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Some Thoughts On the Week’s Comics (Week of April 19th, 2017)

This week involved a lot more comics than previous recent weeks…and of course, that meant a higher quantity of immediate-reads, too. As I’ve been doing the last few weeks, since I’m not getting to full-on single-issue reviews, I’m just offering some of my immediate thoughts related to given issues, even if it’s more meta-textual than about the actual issue.


Batman #21

batman(2016)_0021I’ve been looking forward to this issue for months. Though I’m a good 19 issues behind in READING the title, I had no real problem jumping in…this feels sort of like checking in on a tv show that typically has a lot of slow episodes, where I can jump in after awhile and know I have missed stuff, but not have any trouble coming up to speed with the current episode I’m actually watching.

Essentially, it seems Batman is finally ready or able to "get serious" about this button he found waaaay back in DC Universe: Rebirth #1.

However, he faces an unusual threat over the course of the one minute it takes Barry to get to the Batcave.

For a detailed synopsis and coverage of the issue, check out Chris Sheehan‘s review at his blog, Chris is on Infinite Earths.

This seemed to be more action than substance to me…but darn was it pretty to look at! (Despite the physical violence). I got the "lenticular" cover–quasi-3-D with a shift from Batman to Flash; though I really dig the standard cover, too! This is one of VERY few issues that have seemed actually WORTH a $3.99 cover price (the "enhanced cover" justifies the cost, much as such covers did in the ’90s.) Also AS an "enhanced" cover, where it’s basically still the same image as the standard cover (except the standard one does a "splitscreen" thing), it’s not "just" slapping another artist’s stock image on the thing to sell more issues. It’s a story that looks to be central to the throughline of Rebirth in general, and thus–with ’90s logic–is ok with me to have this as an extra cover, where I do NOT care for variants in general.

I’m very much looking forward to the next few issues of the story, and really hope the Flash issues hold up to the visual quality and story quality of this issue…if not delving deeper story-wise!


Superman #21

superman(2016)_0021I’m much more interested in Superman Reborn: Aftermath stuff right now, so this Black Dawn stuff isn’t really doing it for me. Despite that, I’m actually enjoying the heck out of this title in its own way, especially with Batman and Damian guest-starring, seeing Damian and Jon interacting, and the whole "family element" that seems strong in this title.

We get some development of stuff with the Kents’ neighbors, we get to see the Super Sons in action along with Superman, and even have a returning element from the beginning of this iteration of the Superman book.

I’m sorta anxious to get along to the "back to Metropolis" stuff that I believe is coming up…but at the same time, I’m glad that it wasn’t something that was "just there because now it’s always been there" with zero explanation except that it’s how it is.

I’m wondering what developments are going to mean for certain supporting cast characters that I was starting to like with the pre-Reborn status quo, and hope they get handled well/believably, as roughly 20 issues seems far too short a time for their presence.

I’m quite enjoying the character-sharing going on, and that even without having read the main Batman book or most other titles lately, I still get a dose of them here.

As good as this title’s been…even a less-than-thrilling issue of Superman still beats the heck outta most other titles out there for me!


Highlander: The American Dream #3

highlander_american_dream_0003I was not sure what to expect from this series, and in a way, still don’t. But I actually read #s 2 & 3 back to back, and I’m enjoying it. I think I’d much prefer this as a full singular story than issue-sized chunks, but it’s cool reading Highlander again, and really feeling this is a solid prequel to the original film.

The art feels rather "off"–if I was just looking at this, I would not recognize Connor MacLeod as himself…he doesn’t really look to me like he does as portrayed in the films, in whatever time he’s shown. I get more of a Casablanca Humphrey Bogart vibe here than I do Connor MacLeod or Christopher Lambert.

Story-wise, though, this holds the feel of the original film’s continuity and does not feel like it strays into the tv series’ continuity. In this case, I’m liking that. I like(d) the tv series quite a bit, but it seemingly "retconning" the films is one thing…this holding to them is a welcome change…especially on the understanding/assumption that this is a limited series, hence the subtitle The American Dream.

Whatever the case, this far in, I’m pretty much "stuck" with the singles, now, barring a full-blown double-dipping. Given the price of IDW‘s collected volumes, though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. All the more with having no idea if they’ll hold the Highlander license long enough or "bother to" put out enough for any significant collection(s). I do definitely look forward to the next issue(s), though I’m tempted to stockpile ’em til the 6th issue to read all at once.


Spawn #272

spawn_0272This is my 16th issue (17 if we count the Spawn Kills Everyone #1 from last year when there seemed to be a delay) keeping up with this title…doubling my prior "longest run" with the title.

This is, though, a title where I’d be hard pressed to really summarize an issue, or retain many character names "consciously," though I’m getting to occasionally recognize characters in the title.

But I’m enjoying the series enough and able to follow along each issue pretty well–or well enough–and so I stick with it.

Of course, with this not being a "favorite" or anything, if they manage to annoy me with variants or a price increase straight from current $2.99 to $3.99 or such, I’ll almost surely drop it cold-turkey. At the same time, I’m kinda hoping to just stick with it to #300…though that’s a good 2 years (at least) away.

Time will tell, but between "jumping in" around #257 and just sticking with it, along with the $2.99 price point when so many others have climbed on to $3.99, this is a welcome monthly-ish title to me. I also greatly appreciate the high number, as it is now THE highest-legitimately-numbered series out there, as far as Marvel/DC/Image/Archie and such go (and excluding the iffy-ness of some of the Disney titles that have not been in constant ongoing production).


It’s nice having an assortment of titles from an assortment of publishers to go through in a given week. Also to have shorter, weekly, compact "event" stories that are "just" crossovers between titles, and not full-blown separate mini-series with tie-in mini-series and entire tie-in story arcs in other titles [The Button]. I’m certainly looking forward to the next chapter of that, as well as the next issue of Action Comics, and figure we’re due for new TMNT stuff.

That said…looking forward to a considerably smaller week as far as new issues at full price go!

batman(2016)_0021_blogtrailer

The Weekly Haul: Week of April 19th, 2017

Much as expected, this was a huge week for me, in quantity of NEW comics, in PRICE, and having looked forward to stuff in general!

weeklyhaul_04192017a

I’ve been looking forward to The Button for months now, pretty much since it was announced, and to finally have the first chapter leaves me anxious for the next, now!

I had not even realized that I missed an issue of Highlander; so I believe NOW I’m actually caught up. And I decided to try the Riverdale Digest #1 half thinking it was going to be original material. Nope…it reprints the first issues of several of the "new" Archie titles. For $6, not a bad thing…and I’d be happy to pay $6 on a continuing monthly basis for a digest like this cycling through "monthly" issues of each series it contains! (Beats the heck outta $3.99 for one issue, and wading through two-DOZEN variant covers!)

weeklyhaul_04192017b

I’m WAAAAAY behind on READING Letter 44, but haven’t wanted to give the title up. Of course, I just found out that it apparently will be ending at #35 in July…so hopefully life will be such that I’ll be able to dedicate some serious reading time to re-read what issues I actually HAVE read, and then on through the whole run!

I’m definitely into the "habit" or "groove" of following Spawn, though I’ve no clue where it’s going or whatnot. As long as it stays at $2.99, I’ll probably keep up. However, it’s one that I definitely WILL drop on principle if it jumps to $3.99! The price point is one of its high selling points for me, and what helped get me onto it over a year ago.

Despite being quarter-bin fodder, I snagged a number of these True Believers editions/reprints of key X-Men premiere issues. Though I’m sorta (morbidly) amused at having paid $1 for the X-Men "Blue" issue, considering how many copies I have of it, and that I’ve bought copies of the "deluxe" edition (that this reprint’s cover is a panel from) just to rip the cover off as a poster.

weeklyhaul_04192017c

I also raided the bargain bins…though I found a lot more in an expanded 50-cent bin than the 25-cent bin that I was interested in. Knowing I’m already looking to fill in some 49-50 issues of Action Comics and nearly as many Superman as-is from the New 52 era, I figured with these issues of Superman Unchained, I think now I just need to snag #9 to have the whole series.

weeklyhaul_04192017d

Then there were some 25-cent issues of Detective Comics; at least 2 of which I don’t think I already had.

weeklyhaul_04192017e

And continuing my general trend…I’m happy to get ’90s Marvel comics from bargain bins. 50 cents on these, though I know I already had the Marvels issue, and 99% certain I already had the Amazing Fantasy 16-18 run. Still, for the convenience and all, and the four issues combined being still only HALF the price of a contemporary issue, not bad.


It’s also proving to be an interesting week with a convergence of release dates and such for several things I’d pre-ordered and/or had on my "radar" that I finally realized were out!

Definitely hoping next week will be a lot smaller at least price-wise, but we’ll see!

Some Recent Effective/Appealing Ads from DC

I usually try to ignore ads, or avoid them, or get past them ASAP. But some of them work, and actually ARE appealing and/or effective. Here are several recent ones that caught my attention, from Superman #20 and Action Comics #977.

dc_ads_early_april2017_thebutton

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to make of the news of The Button…it was "news" but seemed so far off. Now, lately, this ad has me chomping at the bit for the story…I’m not sure if this image is two parts of the same "lenticular cover," or if it’s an amalgamation of two, or what…but this ad itself, this split-down-the-middle image is one I really dig, and has me extremely interested and eager to get to the story!

Perhaps it’s that it still feels rather new to me (relatively speaking) to see Batman and the Flash so closely linked.

dc_ads_early_april2017_teentitans_judascontract

Then there’s the new Warner Bros. Animation animated film Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. Sure, it’s an updated "based ON" sorta thing, adapting the ’80s story to fit a 2010s-era setting (characters, versions of said characters) and to shoehorn it in to the DC Animated Universe.

But as one of THE original stories I remember being talked about for these films, way back in 2007 or 2008 or whenever it was that this line started (was it really a decade ago?!?) it’s good to see that this is finally getting a release.

Of course, it also means I’ve long passed my window for reading the original story first…something that I (shamefully) have never actually read myself.

dc_ads_early_april2017_baneconquest

I’d known Bane was getting a "limited series," AND that Chuck Dixon was back writing the character, but then I forgot again.

I really wish they’d put a cover price with ads like this…either boldly proclaim its worthiness at a certain price…or if it’s thought that the price would be a turn-off, consider a different price!

I don’t know if this will be $3.99 or "only" $2.99 offhand…at $2.99 I might follow it. $3.99 and I’ll probably check out the first issue and then wait for the cheaper collected edition(s).

dc_ads_early_april2017_revenge

I have a definite love/hate thing going on with DC and their portrayal of Zod in the Superman books. I’ve lost track of all the different Zods we’ve had, just in the last 15 or so years, so on one hand, I’m not keen on yet another.

On the other hand, the drama to this image–"everyone" knows the whole "Kneel before Zod" thing–so just SEEING the character, AND seeing Superman…well…kneel…yeah.

dc_ads_early_april2017_lazaruscontract

And finally, I have to reiterate that THIS is the way to do the multi-panel "build-an-image" thing with covers!

You do NOT force someone to buy 2, 3, 4, or more copies OF THE SAME ISSUE to form the one image!

You treat someone to a cool, larger image as a "reward" FOR following a larger set of issues (whether a crossover, story, mini-series, whatever)!

I’m tempted to check this out partly in support of that alone (we’ll see if I actually remember or feel the same way once the issues start coming out.)


Of course, there were many, many more ads and such in the two issues, but these were the stand-out ones to me.

A sort of "runner-up" would be a "post card" from a comic shop for a 4-part story in Old Man Logan…the images of Wolverine in different costumes with older comic covers making up the background is a really cool design, and probably would have hooked me…except the issues are Old Man Logan–a Marvel title, $3.99 an issue, and I’d rather read a singular story OR even just wait six months and maybe remember to read it on Unlimited.

Action Comics #976 [Review]

action_comics_0976Superman: Reborn Part 2

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Jaime Mendoza, Christian Alamy, Trevor Scott
Colors: Wil Quintana
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Patrick Gleason & John Kalisz
Associate Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks To: Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Late May 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

[ SPOILER WARNING! This issue WILL BE SPOILED below… ]

I suppose I shouldn’t be entirely surprised, yet I still managed to be: after three issues building toward something HUGE…this felt very anti-climactic. Rather than coming off as "organic," to me–at least on this initial read-through–it came off as rather forced and after-the-fact than an organic, planned development.

[ I really will be spoiling this below, so consider this your final warning…spoilers after this line are preceded by plenty of SPOILER WARNING to absolve me of feeling guilty for discussing the issue in detail plainly. ]

We open on Mxy going off on Superman…or at least A Superman. In Mxy’s pocket-existence where Jon’s being held, A Superman and Lois have arrived. Jon recognizes them…they fail to recognize him. While Mxy revels in the chaos, even taunting this Superman, Jon realizes with horror that the woman he believes to be his mother doesn’t even remember him. While two spheres of blue energy approach Jon, Mxy opts to leave, warning of someone far beyond even himself as the cause of everything. That he–Mxy–was merely taking advantage of a situation already present. Channeling power from the blue ‘ghosts’, Jon manages to oppose Mxy, who offers him one last chance to leave this existence. Jon refuses, and Mxy leaves. As the reality crumbles, the blue energy merges with the New 52 Superman and Lois, restoring their memories of Jon and their lives together…and all reality re-knits, merging what we knew from pre-Flashpoint and the New 52 into one continuity, with Superman simply…Superman. But married to Lois, and with their son–Jon–as Superboy. Somewhere else, Mr. Oz looks on and marvels at the situation, at the love shared between Lois, Clark, and Jon, and how it unites realities. And finally, a hint that there’s someone–and/or someTHING–else out there still influencing things.

I feel like this was telegraphed a mile off, so to speak. New 52 Superman and the "real" Superman would merge, their realities fused/merged into one, to simply BE Superman, supposedly no more "divide" and smooth over stuff.

It doesn’t really work for me, as far as the in-story stuff goes. I could even have probably "bought" the notion of Mxy re-setting stuff somehow, though usually his machinations are undone when he disappears. Just continuing to merely "hint" at something else out there is getting old, and I’m ready to just be TO whatever ‘event’ that will be, and get beyond it. To just have A single DC Universe, even if it’s actually a multiverse, and either the New 52 completely wiped away or officially merged and just have a set UNIVERSE that is what it is and get on with stuff.

Visually, parts of this issue were quite "off" for my preferences, but not bad. I really like the "new costume" for Superman, essentially being the classic costume minus the trunks, and a modified (solid) belt (instead of the dots of red thing that’s been going on awhile). We seemed to have pre-Flashpoint Lois and Clark turned into energy and merged with the New 52 versions…but then a sort of switch up with the new costume, and it seems that Jon’s been given additional power (I had it in my head that he couldn’t fly, and he seems to be, here).

This resolution and issue as a whole seems to be an attempt to bring stuff together and "unify" fans of either Superman by making it so that both are one and the same–that New 52 Superman was always part of THE Superman, and the pre-Flashpoint Superman we had from Convergence, Superman: Lois and Clark, and the past ten months of Rebirth was not himself whole, but is now, with the merging of the new. This combined with stuff from last November’s Superman Annual would seem to have stuff in line for that, to firmly establish Superman is Superman and now whole, PERIOD.

I guess time will tell.

There’s still plenty of dancing around the fine details…even with the double-pager showing stuff from "both" continuities, it’s hard to tell–for me, at least–exactly what’s what, or supposed to be what–and what’s just looking different because of the artist’s rendition.

While I’ll grant that the "new costume" deserved its full-page "reveal" and the double-page spread of the "new history" deserved the room, I’m also a bit disappointed at how quick a read this was.

My feelings on this issue are certainly victim to the "hype machine," and to wanting to see some overt reference to Superman Red/Superman Blue, to SOMEthing more with the notion, at least, of Red and Blue, and some overt explaining of things. Instead, a lot seems to have been left to the visuals, to whatever the reader wants to interpret. Maybe it’s stuff to be explored in coming issues–but to consider this a conclusion seems to understate things, and though I certainly appreciate NOT having stories stretched out, I think Superman Reborn certainly deserves to be at least another chapter or two, to really lay things out and concretely state what’s what and when and all that.

Superman Reborn started strong, with a lot of epic possibility and potential. Sadly, it–at least for me–ends far short of what I’d hoped for, underwhelming me despite itself. I trust that stuff will play out in coming weeks and months, with further details and ramifications touched on…and hopefully this mainly just means that we’re NOT locked into "the graphic novel" of exactly X issues to a story with hard stop/starts. Perhaps this is just a "main event" and the full details WILL be revealed here and there–organically–as things continue.

I had to go to two different shops to find a copy of this issue, and got the last copy at the second shop…so I’m pretty sure that a number of people have been grabbing this issue even if they hadn’t been getting previous issues. Perhaps the nostalgia, more likely the hype–particularly from sites like Bleeding Cool–and jumping on for whatever this one issue would hold, regardless of continuity. Story-wise, art-wise, it’s a solid enough issue (note my feelings of its failings above) well worth getting if you’re already following either/both titles or this particular story.

But it’s not worth the "hype," at least on one read-through and thinking on it. That said, I won’t be surprised to have my feelings on it changed by further thought, analysis, and points of view…this post simply being my initial thoughts/reaction to the issue on a single read-through.

action_comics_0976_blogtrailer

Superman (2016) #19 [Review]

superman_0019Superman: Reborn Part 3

Story: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Mick Gray
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Patrick Gleason and John Kalisz
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks To: Dan Jurgens
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Late May 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

Well, it’s safe to say I had too-high expectations for this issue, coming off the previous issue AND Action Comics #975. Though this issue advanced stuff a bit, it did not on initial reading hold up to my own internal "hype."

With the villain revealed, we basically get to see Clark and Lois being made to forget their life together, their son Jon, and to play along to Mxyzptlk’s game. As the issue ends, we have a bit of a throwback on stuff, that can kinda call into question this arc’s title and make one really wonder what’s going to happen in the fourth/"final" chapter before we head into April’s DC stuff.

Yeah, that’s all a bit vague, especially for a review, but this issue was all over the place–capitalizing on Mxy’s reality-bending powers and inclinations. And this is my "snap judgment," initial thoughts after having just read the issue, taking it–as I try to all my reviews–on a first reading without getting overly deep into it. My preference, my style.

The story picks up from the first half of Action 975, and seems to almost ignore the secondary Dini story. It also seems slightly out of nowhere to me, like I missed something. We had intro/setup stuff and the building of tension in the first chapter, getting things rolling. The second chapter brought that stuff to a head and revealed the villain of the story as well as paying off most of a year’s worth of build. I’ve plenty of anticipation and suspicions as to possibilities for how this story might end…so this "middle chapter" that’s neither setup nor conclusion is somewhat stuck in place, unable to conclude stuff, but not much new to be able to put out there.

The imagery is a bit wacky and trippy…which perfectly fits with Mxy and his powers and such. But it also made for a too-quick read; I rarely "like" multiple splash pages or double-page splashes and find them to be a huge "cheat" story AND page-wise in modern comics. That said, the spread with the game board worked quite well for me, all things considered.

This issue does not "sell" me on Mxy’s legitimate motivation for stuff…where it actually made sense in the Action Comics chapter, here he just comes off as petty and mean…I didn’t feel any of the "heart" of his motivation here.

I’m quite certain virtually no one–especially in this day and age–is gonna be inclined to "jump in" with the 19th issue of a series, labeled chapter 3 of a story. This is not something for a first-time reader, but is an issue for the ongoing reader, or the reader who’s dipping their toe in for this ARC.

In a way, this issue feels nearly "skippable" or extraneous, though I’m sure some small "details" will play into the conclusion and whatever status quo going forward from next week’s chapter. I would not actually recommend skipping this issue, but I’d highly recommend that anyone thinking of picking this up also pick up the first two chapters with plans to grab next week’s fourth chapter!

I was also slightly incorrect in my "assumption" of the covers for this story: they ARE going to join together in a 4-panel connected image…however, rather than a 2 x 2 configuration, they’re a 4-panel "tall" configuration (which is shown in the text piece on the final page of the issue, after the story itself).

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Action Comics #975 [Review]

action_comics_0975Superman: Reborn Part 2

Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Jaime Mendoza
Colors: Wil Quintana
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Patrick Gleason & John Kalisz
Associate Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks To: Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Early May 2017
Cover Price: $3.99

[ SPOILER WARNING! This issue WILL BE SPOILED below…even the Second Feature’s title may give it away! ]

While this issue’s cover did not grab me the way Superman #18’s cover did last week, it had its own way to stand out, in the form of the large S-shield on blue as the main background, and the shadowed Clark Kent tugging his shirt open to reveal the classic "bleeding-S" first used with 1992’s Doomsday! / The Death of Superman. I didn’t even consciously notice until later that the title’s logo–Action Comics–was done as a white outline, virtually disappearing with the rest of the cover standing as itself. The green bar on the left seemed a contrast to last week’s issue…but when I held the issues together, they fit together perfectly, pretty much as I’d expected (except I’d figured chapters 1 & 2 would be top-left/top-right with chapters 3 & 4 as bottom-left/bottom right, respectively rather than top-left/bottom-left so far).

And these are–to best of my knowledge–STANDARD covers, the NON-variant covers, just being covers in and of themselves, no fancy tricks, no bags or accessories or foil or die-cut cardstock or 3-D lenticular/hologram stuff.

Just a 38-story-page issue (one 20-page lead story and an 18-page companion piece) for only $1 more…making an EXTRA-SIZED anniversary issue cost…the same as a 20-page Marvel comic.

Since virtually the beginning of Rebirth, the "human Clark Kent" has been a mystery. Things took a turn toward the creepy with the character lately as it became particularly obvious there was something "off" about the character, beyond our not knowing him any better than characters in the comics. The "slow burn" of that "subplot"–a through line in the books for most of a year–finally comes out in this issue as we learn the identity of the mysterious doppelganger.

After Jon disappeared, Superman and Lois go immediately to "the Other Clark"’s apartment seeking their son. Jon’s nowhere to be found…but the couple meet Clark and "our" Clark finally realizes who they’re facing. Though the figure is revealed…we get a few pages of shape-shifting with Superman glimpsing a number of prominent figures in his rogues gallery. Ultimately, a new threat arises, as we’re left on a cliffhanger for the next chapter exactly at the staples of the issue.

[ SPOILERS TO FOLLOW! ]

I generally–and this time is not an exception–find it interesting when I find myself guilty of something a main character is accused of. In this case, I did not see this coming, though in retrospect, I should have. I think I "got" it right before the first of the splash pages featuring other villains, as things all clicked into place, making sense across the months in a believable way that I really dig…though the particulars still have some shaking out to be done.

Mr. Mxyzptlk is our "Mystery Clark," having used his powers on HIMSELF, even, to complete the act–forgetting himself who he was and truly believing himself to be the genuine article. However, the imp is highly cheesed-off at being "forgotten" by Superman…an accusation I realized immediately I’d been guilty of myself…being unable to remember the last time I read a "new" story with the character! As punishment, Mxy will have Lois and Clark forget Jon even exists, though they won’t forget Mxy!

Art-wise, I have mixed feelings on this first half of the issue. The visuals are quite good, and I mostly like ’em…there’s just something slightly off, that I’m apparently not used to…or not consciously, anyway. Mahnke‘s style is very good, but some of the faces–particularly the villain splash-pages–seemed a bit off, and it’s definitely unsettling to see Mxy in this way…reminding me slightly of the character’s tone in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? without going quite that "sharp" and such.

Story-wise, this seemed way too short a segment, with a good quarter of the issue being a villains-show-off (#975, anniversary issue, lets see a bunch of best-known Superman villains!) and not really much plot advancement to the Reborn story other than actually pulling off "the mask" so we could see who’d be the antagonist of the rest of the story, or so it seems.

This is made up for by the Second Feature.

action_comics_0975_blogtrailer

The Man in the Purple Hat

Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Ian Churchill
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assoc. Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza

Mr. Mxyzptlk has Jon Kent as his prisoner. We learn that Clark had told Jon stories of him when he was younger…though Mxy was simply "The Man in the Purple Hat" or to Jon, "Ruppletat." Mxy reveals what he’s been up to for years–having been captured, held, and tortured by Mr. Oz, keeping him "off the table" while Oz’s plan for Superman has unfurled. Mxy had contented himself initially with the sincere hope that Superman would be along to save him within days (when Mxy wouldn’t show up at Day 90, surely Supes would check into why the imp hadn’t reappeared for the traditional every-90-days challenge!) Time passed and no one ever showed up to rescue him…so he had to escape on his own. Once he did, he saw a way to kill two birds with one stone: hide himself from Mr. Oz while helping his buddy Superman in the process, but putting the "Secret Identity" back in the bag. Mxy had to mind-wipe himself to complete this…and was none too happy when he redisovered his own secret…and now he’ll have his revenge utilizing Jon to get at Clark.

I’m pretty sure it’s Churchill‘s art in this segment that put Mahnke‘s art in the first to seeming less thrilling to me. Churchill’s work here is great, with one of the best renditions of Jon Kent I can think of, and a sort of detail to Mr. Mxyzptlk that’s going to make other artists’ take look weak by comparison.

Story-wise, I love that Dini gives us a clear, reasonable explanation for Mxy’s actions and motivation, and this single story’s impact drives back to last May and retroactively adds to those previous issues! This gives us a spotlight on both Jon and moreso, Mr. Mxyzptlk and bridges the gap between whatever his last appearance was and now, while setting him up as an extra-scary antagonist. This is a strong complementary piece to the main story…expanding and contextualizing without having to me its own separate ISSUE or chapter, which will presumably make the "core" chapters that much tighter a story in the end.

We even get some breaking of the "fourth wall" without breaking continuity…and actually suggesting the rich DC multiverse all the more in a way that totally fits Mxy’s character, and allows readers a smile and "a-ha!" in recognizing other ways in which Mxy has appeared over the years.

This is an "anniversary" issue…that is, attention is on the issue’s NUMBER: #975. The round 75, marking off 25 issues since the 950th (which was still part of the New 52 Action Comics #s 0-52 numbering hiccup)…and 25 to go until the big #1000 mark next year.

While a new reader could certainly wade in and likely follow the story a bit…this issue as a whole is like a gift to the readers who’ve been following stuff for awhile, and is certainly a huge treat for me, paying off some ten months of stuff and doing so not only to mere satisfaction but in a way that leaves me eager to continue with the story! It makes sense to me, is believable within my conscious following of stuff, and does not let me down. The "villain pages" in the first story are a bit disappointing as those pages go way too quickly for me just trying to read the story…but they’re a sort of "special" thing for an anniversary issue, and aren’t the cop-out they’d have been if this was not an extra-sized issue.

Action Comics #975 is well worth its price simply for number of story pages, and is a great payoff to months of story-build while keeping things going for whatever’s coming as Superman: Reborn continues.

Superman (2016) #18 [Review]

superman_0018Superman: Reborn Part 1

Story: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Mick Gray
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Patrick Gleason and John Kalisz
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks To: Dan Jurgens
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Early May 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

[ Please note that I will spoil the issue a bit, so stop reading now and come back AFTER you’ve read the issue yourself, if you do not want to encounter spoilers! ]

I buy each new week’s Superman book pretty much as an extremely welcome again (after some 6 or so years away) "habit"–and have since about this time last year. That said, the covers rarely "grab" me–I recognize them, the issue gets paid for and taken home, and read. THIS issue, though, really jumped out at me for its coloring/color-scheme, the visual design, and somehow being rather unexpected to me. It also seems like it’s a small piece of a singular image that I can imagine being spread out across at least 3 more chapters of this story (though I’ll be highly annoyed–to say the least–if such a thing would merely be VARIANTS for this single issue. I’ll hold to my notion until at least next week, though, and give the publisher the benefit of the doubt for now).

This is the opening issue of a fairly "hyped" storyline that I’ve been looking forward to despite some disappointment at how the Clark Kent story seemed to "end" over in Action Comics last week. (Though I’ll give it credit for playing into continuity and this feeling largely like "just" the next issue in sequence OF an ongoing thing).

We open on a brief scene of someone–presumably this Mr. Oz–musing on time/space blah blah blah, and then seeing multiple individuals in his "collection" acting out–reacting to the fact that SOMEONE (we aren’t told who) got out. Looking to the empty cell, we see graffiti indicating an extreme hope in Superman…before shifting to Hamilton County and the main part of the issue.

[ Spoilers to follow ]

Clark, Lois, and Jon are celebrating the couple’s anniversary when there’s a knock at the door. The "other" Clark Kent seems to have left something for the family (and majorly spooks Krypto!).  They find that it’s a scrapbook with photos that no one on this Earth–let alone reality–"should" have. Its images shouldn’t even exist, they were wiped out with Clark and Lois’ Earth. Before they can dig all that deeply, they notice their house is on fire…but quickly realize it’s not so much on fire as being ERASED. Then to make it WORSE…Jon’s being erased. Superman leaps into action to save his son, as any father would. And we see the maddening, helpless desperation of our hero and his wife as they see everything they know and love…erased.

Talk about a setup and leaving one hanging! I’ve loved only having to wait two weeks between issues for Superman and Action Comics since last spring…but this would be flat-out frustrating to have to wait an entire two weeks…I’m anxious for the next chapter, in next week’s Action Comics…by the time of this post, a "mere" 5 days, and that seems too long!

There’s plenty to be found within this issue and its story. We have stuff pointing to the larger DC Universe as it now stands. We have stuff rooted firmly within the Superman books, and specifically this title. We have reference to earlier issues, and we have references to pre-Flashpoint elements. So it seems that we’re getting some major payoff about to really kick into gear after most of a year of building. Still more, we have a story that seems like it’s pretty self-contained to the Super-titles, not some line-wide must-buy-them-all crossover or such. I believe some of the events of this book might trickle out and be reflected in other titles, but in this issue we’re only directed to Action Comics, next.

This may not be the BEST issue for a new reader to start with…but it’s not horrible, and I also think a lapsed reader could probably do pretty well here, just knowing that this is pre-Flashpoint Lois and Clark; that they have a son, and there’s been some other Clark Kent around.

Visually, I have very mixed feelings on this issue. On one hand, I like the cover, and most of the interiors are ok. There are a couple panels–one with Tim Drake (Robin/Red Robin) and one of Jon–that just look really off to me. While Tim’s appearance can be chalked up to his imprisonment, the first large panel of Jon just looks too cartoony to me, overly manga-styled for what is NOT a manga volume. I suppose comparison could be drawn as well to Ed McGuinness‘ art (I’m thinking around 2000 or so), but in the moment, it just threw me off and had me feeling a lot more nitpicky about the issue. The cover, though, is pretty darned good, and would make an excellent print for hanging…and if this indeed is part of a multi-part image, I dare say it’ll likely make a fantastic poster.

All in all, even if you’re not "up" on the various Superman titles, if you’ve a passing familiarity, I’d definitely recommend this issue. It’s well worth its $2.99 cover price, and does a nice job of setting stuff up for what ever is to come, while providing its own major chunk of story and key event for things. I’m eagerly anticipating the next chapter, and to see where things go in general with this story, and the Super-books in general!

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