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General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #2 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0002Dark Reflections

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciller: Rick Leonardi
Inkers: Bob Wiacek and Scott Hanna
Colorist: Rex Lokus
Letterer: Comicraft
Cover Artist: Scott Koblish
Cover Colorist: Val Staples
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

This is the "second" issue of four being made available to the public "blindly" via insertion into specially-marked boxes of General Mills cereal. Though the issues ARE numbered, the first issue and this one do not seem to draw on each other or lead into the other with any singular story, so the numbers are–I’m pretty confident in saying–there to stimulate collectors’ OCD to collect ’em all.

This issue focuses on Batman, though it guest-stars the rest of the Justice League.

Batman arrives home after a "typical" night out. After talking with Alfred and having a flashback to his youth where his parents were still around, Bruce catches a glimpse of a reflection in the mirror that is most certainly not him looking back! Turns out that Mirror Master (one of Flash’s Rogues) has expanded his reach (with the unintentional assistance of Flash himself) to vex the entire Justice League. Using mirrors as gateways, interdimensional counterparts of our heroes are brought through, and the heroes square off with them. While everyone tangles with their mirrored counterparts, Batman (through recalling an incident from his youth) develops a plan to deal with this threat and stop Mirror Master.

Nicieza and Leonardi are a couple more names that I’m definitely familiar with, though I’m far moreso with the former than latter. I’m honestly impressed at the way this issue–and this round of GM Justice League as a whole–has the talent and appearances of something much bigger and less generic than "just" cereal-box comics. At the same time, unfortunately (by seeming necessity) these ARE rather smaller and more generic than non-cereal counterparts.

The story itself is fairly basic, drawing on some basic tropes of comics in general…particularly the lead-in with Batman having just gotten back from a night out, talking about the off-panel adventure, remembering something from his childhood while his parents were alive, and that conveniently being relevant to the current story at hand. Yet, while that may come off as a negative…it fits perfectly into what these comics can and might be–someone’s first. These days, it’s not hard to imagine that there are countless staunch fans of even "obscure" comic book characters…yet said fans may never have actually experienced a comic book! So while these are overdone, overly-familiar things to me as a nearly-30-years comics reader, they may well be someone’s first exposure and be at least some small part of their journey into comics.

The story elements overall do not particularly contradict what I know of the characters, and particularly Batman in this case, though this definitely comes detached from the nuances of recent continuity that I’m familiar with. My biggest eye-opener is the notion of the characters nonchalantly hauling the moon out of its orbit with zero repercussions to the Earth. Perfect for a comic like this, maybe, but epic event-level stuff in general continuity.

Visually, if the pages were "regular" sized and I didn’t see a cover, I wouldn’t really know this was "just" some cereal-box comic…it has "established talent," and does not look like some generic thing. The art is quite good in and of itself, though as with a lot of comic book art, its primary drawback is simply in not being by one of a handful of my favorite comic artists. Once again, these characters look like they’re right out of early-2017 full-size DC comics, down to Batman’s current gold-outlined black bat symbol. Superman’s look is about to be out of date, but fits well into the past ten or so months’ worth of DC Rebirth.

As with the first issue, this was an ok read with good art. It’s a cereal comic and certainly worth reading, but it in no way affects continuity nor particularly draws from it. You might appreciate this more if you’re NOT up on current comics, as you may be less likely to do hard comparisons. I wouldn’t go out of the way to hunt this down, but if you like the cereal and it’s in the box, definitely give it a read-through!

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General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #1 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0001Power Play

Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Jerry Ordway
Inker: Juan Castro
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Comicraft
Cover Artist: Ale Garza
Cover Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

Once again, DC Comics and General Mills have teamed up to put comics in boxes of cereal. And, once again, I’m buying cereal specifically to get a copy of all four issues available as part of the promotion. This is the fourth such promotion I can recall in "modern" comics’ times–two prior Justice League runs, last year’s Batman v Superman, and now this. As with the previous ones, these LOOK like they fit in with contemporary issues, just that these are missing UPC boxes, and are atrociously TINY. But hey…they’re "free" with the purchase of a specially-marked box of cereal, and no hassling with coupons, mail-aways, shipping/handling, etc.

As with previous promotions, though these issues are numbered, I’m almost certain there’s no sequential "continuity" to them–this first issue is self-contained with no cliffhanger or anything "driving" one to the next issue. I’m pretty sure the PRIMARY purpose of the issue number is to help "legitimize" the thing as a miniature comic book (and not just some mini-magazine/"insert" or such) and to–as successfully accomplished with me–trigger the OCD to track them all down, because darnit, there are FOUR numbered issues, so I want all 4 issues, and won’t want to have a #4 withOUT 1-3 and so on.

Getting to the issue itself, as an issue…I’m quite impressed with the main creative team. Tony Bedard‘s name is definitely recognizable to me, and even topping that is artist Jerry Ordway, who is an old favorite from my earliest days in comics.

The story is rather prescient given its timing–at least for me as I read this. We open on the Justice League (current Rebirth incarnation, with everyone looking on-model for Rebirth year one) in Metropolis, being celebrated for all their work and constant saving of Earth. A large group statue is unveiled, and almost immediately comes to life, forcing the Leaguers to face off against their giant bronze counterparts. The mischievous antagonist is quickly revealed: Mr. Mxyzptlk! Muddying matters, the League must summon Bat-Mite–another 5th-Dimensional imp–to counter Mxy’s fun. Tricking Mxy yet again into saying his own name backwards, Bat-Mite extracts a promise from the League and then disappears himself…a small bronze addition left with the once-more-inanimate statue, celebrating Bat-Mite side-by-side with the rest of the League.

This story comes outta nowhere: no prologue, nothing setting it up. Just the "typical" generic "our heroes gather to be celebrated by the common people they’ve saved, however reluctant they may be with such adulation and then must save them yet again." Of course, this is NOT some issue partaking in any crossover or event, nor is it "merely" some reprint of just any random issue from within a run…and it’s not anything someone reading the regularly-published comics needs to track down to get a full story, so it’s rather necessary, then, for this to be its own thing in a relative "vacuum." Additionally, there is no cliffhanger, nothing left hanging to "force" or "coerce" someone (while many adults may track these down, I’d assume a large majority of readers are children whose parents had to provide the cereal for them to have the comic) to "have to" get the other issues.

Yet, while the story is pretty simplistic, and doesn’t necessarily play up individual character elements that’d be present in solo books, the characters are recognizable as who they are, and the lineup seems to fit in such that someone reading this and then walking into a comic shop would easily find current DC issues featuring these very characters. Bedard doesn’t really get room to shine as a writer, but he doesn’t play the characters as fools or overly talk down to the audience (though there’s a little bit of that "special lesson" to be imparted to kids: "don’t run from your problems, own up to them…and sometimes you will have to ask for help from others, and that’s ok."

The cover’s art is a bit "off" and generic to me….Superman’s costume (at least on my copy of this issue) seems a bit weirdly-colored and the whole image is basically generic poses of the characters on a yellowy-orange burst-effect…no background setting or situation (though also nothing to give away the antagonist from within). Ordway‘s art on the interior is a huge treat for me, and I really like the depiction of the characters. I don’t much care for Simon’s version of the Green Lantern costume–never have–but it looks as good as is possible here. And somehow most notable to me, Mxyzptlk looks really good in this issue–much like in my first conscious exposure to the character back in 1989 or so.

I imagine I’d have quite loved this as a kid. As an adult, it’s simplistic but pretty…and as something "free" in a box of cereal, it’s much better than it has any "right" to be. Even if you’re not a fan of the cereals, I’d recommend this as a quick-read novelty item…especially as I doubt this or any of the previous ones will ever warrant a full-size collection of their own, so this is likely the only way to read ’em!

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REBIRTH WEEK 3: Titans, Superman, Batman, Green Lanterns, Green Arrow

This is the third week of DC‘s Rebirth initiative…and already the fourth week including the one-shot DC Universe: Rebirth #1. And though so far it’s basically all a ton of #1s on covers…it’s truly the quality of the stories that’s got me so all-in and interested and excited and just simply digging these stories, loving the DC Universe again!

TITANS: REBIRTH #1

titans_rebirth0001I’ve been looking forward to this issue probably more than any of the other Rebirth books. As much as I’d been pulled back into the Superman books with the Final Days of Superman story…the reveal several weeks ago of Wally West and his return was really the tipping point, the selling point, for me on this whole Rebirth thing. It was what pushed me from curiosity into embracing it. And here, we get to see the returned Wally West–formerly Kid Flash, now…something. Flash? In a new costume reminiscent of the Kid Flash outfit but sporting “adult Flash” colors. And while seeking answers, Wally winds up tangling with his old friends…but soon realizes that running away from his problem is no help…tactile contact sparks their memories, restoring Wally to them. By issue’s end, they remember him, know who he is–and they share with him that they’re already on the trail of someone they know messed with their memories…whether this is the same “big bad” Wally is pursuing as well remains to be seen.

I totally “appreciate” the Titans, and Teen Titans…I even followed a run of Teen Titans for several years into Infinite Crisis. But particularly at the New 52, they just failed to hold my interest, and so my enjoying this as much as I did is an extremely welcome thing. Add to that the (to me) “official” reunion image–and Wally realizing he’s home–and this was a highly enjoyable issue!

SUPERMAN #1

superman(2016)_0001I really dug this issue, especially as a #1. Of course, this is a #1 geared for someone like me…even as it provides this starting point, a jump-on point, for new readers. We get to see the title character both in costume and out, as well as meet supporting cast–his wife Lois, his son Jon…even the neighbor’s daughter (surely to be a Lana Lang type figure). There’s even an early double-page spread that in some ways I “ought to” complain about (given my usual complaints about so many double-page spreads being “cheats” and “wastes of space” and all that)…but it just made me grin. I think the first official “shirt rip” as this Clark changes over to Superman to go into action.

What disturbs me about the issue–there’s a scene in which young Jon races off across a field along with the family cat…and he sees the cat snatched up by a bird (a falcon of some kind?)…and we see a display of his as-yet uncontrolled power: Jon lashes out instinctively at the bird with his heat vision…but–lacking control–the blast incinerates bird and cat. The kid is certainly not happy about this–a definite weight of failure on him–but it very definitely broke my heart…ESPECIALLY having imagined the joy at seeing the boy fly, or race after the bird, and rescue the cat. An argument with his parents, perhaps–he HAD TO use his powers, he saved the cat! But instead, in attempting to save the cat…

I’m an easy mark for stuff with fuzzy animals. I am admittedly desensitized to human death in fiction, but even in fiction I can’t not feel something at the loss of an animal…especially like this.

That said…the fact the scene hit me as it did, I can also see so much potential for stuff, and I look forward to more (even as I’ll try to “forget” those particular panels).

The cover, too, looks like a #1, and I’m again glad FOR the “regular” cover actually having an iconic look to it.

BATMAN #1

batman(2016)_0001In a way, I actually was not looking forward to this issue. I don’t know now what I was fully picturing regarding it–something like the Court of Owls, but people embodying the City itself, another “secret society” going after Batman. Seeing Batman leap into action to try to save a plane–or at least minimize catastrophic damage and loss of life when it crashes–was both exciting and a bit over-the-top. I’ve really grown tired of a Batman prepared for anything/everything. But I have to be honest that despite that, it’s still exciting and impressive to see the character in action like this, and to picture it as just some big summer action/blockbuster thriller that’s over the top but right in range of what I’m looking for.

While I certainly had zero expectation of yet another “death of Batman,” it was also–for me–quite effective seeing a Batman really not even phased at facing death. Regretful, perhaps, at unfinished/unfulfilled objectives, but plans in place for such circumstances…and then a mortal moment, wondering if his parents would be proud of him despite his dying. Aaaand then we get a couple of new characters–though for a moment I actually thought they might’ve just crossed over from Superman #1 and felt a thrill of continuity-excitement there. What I got leaves me “interested” and curious, definitely looking forward to the next issue.

And the art? I like this rendition of Batman…it’s slightly “off” but works, and I just simply like it.

GREEN LANTERNS #1

green_lanterns_(2016)_0001This title is a real surprise for me. I can say I definitely “miss” Kyle and Guy, even Hal. But where I was not at all interested in anything with Simon Baz in the “meta” sense several years ago in the hubbub of the character’s original introduction…now that I’m actually reading stuff with him and it’s tempered with another character completely new to me (yet who I can certainly identify with–probably way more than I’d prefer–I’m really enjoying this, and it’s technically only the first issue!

I like the idea of two “rookies” working together…and at least so far am definitely digging the dynamics we get here–the two focal characters vs. the world, vs. each other, and the simmering background developments with the Red Lanterns (whose series I have yet to really read). I don’t know how long my interest will hold, but I’ll definitely get the next issue!

GREEN ARROW #1

green_arrow_(2016)_0001I usually don’t much care for stuff tying in to TV, or feeling like a comic is drawing inspiration from a tv show inspired by the comic. But I haven’t really read much Green Arrow in so long, and a lot of stuff with what I had been reading had gone “downhill” that–the TV show Arrow being my main exposure lately–I rather welcome it. With “the goatee” and fond expressions like “Pretty Bird” being back, I’m cool with other differences and such, and willing to go with the flow, just glad to be on the ride and actually enjoying a book with this title again. I know Seattle had been the characters’ town for quite awhile in the ’80s and such during the Grell run, so even seeing them back there is a bit nostalgic, and yet there’s still a sense of freshness to me.

I actually waffled on the cover for this issue–I really liked the image on a variant, but figured while it was a great image, this one fits both the issue and my expectation better. Though I feel like the end of the issue is just a cheap shot at a clichéd cliffhanger…it actually leaves me curious, wondering at a couple possible directions stuff could be taken, depending on what the writer’s got in store, though the more jarring surprise would seem to fly in the face of this whole initiative. I’m definitely gonna be looking for the next issue, though! (and in the end, THAT is what shows the effectiveness…I’m looking forward to ‘finding out’ regardless of assumption or cliché!).

OVERALL:

These FELT LIKE #1 issues. We’ve had the prologue/#0/ __: Rebirth one-shots to set things up, but just as those felt appropriately like prologue, these feel like true #1 issues. However, they’re not cold-start, from-a-blank-slate #1s. These embrace their new directions, the modified status quo, giving us both beginning AND continuation. It’s been years since I’ve read Green Lantern, even more years since Green Arrow, I have not kept current with Batman, I only just “came back to” Superman a couple months ago, and really haven’t touched Titans or Teen Titans overall since well before the New 52. But I’m back in, I’m following stuff, I’m enjoying the reading, being reunited with characters/concepts I’ve enjoyed in the past and learning of newer ones I’m less–or not at all yet–familiar with.

And I’m truly having a blast, having a larger stack of comics each week that I’m actually eager to read into. Not shift a couple books to read while others go in the “I’ll get to it whenever” pile but actually ordering the issues, eager to read them ALL.

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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 15, 2016

For the fourth week in a row, DC has topped my new-issues pile, which is such a refreshing thing!

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This week there’s only one ___: Rebirth issue…but we get four actual new #1 issues for ongoing series as part of the whole Rebirth initiative.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160615b

Then there are a couple more TMNT books clustered…though I really cannot complain about it as Bebop and Rocksteady is a mini-series…and weekly for its run. (And how long now have I been saying I’d love a weekly TMNT book???). We also have an issue of Darkwing Duck that I had not consciously realized I’d missed, though I’d pretty much decided I had to have missed it. Bought it as “back in stock,” and added it to my pull list so I don’t have to worry about watching for and/or missing it again. And then for the fact of its physical format–prestige format, squarebound, cardstock cover, feels like it fits right in with the “original issues” of Dark Knight and Dark Knight Strikes Again…yeah, it got me. (Even while DKIII continues to hold zero interest for me).

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I took a cursory glance at the bargain bins…the shiny-ness of the “chromium” Shadowman #0 grabbed my attention, and as a sucker for these “chromium” covers, I added it to the stack. Also spotted the #100 issue of The Warlord–I believe I might own an Annual and possibly one or two other issues…but figured “why not?” and snagged it, too.

Even with DC‘s lower price point per “regular” Rebirth/single issue, the fact I’ve really ramped up my quantity still made this week more expensive than some of the times I’ve walked out with a huge stack of quarter-books.

There’s something very positive (to me) about the fact that I’ve already read over half of the entirety of my purchase this week, enjoying everything I’ve read so far–slowing only really to get this post up today, and to prepare some thoughts on the specific, individual Rebirth issues.

REBIRTH WEEK 1: Superman, Batman, Green Lanterns, and Green Arrow

This week saw the release of the first of the individual titled Rebirth one-shots, that serve (functionally, it would seem) as #0 issues leading into new relaunched titles from the publisher, utilizing a new status quo set up by last week’s DC Rebirth one-shot.

SUPERMAN: REBIRTH #1

superman_rebirth_0001I really dug this issue. It touches on the events from The Final Days of Superman, and begins transitioning the pre-Flashpoint Superman into the lead role. We get some interaction between him and Lana, as well as some flashback/context establishing some differences between this Superman and that of the New 52. I really liked that we got to see reference–even 24 years later–to an event as significant as the Death of Superman–even as it is used to add depth to this world’s fallen Superman. That these events are brought up while the older Superman seeks to resurrect the younger pays definite homage to the fallen hero, while establishing that we’re getting a somewhat reluctant Superman–he’s stepping in out of necessity, and certainly NOT from any desire to replace a counterpart. This issue has some great art to go with the solid–and refreshing–story, and makes this (for me) probably the best, most exciting Superman issue I’ve read in a long, long time in terms of “new” issues…and surpasses last year’s Superman: Lois and Clark #1.

BATMAN: REBIRTH #1

batman_rebirth_0001I’m way outta the loop on Batman…I only just a couple weeks ago read the Endgame arc, and never read beyond the first half of Batman Eternal nor beyond the first couple issues of Batman and Robin Eternal. I’ve not kept up with any of the “family” books for various reasons, despite any initial interest. So I don’t know who this Duke is, or his context…but I roll with it. Alfred has both his hands, it seems, which sure beats the way Endgame ended! It seems that Batman is training a new “junior partner,” but getting away from the Robin model. We see him face the Calendar Man–who threatens Gotham with a dangerous spore. Batman and Duke keep things under control but remain challenged–having to better themselves to keep up with a comes-back-better-each-time villain. I’m not familiar with this villain, but there’s enough in this issue for me to “get by,” and to be interested in the new/ongoing Batman title. I enjoyed this as I read it, but didn’t retain much from it in conscious memory. Still, a solid issue–one that does a great job of being a one-shot WHILE also setting some stuff up for a continuing, ongoing story.

GREEN LANTERNS: REBIRTH #1

green_lanterns_rebirth_0001Other than the plurality of the title and “knowing” that there would be multiple Lanterns starring in this issue, I had zero idea what to expect. I figured ok, read it, but I wasn’t expecting to like it or care about any of the characters or the title…it’s just another Rebirth issue. But darned if the art didn’t impress me, even as I enjoyed reading about Simon Baz as well as an (apparently) new character that I could identify with, in that I’m not much of a social person, so being thrust into any kind of public eye would be quite anxiety-inducing. This gives us a glimpse of Hal as he initiates the new GLs of Earth and sets before them a mission and motivation. We see that they don’t (yet) get along or care for each other…but despite that Hal is forcing them to work together, and if they don’t, they won’t even be able to power their rings (an arbitrary limitation that I can already see being a major weakness for villains to exploit). When I opened the issue I cared nothing…on reaching the conclusion, I’m anxious to read more and see where things go with these characters. I’d call that a pretty effective (and successful) introductory issue!

GREEN ARROW: REBIRTH #1

green_arrow_rebirth_0001Once upon a time, I considered myself somewhat familiar with Green Arrow. I jumped in with Kevin Smith‘s run back in 2001, and followed it through the end of Meltzer‘s arc or so. Prior to that, I’d had some exposure to the character–primarily a scene in 1994’s Zero Hour that moved me then and moves me to this day, and a bit to his son via the “next generation” stuff with him and Kyle. When they undid the Ollie/Dinah marriage heading into the New 52, I wasn’t that bothered–by then I wasn’t following the character and didn’t really “miss” anything. But…I wasn’t interested in the “new” Green Arrow, either. Then Arrow hit tv, and has led to quite a tv universe, and I’m once more interested–at least conceptually–in the character. The Ollie/Dinah scene in the Rebirth special last week hit particularly well…and so I really quite enjoyed this issue. While not as “old” as the Ollie I remembered, I’m good with appearances…if nothing else, “someone” stole 10 years or so from our heroes, right? So he’s younger. But the goatee is there, the attitude is there, he and Dinah “meet” and it’s no rocket science to see where things COULD go from here. The story itself didn’t make  much of an impression on me beyond that…it was just an enjoyable issue that has me looking forward to where things go!


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A shelf o’ toys

Been meaning to share this for awhile now. I finally acquired one of these Knape &Voght wall shelves, which meant more of my action figures ‘n such could come out of hiding/congregate upon it in the living room.

The thing pretty much speaks for itself…

Living Room Shelf #1 - June 11th, 2009

Green Lantern #36 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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