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General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #3 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0003Truth Hurts

Writer: Ivan Cohen
Penciller: June Brigman
Inker: Roy Richardson
Colorist: Jeremy Lawson
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: Dan Panosian
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

I like these semi-yearly promotions, with DC Comics in cereal. However, this has been THE worst one yet, from two prior Justice League sets and last year’s Batman v Superman: it took an absurd 19 or so boxes of cereal for me to get ONE copy of this 3rd issue. (Meanwhile, I have 9 of #4!) And contrary to the first two issues by what I would consider "name creators" that I recognize, this issue is the worst of the three so far. Or perhaps "worst" is a "strong word," but this is the most generic of the three so far, and comes off worse for comparison to the first two issues.

This one focuses on Wonder Woman where the previous two focused on Superman and Batman, respectively. The Justice League arrives at the site of a volcano that’s about to erupt. The team splits up to approach the situation in their own ways to try to minimize destruction. Aquaman winds up unleashing an underground stream, dousing the League. Then everyone turns on each other, apparently selfish and irritable and downright mean. Wonder Woman–Diana–reflects on an incident from her childhood where she was hurt by stuff her friends had said about her and fled to another island, where she faced the wrath of a minotaur. Based on that experience, she applies the lesson to the present and ultimately the group discovers that something in the water had affected them all, and they resolve the conflicts by admitting the truths that were brought to the surface, and are able to deal with the volcano, preventing any loss of life, though there’s plenty of property damage. Finally, Diana proclaims that real friendship can survive any revelation, and the Justice League are the truest friends of all.

Again, this is the most generic of the issues for this promotion, and comes off that way both story-wise and perhaps even moreso, visually. The story reeks of the "very special episode" and such…perhaps I’m also annoyed and more sensitive to it given the number of duplicates of the other issues I amassed just trying to get this one. But I didn’t feel like the other two issues were nearly as "preachy" on the "special message," though I had noticed a "message" to each of those as well.

The art here is ok–not horrible, but far from wonderful. The characters and designs are recognizable but seem a bit inconsistent, and lacking the "big name" or "recognized" creators, this comes off all the more as what it is–a generic freebie from a box of cereal that happens to have "current" versions of costumes with characters that aren’t given room for much depth (a one-off single-issue story with numerous characters and an attempt to "focus" on Wonder Woman).

That I went through the hassle I did, accumulated a year’s worth (or more) of cereal goes to show my personal OCD and such (and marks me as an ideal "target" for this sort of promotion!). Though the numbering of these–#s 1 through 4–makes for a "complete mini-series" of sorts, if you’re NOT interested in having all four, I would not worry about trying to get this issue unless you want the specific focus on Wonder Woman (a focus that is more of a "gets more pages" than being a Wonder Woman STORY).

Ultimately, for a "free" comic from a box of cereal, this isn’t horrible, but is far from wonderful. I found myself recalling the likes of The Untold Legend of the Batman, which I believe had a "cereal edition" in the mid-1980s. Those were reprints of an actual in-continuity story…I think I’d almost rather see something like that (re)-attempted…or at least, I think something like this (offering miniature editions of comics in cereal) would be ripe for promoting some of DC‘s actual #1 issues to try to hook readers.

I certainly would not begin to consider this issue "worth" a standard cover price, and not worth the boxes of cereal I bought to acquire it…though at least the variety and quantity means I’m not going to have to buy cereal again for a long time, as I will actually (eventually) use it all.

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0003_blogtrailer

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: X-Men Alpha #1

aoa_revisited_logo

xmenalpha001Beginings…

Story: Scott Lobdell
Dialogue: Mark Waid
Pencils: Roger Cruz w/Steve Epting
Inks: Tim Townsend w/Dan Panosian
Letters: Starkings w/Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato w/Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras
Cover: Joe Madureira, Tim Townsend
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 1995
Cover Price: $3.95

The cover proclaims A NEW World! A NEW Beginning! This issue sports a fancy "chromium" cover, and is itself a rather iconic image–to me, at least–of the "new" X-Men, as brought together by Magneto. We see Weapon X (Wolverine) front ‘n center on the front panel of this wraparound cover. Blink, Sunfire, Bishop, Rogue, Magneto, Jean Grey, Quicksilver, Nightcrawler, and Gambit round out the bunch here. Open the issue up to see the back cover as well and we see Apocalypse in the background, with Sabretooth and Wild Child in the foreground, Jubilee and Colossus behind, and some flying stormtroopers (Infinites, I believe) filling out the sky-space of the image.

There are no ads in this issue. 48 pages of story, plus the cover–that’s it. For "only" $3.95. Sorta pricey "back in the day," but quite a bargain by today’s standards. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this priced around $9.99 by Marvel nowadays–and shocked to see it under $7.99.

Though this issue kicks off the Age of Apocalypse epic, it does not itself carry an Age of Apocalypse badge–this is a "bookend" issue that serves as a prologue to the entirety of the event encompassing ten or so titles across the four months.

We open on a wasteland, where we meet Bishop–whose mind was damaged by the energies that ripped Legion and the other X-Men away in X-Men #41. We find that he’s wandered for the 20 years since. Here, he’s become the focus of an attack from Unus and his troopers who were chasing a young human who found momentary hope in Bishop. The X-Men arrive–Magneto’s X-Men–and the battle is joined. Emerging victorious, the X-Men are then confronted by Bishop, who recognizes Magneto and levels some major accusations at him. Magneto sedates him and they take Bishop for questioning.

Meanwhile, we meet Beast–Henry McCoy–a mad scientist figure experimenting on mutants. Havok touches base, and the mutant (Blob) being experimented on attacks, and the pair are "rescued" by Cyclops–with long hair and only one eye, and see that he and Havok have a horrible relationship. The two are part of Apocalypse’s group, by way of Sinister–who arrives and chastises the two for fighting, and then speaks cryptically and leaves. The scene shifts to a bar maintained by Angel–Heaven–where he’s confronted by Gambit, who is looking for Magneto. We shift to the X-Men, questioning Bishop, then to Apocalypse and his upper ranks as he reveals plans to destroy the last of humanity.

The story shifts to Weapon X and Jean meeting up with the Human High Council, and then back to Magneto’s group. "Feedback" from Rogue touching him leads to Magneto seeing fragments of a universe that might have been, leaving the older mutant troubled. He immediately sends Nightcrawler to seek Destiny in order to get confirmation of his vision. Meanwhile, Sinister’s gone missing, and Apocalypse nudges things into motion. The X-Men know "something" is up, but not specifics. While off in space, a certain crystallization wave heads toward Earth.

I don’t usually like summarizing an issue so thoroughly–but there is a LOT going on here. And it all works, for me. There’s a lot of vagueness and toss-off references scattered throughout that don’t necessarily make a lot of sense now, in context of just this one issue–but having read this before and knowing the characters, I follow them quite well. This sets up the various books that make up the Age of Apocalypse saga, introducing us to core elements–the characters and places that will have significant roles in the story to come.

There’s a definite sense of "history" here, and it feels like this could easily BE just a random issue I picked up, amidst an ongoing continuity and not the first actual glimpse at the entirety of said continuity. This is–to the reader–a new world, a beginning of an "Event," but for the characters involved this is simply the present, 20 years after a key incident in Israel.

I remember being quite eager to get into the Age of Apocalypse as a whole and being fascinated by this new version of all the characters. Despite the dark setting of the story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, with a familiarity and warm sense of nostagia as I did so.

The art is slightly stylistic at points, and I’m not particularly familiar with Roger Cruz‘s name…but this issue being what it is, none of the art bothered me…I was simply a kid again, enjoying seeing all these characters and where they were, and trying to glean where the story was going from this single issue.

It’s refreshing to read this issue again, and getting a sense of pureness or "authenticity" from what I so enjoyed about this event…before everything that’s come in the past ten years or so as things were changed, pulled from, and generally mucked about with in attempt to get as much out of this story as possible beyond its relatively self-contained nature in 1995.

In short, this issue holds up extremely well to my memory, is still very enjoyable, and leaves me eager to get into the heart of the story.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #304

…For What I Have Done

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: John Romita Jr., Jae Lee, Chris Sprouse, Brandon Peterson, Paul Smith
Inkers: Dan Green, Dan Panosian, Terry Austin, Tom Palmer, Keith Williams
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: John Romita Jr., Dan Panosian
Assistant Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: September, 1993

After a couple of the X-Books that were not the actual X-Men themselves, this issue finally pulls the X-Men I was familiar with into this story. Granted, I wasn’t extremely familiar with them–but I knew who most of them were thanks to the cartoon series. Wolverine, Bishop, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast, Professor Xavier, even Colossus…and of course, Magneto.

I recall reading the death of Illyana–Colossus’ sister–in the previous issue (sucked in by the image of Jean Grey and Jubilee with the blurb “If you read only ONE X-title this month–this issue MUST be it!”). This issue has the funeral as we see the various characters reacting to the death of the young girl. We also get some backstory on Magneto and the losses he’s suffered, which have been driving factors in his methods of trying to “save” the “mutant race.” There are some quieter moments between various characters; I especially like the Kitty Pryde/Storm and Banshee/Bishop scenes. I’m still amazed in retrospect at how very new some of these characters were in the summer of 1993 (particularly Bishop), and how much more all the characters have grown, changed, or otherwise [been] developed in the decades since this story.

As Illyana’s funeral draws to a close, Magneto crashes the party, which is almost immediately further crashed by Exodus and the rest of the Acolytes, who have come to grips with the revelation of Cortez’ part in Magneto’s near-death. The X-Men and Magneto and his Acolytes clash, as the ship Avalon is brought into Earth’s atmosphere above them, causing world-wide issues and fear. The battle quickly becomes one with catastrophic consequences should the X-Men fail, but ultimately it falls to Xavier to pull a new trick out of his figurative hat to save the day, using his power in a way I don’t recall seeing him do prior to this (though it wouldn’t seem all that out of place nowadays).

This issue felt a bit more like being dropped into the middle of a story, the way it opened–the Acolytes already trying to tear Cortez apart for his deception. I honestly don’t recall if this continues directly from Uncanny X-Men #303 or from some other issue of the X-books. While I vaguely remembered that it was shortly after Illyana’s funeral that Colossus left the X-Men, I’d forgotten that the funeral itself was in this issue, and the way Magneto and Co. crashed the funeral. I’d also completely forgotten the way Xavier ended this particular battle, which seemed both absurd and epic at the same time, to me.

The issue’s art is a bit fractured–there are five pencilers on the issue, and I noticed it while reading–particularly with Magneto’s flashback. Fortunately, other than Jae Lee‘s art, the rest fits relatively well together and isn’t glaring. Of course, that’s something I notice now but if I noticed back in ’93, I don’t recall it being a conscious thing of recognizing different artists’ work, or knowing about “fill in artists” or any such stuff. All that said…this is another issue that I don’t mind the art on the whole, and which seems to fit the story.

Including a few ads, this issue has 62 pages for only a $3.95 cover price. I like the cover–most of the characters shown on the front are the ones I would have been most familiar with, though in this sense are rather generic. But once opened up, we see that there are a lot more characters involved in the image, all angrily looking toward a huge foreground closeup of Magneto. And yet again, I like the hologram on this cover. While the hologram itself is pretty cool, its image strikes me as rather iconic for the time–I’m sure I’ve seen that several image of Magneto with the swirl of debris outside the context of this story. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve snagged a copy of this from a bargain bin since buying my original copy at full cover price in 1993, but the copy I have onhand right now for this rereading and such was part of a 3/$10 deal, which while not as satisfying on principle as getting the issue for under or around $1, is still quite worthwhile for being less than cover price.

This issue seems to set the stage for the next couple chapters, which to me are the heart of this story, and what I MOST think of with the title Fatal Attractions.

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