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Batman/Superman #1 [Review]

batmansuperman001Crossworld

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Jae Lee, Ben Oliver
Colors: June Chung, Daniel Brown
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Jae Lee with June Chung
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

I bought this issue to meet a credit card minimum. Of everything on the “new” shelf, it was the only thing that really grabbed my attention for a one-shot purchase with potential. Other than setting this apart from the Loeb-launched Superman/Batman from a decade ago, I do find myself mildly curious as to any significance to the title, having Batman listed first. At least BOTH characters are spotlighted on the standard cover…you don’t have to track down two covers to get both title characters in one shot.

Unfortunately, it was a lot more disappointing than I expected. I’d avoided it on Wednesday–I just had zero interest in it from the start. ANOTHER “Superman meets Batman for the FIRST TIME” story. And that’s where it goes wrong; where I go wrong. I am absolutely NOT the “target audience” for this book: I’m bored and put-out by the New 52 at this point…and to ME, the “first meeting” between Superman and Batman happened “One Night in Gotham City” in the 1980s’ Man of Steel #3.

Leaving nostalgia and such aside, I have a real problem with a young Superman–Superboy???–being so…arrogant, angry, violent. To say nothing of the fact that I did read the first-ever New 52 issue, Justice League #1. And I’m recalling a scene in which Batman and Green Lantern talk about some alien in Metropolis, and meet Superman “for the first time.” So that makes this issue essentially a fairly big plothole to a casual such reader as myself.

Clark Kent visits Gotham, and realizes he really does not fit into this dark city. When he confronts some kids bullying another, he meets a drunk, stinking boy billionaire with more street sense than he’d’ve expected. Turns out Clark was looking for Bruce, to see what he knew of several Wayne employees murdered recently. The two part on neutral terms, neither impressed with the other. The murderer strikes again, and Batman leaps into the fray, surprised at the identity…before Superman busts in, throwing around violence and making a bad situation worse. Another entity joins the situation, and just makes things confusing…though that seems to set up what may be the plot for the next few issues.

Visually I’m not all that impressed…Lee‘s art is not particularly “up my alley,” it’s very stylized and just not what I would choose. Because it’s so…what it is, this feels like it ought to me some sort of Elseworlds book, or some intercompany crossover in the vein of these characters meeting the Aliens or Predators. I’ve never really cared for the jeans, t-shirt and cape get-up for Superman; the look is done no favors here, in my eyes. There’s also something to the way Lee depicts the “S” that bugs me–like it’s trying to be a mash-up of the overly-lined Man of Steel film logo and the more stylized Superman Returns film logo.

Lee‘s art gets the job done, though…even depicting the violence fairly disturbingly (something Lee‘s style does well with). So while it’s not my cup of tea and I have nitpicky issues, I won’t fault it too heavily in and of itself.

I don’t care for the art shift toward the end of the issue. It fits reasonably well given the shift in scenery and all–but I find myself wondering if this is an issue of timing or a planned function to serve the story itself (or just happened to work as it is).

The story itself roughly fits a fairly standard mold for these characters…the idea that while they come to work together when more seasoned at the whole “super-hero” thing, they clash in the early days of their careers is not new. What little I know of the New 52 incarnation of Superman kinda fits, though again I don’t like it much. Batman I’m less sure on–this Bruce Wayne sorta fits with Year One, and probably perfectly fits with the upcoming Zero Year stuff. Given Clark’s readiness to cut loose with his powers it’s sort of astonishing that he doesn’t (seem to) recognize Batman as a mortal man and “reveal” him or at least peek under the cowl with X-ray vision. (Then again, I realize I don’t know the origin of this version of Superman, so maybe he didn’t have access to that power yet).

All in all, I imagine that if you’re a fan of Jae Lee‘s art, of the New 52 early Superman, and/or Pak‘s writing, and have no particular “attachment” to ’80s/’90s Superman and Batman, you’ll probably enjoy this. You might have to overlook that this is yet another $3.99 book…but hey? $2.99 seems to be an exception rather than the rule, these days.

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Marvel Zombies: Dead Days [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Dead Days

The Marvel heroes assemble to take down a threat to the entire universe…aw, who’s kidding who? Marvel Heroes become Marvel Zombies, and there’s lots o’ good eatin’ going on!

marvelzombiesdeaddays001Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colors: June Chung
Letters: VC’s Rus Wooton
Production: Marvel Bullpen
Zombie Food: John Barber
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Cover: Arthur Suydam (after Jim Lee)
Publisher: Marvel

I assume that if you haven’t heard of ’em, you’ve been hiding for the last couple years, or just ignoring everything Marvel. Otherwise, who hasn’t heard of the Marvel zombies? (No, not the readers…the zombified Marvel heroes!) When I first heard of the concept, back when the 2006 mini-series was announced, I thought the idea sucked.

I couldn’t see how there’d be any point, or any fun, to the concept. Fifteen some months later, that mini is on an extremely short list of series that I’ve read one issue, and could not stop myself from reading every other issue that I had in my possession.

What’s that got to do with THIS issue, you ask? This is a prequel to that series, that shows us pre-zombified versions of the characters…how certain ones came to be bitten, and even some gruesome scenes of them eating loved ones or trusted butlers and all that…stuff mentioned or alluded to in last year’s mini.

Does it live up to the hype, and the quality, of that series? I’m not sure it does. While good…for me, this was just lacking something; though I can’t quite put my finger on it.

The story itself is really straight-forward as stated above. It cuts from one scene to another, as we see the rapid progression of the super-powered zombie plague. The scenes jump around a bit, with little time spent in any one space, though certain characters receive much more time than others in the spotlight. Even though this is a larger-sized issue, it’s still just a single issue, and it packs in what could fairly easily drawn out into a 6-12 issue series, if not more. Dense content means lack of deep characterization. But in the end, when you get right down to it, it seems that the point of this issue is the "fun" and the random gore and gruesome zombified heroes depicted on the page…if you want deep characterization, there’re six volumes of the writer’s other zombie series available, and loads of other superhero books with more room for characterization.

On the art-end, we’ve got some good quality stuff from Phillips…in and of itself, I really have no complaints visually. Where there might be some complaint would be the amount of visible gore and all that…this is not a comic to hand to the target audience of a Marvel Adventures book, and well deserves its "parental advisory" note on the UPC box.

The cover is an homage to 1991’s X-Men #1-E…the version with the double-gatefold/4-panel cover. While yet another cool zombified piece, it’s not my favorite.

I’m not sure exactly where in the Marvel Zombies timeline this fits, with the still-running Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness, so perhaps more will be made clear with that in the grander tapestry. Taken alone, this issue offers key scenes that impact Crossover and the original Marvel Zombies mini, and provides an extra-sized issue’s worth of violence, gore, and hero-eating-hero action. If that’s not your thing, don’t bother with this. If you do enjoy the concept (or enjoyed prior exposure,) this issue’s well worth getting.

Besides…there’s far worse (and less ‘fun’) out there you could give up your money for.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Wolverine #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

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