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Action Comics #886 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5

Captain Atom
Story: 0.5/5
Art: 2/5

Overall: 2.5/5

Starman #81 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Superman #693 [Review]

7734

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s a tone about the Superman family of titles lately. A lot of it’s visual–or at least, the visual that is associated with the unfolding story. More and more, I find my surface opinion, my initial thoughts toward these books colored by a disinclination TO like them in the first place. DC set out to do something that would drastically affect the feel or tone of the Superman books, and in that, they’ve succeeded. Whatever my feelings about the individual writers and/or artists, I’m beginning to feel like it’s a bit of a chore, following the main books.

This issue sees General Lane confronting Mon-El, trying to recruit him into the group made up of Metallo, Major Force, the Parasite, some magical character newly-introduced, and Atlas. When a plan to rebel is executed, a more “human” (or would that be “humane”?) side of General Lane is seen, with words exchanged between the two (and an editorial note indicating that Adventure Comics #2 takes place between the pages of this issue).

I have to admit I’m gladdened at the tighter continuity in the Superman books; the fact that while it’s not the same sort of direct continuation we had for over a decade with the triangle-numbering we’re still getting a larger well-connected narrative. At the same time, there’s a lot that I’m just not buying into. Chief among these elements is the “ressurrection” or “retcon” of General Lane’s being alive now, after the character’s fitting end in Our Worlds at War a few years ago. Though we see some of his human-ness here in this issue, it doesn’t do much to round him out, make him more than a caricature at present. To a large degree, this reads as “What If… General “Thunderbolt” Ross opposed Superman instead of The Hulk?” And while there’s no overt reign of darkness, the gathering of these “supervillains” as a military unit/black ops squad just reads as fairly ridiculous.

The art of the issue is not bad–it’s got its own style that sets it apart quite distinctly from others, and maintains a definite consistency with prior art teams on this book. While it admittedly not bad art by any means…the style just is not to my liking, which continues to taint the story as I have a hard time really getting into it, for noticing the art. If the visual style doesn’t bother you, or you’re a fan of the specific style, it may well be a great selling point. To the creative credit, I found myself quite surprised to discover that the creator credits on this issue seem to match those of the previous issue: something that seems quite rare in contemporary times, and as such, worth noting toward the positive.

This issue’s cliffhanger felt entirely out of nowhere–after an issue full of Mon-El dealing with Lane and 7734, we’re suddenly taken back to Metropolis and the Guardian leading the Science Police to engage the randomly-just-now-showed-up character likely to be the focus of the next issue. (We couldn’t get another couple pages of of Mon-El dealing with his place in the current status quo and end on that sort of note, with these last couple pages serving as a jumping-right-into-the-story kickoff for the next issue?)

Whatever the case, I find that it is presently the recollection of the last couple times I’ve tried to drop the Superman books that keeps me coming back–the idea that since it’s gotten GOOD within about 6 issues of my dropping the titles, hopefully I have but to wait out a few more issues.

As-is, if you’re not particularly invested in the current status quo flowing through the Superman books, this issue’s probably going to do nothing to “sell” you on the status quo nor to hook you into this title, to say nothing of the whole family of books.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

Superman #692 [Review]

Down Time

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

I feel like I missed an issue somewhere. The way this whole “Mon-El is dead, killed by the Kryptonians” plot thread is getting so much play-time seems somehow out of proportion. To me, the big reveal of Codename: Patriot was Sam Lane being what the story’s title was in reference to. Mon-El being killed, or SUPPOSEDLY killed just was not something that really jumped out to me…so I either missed an issue, or failed to “notice” something that would be played out as so significant.

This issue provides some context on the destruction of Metropolis’ sewer/water system and why it’s not simply being fixed by Earth’s metahumans; we also have some references to other characters of recent significance. We see the Guardian reacting to the apparent death of his new friend, as well as what is surely the premature announcement of Jon Kent’s death, though the in-story context speaks to its timeliness.

The art’s pretty good overall, though doesn’t really strike me as other art teams’ work has. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t stand out as wonderful in and of itself. It gets the story across and does what a comic’s art should, but doesn’t strike me as a “selling point” for this particular issue.

All told, not a bad issue in and of itself, but I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I think the New Krypton stuff is beginning to wear a bit thin for me, and I’m also waxing nostalgic for Byrne, Ordway, Jurgens, and other art teams from the late-1980s and early 1990s…so current artists aren’t measuring up to what I hold in memory and nostalgia.

A worthwhile issue if you’re following the title or the Superman family of books. Nothing really here to justify it as a jumping-on point.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

Supergirl Annual #1 [Review]

Secret Identities / Second Born: The Secret Origin of Superwoman

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Renato Guedes
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue functions much as I would expect of an annual “special” issue. We have a couple of stories by the main series writer–stories that are directly relevant to current ongoing plots, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to see the regular issues slowed by inclusion of these stories in chunks nor taking a whole issue.

Essentially, we finally get to actually see Supergirl in her new civilian guise of Linda Lang (the introduction of the concept having been interrupted by the start of the whole New Krypton affair last spring). We see that she’s not nearly as experienced as her cousin, but it’s her learning curve and differnces that make the character more interesting–she’s not just some “clone” of her cousin–we see some real depth to her here. While we see development of Supergirl sorting out elements of her own secret ID we also see continuation of the anti-Kryptonian sentiment present in the current DCU.

The second story of the issue gives us a background story/origin of Superwoman, and how it was that Lucy Lane wound up in that role. While it technically “fits,” it’s not a story that I particularly “buy,” and it leaves a sour taste for me much like the “Supermen of America” story did in the 90s taking a character that has no business with Superpowers or such being given them as anything more than a one-off situational thing. Within the already-set bounds of belief-suspension, Lucy Lane having any sort of super-powers (provided by a costume or otherwise) doesn’t fit for me. We also see where the character is being further subjected to fantastical elements that just seem really out of place to this reader.

The art throughout the issue–for both stories–is not bad, nor is it anything spectacular. It holds its own, but I could take it or leave it.

If you’re following events in the main Supergirl book, you’ll want to snag this annual–its stories are certain to play into major plot points in the main book in the coming months. This mostly deals with plot threads prevalent in the main book, so I wouldn’t particularly recommend this issue as a jumping-on point.

Story: 6/10
Art: 6.5/10
Whole: 6/10

Supergirl #44 [Review]

Codename: Patriot part 3

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Fernando Dagnino & Raul Fernandez with Mazi
Publisher: DC Comics

Ral-Dar, the would-be-assassin of General Zod overhears conversation between General Lane and his people which sparks an outburst leading to his fighting Atlas (recent villain in the Superman title). We then move into seeing Superman, Supergirl, Lois, Mon-El, and the Guardian interacting with one another at the Science Police headquarters. Some tenseness plays out given Supergirl’s role in the recent apparent death of Lois’ sister. Supergirl and Mon-El set out to deal with Nightwing and Flamebird (Flamebird being a childhood friend of Kara’s). The confrontation doesn’t go well, and things escalate as everyone moves toward their places on the board for the final chapter of this story in the next issue of Superman.

The story feels a bit forced here…and yet, on the whole it works. This is the third chapter of a 4-part story with a tighter crossover than we’ve had for the last half-year or so in the Superman books. It feels forced in that certain things set in place by the other titles have to be acknowledged as well as the core in-title story elements. It’s interesting seeing so many of the characters interacting after the separation the last few months. I’m glad to see that some story elements from earlier issues are coming to fruition here, adding to a feeling of the story being more organically-generated than otherwise.

The art’s solid as usual. There are points where I think of Guedes’ style in this issue, but definitely prefer this visual presentation. The art does what it should, getting things across quite well. No real complaint there.

Overall, not a bad issue. It plays with elements from the ongoing story in this title, but mixes well with the “intruding” elements of this “crossover.” One would be lacking in context without the earlier chapters…but even if one hasn’t read those, enough ongoing elements are here that that story is not entirely derailed by the crossing of titles. Similarly, if one is following the Codename: Patriot arc, one may not “get” everything in this issue, but there’s plenty of context on the essential story elements.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Supergirl #41 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? part five: Daughters of Krypton

Writer: Sterling Gates
Pencillers: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue “concludes” the “Who is Superwoman” arc. Basically it’s a drawn-out fight sequence between Supergirl and Superwoman, with some drama for Lana thrown in to round things out a bit. In a way I wouldn’t expect much else–the two have come to be enemies of sorts, especially given Superwoman’s role in the way things went down when Zor-El was killed during New Krypton.

The cover seems really flat and a bit stylized…definitely not an image that would “sell” me on a comic (the way Brave and the Bold #23’s did). Better than I could draw, but not all that appealing.

The art’s prett good for the issue–no real complaint from me on it. It fits the story, conveys what needs to be gotten across, and though largely seems like a darker/heavier color scheme, it feels like a story set in a world where Superman could exist.

The story isn’t nearly as enjoyable. I don’t for one second buy the identity of Superwoman (and even if I were to buy into it, it merely continues an unfortunate trend toward the unbelievable in comics that I can easily otherwise suspend my disbelief for).

On the whole, this isn’t all that enjoyable an issue–I’m hoping that now we’re past this silly “mystery” of Superwoman, we can get into more story and character exploration for Supergirl herself.

If you’ve followed the arc thus far, it’s worth snagging this issue as well. This is certainly not a good jumping-on point for new readers, and whatever your status, should not be taken as a representative issue for this series.

Story: 5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6/10

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