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Action Comics #889 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3/5

Captain Atom
Story: 2.5/5
Art: 2.5/5

Overall: 2.5/5

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Action Comics #888 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 2/5
Art: 2.5/5

Captain Atom
Story: 1.5/5
Art: 2/5

Overall: 2/5

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

Superman #696 [Review]

Man of Valor part three

Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

I continue to read this book, though I’m a bit anxious to see if it improves once Superman (assumably) actually returns to it. Mon-El is a character I’ve never cared for all that much–what little I’ve known of him–and given that, I much preferred him as “Valor” from the early 1990s. But that’s from a different continuity and reality, apparently…at least since Infinite Crisis…so we’ve got what we’ve got. Mon-El–despite being written by James Robinson–remains almost entirely uninteresting (aside from the fact that I look forward to him facing off with General Lane). I’m also not much more interested in the Guardian. After the set-up of his apparently having a “daughter” to care for–who has hardly been referenced in I-don’t-know-how-long) and the confusion I have as to his identity (to this day, I have not figured out if this Guardian is a clone of the Guardian I read in the 1990s Superman titles, or if this is that same Guardian, with his origin played up more than ever before). Yet, I don’t really care enough to find out, as neither option thrills me. I also care very little for Nightwing and Flamebird. Despite their potential, there just hasn’t seemed to be much in the way of satisfying development with them…I feel like they’re just pieces being pushed around a gameboard for some inevitable endgame or arbitrary “big sacrifice” or other role in coming events.

This issue continues the “Man of Valor” arc from Action comics…which at least in itself is kinda refreshing–though it renders the cover “shield numbering” fairly irrelevant (Parts 2 and 3 of this story are “shield #23” and “shield #25” respectively). Mon-El, Nightwing, Flamebird, and Guardian make sure everyone is ok after the blast that seemingly took ’em all out. Mon-El and Guardian send Nightwing and Flamebird away, preparing to hold off General Lane’s forces while the Kryptonians make their getaway…unfortunately, the two lovers double back fearing for their friends, but ultimately leave at Mon-El’s urging. While Mon-El and Lane trade words, Guardian finds someone apparently named “Control,” and Mon-El rushes to their side to face the horror of what has happened to this character.

I don’t know who this “Control” is, though I suspect she is just one particularly forgettable character that never made any real impact on me whatsoever in my reading. As stated above, the writing inspires no real sense of connection to any of these characters, nor any interest in them.

The art comes across as better than some recent issues, though it’s still not something I’d categorize amidst my favorite work.

I can’t help but wonder if this story being more of a “crossover” with actual Story Name and chapters crossing from Action Comics is an effort to tie things together, get things over with quicker, or both.

If you’re already following the events of this ongoing “World Against Superman” mega-arc or the Superman/Action Comics Man of Valor arc…this issue’s probably worth getting. Otherwise, nothing special or spectacular here to warrant picking up outta the blue.

Story: 5/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 5.5/10

Action Comics #885 [Review]

Divine Spark, part 3

Writers: Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Javier Mena
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Cafu with Santiago Arcas
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

With Chris safe (for now) from the aging that was killing him, Nightwing and Flamebird confront The Guardian and his Science Police as well as Mon-El. The confrontation sees revelations shared as to what the two are doing on Earth, and new alliances as the “true” “enemy” emerges. Lois confronts her father, and everyone’s lives are in jeaopardy at issue’s end.

I continue to hope for another spark of enjoyment of this title like I had during the Brainiac arc. While I still don’t like that Jonathan was killed off, there was something to Johns’ story then, and Frank’s art, that as a whole made for a very enjoyable product. Fair or not, that’s the standard I find myself holding this title to, and it’s a standard that–for me–is not met.

The story itself is fairly straightforward, and well within the bounds of the overall story being played out in the Superman family of comics from the past year-plus. It continues to hold potential, but somehow just doesn’t quite fully take off and actually do anything with it.

The visuals also are pretty solid, but not much to my liking–but as with all art, that can be very subjective. Characters are all recognizeable and no one comes across as particularly abnormal-looking, and there’s little trouble following the action. The art certainly fulfills its role that way…it just doesn’t have anything that leaves me in awe or particularly marveling at the issue’s visuals.

Taken in a vacuum, the story’s worn thin and worn out its welcome with me–I’m ready to see Superman restored to the blue and red as well as to his own title and this one. Taken in context of solicitations, previews, and the like…it’s great to know that the “status quo” is about to change, if only to see what the next “phase” of the overall Superman corner of the DCU will be like.

Captain Atom, Chapter Seven
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Cafu
Colorist: Santiago Arcas
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

In this issue’s second feature slot, Captain Atom battles a number of other DC super-heroes in typical fashion before ultimately having a chance to explain himself and what he’s doing here. Others then step in, leaving us on a “cliffhanger.”

Visually, this segment isn’t all that bad, though the characters all come off with a somewhat generic appearance, almost a lack of some sort of detail I can’t quite put my finger on. The story is typical and seems to break no new ground, and really just serves to fill in a continuity hole, bridging events involving this character over the past six years.

While Captain Atom’s story is presently tied to the Superman books by story itself as well as being a second feature, it seems that his segment shortchanges the lead story, taking valuable space from that. It’d be preferable to have a separate bi-monthly or quarterly regular-sized-issues series to tie this character into things.

As a whole, this is another standard issue of the title. If you’re already following things, it’s worth continuing. If you’re on the fence…I can’t say this issue would really convince you to hop on in. I’m obviously not blown away by the issue…but neither am I convinced to drop it. Just disappointed that this doesn’t in any way feel like required Superman reading.

Action Comics
Story: 4/10
Art: 5/10

Captain Atom
Story: 4/10
Art: 5/10

Overall: 4.5/10

World’s Finest (2009) #1 [Review]

World’s Finest Book One: Nightwing & Red Robin

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Julian Lopez
Inker: Bit
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editors: Elisabeth V. Gehrlein & Michael Siglain
Cover: Phil Noto
Publisher: DC Comics

Granted, Tim Drake/Wayne lives in a world of the fantastic, where men and women with powers and abilities beyond those of Mortal Man abound. But in the half-year of comics (presumably far, far less than 6 months’ in-continuity time), this is AT LEAST the second time he’s up and jetted back home for one crisis (Black Lanterns) or another (helping Chris Kent in this issue). Seems somehow a bit disjointed to me.

This issue sees Red Robin dealing with a motorcycle gang, with a last-minute assist from who he assumes to be Connor (Superboy), but turns out to be Chris (Nightwing). Chris convinces Tim to return with him to Gotham to free Flamebird from Penguin’s captivity. The two have to work together to deal with this foe, who is aided by the Kryptonite Man (I do long for the days when Kryptonite was rare and precious commodity in the DCU!).

This is but the first issue of four, spotlighting interactions between the various characters that make up the “Superman family” and the “Batman family.” It’s a bit early (too soon, really) to know for sure where the overall story is going to go. As-is, I can’t help but wonder if this will read more as a series of one-shots than a single direct narrative.

The writing itself is quite solid, though–Gates seems to have a good feel for the characters of BOTH “families,” within the current status quo (though it’s beginning to seem like Flamebird and Nightwing are spending almost as much time being knocked out and one, the other or both being taken prisoner as Adam West and Burt Ward’s Batman and Robin did in the 60s tv show!)

The art’s good stuff here, and captures much of the feel of the characters involved as I’d tend to expect them based on reading them in their respective series of late. I do like the art, and find it a good fit for these characters in and of itself. Really no complaint there.

Since World’s Finest is here purpoted to be a mini-series–and thus one should be able to assume self-contained to the mini’s run–this would seem to be a good point to jump aboard and get a look at the various characters in the status quo of late, without having to invest in multiple lengthy, over-arching stories. Just four issues, peek in, get a feel, and go from there.

Based on that, this is worth giving a look-see. The creative team is strong, and we are given a glimpse at the potential held in bringin the characters from both “families” together. In some ways, this might just be “Superman/Batman Lite,” teaming the characters up without hijacking the individual titles.r

Story: 6/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 7/10

Action Comics Annual #12 [Review]

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Mazi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Renato Guedes
Publisher: DC Comics

I bought this comic out of a combination of “habit” and the fact that it is part of the ongoing narrative of the Superman family of books these days (even though it sports a black “S” in place of a number for this issue’s place in the overall sequence of things).

This issue’s story details how Chris Kent went from the kid we saw in “Last Son” to where we saw him during the initial New Krypton event as the new Nightwing. It also details how Flamebird got to be what/where she is. Since the point of this annual IS the filling in of those gaps in info, I’m not going to dance around the plot being all vague and such beyond what I’ve already said.

The art works quite well on the whole here–I especially liked the depiction of the Phantom Zone as compared to the 3-D crap foisted on us with the Last Son arc. The way it was depicted here gets the same effect across without resorting to the stupid stunt of needing 3-D glasses to see panels clearly and such. I’m not a fan of the newer costumes for Nightwing & Flamebird…something about the looks just doesn’t work for me, regardless of the in-story explanation for them. Despite that complaint, the way they’re depicted is about as good as I suppose I can expect of these costumes.

While this story sheds further light on the characters (even adding a bit to Non, which I liked) it doesn’t seem entirely essential. One could almost see it as one of those guides to a new DVD player’s remote: the buttons on the device are fairly intuitive and you can get by without the guide…but the guide fills in that much more and does give you a different overall experience for having read it than not.

However, I do think the $5 price tag on this issue was just a bit steep–even just the difference to $4.50 would be preferable, steep as that is as well. If the price doesn’t bother you too much, this is a good issue to pick up.

Story: 7.50/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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