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Reign of the Supermen…26 Years From Page to Screen

Last week–maybe the week before as well (but this last week for sure) I was greeted with a pleasant surprise in an ad. Most advertising is frustrating, deceptive, or otherwise just bugs the sheer heck outta me. This was one of THE BEST ads I can think of in a number of YEARS.

superman_double_feature_fathom_events_january2019

See…THIS ad prompted me to ACTION. It informed me of this two-day event. Reminded me that this was happening, as I believe I’d seen SOMEthing about it some time back. And it was well-timed, being the Wednesday before the event–providing me with several days to consider and make plans and actually attend the event!

death_of_superman_poster

The Death of Superman came out last July or so, and I enjoyed it overall. It was certainly far superior to 2007’s Superman: Doomsday (which I still hold as primarily worthwhile for its retrospective documentary on the actual comics event).

This "do-over" was good, catching a number of good points from the original comics…while updating, modifying, and adjusting stuff in such a way as to fit it–essentially–into the New 52 continuity, as the last few years of these DC Universe Movie features have been–some based directly on those comics, others drawing inspiration from, and so on.

For me, probably the most stand-out thing about this The Death of Superman was the way it pulled off addressing Lex Luthor as he’s generally been known, and yet the Luthor at the time in the comics was vastly different. I remember that moment in here leaving me chuckling–like "Alright, I was wondering, and that’s good, I like that, that’s awesome!"

In its Return of the King style multiple "epilogues," it also drew from what I feel is one of THE absolute KEY moments of Funeral for a Friend/World Without a Superman, the heart of that story, and in some ways maybe the entire reason one could do this sort of story. It gives us a voiceover of Bibbo praying, talking to God, asking how it is that He would take Superman…while a washed up old roughneck like him goes on living. It was a scene in the comics that made me cry in 1993, it’s a scene that has brought tears to my eyes multiple times since in re-reading the comics, and darned if it didn’t have my eyes wet in the theater the other day!

[SPOILER WARNING! I’m gonna get into spoilers below with Reign of the Supermen!]

reign_of_the_supermen_poster

The biggest draw here for ME, of this double-feature, though, was Reign of the Supermen. Not only the chance to see these on "the big screen," but the fact that it was a chance to see this one a couple days BEFORE the "digital-only" "window" that I so thoroughly DESPISE that has been such a trend lately/for years.

I’m still trying to decide what I think of this one, and perhaps as I’m typing this I’ll better settle it out.

————— [Again, spoiler warning! Stop reading if you care about knowing nothing really about it going into Reign of the Supermen!] —————

Something that really stood out to me quite a bit was the way that the Justice League was involved, as well as the very presence AT ALL of Darkseid.That more than even just the costumes rooted this as a sort of New 52 version of The Death and Return of Superman stuff.

It worked–having Doomsday be a weapon of Darkseid, and Darkseid having been behind Hank Henshaw, and all that. In context of Darkseid being THE big Justice League foe of the New 52 and all that; being the driving force of the "origin" of the League, etc.

But it also turned this into a Justice League story in which Superman had died…rather than being fully at its heart a Superman story.

While I can "appreciate" certain stuff with Darkseid and even like certain visual interpretations…on the whole I just do not care for the character and find the character to be vastly over-used and uninteresting.

We still had key moments adapted into the film. Steel still had a momentary subplot with weapons; Superboy hitting on women; the "visored Superman" still used deadly force; the Cyborg still saved the president and was recognized as the real, one, true Superman; and so on. Scenes had some clever nods to comic covers in montage mode that I really liked. To "just anyone" it was a montage; someone like me that read the individual comics each week as the story originally unfolded across much of 1993, it was an excellent way to acknowledge the original comics without being hung up on them and their story.

While Superman, the Supermen were a primary driving force…I just strongly feel that this could have been just as easily Justice League: Invasion II or some such.

In the end, though, I enjoyed this, especially as I decided that for me at least it’s simply the New 52 version of the death and return story, updated and adapted for the New 52 such that it fit the altered continuity and such, while keeping many of the moments from the comics that were important and informative of the characters. Unfortunately, the biggest disservice was probably done to the Eradicator, with virtually no real character exploration nor explanation. (Why the visor??? The visor wasn’t even really acknowledged! except his being "the visored" Superman)


I’ve missed at least a couple other Fathom Events presentations of DC Universe movies. I’d been very interested in and planning on going to see the Batman: The Killing Joke back in 2016, but was laid off days before and still in a bit of "shock" over the whole situation, and didn’t go. And I’m pretty certain there was at least one other "premiere" in theaters in 2017 and/or 2018.

But it feels "fitting" to see these…and all the better a value for having both together. I think the listing I saw indicated the combined thing was 2 hours 45 minutes or so–which makes for a "longer movie," with an individual 70-74 minute animated feature "short" and a "full length" film running closer to 120 minutes. But unlike most of these "longer movies" in theaters, having these as two movies but back to back…there was a whopping 5-minute "intermission," which was more than enough time to go to the restroom and grab a quick drink. I certainly wish more films would be a bit longer BUT (such as on a cliffhanger) have a brief intermission for using the restroom and such.

I despise this "digital window" on movies. I have never ONCE decided to blow $20 on a digital-only film JUST to have it 2 weeks before it would be available on physical media. It just pisses me off. If "digital" were a completely separate thing and there were NEVER "DVD + Digital" or "Blu-Ray + Digital" or "Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital" combo packs, that’d be a different thing. I refuse to "convert" to digital-ONLY when it’s basically the same price to get the physical media WITH a digital code. (Or for $2-3 difference–cheaper than a single issue of a comic book–it’s negligible for a huge benefit/convenience!)

Even having bought and watched The Death of Superman last year, and even just having seen Reign of the Supermen in the theater…I’ll still be buying the latter in a couple weeks when it’s available.

If you’ve bought/watched The Death of Superman this is a solid continuation. And even if you’re not really a Superman fan but dig Batman and the rest of the Justice League, this is also very much a Justice League thing, and fits with the other recent Justice League animated features, references the Teen Titans, and generally works in that continuity.

It’s taken 26 years…from the original comics to this animated (double) feature. I’m glad to be able to have ’em, all the more as they make a 25+ year old story "new" and "current" again for an entirely new generation!

reign_of_the_supermen_26_years_from_page_to_screen_blogtrailer

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Young Justice (2019) #1 [Review]

young_justice_(2019)_0001Seven Crises

Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: DC Lettering
Cover: Gleason & Sanchez
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editors: Mike Cotton & Andy Khouri
Group Editors: Brian Cunningham & Mark Doyle

I wasn’t going to get this. I vaguely remember it being announced, as well as seeing SOMETHING about these Wonder Comics and thinking hey…yet ANOTHER new imprint to not get into!

As to the property itself–the title Young Justice–I remember ads for the World Without GrownUps or whatever back in 1998 or so, and the premiere of the original Young Justice ongoing series. I mostly missed out on that at the time–I was getting a lot of Marvel at that point (with the Heroes Return titles) and mainly just the Superman titles from DC, offhand. The END of that Young Justice series (and Titans) came in the Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day mini-‘event’, which I picked up just after my OWN graduation day from college. The event led away from Young Justice and Titans and into two "new" series–a new iteration of Teen Titans and Outsiders, both of which I followed (getting in at #1 for lengthy runs) up to Infinite Crisis or so. I dove deep into DC continuity just after Young Justice. So I never had the nostalgia of the title or the particular iterations of the characters. When the animated series was out, I enjoyed the first several episodes, but lost track of it due to episode scheduling (as I do most animated series, it seems). So I had no huge attachment there to the title, either.

But somewhere along the way between this series being announced and this issue’s release, I found out (online) that Tim Drake would be Robin again, and that "my" Superboy–Connor Kent–the one introduced during 1993’s Reign of the Supermen–would be back. Seeing Superboy in particular on a cover image, I was "sold."

Maybe the first thing about this actual issue to note is the hefty $4.99 price point. I tend to DESPISE $4.99 #1 issues, particularly because of the way I feel that Marvel has abused the practice over the last few years. This issue felt thicker, though, and I’m more forgiving toward DC (though they have squandered a lot of the goodwill they earned from me with Rebirth). It is an extra-sized issue, with 30 story pages (an extra 1/3 content for the price of 1/4), so the "value" is technically there.

We open the issue on Gemworld, with someone relaying information about seven crises and Earth. We then jump to Earth, and a young woman’s arrival in Metropolis. This is Jinny Hex…new to the big city. As she’s dealing with having been pulled over for a busted taillight on her vehicle…agents of Gemworld invade, causing quite a ruckus. Jinny finds herself face to face with Robin (Tim Drake) and seems rather awe-struck. A flashback shows us an interaction between Tim and Cassie Sandsmark minutes earlier, also in Metropolis, as the two catch up briefly before Tim leaps into action with the invasion. Joining the action is Impulse–Bart Allen; he is clearly excited to be in action and interacting with the others while facing the invasion. Before long, Wonder Girl joins in as well as a Green Lantern Ring Construct…and Bart declares that Young Justice is back! It looks as if the heroes may have prevailed, and then they’re caught up in some sort of energy, and Robin comes to on Gemworld facing Amethyst…while Impulse finds himself facing a certain missing teammate to end the issue.

This issue provoked a reaction in me that I haven’t had in awhile from any comic, and that I don’t know entirely how to describe. But to try…in short, I flat-out enjoyed this comic, I loved seeing Tim referred to as Robin again, and something about these characters–even though I lack a huge amount of context for the grouping–really hit my nostalgia buttons. Perhaps because this is the first time it seems Tim Drake has properly–without likelihood of reprint revision–been referred to as Robin since 2009 or so. Perhaps it’s seeing Connor Kent Superboy again for the first time since at least 2011. Perhaps it’s that this feels like something from before the New 52, period.

Likely all of the above and that the issue was just…FUN. I mean, an invasion, the destruction of property and all that…sure, that’s not something to celebrate, but this IS a comic book, and we’re not beaten over the head while reading about the destruction itself or how it’s impacting some random character or bystander. We just get heroes in action, and saving people, and no real focus on dark, grim, gritty stuff.

I know I’ve had issues with Gleason‘s art in the past–I think to the point that I even came to dislike seeing his name on stuff; it was a sign that I would likely dislike the art. His art won me over a bit during the Rebirth run of Superman; and maybe I’m just so thrilled to see Robin and Superboy again, but I really dug the art on this issue! Gleason‘s style seems very well-suited for this sort of frenetic fun and the energetic nature of much of the issue–from Robin laying into Gemworlders to Bart completely enjoying himself in action…and even working in more serious stuff without coming off with stylistic things that’d get me complaining on some principle. There are several double-page spreads, and other than the "Young Justice is BACK!" bit, I could do without them. I tend to feel that most double-pagers are "cheats" and go by way too quickly for taking up multiple full pages, lowering the "value" in terms of per-page story content.

Story-wise, this seems like a pretty good first issue. I’m not at all current on Tim Drake stuff, nor Bart or Cassie; I vaguely recall something about Jinny being in a Walmart-exclusive comic, but she comes off as fresh and new here, as does Teen Lantern; I also lack any real familiarity with Amethyst and Gemworld except that they exist. But I was still able to enjoy the issue, with everyone getting introductions or otherwise at least being named on-page…no need to go online to hunt down "who" someone was or be left scratching my head. (And the lettering had a great touch, working character names in as logos in a way that doesn’t seem to be used much lately and reminds me quite a bit of ’90s comics). This isn’t a perfect story by any means…I didn’t really "get" the invasion or anything much from that–it was more incidental, an excuse for "big action" and something to bring the characters together, to get stuff from Point A to Point B and such. That it included these particular characters being pulled together, though…it worked for me.

This is certainly no done-in-one issue, and it really only serves so far to move pieces around to begin to move toward whatever the full story will eventually be. The issue is significant in itself as a single issue for bringing the characters together (if only certain characters in virtual cameos) and being the first time we’ve seen several in years–or at least, seemingly years. But this is just the opening chapter of a serialized graphic novel, that presumably will be the standard-ish 6 issues in length.

There’s a certain on-page authenticity to the various characters, that both looks and feels like what I’d expect of a Bendis-helmed comic. His work can be hit or miss for me, but this issue is definitely a hit. I got this for the characters involved, and was not disappointed. That Bendis is the writer is incidental to me, and something I’m fine with, based on this issue. Whether that holds for future issues remains to be seen! But for now, I’m definitely onboard for this title in particular…and having thoroughly enjoyed this, I may even consider checking out the other Wonder Comics titles.

If you’re a fan of Tim Drake, Bart Allen (at least as he was pre-2003), early Connor Kent Superboy, and so on…this is definitely worth jumping in on. Especially if you’ve been "away" from the characters for awhile or not staying current with DC‘s continuity. This does not feel like it relies on anything else going on…it’s just the world these characters inhabit and them coming together and working together. This is not spinning out of some other event or title…no prologue in Detective Comics or one of the Justice League titles or some other mini-series. And even if you’re not specifically a fan of a specific character in a particular role, if you enjoy teen heroes, enjoy seeing Robin/Wonder Girl/Impulse/etc. together in a title…I’d say this is worthwhile to check out.

I have every intention myself of picking up the next issue, and if I enjoy it the way I did this issue, I may be onboard for awhile!

young_justice_(2019)_0001_blogtrailer

The ’90s Revisited: Robin #24 – Underworld Unleashed!

90s_revisited

robin_0024Insects and Violence

Story: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Aaron Lopresti
Inks: Stan Woch
Colors: Adrienne Roy
Letters: Tim Harkins
Cover: Mike Wieringo, Terry Austin, Bob LeRose, Curtis King, John Wren
Associate Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Last month, a number of blogs and podcasts joined together to present #BestEventEver 2018, covering the 1995 event Underworld Unleashed! Due to computer issues and developments in my personal life, I’ve stretched my part into November to cover the Robin issues. In addition to my own posts, please check out these other blogs and podcasts for in-depth coverage of the various issues that were part of the event…and join in on further peeks at and discussions of the event on Twitter by joining at hashtags #BestEventEver and #UnderworldReUnleashed!

ITG | Resurrections: An Adam Warlock/Thanos Podcast | Relatively Geeky Podcast Network | The Retroist | Chris is on Infinite Earths | Cosmic Treadmill | The Pop Culture Palace | Rolled Spine’s Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Podcast | The Idol-Head of Diabolu | Justice’s First Dawn | Justice Trek: The Podcast


This issue is a sort of tie-in that’s not a tie-in. In the previous issue, we got to see Drury Walker and Neron and Walker’s transformation from joke-villain Killer Moth into the monstrous bug-creature Charaxes, which ties in well with the general Underworld Unleashed stuff. This issue, though…if it wasn’t for the Underworld Unleashed logo on the cover, and following directly on the previous issue–one wouldn’t even know there was some larger "event" going on! This can be read as its own thing–you don’t need Underworld Unleashed itself, and other than simply knowing Tim’s been captured by the creature, you don’t even REALLY need the previous issue! (Thanks to context and exposition…and speaking for myself, 30 years of comics-reading.)

Robin’s been cocooned ALIENS-style (well, lots-of-things-style, but I’m in an ALIENS frame of mind), unable to free himself yet, but in contact with Alfred…who can provide some information if not actual help (such as the fact that a ‘Charaxes’ is a butterfly, not a moth…but Robin’s not sure his captor’s sweating the details. While Tim struggles and eventually manages to use his extending bo to free himself…the police–even armed with a shotgun–don’t fare well against Charaxes. Robin then gets to have a go at the creature, but eventually it looks like he’ll get to experience that which Alfred had told him about…when a mysterious figure shows up, shoots Charaxes, captures him in a high-tech net…as our hero passes out. When he wakes, it’s to Batman (who arrived too late to have helped), and both are left to wonder about the mysterious entity. At school the next day, Tim is approached by a rival who is willing to put aside differences and "recruit" Tim…in vigilante opposition to the influx of new students. When he shows off a gun…he’s got Tim’s attention!

This is a fairly solid issue of Robin. We get to see our titular hero escape a "death trap," fight the villain, and even interact with Alfred and Batman. In addition, we get to see a bit of Ariana and her family in their new home, as well as see Tim at school with his friends. While this issue came off a cliffhanger, one isn’t really missing a CRUCIAL piece of story–it’s easy enough to catch up from exposition. This is from a time when comics were not locked into a rigid cycle of X number of issues = 1 graphic novel/collected volume. Each issue was episodic, rather than "just" X of Y serialized chapters of a SINGLE story.

It’s perhaps a bit fitting that I get to this issue a couple WEEKS later than I had intended–it’s a "straggler" issue for me on reading, as well as covering as part of the #BestEventEver coverage of Underworld Unleashed. While it’s technically a tie-in, it seems to be a later one, and labeled as such almost as an afterthought. You’d want to read this if you’re reading the series, and if you read the previous issue and cared about how Robin escapes from Charaxes…but this really seems to have absolutely nothing to do with Underworld Unleashed, and would be suitable for getting in conjunction with that solely for the logo on the cover.

Visually, I like the issue. It’s just Robin for me. It’s not trying to be some distinctive visual interpretation, it’s just…Robin art for a Robin issue. If I wasn’t looking at the credits I probably wouldn’t identify the artist offhand…but in the way this issue is, that’s a good thing, as it just looks like a ’90s Robin issue, and not a bad one at that.

As with most ’90s comics…this is definitely worth a 25-cent purchase, though there’s not really much to this to make it stand out as a sole, single, isolated issue. Aside from the "completist" mentality for Underworld Unlimited, if you’re not interested in early Tim Drake Robin stuff, or Killer Moth and that character’s oddities, or the art…I woudln’t suggest hunting this down for the sake of itself.

As a Robin issue, and my being a fan of this character…these two issues were a treat to revisit and I’m quite glad to have read them!


Again, please check out these other sites for additional, more in-depth coverage of the various other issues–including the main event mini itself–for Underworld Unleashed!

robin_0024_blogtrailer

The ’90s Revisited: Robin #23 – Underworld Unleashed!

90s_revisited

robin_0023Buggin’

Story: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Aaron Lopresti
Inks: Stan Woch
Colors: Adrienne Roy
Letters: Tim Harkins
Cover: Mike Wieringo, Terry Austin, Bob LeRose, Curtis King, John Wren
Associate Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Last month, a number of blogs and podcasts joined together to present #BestEventEver 2018, covering the 1995 event Underworld Unleashed! Due to computer issues, I’ve stretched a bit into November to cover the Robin issues. In addition to my own posts, please check out these other blogs and podcasts for in-depth coverage of the various issues that were part of the event…and join in on further peeks at and discussions of the event on Twitter by joining at hashtags #BestEventEver and #UnderworldReUnleashed!

ITG | Resurrections: An Adam Warlock/Thanos Podcast | Relatively Geeky Podcast Network | The Retroist | Chris is on Infinite Earths | Cosmic Treadmill | The Pop Culture Palace | Rolled Spine’s Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Podcast | The Idol-Head of Diabolu | Justice’s First Dawn | Justice Trek: The Podcast


I’m pretty sure I had not read this when it first came out…but I realized I must have read it quite a number of years ago–though at most recent, it would have been 2002! More likely 2001, when I bought a set of issues 1-40 from Capp’s Comics, which then left me (at the time) only missing 41-45 from being “current” with the series, as I’d jumped back in with #46 or so, and followed the series more or less to at least #100! So some part of me remembered having read this, the “upgrade” of Killer Moth to Charaxes! Other than this, or in spite of this, to me, the main thing I know the character from is that he was involved in an attempted kidnapping of Bruce Wayne in which Barbara “Babs” Gordon intervened as Batgirl (the incident is referenced in Untold Legend of the Batman #3, but Killer Moth himself/by name is NOT).

We open this issue on a large, green, bug-like face demanding “Do as I say or face the wrath of…Killer Moth!” The scene transitions and we see that it’s a dream, and meet the man himself–who longs to be feared and not the butt of jokes amidst even fellow villains. Neron (this is an Underworld Unleashed branded tie-in, after all!) appears to him and offers to transform him. We then shift to Robin “stalking” Tim Drake’s girlfriend, lamenting her family having had to sell their business and move. He feels angsty over stuff until Batman shows up, and asks him an interesting question–does he know who bought the family’s property? We then learn that it was bought by Wayne Enterprises at triple market value, which allows the family to thrive, and move to a better part of Gotham (which happens to be closer to Tim, close enough that Ariana will now attend the same high school!). Meanwhile, Arkham guards find a cocoon in Drury Walker’s cell, and eventually the cocoon opens, and a bug-creature emerges, agrees that “Killer Moth” is a ludicrous concept, and to call it Charaxes! At Gotham Heights High, we see Tim introduce his friends to Ariana and they interact a bit, before we see some results of Charaxes’ rampage. Eventually the actual police are called, and even they aren’t equipped to deal with this new “upgraded” threat from a previously-considered-a-joke guy. Learning of the situation, Robin prepares to head out, figuring it shouldn’t be a problem…after all, this is Killer Moth they’re talking about! Unfortunately, Robin winds up getting knocked out during the fight with the creature, and wakes up at the end of the issue stuck in a cocoon of sorts having no idea where he is or how he got there, knowing only that “it” will be back soon.

Somehow notably to me is Neron responding to Walker’s question of whether the transformation he’s agreed to will hurt. “You will forget the pain….when the transformation is complete.” This concept is something that I’ve often considered in various situations, and while I don’t know if my personal original coming across it was this issue, this issue DID spark at least a vague sense of deja vu or such with it. That painful as something is in the moment, once through it, the pain will be forgotten in light of the result.

Over the 16+ years since I would have read this, I’d forgotten plenty of details of Tim Drake’s early days as Robin. (Though he had 3 mini-series and an Annual even before about 2 years of this ongoing series…the character has been around for 30 years now and this issue was only about 6 years into that, so this is still “early” for the character.) Coming back to Tim still being with Ariana touches off a nice bit of nostalgia for me. I’d completely forgotten about subplots with her family and moving and such. For that matter, given the way most modern comics seem to be with the eye for the 4-6 issue “graphic novel,” sometimes I feel like I forget what “subplots” even were, and the sort of structure seen in this issue, with a number of points touched on that are not strictly structured for a specific, standard-sized collection.

I really like the art in this issue. As I read it, I hadn’t noted the credits…I just wanted to take in the story. I think I “assumed” the art was Tom Grummett, but was (pleasantly) surprised to find that it’s Aaron Lopresti…a name I’m more recently “re-familiar” with due to his work on the Malibu Ultraverse title Sludge.

It’s not surprising, then, that I liked the art! I’m not a huge fan of the Charaxes design…but then, I’m not a huge fan of bugs, so the character just has a look that I’m not quite comfortable with. However, I’d put that down as a success in the appearance! Throughout the issue, stuff’s not hard to follow visually, and Lopresti‘s style works very well with what I tend to think of for 1990s Robin, and fitting right in with prior Robin art so as to not be distracting or off-putting!

Story-wise, I enjoyed the memories in this, and that there wasn’t MUCH time wasted on exposition…and yet, it seemed easy enough to follow along. Granted, I’d read this issue before, know quite a bit about Robin and so on, but I didn’t feel lost or stuck “outside” the story. Even if one doesn’t know the characters or history, it’s pretty easy to pick up on the main points, much as one might casually watch an early episode of a tv series for which they’ve seen some later-season episodes.

Neron’s appearance itself is not explained or contextualized here–not even an Editor’s Note to “see Underworld Unleashed“–but his appearance here qualifies AS appearing here AND gives us the on-panel “explanation” for Walker going from some inept inmate desiring respect, to a cocoon on the ceiling and transformation into Charaxes. This seems like one of the more drastic changes to a villain, and seems fitting enough with the cocoon and all, transforming Walker physically/biologically into a killer bug, rather than having just a name and costume.

The introduction of Charaxes certainly fulfills my expectation of this as a tie-in to Underworld Unleashed, in seeing a previously-established low level villain receiving an “upgrade” into a larger threat. I don’t recall how long this change “stuck,” as I’m pretty sure “Killer Moth” as a petty, low-level villain is presently still a butt of jokes and “just human” and such, though I couldn’t say where the character is at present in 2018.

This issue doesn’t really stand out singularly or have any over-obvious cover to draw one’s attention to it in passing as to this particular story. That said, the cover image of a cocooned Robin looking wide-eyed at the giant bug-creature on the cover gives this a suitably “spooky”-ish type of imagery that would fit with an October issue (cover dates being a couple months ahead, this issue would have been an October 1995 issue).

This is a solid issue of Robin (the series), and works well in what I remember as the continuity of the time. We do have the “origin” and such of Charaxes, so there’s some significance in that regard, if one comes across it in a bargain bin. This does end on a cliffhanger, and there is a second tie-in issue (the next issue, #24) so this doesn’t work as well as a standalone thing, and is best acquired as part of the pair of issues. If you’re a fan of Robin, writer Chuck Dixon, artist Aaron Lopresti, seeking Underworld Unleashed tie-ins, or Killer Moth/Charaxes stuff, this’d be a definite treat to pick up.


Again, please check out these other sites for additional, more in-depth coverage of the various other issues–including the main event mini itself–for Underworld Unleashed!

robin_0023_blogtrailer

The ’90s Revisited: Superboy #22 – Underworld Unleashed!

90s_revisited

superboy_0022Fire and Ice

Writer: Karl Kesel
Penciller: Tom Grummett
Inker: Dan Davis
Colorist: Tom McCraw
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Assistant Editor: Chris Duffy
Editor: Frank Pittarese
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

This month, a number of blogs and podcasts have joined together to present #BestEventEver 2018, covering the 1995 event Underworld Unleashed! Beyond my own posts, please check out these other blogs and podcasts for in-depth coverage of the various issues that were part of the event…and join in on further peeks at and discussions of the event on Twitter by joining at hashtags #BestEventEver and #UnderworldReUnleashed!

ITG  |  Resurrections: An Adam Warlock/Thanos Podcast  |  Relatively Geeky Podcast Network  |  The Retroist  |  Chris is on Infinite Earths  |  Cosmic Treadmill  |  The Pop Culture Palace  |  Rolled Spine’s Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Podcast  |  The Idol-Head of Diabolu  |  Justice’s First Dawn  |  Justice Trek: The Podcast


It seems I’ve picked a whole bunch of "cold" issues for covering Underworld Unleashed! Mr. Freeze over in Green Lantern #68 and Batman #525, Luthor and Joker in a snowglobe over in Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #3…and now Killer Frost in this issue!

The issue opens with Superboy popping back into the present in amazement after some sort of time-travel adventure (apparently a crossover between the previous issue, Legion [of Super-Heroes?] #74, and Legionnaires #34, according to the Editor’s Note). He heads home only to be ambushed by Knockout, who has decided she’s living "here now" to Superboy’s consternation. Meanwhile, a plane crashes into the airport, apparently brought down due to being "all iced up!" An ice-woman emerges, seeking warmth, saying "…Neron said he’d make me more powerful, but i’m just as I always was…need to absorb more heat…" We then return to Superboy and a rather perturbed Rex Leech lamenting damage to the house, though he hadn’t noticed Knockout being in the process of cleaning up the mess she’d made. While Superboy, Knockout, Dubbilex, and Roxy Leech chat, it begins to snow…which is quite surprising considering their Hawaii environment! Superboy and Knockout wind up in town facing off with the ice-woman, who–based on MO–seems to be Killer Frost. With Tana Moon nearby observing, they manage to stall Frost with a bit of volcanic heat…before Knockout drops a truckload of liquid oxygen on the Neron-enhanced villainess. Losing sight of both, Superboy worries about Knockout before she emerges and steals a kiss, joyful over the fun of the day (said kiss making Tana jealous, and leading Superboy to affirm his feelings for her and that Knockout is not his interest). Meanwhile, Neron appears to Knockout and offers her her heart’s desire…she violently refuses and Neron leaves. Also meanwhile, Roxy makes it slightly belatedly to a "meeting" she was worried about, and we see that she’s taking a police exam, which has implications for the future.

First off, while Neron does appear (briefly!) in this issue, it’s more of a cameo, lasting barely a single page. Second, we’re not given much of anything on Killer Frost…she’s anything BUT 3-dimensional here, just a name and power; nothing to do with who she is, any background, any real or in-depth motivation (she thought Neron was helping her, but she still needs warmth.) Lacking motivation, she’s nothing but a plot device, serving as a shoe-horned-in element to try to justify this issue "tying in" to Underworld Unleashed for the month.

Though the cover gives us Killer Frost’s face and a frozen Superboy…that’s misleading, giving an appearance of personal, intentional malice on her part and having more impact on Superboy than she actually does.

The issue really seems to belong to Knockout trying to establish–or re-establish–a teamup with Superboy and showing (perhaps) a bit of responsibility on her part. I remember seeing the character on covers, and I’m pretty sure I remember her being an antagonist for Superboy in the earliest issues of this series–maybe as early as the first or second issue. I don’t remember much of anything about her or her arc, but she seems like the "annoying tag-along spanner-in-the-works" here, disrupting Superboy’s life, public and private. She reminds me quite a bit of Maxima in some of her early appearances in the Superman titles in the late-’80s/early-’90s, serving at once as an antagonist while showing lustful interest in our hero that is not reciprocated, and yet not being "all-bad."

As said, Killer Frost is basically incidental here, interchangeable with any other character that causes/controls cold, or even any NEW character with such a power set. I only even really know the name "Killer Frost" thanks to the CW Flash tv series…without that, I wouldn’t know the character existed prior to this issue and might have assumed she was some throw-away character introduced in the main Underworld Unleashed mini-series or an earlier issue of Superboy or some such (Killer Frost was actually introduced in Firestorm in the late 1970s).

I’m not overly familiar with this period of the Superboy series, losing track of the title after its first several issues in 1994. I remember Rex and Roxy from the character’s earliest days in Adventures of Superman, during Reign of the Supermen, and that along with Dubbilex and Tana Moon, they wound up in Hawaii with Superboy. I also remember Roxy seeming like a complete, dumb airhead or such…but here, I see that she’s been making changes and the simple fact of her taking the police exam shows me that she is anything BUT some complete, dumb airhead. She’s apparently stretching herself and trying to do something positive with her life, possibly inspired by Superboy or making up for something (I honestly don’t know what her motivation is, but as a "supporting character" in the Superboy comic, that would be a simple guess, I suppose).

Though I don’t have much context for things, the fact I recognize most of the characters does a lot for me, and allows me to enjoy the issue in and of itself, and I wonder at stuff between Superboy and Knockout, as well as between Superboy and Tana…and my curiosity has me that much more curious about the early issues of the series, in a good way!

Visually, I love Grummett‘s art…all the characters look familiar, and look good (as far as they’re supposed to…Rex has the slightly smarmy look to go with his name, as well as with my memory of his actions during Reign of the Supermen and claiming legal right to use of the name ‘Superman’). Superboy especially looks exactly as I "remember" him looking in this time period, which is what I expect and adds to my enjoying the issue.

Though I enjoyed the issue, it does not seem at all "essential" in any way to Underworld Unleashed…without "prior knowledge" OF that title as a concept/event series, I wouldn’t even know from this issue what it actually is! In context of this issue, Neron could be just some villain playing behind the scenes of this title, and even the Underworld Unleashed logo on the cover could be a blurb for this issue or a story in this series following whatever the Legion/Legionnaires crossover was, with an underworld being unleashed on Superboy and his allies. If you want the entire event/crossover, though, since the logo’s here on the issue, you’ll want this for that at least. Otherwise, this issue doesn’t seem to be particularly significant in and of itself in isolation–I’ve not read the aforementioned Legion crossover, I don’t recall what came immediately after this issue, so I’m not sure how significant Roxy and the police exam might truly be, or Knockout’s presence in this issue, and so on.

As a snapshot of mid-’90s Superboy by Kesel and Grummett, though, this is well worth snagging if you find it in a bargain bin…but probably not something to singularly seek out without it being part of a run or as seeking Underworld Unleashed tie-ins.


Again, please check out these other sites for additional, more in-depth coverage of the various other issues–including the main event mini itself–for Underworld Unleashed!

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I Tried–and Now Have Canceled–My DC Universe Subscription

no_to_dc_universeI really have to “blame” fellow blogger Natalie (Stabbing Stardust) for getting me to TRY the DC Universe thing when I was initially adamantly intending to stay away from it for awhile*. With stuff she’d posted and said about it, I was curious enough to try it, initially thinking to breeze through Constantine in a week, and when I only got through a few episodes, decided to go ahead and go with a single month to start, figuring that’d give me time to finish Constantine, and poke around a bit.

(*This blame is not a bad thing, and IS one of the great things, to me, of being part of a comics/blogging community!)

I have YET to really in any way LIKE the interface–VERRRRRRY briefly on the computer a couple times to browse (nothing impressive) and mainly on a Roku TV app.

There’s no simple, alphabetical list of series, it at least SEEMS LIKE they keep changing stuff around for what’s grouped where in the menus/home screen, and with so little actual COMICS content available, even SEARCHING doesn’t do much.

The app even launched BEFORE even ONE of the new, announced series were ready to go–five weeks of ME using it, and NOW there are only THREE episodes of Titans available, and UNlike the Netflix model of dropping an entire season at once, it’s on a weekly-drop schedule, and NOT even at “midnight” (at 2am EST Thursday night into Friday morning, the app gave me a note saying the third episode of Titans would drop in “5 hours”).

Of all the tv content, really only Constantine (a single season) and Superboy seasons 2-4 are of any immediate interest to me; the former to catch up on the character as they’ve continued into the “Arrow-verse” and the latter for nostalgia and finding a certain scene that sticks out to me from when I was a kid.

The CW shows–Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow–are not available on it, nor is the ’66 Batman series. It seems a handful of “classic” cartoons–the ’40s Fleisher Superman shorts are available, and I think I saw some Super-Friends thing; but I don’t believe the ’60s/’70s cartoons are available, nor the RubySpears Superman.

There are several documentaries, but as I have at least a couple on DVD, even those aren’t a great draw, and none “justify” $8/month; I’d rather pay the $8 for a dvd and have that tangible product in my actual collection!

Most egregious–and what most directly led to me actually CANCELING–came Saturday night after I finished episode 3 of Titans. Finished with the episode, I decided to browse to find a comic or story to READ. I’d previously experimented with the navigation with Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey #1, and Superman: The Man of Steel #18 (The Death of Superman/Doomsday! part 1) but hadn’t actually READ any full issues yet.

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Amidst the stupid-loose categories (more “Raven,” more “Titans,” etc), looking at individual stuff, I spotted a SPELLING ERROR. Suicide Squad: Trail by Fire. Trail, as opposed to Trial. A simple, stupid typo, but extremely grating to me. Trail OF Fire would make sense as an alternative to Trial OF Fire. But the “by” would mean that a Trail (A-I) by fire is a trail running alongside fire…as opposed to a Trial (I-A) by fire being under fire, via fire, amidst fire, etc.

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Then I noticed one of the loose categories was “Last Chance to Read.”

LAST CHANCE…to read?!?

Not even TWO MONTHS and a crap selection of comics, and they’re ROTATING COMICS OFF the app ENTIRELY?!?

I understand, condone, and would even EXPECT them to rotate what they are ACTIVELY PROMOTING, what they are “PUSHING,” at any given time. Batman Day? Push the Batman stuff. New show about the Titans? Push stuff related to those characters. Halloween? Push the haunted stories. Etc.

But making EVERY SINGLE COMIC available essentially something on a TIMER, something FINITE and LIMITED…something INTRINSIC to their existence, to their having characters anyone cares about…but basically saying “hey, read ’em NOW or not at all!” is just a massive stomp on the foot, to me.

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While I was stewing on that, I then noticed ANOTHER typo, in the Batman/New Titans crossover A Lonely Place of Dying. A 29-year-old story…but they have it listed as A Lonely Place FOR Dying. Nitpicky? Yeah, but it’s extremely personal to ME, as that was the first story in Batman that I had a part 1 of as a kid (My very first issue of Batman was 439–the conclusion of the 4-part Year Three; my second-ever issue was 440, part 1 of Lonely Place OF Dying).

This thing’s been compared to Marvel‘s Marvel Unlimited, as an “answer” to that, as something potentially “better” (at least TRYING to be “better”) since DC hasn’t HAD anything REMOTELY similar.

But the ticking timer on comics mean the ENTIRETY of the app is “curated,” not just curating recommendations and themes or such. And if they’re rotating comics content, who’s to say they won’t decide to rotate other content? The animated movies? (I own those already, too; many of them also digitally that I can watch on Vudu with hundreds of other digital movies)

I’d THINK that (especially with Titans having a “TV-MA” rating) as a late-30s male who has been into comics–primarily DC over the years, for basically 30 years now–I should be the primary audience. Nostalgic for digital back-issues (to preserve sales of modern stuff), violent, dark tv (Titans), old enough to have kids to expose to the animated content, a family to share other tv content, and so on.

But again, I can only figure “I’m obviously NOT the target audience.”

And I can’t in good conscience feel as strongly as I do on all this and complain about it without backing it up with some sort of action. So, catching it a day before it would have renewed, I’ve cancelled my subscription, and with no subscription, will be removing the app/”channel” from my Roku devices (and never even got around to installing whatever app there may be for phones/tablets).

Maybe I’ll check back in later. I’ll probably wait to see how long the DC Universe “exclusive” shows will be available and in what form–are THOSE going to be “rotated” as well? Force you to–if you’re more than 5 weeks “behind”–resort to waiting for some sort of DVD/Bluray release (as even the “Netflix-Exclusive” shows have)? Or will I be able to re-subscribe later and watch the full season?

While this thing has “potential,” 1. the app being SO RUSHED that it was launched “only” a few weeks before new, original content was even ready to be launched; 2. the extremely limited, crap selection of “sampler”-like comics and 3. the rotating OUT/off of stuff, rather than simply ADDING TO an ever-growing “library” of content…that’s 3 strikes, in my eyes.

I’m so incredibly glad I opted to only spend $8, rather than $75+ for some annual thing. I feel strongly enough NEGATIVELY toward the thing as of this typing that I even considered re-upping with Marvel Unlimited on PRINCIPLE, even though I would ONLY be able to make easy use of that on my PHONE.

“Passively,” I very much do NOT recommend DC Universe at this time. I’m extremely discouraged and frustrated with stuff, but knowing I’m a bit of an anomaly having so much dvd content in my personal collection, I’ll stop just shy of actively recommending against the service, as far as the tv/animated content goes. Comics-wise, don’t waste your money, though!

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The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #69 – Underworld Unleashed!

90s_revisited

green_lantern_0069Bargains

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Paul Pelletier
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Colors: Linda Medley
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $1.75

This month, a number of blogs and podcasts have joined together to present #BestEventEver 2018, covering the 1995 event Underworld Unleashed! Beyond my own posts, please check out these other blogs and podcasts for in-depth coverage of the various issues that were part of the event…and join in on further peeks at and discussions of the event on Twitter by joining at hashtags #BestEventEver and #UnderworldReUnleashed!

ITG  |  Resurrections: An Adam Warlock/Thanos Podcast  |  Relatively Geeky Podcast Network  |  The Retroist  |  Chris is on Infinite Earths  |  Cosmic Treadmill  |  The Pop Culture Palace  |  Rolled Spine’s Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Podcast  |  The Idol-Head of Diabolu  |  Justice’s First Dawn  |  Justice Trek: The Podcast


Particularly coming off of Green Lantern #68, this issue definitely feels like I missed something!

…Which, of course…I did! But we’ll get back to that shortly!

The issue opens on Green Lantern–Kyle–returning home quite battered and beaten. He finds Donna Troy–Darkstar–waiting, and she quickly helps him to a couch and begins to tend to his wounds, as he recounts the story of how he wound up in this condition: namely, some big guy named Neron. When tempting Kyle didn’t work, Neron beat the hero within an inch of his life. After some friendly banter, the two prepare to head out to gather other heroes to face Neron. Meanwhile, a couple of police officers notice a light coming from an alley…upon investigation, they find Purgatory (the guy Neron bargained with in #68 and granted power beyond the human’s control, in exchange for destroying Green Lantern). As Purgatory has (thus far) failed to destroy Green Lantern, Neron shows up to threaten his pawn if he doesn’t get results soon. Before Kyle and Donna can leave, Purgatory bursts in, and Kyle engages him in fighting, saying he can hold him off while Donna gets the rest of the building’s residents out to safety. So while Kyle fights, Donna gets all of Kyle’s neighbors out safely. Kyle and Purgatory BOTH regret the attempted help that set things on this path, but Kyle realizes maybe he can win the fight by giving MORE of his GL energy…which first seems to overload Purgatory and revert him to normal…but then he disappears in a green flame, as Neron apparently has claimed him for again failing his end of their bargain. After confirming everyone’s safe and seeming to ignore Donna in the presence of his attractive, toweled neighbor, Kyle flies off to the Justice League satellite to let them know about Neron (though they already know).

As of this typing, I’ve not yet actually read the main Underworld Unleashed mini itself, as I wanted to approach the tie-in issues strictly as tie-ins, intentionally withOUT the context of the main series. How do they read if one is just reading the regular ongoing series without buying into some event mini-series?

From one issue to the next, this feels a bit choppy, and definitely that I missed something. And editor’s notes direct me as a reader to the Underworld Unleashed mini-series, which I feel I can "assume" picks Kyle up from #68 of his series, advances things, and then he stumbles off to come back into his own series here in #69. As a comics reader and understanding that sort of flow, it makes sense logically, though does leave me wondering at Donna not being part of things. The fact that Neron makes an appearance here, "re-igniting" Purgatory into action, combined with Kyle relating to Donna what he’d faced makes this feel much more like an actual TIE-IN to the event, worthy and justified in carrying the event logo on the cover…where the previous issue (especially by comparison) would seem to have been served better not as a tie-in itself but as a reflection of what actual continuity in a shared universe looks like, where events from something big going on in one part of the comics universe can ripple outward and impact other characters and their stories without having those stories themselves actually moving the event’s story forward.

The story for this issue works well for me, and really is another strong issue in and of itself. Though I feel I’ve missed stuff, I would consciously expect that of pretty much any single-issue comic I’d read in isolation, as it’s not the only comic to exist. We get to see forward development of Kyle here as he’s continued to learn about his powers, what he can and can’t do, the nature of willpower, and self-recognizes the impact things have had on him as he’s now TWICE had to resist the temptation to have Alex artificially brought back (and it feels odd that a simple image of a closed refrigerator conveys so much!). We have a quasi-complete "episode" in this issue, with Purgatory bursting onto the scene…that gets us to "the fight" or main conflict, while Donna "meets" the neighbors (which gives readers a bit of a sense of others immediately, directly impacted by threats on Kyle and his own apartment). Fight/defeat Purgatory, save all the neighbors: a two-pronged conflict/goal of the issue, with both technically accomplished in this issue. That those are contained within sequences showing this to be a chapter in something larger serves that side of things well, keeping the ongoing narrative of this title moving as well as keeping Kyle moving through the crossover and likely at least prodding readers to look to other issues for additional story on top of this title. I like it, myself…but the structure and approach won’t be for everyone.

Visually, I like the issue overall. It’s recognizably Green Lantern, specifically Kyle, and definitely "feels" like a ’90s comics, especially something to the character design for Purgatory…and even Neron himself. I do not particularly appreciate the cover, though, as it shows Kyle engulfed in green flame–presumably to suggest, in this case, Neron’s–cradling the battered, broken body of Donna–Darkstar. Yet, within the issue, it’s Kyle that’s been beaten badly, and Donna who faces HIS battered body. From the cover alone I’d expect this issue to contain a fight with Neron that leaves Donna in bad shape–not because she’s a woman, but because Neron would hurt Kyle. Of course, the misleading nature could be a play on the actuality–reversing the roles–or it might be something not specifically referenced here that I’d better understand after reading the main Underworld Unleashed event mini. Whatever the case, I’m good with the art in and of itself.

On the whole, as a more-than-20-years-old comic from the 1990s and not being anything particularly "key," I would consider this a bargain-bin sort of issue…not bad to get from a bargain bin, but certainly nothing to pay any premium price for. Based on what I know on a larger "meta" level for this title and the characters (more than two decades later) I think this issue probably works best as part of a run of these early/first couple years of Kyle as GL, making the best of the surfeit of ’90s crossovers and events. Given Kyle does not himself face Neron in this issue, and the Justice League already knows things are going on…this issue doesn’t seem essential to the event itself, though it expands on and shows what Kyle is up to in addition to his appearance in the event mini itself.


Again, please check out these other sites for additional, more in-depth coverage of the various other issues–including the main event mini itself–for Underworld Unleashed!

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