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The New 52! #1 [Review]

The New 52! #1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Kenneth Rocafort, Gene Ha
Color: Alex Sinclair, Rod Reis, Blond, Art Lyon
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor: Kate Stewart
Editors: Dan Didio & Eddie Berganza

This issue is mostly teaser, and seems especially designed more for those following DC‘s The New 52 for the past 9 or so months moreso than a brand-new reader that might be sucked in for Free Comic Book Day 2012.

We’re shown a sentencing for a trio of characters, all of whom–if not off the bat, then by their fates–have a certain familiarity, as we see the origin of “Pandora,” who we see here has a much larger role to play in the new DCU in the near future. These three characters have been condemned by The Wizard (as in Shazam), punished for contributions to harm of mankind. In the present day, Pandora stirs up some trouble stealing back her box as she seeks to unravel her curse, and we’re then shown a glimpse into the near-future of the DCU, and the coming “event” due out “next year.”

There’s a whole mix of art to the issue, culminating in a fold-out posterlike 4-page spread by Jim Lee spotlighting the main Justice Leaguers in the “near future.” Overall, given this is essentially a sampler issue and I had no idea what to expect of it, the art didn’t stand out all that much to me. Some characters are familiar, others not so much, and I’m not sure if the unfamiliarity I have is with the New 52 in general, or with concepts being “introduced” in this issue.

Story-wise, there’s not a whole lot; this is like having the “origin” of Pandora (and a couple other characters) thrown in front of us to pull one in, like “hey, remember these guys? Here they are! See! Now you HAVE to read the coming event!”

As a free issue…yeah, this is worthwhile. If it weren’t for the credits taking up much of the bottom of the image, I’d be inclined to pull the center out of the issue and stick it on the wall as a small poster, at least. Almost half this issue is a section of 2-ish page “previews” of the second wave of DC titles, and I skipped over ’em. I already bought Earth 2 #1, and NOT being an art person, have no interest in the 5-7+ page previews DC‘s often stuck in the back of its books, and 1-2 pages mean even less.

Probably for the worse (to me), this issue makes it clear that The New 52 is building toward some huge event (coming next year, though), and since I’m not willing to invest in a bunch of titles as-is, I have even less interest now.

Story: 4/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 6/10

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Action Comics #904 [Review]

Reign of the Doomsdays Finale

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist (pp 1-16): Axel Gimenez
Artist (pp 17-20): Ronan Cliquet
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Kenneth Rocafort
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics

Hard to believe it, but this is the final issue of Action Comics. Sure, Action Comics (vol. 2) #1 comes out in a couple weeks, but that’s a whole different thing. It’s not this same title. It’s not the actual title with its roots in the dawn of the comics industry, the dawn of the super-hero, going back to even before World War II, touching on eight decades. But that’s mostly a discussion for the new Action Comics.

This issue wraps up Superman, and Action Comics, and is basically the send-off for this title and these characters, at least for what I’m currently reading (I have not read Superman #714, nor the final issues of Supergirl or Superboy).

We open with Superman discovering that the current threat to the world still ties back to Lex Luthor’s recent actions in the Black Ring arc. Talking with this willed-to-existence entity, Superman is restored to solid existence, to lead the heroes in a final attack on the Doomslayer to save their world. While Superman and the Eradicator (in a different but familiar form) take on Doomslayer, the others attend to the multiple Doomsdays. When all’s said and done, Clark and Lois talk over dinner, bringing this era of Superman, and aspects of the character going back a quarter-century, to a close.

The main story seemed to wrap up a little too quickly for my preference. It’s not bad, mind you–but it just seemed a little quick. Perhaps it’s the time between issues combined with all the other stuff I’ve (as an individual) had on my mind and looking toward with the pending relaunch–but it doesn’t feel like the potential with this Doomslayer really had a chance to take off, and the heroes (as with a couple years back in New Krypton) handle the Doomsday threat a little too easily for what the character was created to be. That said, I found the closing to be a great touch and appropriate epilogue to this lengthy Doomsdays thing, which has been going on all year now, since that Steel one-shot back in early January.

Given that it was the Death and Return of Superman “trilogy” that most firmly brought me back into comics in a way that I’ve never truly left since, it’s rather satisfying that Supergirl, Superboy, Steel, the Eradicator, Doomsday, and the Cyborg Superman were all brought into what turned out to be the final story of this title, and these characters.

Visually, I’m not really impressed with the art on the main story segment. I’m not really disappointed, either…it’s just not a style that clicked well with me in reading this issue–something about it just felt off. The characters and action isn’t hard to follow, everyone’s recognizable and all–so it does its job as it should. The epilogue segment worked quite well, though–I’ve mostly enjoyed Gary Frank‘s work on Superman, and Cliquet does an excellent job of emulating that style.

All in all…this issue’s for the longtime/ongoing readers. This is the end of Cornell‘s run on this title; this caps off a quasi-crossover sort-of-“event.” This is the end of Lois & Clark, at least the Lois & Clark of the last 15 years. This is likely the last of a lot of other familiar elements and possibly actual characters that have been part of the Superman story for a generation of readers. This goes out with neither whimper nor bang…but leaves things so that maybe someday, this iteration of the characters can be revisited.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Action Comics #901 [Review]

Reign of the Doomsdays part 1

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artists: Kenneth Rocafort, Jesus Merino
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Kenneth Rocafort
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

The first thing I noticed about this issue was the banner at the top advertising the Green Lantern film due out June 17 “only in theaters.” Now, I know Marvel has done this for YEARS, but they’ve generally done it by way of the upper corner box by the issue’s number and such. And I appreciate this on the GL books–it’s most appropriate there. But on a Superman title, it’s less appropriate, except as the full-DC-wide blast of the advertising. After all, why hide the ad on an interior or the back cover when by having a banner at the top, you’re advertising off any and all ways of displaying comics that allow the top portion to be seen?

That aside…the cover doesn’t impress me all that much. I do appreciate that Doomsday looks a lot closer to what I’m used to than it has in awhile. But the image does seem rather generic to me–Doomsday standing amidst wreckage, the bodies of the Superman Family sprawled at its feet. Something about the imagery just doesn’t do it for me. Then again…the cover is not why I bought the issue.

The story picks up where the lead story of Action #900 left off–the Superman Family has found that they are facing several Doomsdays, each tailored to a diffeent power set, but all set on destruction of the entire group. Cyborg-Superman welcomes destruction, the chance at death. The others, however do not–so after Superman neutralizes the Cyborg, the group gathers up and heads away from their attackers into the depths of the prison they’ve found themselves in. Meanwhile, on Earth, an imminent extinction-level event is detected, and (in contrast to the controversy over a short in the previous issue) the American President proclaims the country’s need of Superman, of any super-powered beings able to help. As Superman & Co. realize their prison is fast approaching Earth, they encounter yet another threat, who steps forth to prevent them from saving the planet. Without wasting time arguing, he delivers a shocking blow to the group, leaving their reaction as our cliffhanger.

I’m not a huge fan of the split art duties on the issue. Rocafort‘s visual style seems a bit “off” to me, and reminded me of my least favorite art from #900, though on a double-checking, it’s not the same. There’s something to this style that makes the characters seem overly generic, Superman especially. Somehow it looks to me more like some guy in a Superman costume, and the face alone doesn’t say “Superman” to me. Merino‘s art in the middle of the issue stands out, and is far preferable to me–the characters look a lot more “on” on those pages…and it makes it rather jarring to then shift right back to a different visual style.

Cornell‘s writing is solid…I haven’t yet read much of his work…the first issue of the Black Ring arc and then the lead in Action 900. But I do like the concept, at least, that’s at play here…and I really enjoy having Superman teamed up again with Supergirl, Eradicator, Steel, Cyborg, and Superboy. And given the first time these characters all got together, it’s fitting that they’re dealing with Doomsday. Given this context–their teamup, and the Doomsday situation…I’m tentatively hooked. I came back for this issue, having figured to only pick up #900 as the anniversary that it was.

While much of the story is fairly serious and played straight…there’s a part where we actually get a thought balloon for Superman, which seems somewhat out of nowhere–especially as I’ve grown used to the LACK of thought balloons in favor of “voiceover” narration and such. The use of the thought balloon in this issue seemed hokey and a bit forced; and momentarily took me out of the story while I thought about it. Not a huge deal, but noticeable.

Where the story is most hurt in my eyes is that I have no idea how many chapters to expect…just as I had no clue how many to expect, really, with the Reign of Doomsday hopping along through various other books without really meaning much. I certainly hope this arc is not dragged out…though this is labled Reign of the Doomsdays part 1 (escaping Reign of Doomsday which was around a half-dozen issues), it’s essentially the same story continuing, so this feels like the 7th chapter, and I’m not sure I’ll want to stick around long-term if it’s simply a dragged-out slugfest or punch-and-run-and-punch-again kinda thing.

While this doesn’t really hold a candle to Reign of the Supermen, if you’re a fan of these characters, this packs a good bit of nostalgia and hope of a new classic. Worth picking up if you enjoy seeing these characters all brought together, and/or if you read #900 and want to follow this Doomsday story.

As of now, I’m interested enough to see where this goes that I plan to come back for #902.

Recommended.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6.5/10
Overall: 7/10

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