-issue–surpassing my hated $3.99 by a full additional 25%–and not delivering a whole lot for the cost. There are 30 story pages but also 4 “backmatter” context-pages detailing some of the “cities” in the issue.

While on some level I “know” that much of the issue involves characters fresh outta Earth 2: World’s End and presumably events of New 52: Futures End…there’s not one note anywhere in THIS issue that caught my attention referencing that. “See Earth 2: World’s End for the grisly details” or “See final few issues of Futures End” or whatever. So these are just characters that show up, and I can wonder what makes THEM so special that they get so much page-time? 

Having the “singular event” of Telos “broadcasting” himself to EVERYONE makes for a good rally-point for the first issues of the various tie-ins…something to tie them all together even if every other detail of the story has nothing to do with it…it roots them in the time-frame.

I was excited and looking forward to this issue, but sorely let-down by what I got. If the entire series was $4.99 I’d CERTAINLY pass…but it DOES drop to $3.99 after this. I’ll “grudgingly” pick up the next issue…but if it feels too much like this first one, I may let it go and wait for a (relatively) cheaper collected volume.

Convergence: Superman #1

convergence_superman001Despite HUGE changes around Infinite Crisis and beyond, I still clung to the notion that the Superman that existed up to the dawn of the New 52 was still somehow at least somewhat “my” Superman. As such, I was looking forward to this chance to revisit the character. 

Finding Superman powerless and in Gotham City was a bit of a surprise, as was learning that the whole city has been “trapped” in a dome for over a year (how “convenient” that Clark, Lois, AND Jimmy were all in Gotham at the time!). Clark’s played secret vigilante, unable to suppress the need to help others. Luckily for him, reaching the “end of the line” conveniently coincides with Telos dropping the domes and his powers returning just in time to repel a hail of bullets.

We learn that Lois is pregnant (presumably something that was able to happen due to Superman’s powers being gone), which seems to be one of the “final steps” that seem to be allowed in anything for Superman–once he has a kid it’s like that’s “it” for his story…so something as brief and temporary as this is–of course–the perfect time to “allow” such a development.

As a two-issue thing, it seems TOO short to be HALFWAY through the story already. That also makes it too short for so much space given to Telos’ bit. While I appreciate and am glad that’s there, I’d be glad for a PANEL of it, tying this to the core story but otherwise let this stand alone OR “assume” that someone has read Convergence #1 (or put the full speech FROM Convergence #1 into the backmatter for those truly curious).

And speaking of the backmatter–the recapping of stuff made me doubt myself, that perhaps this was Superman and Lois shortly after the wedding (circa 1997)…yet there was reference to stuff from the early 2000s as well, making for a very selective over-brief recap of only huge moments.

All in all I’ll be interested enough in the next issue, but I can’t quite “recommend” this in and of itself…either you’re interested in what I believe is immediately-pre-Flashpoint Superman or you’re not. 

Convergence: Batman and Robin #1

convergence_batmanandrobin001This issue picks up on a Gotham City where Batman’s back from being presumed dead/lost in time–it’s Bruce-Batman and Damian-Robin, sometime after Dick’s tenure as the Caped Crusader. Ivy’s largely responsible for the citizens of the city surviving–her control over plans has allowed for quality production of food–and the Penguin wants to threaten that. 

Batman and Robin arrive to spoil his plans, and encounter a Red Hood. Damian is jealous of how Batman seems toward his former Robin, which leads to some definite tension and an eventual having-it-out within the present Bat-family…right before the dome closing them in drops and they hear Telos’ message.

As with the Superman issue, I was glad we had the unifying moment of Telos’ message…but even moreso than in the Superman issue, it felt to me like it took up way too much space in this issue for this only being a two-issue story.

The backmatter was less than impressive to me, though it was more informative than the Superman one–I’m far more familiar with Superman than “later Batman” stuff. I have never liked the Red Hood character, and 11-some years later still have not “embraced” the returned-to-life Jason Todd…and probably never will. Having had a couple days to mull over the reading experience, I’m pretty sure I’ll only pick up #2 because of having bought #1…not for any particular interest in where this issue goes from here.

Given that pre-Flashpoint Batman essentially continued straight into the New 52, this is more like an alternate take splitting off briefly from a specific point more than it is revisiting something that’s been lost…and I do wish I’d chosen to go with the Batgirl issue instead to get Red Robin.

Overall Thoughts This Week

Even though I’m tentatively “buying into” this Convergence thing, the price of the books is a big issue for me. With 2013’s Villains Month and last year’s Futures End month, for my $3.99 and whatever-length story, I was getting that fancy cardboard stock and 3-D image cover…and the issues largely stood alone as functional one-shots. With Convergence, everything is $3.99, and I’m not even getting a slightly better quality coverstock, no fancy image technology…and this is a TWO-MONTH thing. Whatever I buy a #1 of, I’ll likely want to then get the #2…and if something would get my attention with a #2 I’d want to backtrack and also get #1.

Additionally, along with any of the issues I’d pick up, there’s the WEEKLY main/core series itself, so that’s already ONE “slot” taken up for anything extra I would buy. With the higher price point, 2 issues (the main title and a single tie-in) would almost match my buying all 3 weeklies for the last 26 weeks previous…and matching the quantity will be a significant bump beyond.

And since I’m already thinking quite a bit about possibly snagging whatever collected edition format is presented for Convergence as a whole (I’m guessing a hardcover for the core series and 4-8 paperbacks for the tie-ins) I’m already going to be rather heavily “double-dipping,” which is not very appealing to me for this. But…I’m eager enough to revisit some stuff and to read some of these that I don’t want to “just wait” and not read them at all…especially if there are some “surprise” things.

If I’m going to “double dip,” I’ll grudgingly do so on the main series and a handful of tie-ins…but I’m finding myself a LOT more “conservative” on other random books as a result. At the $3.99 “premium price” I am not going to buy half the event just to pay top dollar for collected volumes. Since I don’t even know what titles will be collected how (for example, will we have one or two volumes apiece for a Convergence: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Convergence: Zero Hour, Convergence: Pre-Flashpoint? Or will we get the series collected by “family” with Superman books clustered, Batman books clustered, etc.?)

Given my gripes and concerns…probably the largest reason I find myself looking forward to anything more is the simple notion of getting a couple months of Superman, Superman: Man of Steel, Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics again. There’s also stuff like Shadow of the Bat, which I believe the original ongoing was the first actual continuity Bat-book I got in on at its start, back in 1992 or so. And that I recently listened to the GraphicAudio adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and this strikes me as a sort of 30-year successor to that story.

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Some thoughts on comics from the week of 10/30/2013

Damian, Son of Batman #1

damiansonofbatman001I’ve said in the past that those 5-page “previews” or really ANY “preview” repeated over and over and over throughout comics I *am* reading will typically NOT get me any closer to buying the comic they’re “advertising.” What I’m noticing that WILL get me, though, is a cover. See the cover to the Shazam vol. 1 enough times, I decided I was interested enough to buy it. Ditto the “main” image for this issue. Now, the issue itself…I wasn’t impressed. The art’s good, I like Damian’s costume in particular. But the story just isn’t doing it for me, at least not as a single chapter of four. And it’s been so long since I even read Batman #666 (which itself is about 76 issues old as of this typing) that there’s no real significance to me other than “hey, here’s a Damian who didn’t die.” Given all that, I don’t think I’m gonna spend $4/issue on the remaining 3 in this series…but I’ll likely keep an ear to the ground and if I hear enough positive ‘buzz’ about it, perhaps pick up a paperback of the full story once that comes out, if reasonably priced.

The Sandman: Overture #1

sandmanoverture001I was really looking forward to this in the few days leading up to its release. Then I was immediately disappointed by the covers. I couldn’t figure out which cover was the “main” cover, and of the two that I saw, neither particularly rang any bells with the (limited) “marketing” I’d seen for the series; neither stood out as “the” “main” cover. While this oughtta be a relatively minor thing, it largely soured me on initial feelings, which is not a good thing…especially as I don’t recall other Sandman comics doing the “variant thing” and The Sandman really doesn’t strike me as something that oughtta have variants…so this suddenly fell out of fitting perfectly with the “classic” stuff and into “just another modern comic.” I typically have not been a fan of this artist, not caring for the layouts and looser style and all that. However…the style works extremely well for this issue, for The Sandman. Though I don’t recall this artist working on the original series, his work fits in quite well on the whole with my recollection of the original series. Story-wise, again, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve actually read anything Sandman…so taken solely as a stand-alone thing, this issue doesn’t really impress me on the whole. Still, I recognize something in it that (thankfully) rings “true” to memory, expectation, and all that. I have the feeling I’ll enjoy this much more taken as a whole someday, when this entire arc is collected into a single volume.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #27

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw027There’s a certain “meta” thing about this series for me, between the single issues and the collected volumes. Aside from wherever it was I got the impression of City Fall being a 7-parter (online article, perhaps…not sure if it was anything “official” in-print), I find I “see” story arcs by how they’re collected, which thus far has been some “strict” 4-issue cycle, each collected volume being exactly 4 issues without any variance…even for a specific EXTENDED SINGLE ARC like this being split up. This seems to be the penultimate chapter of City Fall, as things come to a head–and we’re set up for Big Stuff next issue. Story-wise, we get some forward momentum, though it does feel a bit like this issue’s kinda “treading water,” with some of the key stuff going on in the Villains Micro-Series rather than here. Often I’ve enjoyed the added stuff in the Micro-Series, “enhancing” the “main story,” but (for example) the introduction of Bebop and Rocksteady would have had more impact, I think, if they’d been mutated in this main book, or had they been introduced here and THEN we got filled in on the backend about their actual mutation and “trial run.) Visually I continue to enjoy Santolouco‘s work almost as much as I’m enjoying Brizuela‘s on the New Animated Adventures title. All in all, not a bad issue, but not particularly impressive in and of itself…though I’m quite looking forward to the final chapter of this arc.

TMNT Villains Micro-Series #7: Bebop & Rocksteady

tmntvillainsmicroseries007bebopandrocksteadyI’ve never been a particular fan of Bebop and Rocksteady. I see them as a key element of censorship in the 1980s, where heaven forbid the turtles should “win” “beating up” a human. The fact that they were never REALLY much threat to the turtles was also a drawback. But the cover to this issue–which I think I first saw in the “next issue” page of the previous Micro-Series issue–went a long way to change my mind on these guys…making them actually look big…and dangerous. We’ve seen the thugs that mutate, before–a couple cameos, and a cliffhanger of them being part of the group told to fight down to the last two for the chance to become “something more.” This issue gives us a bit of a “flashback” of Bebop and Rocksteady and their “gang history” before joining up with the Foot group, their actual mutation, and their “test run” in mutated form. While still the dimwitted, bumbling idiots they were in the classic cartoon, they’re treated much more seriously here, and come off as the dangerous, mutated brutes they should be…a genuine threat to the turtles despite not being the brightest. I liked the art here, and much as I like Santolouca‘s art on the main series, I far prefer Bebop and Rocksteady’s look here than their appearance in City Fall. An endearing touch in this issue is acknowledging the characters’ names/nicknames as musical styles: I still remember the sudden “click” in my mind early in college when I made that particular connection. Definitely a good issue if you want a Bebop & Rocksteady story, as well as a key issue in the overall TMNT continuity from IDW. As with other Micro-Series issues, you can ignore that number on the cover…treat this as a one-shot with timely, in-continuity elements.

Batman Incorporated #8 [Review]

batmaninc(vol2)008The Boy Wonder Returns

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Art (pgs 6-9): Jason Masters
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Chris Burnham with Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

DC suckered me.

I’d read and heard rumors throughout the Death of the Family stuff going on that we might get a “big death” in the bat-family, and it seemed like most guesses were going toward either Alfred or Damian. Of course, that proved to be yet another Major Joker Story where the scary madman doesn’t actually kill any major characters.

Then I caught wind of this issue–and as the bulk of the comic fans On The Internet learned a couple days ago…this issue gives us that “big death.” Thanks to DC, the “news” was out days before the issue, SPOILING its otherwise surprise for many comic readers–myself included. I’m almost ashamed to say that the spoiler/confirmation of the “big death” prompted me to get this issue.

I recall picking up the reprint of Son of the Demon a few years back, when Morrison‘s run started–and I’m pretty sure I picked up the first couple issues, at least, of his run, not long after Infinite Crisis. With this slightly-muddled memory of being there at the beginning, I wanted to be here at the end. And…my very first Batman comics were less than a year after the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd.

So, Batman Inc. #8…that’s what this review should focus on, right?

This is my first issue of the title. Batman Inc. was not part of the first wave of New 52 titles, and so I gave it a pass when it did premiere. I don’t think I even got around to reading any issues of the original iteration preNew 52. So other than the loose concept–that Batman has agents all over the place in a more formalized structure–I come to this cold.

This issue opens with Robin (Damian…I’m still not totally used to Robin NOT being Tim Drake) flying into an ongoing battle, and connecting with Nightwing. Meanwhile, Batman is fighting against Talia al Ghul (Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, mother of Damian). Red Robin’s part of the mix, fighting elsewhere. Nightwing and Robin have a moment–the original Robin and current Robin, on their own time as Batman & Robin. Enter an armored warrior from Talia’s end, and the two realize they’re in trouble. Nightwing falls, leaving Robin to stand against this Goliath-figure.

As Robin leaps to the attack, agents outside the fight interfere, and the boy is wounded numerous times, while calling out to his parents to stop this fight.

And for the third time…Batman finds himself with a dead Robin…perhaps the most personal of all, as Damian was his own flesh-and-blood son.

Story-wise…this is a painful issue. Most of the fighting fits, and seems like just another large-scale incident with superheroes involved in some city-wide invasion or such. But the scene of Damian’s battle is just…brutal. Despite all I know of the character–and the character certainly being “old before his time,” this is still a child…and it’s (to say the least) not at all a comfortable scene. I have no idea what Batman and Talia are fighting about this time, the details of their present issues…maybe I’ll find out via Wikipedia or listening to the inevitable podcasts covering this issue, etc.

Visually, I have no problem with the art–even the multiple artists didn’t throw me at all. Reading the issue, I just kinda sped through, taking in what’s going on, and honestly would not even have NOTICED there were multiple artists had I not specifically read the credits to list above for this review.

It was probably a mistake for me to give in and allow much weight be given to this issue. “The death scene” is only a couple pages, and easily recapped. Unlike 1988’s A Death in the Family, I’m reading only a single issue, so it’s not like this is the culmination of several issues’ reading, building to a climactic moment. This is me having a specific moment spoiled by mass media and deciding to read the issue for myself rather than simply read ABOUT it.

As a standalone issue, I’m not all that thrilled with this. I didn’t really pick up on much context of the “why” to the fighting or other context (I’m sure this’ll make more sense read in a collected volume, in-context). But sadly…I got what I paid for. I witnessed the brutal death of another Robin…a visual I’m uncomfortable with, yet get to live with today, and moving forward.

Blackest Night: Batman #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Blackest Night: Batman #2 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Blackest Night: Batman #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Batman and Robin #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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