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The ’90s Revisited: Guy Gardner #14

90s_revisited

guy_gardner_0014Yesterday’s Sins 4 of 4: Guys and Draals

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Joe Staton
Inker: Terry Beatty
Letterer: Albert DeGuzman
Colorist: Anthony Tollin
Asst. Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

We open on narration from Guy talking about his opponent–his decidedly duplicitous Draal duplicate. He and some fellow Draal prisoners–Green Lanterns–are acting on an escape attempt, but find themselves facing the newly powered-up evil duplicate of Guy Gardner! As the battle rages, Guy-Prime recognizes a notice from his stolen ring…it’s about to run out of power. This leaves the dupe on even terms with the original, and Guy lays into it. He’s eventually taken down by the Draal, who realize they still need more from him, and so once more, Guy faces the brain-drain Xanagryph critter. Flashback-wise, we pick up with Guy in the hospital with his older brother Mace–who’s been shot. His parents are there, lamenting their favorite son. While there, they learn that Mace wasn’t "on the job" when he was shot–he’s dirty, and even if he lives, he will no longer be a cop. Soon after, when he does wake up (and learns he’ll never walk again, let alone have a career as a cop) he kills himself. This sends the parents into a downward spiral that Guy can’t do anything about…so Guy gets out. He graduates from college, works with disadvantaged kids, and even winds up involved with the Green Lantern Corps. Injuries end that for a time, but then a great Crisis led the Guardians to heal him, and Guy does become a Green Lantern, becomes a part of the Justice League, and gets to be an actual super-hero! Eventually the Guardians take his ring, though, and he winds up seeking out the yellow ring that once belonged to Sinestro, and currently gives him his powers. Back in the present, the Draals are mostly defeated, the prisoners control the ship…but the Evil Guy is on Earth, and Guy himself isn’t presently sure how to defeat it…but knows that going to face it will also force him to face his past in-person.

As is so often the case, there’s loads of potential built to, so much expectation I can build up based on the opening chapters, that it’s rare for a conclusion to be truly satisfactory anymore. And that applies here to this 24-year-old story as well. Some part of me was hoping the conclusion would be more memorable, more DEFINITIVE, more CONCLUSION-Y. Instead, the issue basically ends on a cliffhanger, as well as a note to check out an issue of Justice League, to boot! And that’s rather annoying for an issue billed as "4 of 4."

BUT.

But, this issue is #14 of an ONGOING SERIES. This is NOT the final/fourth issue of a four-issue MINI-series. This is the latest monthly issue of a monthly series. So of COURSE it’s not gonna be close-the-book, total finale, that’s all that’s wrote, absolutely concluding possible events. So this actually does well for itself: we get conclusion on the IMMEDIATE story: the Draal are defeated, Guy is no longer their prisoner, they’re no longer using the creature to access his memories…we’re done with the flashbacks and such with the present day being like a framing device. Story-wise, we’re good…some of my expectation is SURELY from subconsciously latching onto the YEAR ONE, even though I’d consciously noted that to begin with as being tacked on and NOT applicable here in the way it was with other stories.

And this issue is definitely a success in that, even all these years later, re-reading it right now, I want to read that Justice League issue. I want to track down and read Guy Gardner #15. And isn’t that a sign of a good comic? That a reader wants to read the next issue? That there’s enough story hook, enough investment in the character(s) to want to know what happens next? I mean…I have the long-view; I know what comes shortly when the title gets re-branded, and Zero Hour, and then stuff a few years later with Our Worlds At War, and a craptastic story in one of the Superman titles not long after, and then Green Lantern: Rebirth, and the whole Johns run and New 52 and all that. It’s been 24 years. But I don’t REMEMBER #15. I don’t remember that Justice League issue (a bit of deja vu so I’m sure I knew OF it). And I want to read those, even though they might not have any singular significance at present.

Dixon finishes giving us some key "backstory" of Guy, fleshing the character out and enriching who he is, why he is, and so on. Whether it’s the "brand new as of 1993" detail I think it is or not, this being Guy’s first solo series, and being relatively fresh off Crisis on Infinite Earths and his being "just another member" of the Justice League title, it makes sense to me that this’d be where a lot of this was either inserted into his mythology, or fleshed out and expanded from basic, broad details.

Staton‘s art continues with consistency, and nothing stands out as wonky or weird to me about human anatomy, everyone continues to be recognizable and familiar, and I have no trouble following the action. It’s just good art.

So ultimately, as a concluding chapter of a specific story within an ongoing series, I think this does quite well. It wraps up key points of the main story, but opens the door on stuff to come, having set stuff up and contextualized and built more drama for the main character to deal with. And though I only "signed on" to read a four-issue arc–had no intention of "caring" to go beyond this arc–I want to read more.

I also had mis-remembered the timing in part of this arc, and was thinking things were already a bit past Emerald Twilight somehow, not realizing that this is still a few issues before that point in the continuity, which also reminds me of another story in this title that I was AWARE OF but not certain if I actually read years ago or not (if I read it, I read it around the same time I read this, previously).

I think on the whole, I definitely would recommend this arc if you can find all four chapters to read in one go. It adds a lot to Guy’s character, makes him a lot more sympathetic and well-rounded as a character…it makes him likeable, so help me. Whatever the case…I enjoyed it, and I now have a couple other comics to seek out in the near future.

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The ’90s Revisited: Guy Gardner #13

90s_revisited

guy_gardner_0013Yesterday’s Sins 3 of 4: Inside Out/Outside In

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Joe Staton
Inker: Terry Beatty
Letterer: Albert DeGuzman
Colorist: Anthony Tollin
Asst. Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: October 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

This issue takes the introduction/cliffhanger of the previous issue and fast-forwards a bit. Or in tv terms, we come back from the commercial a bit further in. Adult Guy and Teen Guy are bustin’ heads at Scotty’s, and we come to realize that after popping into the car with Teen Guy, Adult Guy has come along with his younger self to save him from getting his butt kicked. Having taken care of that, Adult Guy moves on to explaining his plan–since he can stop the Draal’s memory-siphoning Xanagryph’s accessing his memories, perhaps he can at least exert an influence over what gets programmed into his double…like a codeword that’ll make it go nuts, revealing itself as NOT the true Guy Gardner. Adult Guy is ripped out of the memory before that can happen…busted! Of course, the Draal still aren’t done, but having disrupted Guy’s plan, they have another go at him–this time we see a still-older Guy who has just turned 18. He’s nabbed by the police…but instead of being given a slap on the wrist or taken to jail, his older brother Mace–who has pulled his own life together–roughs Guy up a bit to set him back on a path for good. Guy gets a job, gets his high school equivalency, and even gets into college–where he redirects his anger at life into football. And at the height of his "glory," where he should have won his parents’ attention and praise at last…it turns out that Mace has been shot. Back "in the real world," Guy and the other Lanterns manage to execute their "plan B" escape plan…but the ‘element of surprise’ they’d counted on is turned on them as they meet…Guy Gardner!

The further I’ve gotten into this story, the more certain I am that I’ve read this before, and that the feeling is not merely deja vu. As of this issue, I feel like I AM re-reading something. And it is something I’m enjoying. I’m also realizing that whenever it was that I read this, it must’ve been at least early during the Johns run on Green Lantern, because I’m pretty sure this did "color" my view of Guy, and actually make the character likeable. For years, the character had been largely some caricature or 2-D ’90s roughcase, but either this story or at least this story’s influence carried into other stuff that made the character much more a well-rounded figure that could be identified with and understood–not just some jerk anti-hero or such.

At this third of four chapters, this definitely feels like a Dixon sort of story, fitting right in with Batman, Robin, Nightwing, etc. in getting details of a backstory that influences the character’s present and all that. While I can see DC having an issue at present with re-presenting certain comics headlined by Gerard Jones…I’d certainly love to see a modern collected edition of Dixon‘s Guy Gardner, or at least of this particular story! It could even be re-branded somehow to fit whatever status quo for present…but having the content brought back would be great.

I’m also somewhat amazed at the consistency–this is the THIRD ISSUE in a row with the same creative team! In 2017, I’d swear that’s practically unheard of! Maybe you keep the same writer on for a number of issues, perhaps an inker or letterer or colorist…but the entire team remaining the same for three issues? At this point, that just SCREAMS "high quality!" to me. That I’m enjoying this story as much as I have been adds to that as well. That said…not much else to say about the art except to reiterate that it’s clear, consistent, and recognizably the characters involved, with no wonky silliness or abstraction/experimentation/etc. Just forthright art that conveys the visual aspect of the story and doesn’t take me out of the story by anything weird.

As also said previously–while the first issue of this story seems a great jump-in point that one can do so "cold," as the third chapter of a 4-part story, I’d highly recommend starting with that first chapter, and not merely jumping in here. At the same time, this IS a ’90s comic…back when every issue COULD be someone’s first, and there’s a hint of context and such where even AS a third-of-four chapters, this is not MERELY a third chunk of pages that collectively make up some seamless whole–this is still a comic book, an issue, and reads as such…this is years before the serialized graphic novel.

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The ’90s Revisited: Guy Gardner #12

90s_revisited

guy_gardner_0012Yesterday’s Sins 2 of 4: Dream a Deadly Dream

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Joe Staton
Inker: Terry Beatty
Letterer: Albert DeGuzman
Colorist: Anthony Tollin
Asst. Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

We open on a scene of an "evil" Guy Gardner taking on other familiar heroes: Batman, Flash, Hawkman, with already-defeated Aquaman, Sentinel, and Blue Beetle on the ground around him. Narration lets us see that this is actually Guy considering what it might be like for the other heroes to see what he’s TRULY capable of, when the Draal unleash his double on them. That he–the REAL Guy Gardner–has held back and kept himself in check, though they haven’t treated him with the respect duly his for that. In the "present," Guy begins to form a plan with the other Lanterns…while in the course of a couple more encounters with the creature siphoning his memories, we get two scenes of Guy’s past: first, seeing that his brother Mace is still his father’s favorite, to Guy’s exclusion; and then that Big Brother Mace isn’t nearly as perfect as his father or younger brother believed him to be. Then, acting on the start of an escape plan, Guy and the other Lanterns fight, which brings the Draal in to "protect" their star resource–Guy himself. Of course, this gets him put back under for more memory-siphoning…but he aims to use it to his advantage. As we see a young Guy (though a few years older than the previous glimpse) driving a stolen car and picking up a police tail…the younger Guy is surprised when the present-day-Guy pops into the seat beside him…having inserted his present self into the memory!

Dixon‘s story begins to feel particularly formulaic, and the Guy-gets-captured-by-memory-viewing-aliens can be rather cliché. It becomes a framing device for isolated flashbacks…rather than our just simply being given an entire story set IN the past. But this is Dixon, this comic is from the ’90s, and for as clichéd and caricature-like I’d seen Guy initially…this story is quite "deep," really grounding and humanizing the character, inserting this detailed backstory that really helps explain Guy’s cockiness and attitude and driving need to seem like the best, and so on. That the "current" story is largely a generic framing sequence adds to the accessibility of this story–it’s not particularly drawing on continuity points that’d be overly important to the understanding of the story. You just know that Guy is in a fix, and while he and fellow prisoners seek escape, we’re seeing glimpses of his past as the alien creature sucks the memories from him to feed into the duplicate Guy that’ll be the Draal’s "sleeper agent" on Earth.

Visually, this is again a solid, consistent take on the characters. Everyone looks fine as they are, and familiar and distinct, with nothing weird or out there or such that takes me out of the story while reading. This is simply ’90s Guy, embodying the character as he was at the time.

I continue to enjoy the story as it unfolds, and though I somewhat knew it was coming, I either didn’t recall or know for sure that Guy (present day) would pop into his own memories to interact with his past self, so that’s got some fun potential, to say nothing of loosely firing up my own imagination on the topic in general beyond just this comic or its story.

Once more, a solid single issue and well worth getting as part of this four-part story (Yesterday’s Sins aka Guy Gardner: Year One). While the previous issue could be picked up "cold" and be relatively accessible, as the second part of the story, this one’s less so. However, this adds to my feeling overall that one can pick up this story arc by itself or as a first introduction to the ongoing Guy Gardner and do quite well with it!

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The ’90s Revisited: Guy Gardner #11

90s_revisited

guy_gardner_0011Yesterday’s Sins 1 of 4: Back in the Days

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Joe Staton
Inker: Terry Beatty
Letterer: Albert DeGuzman
Colorist: Anthony Tollin
Asst. Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

Picking up this issue is like picking up a piece of history–literally and figuratively, as well as some shades of variance on the meaning for me personally. My earliest conscious recollection of Guy is one of the Eclipso Annuals back in 1992 (Adventures of Superman Annual #4, I believe–as I learned after the fact, the ‘transition’ for the character back from his prestige-format limited series where he GOT the gold ring to begin with). And his #1 issue–the first of this very series–was one of several issues I got at a Waldenbooks while out with a friend and his mom, using money my dad gave me (though I got 6 or so comics and had some change left, I recall his being a bit surprised he didn’t get MORE change…but that’s a story for another time).

Getting to the issue itself–the branding is given the Year One treatment…at the time, very much cashing in on the likes of Batman Year One, but still this was one of the earlier instances of the "branding," when it was still rather distinct and not a line-wide shorthand.

Despite the cover branding…the story itself is actually titled Yesterday’s Sins, and though it FITS the Year One stuff, it is not simply a story told entirely with the early version of the character…it just happens to touch strongly ON his past!

We open on the capturing by some other aliens of an alien Green Lantern–Graf Toren. Graf’s grabbed by some ugly Beholder-looking aliens that are very much aware of the Green Lanterns’ weakness to the color yellow. We then shift to Guy Gardner fighting minions of Kobra with General Glory. (I have some vague recollection of the character in relation to Guy…from a previous reading of this story or some Who’s Who or some other mash-up of prior DC half-knowledge). The two emerge victorious…the younger Guy showing off, while the older General is stricter and trying to get Guy to keep it closer to the book. The aliens that got Graf are watching, and teleport Guy to their ship, where he is left highly disoriented by the suddenness and surprise of it all…as well as what he sees! Before long, the stunned Guy finds himself with some de-ringed Green Lanterns, and learns he’s a prisoner of the Draal. The aliens are apparently replacing Lanterns with replicants…but need to capture the original and siphon their memories in order to enable the duplicates to pass muster for whatever mission they’re being sent on. Guy gets a short taste of the memory-siphoning process…which basically provides us as readers a look back to Guy’s life as a kid. An insight into his early life and (frustrating to say the least) childhood. (This is where the Year One designation apparently kicks in/earns some appropriateness). As would be expected, Guy’s none to thrilled at all this, and is not about to just roll over and take what the Draal are giving out, whether or not any of the other Lanterns are with him on the matter.

To me, Guy was always largely a caricature of sorts…a character I was loosely familiar with, but never particularly a fan of, nor overly knowledgeable about. He’s just some cocky jerk that happens to do the "right thing" even if he’s not the "typical" do-gooder hero-type.

Here, we begin to see him made a bit more human, given more of a backstory and motivation, elements in a past that (especially to the adult me) really would "explain" a lot about the character’s "present-day" self. That this comic is from 1993 kinda screws with my perception of time-frame for Guy’s flashbacks. I’m not exactly sure the character’s "present age," but would assume he’s at least late-20s or early-30s. Which in 1993 would put his childhood in the ’60s…while in 2017 present-day my mind "naturally" wants to put 20-some years in the past as 1980s!

I’m pretty sure this is the first issue of the series written by Chuck Dixon…and his name is very much a selling point to me, especially on ’90s material. And in what feels (to me) like typical fashion…this has a certain level of high quality to it FOR his writing. I’ve read a few issues of this series over the years…years after publication, not necessarily in order, and never the complete series, and this just feels like a solid Dixon ’90s story from this first issue.

The art is not bad, either. Nothing about it really stood out as some glaring weirdness, no wonky anatomy, and nothing that just stunned me with horribleness. Which is my way of saying that I didn’t notice the art all that much…I just enjoyed the story as I read the issue. The visuals are rather familiar, as I HAVE read some of this series in the past, and there’s no overly fancy attempt to be "experimental" in depicting Guy or any of the other characters.

This just makes for a single, solid issue that can largely be picked up cold, and one can figure characters out as they go along. I get something extra out of it for being aware of the character, his ’90s depiction, and all that. But in this particular reading, I jumped in cold–no reviewing prior issues, no covers of other issues to scan past to refresh myself. Just happened to have the four-issue arc this starts off, and jumped in to see where it takes me!

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From the Archives: The Atom and Hawkman #46

atom_and_hawkman_0046Bye Bye Birdie!

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Ryan Sook & Fernando Pasarin
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Color: Hi Fi
Editors: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza
Cover: Ryan Sook
The Atom/Ray Palmer and Hawkman created by: Gardner Fox
Published by: DC Comics

[ This review originally written for and published at comiXtreme/cxPulp some time back while the issue was new–within the first days to a week that the issue was available for sale. ]

I’ve never been a huge fan specifically of these two characters, though I’m familiar with them and have read a number of comics they’ve appeared in. They’ve just tended to be on the outer edges of the books I read, showing up for the occasional guest-starring role or cameo, or as part of a team in a team book. I’d read the Return of Hawkman arc in JSA a few years back, and a few issues of his own series heading into Infinite Crisis. The Atom I feel I’m most familiar with from Identity Crisis, and material I’ve read online about both Ray and the new Atom and their adventures post-Infinite Crisis.

That said…this issue was quite enjoyable, rather accessible, and yet seems to have plenty for fans with ties to the characters going much deeper and much further back than mine.

In the "tradition" of many of the Blackest Night tie-ins, we open with a recap sequence of sorts, focusing on the character’s life, leading up to their death. This time, though, it’s a recap of the character’s compassion, and why Ray Palmer–The Atom–was chosen by the Indigo ring for recruitment into the Indigo Tribe. The Black Lantern Hawks (as Hawkman and Hawkgirl were killed and raised into the Black Lantern Corps way back in Blackest Night #1) then attack, and there’s the usual discourse between Black Lantern and Hero, as Hawkman tries to get Atom riled up and his heart ripe for the taking. As the fight wraps up for the present, Indigo-1 tasks Atom with protecting her–keeping her alive–while she contacts other Indigos across the universe who can reach the other Lantern Corps (so they know to get to Earth, where all the Black Lanterns are headed). While protecting Indigo-1, Atom is forced to recall the events that lead off Identity Crisis, as he again faces the horror of what Jean did to attempt to win him back. As the issue closes out, Ray makes an important request–one that seems quite obvious, and is something I would love to see accomplished.

This is definitely one of the better Blackest Night tie-ins. It seems that this issue’s events are more important and meaningful to the overall story than most of the tie-ins. While we do get some Atom/Hawkman interaction, it hardly seems like enough to satisfy expectation. It is, however, appropriate enough to an issue of a two-character book, as it’s natural that one or the other character may take more of a leading role, depending on the given story. As what is essentially a one-shot, though, it’s a bit misleading.

The issue having an important tie to the overall story is something that I suspect comes from this being written by Johns, essentially the orchestrator of Blackest Night in the grand scheme of things. The story touches on a number of elements–Ray’s role with the Indigos, a demonstration of what he can do with the Indigo ring, a confrontation with the Hawks, some resolution to things with Ray and setting a new course for the character–which makes for a very strong read. The recap at the beginning did more to clue me in on the past of the Atom than anything else I’d yet read (and I’m pretty sure answered my unasked question as to the premise of Sword of the Atom).

Sook‘s art is high quality as well, and does a great job of getting across the visual aspect of the story. It just fits the story, and worked very well for me.
All in all, a very strong one-shot issue within the Blackest Night arc. Though it remains to be seen how much–or what part(s) of this issue get recapped in the main mini…this seems to be a tie-in very much worth getting if you’re following Blackest Night, even if you’re not generally snagging the tie-ins.

Definitely recommended.

From the Archives: Adventures of Superman #648

adventures_of_superman_0648Look…Up In The Sky

Summary: Lois Lane reports on the destruction of Bludhaven and the response of the super-heroes.
By: Lois Lane
Photos by: Jimmy Olsen, Karl Kerschl and Renato Guedes
Additional Reporting by: Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilipis, Christina Weir and Jami Bernard
Graphic Design by: Richard & Tanya Horie
Copy Design: Rob Leigh
Editors: Eddie Berganza and Jeanine Schaefer
Editor in Chief: Perry White
Cover Art: Karl Kerschl, colors by Dave McCaig
Publisher: DC Comics

[ This review originally written for and published at comiXtreme/cxPulp some time back while the issue was new–within the first days to a week that the issue was available for sale. ]

This issue is another logoed Infinite Crisis crossover issue. This is where we get the immediate response/fallout to the destruction wrought by Chemo in Infinite Crisis # 4. Rather than dialogue and seeing "inside" the heroes’ reactions to that event, we get it from the perspective of some citizen of the DCU reading reporter Lois Lane’s article covering the heroes’ response as she observed it.

This makes for an interesting perspective, if not entirely original. The "narration" is simply Lois’ story, which provides the only words found in the otherwise "silent" issue. One moment that stands out to me offhand is a full-page panel of Green Lantern amidst the wreckage, obviously deeply pained over the event. I believe this would be apparent even without Lois’ observation.

My initial reaction to this being where the plot thread gets immediately dealt with was surprise–given that many characters have "signature cities" that are often as much a character as any humanoid supporting cast member. Shouldn’t this be dealt with in another book? Except of course, Superman being Superman is obviously going to help. And given that Superman’s so powerful (here, the specific focus is on his invulnerability), it’s not like the character’s going to stand by and let others die just to maintain some "image" or such.

The style of this issue remind me of the Superman issue (# 79, I believe) that was told in this same way, except it was Ron Troupe’s story scattered in the otherwise silent issue which showed the Cyborg Superman stopping an attempt in the White House on the president’s life, and that president’s endorsement of the Cyborg as the "real" Superman. Given the destruction the characters rally to face, I’m also reminded of the "Black Cover Spider-Man Issue" (Amazing Spider-Man v.2 # 36, I believe).
Getting the story simultaneously after-the-fact (Lois’ words) and as it unfolds (the visuals) works pretty well–and for the most part might be the only way to truly cram so much into one issue. If there was dialogue with us seeing/hearing the characters talking to each other and coordinating and whatnot, this issue would have be be double, triple, or even quadruple-sized.

On the one hand, it’s interesting that there are four people listed for the writing–three beyond regular writer Greg Rucka. I can give the benefit of the doubt on it to the writing style and giving voice to Lois’ writing, as journalistic writing is not quite the same entity as character-writing and may be more collaborative.
Visually, there’s a fair amount of blank-space on these pages, as the images are pretty much contained to panels, and those panels’ layout tends to somewhat resemble photos placed on a fixed-size page. Though the art is not by a single person, it works for me here.

I found myself reading the text, using the visuals almost as an abstract, seeing them but not diving in deeply. Letting the visuals enhance what I was reading.
No real complaints with the art–it’s not perfect by any means, and this issue continues a trend of having "extras" credited, assumably to get an issue out exactly on-time (given what it covers, this issue pretty much had to be out right after Infinite Crisis # 4. Same week, and someone reading this issue spoils a major part of that issue; two weeks after, and it’s old news compared to books that also touch on the ramifications.

Other than describing how some of the mess is specifically cleaned up quickly (which might be mentioned in other books–I don’t know), this issue doesn’t strike me as essential reading. It will enhance one’s reading of the overall Infinite Crisis event, though. The issue doesn’t even have to be a Superman one–this could almost have been labeled "The Daily Planet – The Day After Infinite Crisis # 4" and been a "special" or "supplement" issue.

My initial reaction to the issue was that it wasn’t all that good, but it is actually quite well done, and serves its purpose as a followup to one of the more catastrophic events in the DCU.

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.

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