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Superman (2016) #19 [Review]

superman_0019Superman: Reborn Part 3

Story: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Mick Gray
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Patrick Gleason and John Kalisz
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks To: Dan Jurgens
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Late May 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

Well, it’s safe to say I had too-high expectations for this issue, coming off the previous issue AND Action Comics #975. Though this issue advanced stuff a bit, it did not on initial reading hold up to my own internal "hype."

With the villain revealed, we basically get to see Clark and Lois being made to forget their life together, their son Jon, and to play along to Mxyzptlk’s game. As the issue ends, we have a bit of a throwback on stuff, that can kinda call into question this arc’s title and make one really wonder what’s going to happen in the fourth/"final" chapter before we head into April’s DC stuff.

Yeah, that’s all a bit vague, especially for a review, but this issue was all over the place–capitalizing on Mxy’s reality-bending powers and inclinations. And this is my "snap judgment," initial thoughts after having just read the issue, taking it–as I try to all my reviews–on a first reading without getting overly deep into it. My preference, my style.

The story picks up from the first half of Action 975, and seems to almost ignore the secondary Dini story. It also seems slightly out of nowhere to me, like I missed something. We had intro/setup stuff and the building of tension in the first chapter, getting things rolling. The second chapter brought that stuff to a head and revealed the villain of the story as well as paying off most of a year’s worth of build. I’ve plenty of anticipation and suspicions as to possibilities for how this story might end…so this "middle chapter" that’s neither setup nor conclusion is somewhat stuck in place, unable to conclude stuff, but not much new to be able to put out there.

The imagery is a bit wacky and trippy…which perfectly fits with Mxy and his powers and such. But it also made for a too-quick read; I rarely "like" multiple splash pages or double-page splashes and find them to be a huge "cheat" story AND page-wise in modern comics. That said, the spread with the game board worked quite well for me, all things considered.

This issue does not "sell" me on Mxy’s legitimate motivation for stuff…where it actually made sense in the Action Comics chapter, here he just comes off as petty and mean…I didn’t feel any of the "heart" of his motivation here.

I’m quite certain virtually no one–especially in this day and age–is gonna be inclined to "jump in" with the 19th issue of a series, labeled chapter 3 of a story. This is not something for a first-time reader, but is an issue for the ongoing reader, or the reader who’s dipping their toe in for this ARC.

In a way, this issue feels nearly "skippable" or extraneous, though I’m sure some small "details" will play into the conclusion and whatever status quo going forward from next week’s chapter. I would not actually recommend skipping this issue, but I’d highly recommend that anyone thinking of picking this up also pick up the first two chapters with plans to grab next week’s fourth chapter!

I was also slightly incorrect in my "assumption" of the covers for this story: they ARE going to join together in a 4-panel connected image…however, rather than a 2 x 2 configuration, they’re a 4-panel "tall" configuration (which is shown in the text piece on the final page of the issue, after the story itself).

superman_0019_blogtrailer

Superman (2016) #18 [Review]

superman_0018Superman: Reborn Part 1

Story: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Mick Gray
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Patrick Gleason and John Kalisz
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks To: Dan Jurgens
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Early May 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

[ Please note that I will spoil the issue a bit, so stop reading now and come back AFTER you’ve read the issue yourself, if you do not want to encounter spoilers! ]

I buy each new week’s Superman book pretty much as an extremely welcome again (after some 6 or so years away) "habit"–and have since about this time last year. That said, the covers rarely "grab" me–I recognize them, the issue gets paid for and taken home, and read. THIS issue, though, really jumped out at me for its coloring/color-scheme, the visual design, and somehow being rather unexpected to me. It also seems like it’s a small piece of a singular image that I can imagine being spread out across at least 3 more chapters of this story (though I’ll be highly annoyed–to say the least–if such a thing would merely be VARIANTS for this single issue. I’ll hold to my notion until at least next week, though, and give the publisher the benefit of the doubt for now).

This is the opening issue of a fairly "hyped" storyline that I’ve been looking forward to despite some disappointment at how the Clark Kent story seemed to "end" over in Action Comics last week. (Though I’ll give it credit for playing into continuity and this feeling largely like "just" the next issue in sequence OF an ongoing thing).

We open on a brief scene of someone–presumably this Mr. Oz–musing on time/space blah blah blah, and then seeing multiple individuals in his "collection" acting out–reacting to the fact that SOMEONE (we aren’t told who) got out. Looking to the empty cell, we see graffiti indicating an extreme hope in Superman…before shifting to Hamilton County and the main part of the issue.

[ Spoilers to follow ]

Clark, Lois, and Jon are celebrating the couple’s anniversary when there’s a knock at the door. The "other" Clark Kent seems to have left something for the family (and majorly spooks Krypto!).  They find that it’s a scrapbook with photos that no one on this Earth–let alone reality–"should" have. Its images shouldn’t even exist, they were wiped out with Clark and Lois’ Earth. Before they can dig all that deeply, they notice their house is on fire…but quickly realize it’s not so much on fire as being ERASED. Then to make it WORSE…Jon’s being erased. Superman leaps into action to save his son, as any father would. And we see the maddening, helpless desperation of our hero and his wife as they see everything they know and love…erased.

Talk about a setup and leaving one hanging! I’ve loved only having to wait two weeks between issues for Superman and Action Comics since last spring…but this would be flat-out frustrating to have to wait an entire two weeks…I’m anxious for the next chapter, in next week’s Action Comics…by the time of this post, a "mere" 5 days, and that seems too long!

There’s plenty to be found within this issue and its story. We have stuff pointing to the larger DC Universe as it now stands. We have stuff rooted firmly within the Superman books, and specifically this title. We have reference to earlier issues, and we have references to pre-Flashpoint elements. So it seems that we’re getting some major payoff about to really kick into gear after most of a year of building. Still more, we have a story that seems like it’s pretty self-contained to the Super-titles, not some line-wide must-buy-them-all crossover or such. I believe some of the events of this book might trickle out and be reflected in other titles, but in this issue we’re only directed to Action Comics, next.

This may not be the BEST issue for a new reader to start with…but it’s not horrible, and I also think a lapsed reader could probably do pretty well here, just knowing that this is pre-Flashpoint Lois and Clark; that they have a son, and there’s been some other Clark Kent around.

Visually, I have very mixed feelings on this issue. On one hand, I like the cover, and most of the interiors are ok. There are a couple panels–one with Tim Drake (Robin/Red Robin) and one of Jon–that just look really off to me. While Tim’s appearance can be chalked up to his imprisonment, the first large panel of Jon just looks too cartoony to me, overly manga-styled for what is NOT a manga volume. I suppose comparison could be drawn as well to Ed McGuinness‘ art (I’m thinking around 2000 or so), but in the moment, it just threw me off and had me feeling a lot more nitpicky about the issue. The cover, though, is pretty darned good, and would make an excellent print for hanging…and if this indeed is part of a multi-part image, I dare say it’ll likely make a fantastic poster.

All in all, even if you’re not "up" on the various Superman titles, if you’ve a passing familiarity, I’d definitely recommend this issue. It’s well worth its $2.99 cover price, and does a nice job of setting stuff up for what ever is to come, while providing its own major chunk of story and key event for things. I’m eagerly anticipating the next chapter, and to see where things go in general with this story, and the Super-books in general!

Comics and Valentines

Being sick over the past weekend significantly drained time that I’d intended to spend reading and writing, and getting a bit ahead with this blog. I’d had several thoughts for stuff to post for February 14th, but along with the aforementioned being sick, I face the day as I have every year–Han style.

han_style_solo

So, I’ll let that negativity out a bit. There’s a quote that a friend shared with me many years ago that just epitomized my feelings on the matter of love at the time…and actually inspired me to pull the trigger on finally seeking out Gaiman‘s The Sandman series.

gaiman_quote_love

Then there’s John Constantine, the Hellblazer. When I first "met" the character–the first time I’d read any full story of the character–he was coming off losing a major love of his life. And his dealing with that was something I could identify with at the time (or at least so I thought, but that’s a different story).

damnationsflamecoversection

Then there are two comic marriages that probably have meant the most to me over the years: Clark Kent (Superman) and Lois…and Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and MJ.

superman_lois_marriage

In Superman, there was a hero figure, as well as the ease of identifying with someone (Clark Kent) who was from some town somewhere, not comfortable with a world’s attention, just trying to be the best he could be, as his parents raised him. And by just being himself, NOT some flashy super-figure, Clark Kent "got the girl" despite the "shadow of Superman." (Though he could not in good conscience hold the secret, so Lois knew long before the wedding…but again, more stuff for other times).

spidermanmarriage

And then in Peter Parker, there was that notion that hey…if he can get the girl, get that happy STEP in life (NOT necessarily ENDING)…perhaps something like that’d be a reality, right? People grow and change, mature, stuff happens that they never expect, yadda yadda yadda… I actually grew up on a married Peter & MJ. And to this day, I hold that I have no interest in reading an adult single Peter/Spider-Man story. Yet again, though…more for another post.

cyclopsphoenixmarriage

Then, of course, there’s Cyclops and Phoenix…Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Though they’ve been split up longer than not in my conscious awareness of the characters…theirs is a relationship I still prefer (and miss).

gambit_rogue_xmen24

Finally, perhaps semi-forgotten by more contemporary creators and stories…Rogue and Gambit. As with the above…I could do an entire post just on them, but I’ll leave it that they’re–to me–a "classic comics couple," that I’d long rooted for eventually getting a happy/good ending.


I’m not even truly sure where I was going with this post. I guess just showcasing some examples of my favorite comics couples; that comics have touched on a number of different facets of my feelings on love, couples, and all that.

Call this a token cheesey post. Whatever.

Lately, I’m back to largely feeling Gaiman‘s quote quite close to home.

And other than composing this post the night before…I’ve every conscious intention of going head-in-the-sand for "the day," after which will mean we’re finally past "the holidays" for awhile (and heck, into epic-movie-season or such again).

Superman: Lois and Clark #1 [Review]

superman_lois_and_clark_001Arrival, part 1

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Lee Weeks
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterers: A Larger World Studios’ Joshua Cozine & Troy Peteri
Cover: Lee Weeks and Brad Anderson
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marion
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve been looking forward to this, at least in concept. Superman…and Dan Jurgens. It can’t get much better than that, right?

I came into the thing expecting this to be “my” Superman sent back to help stop the Crisis and then picking up 5 or 9 or however many years later–with him, Lois, and their son (born in Convergence: Superman). Maybe I never thought through the details, maybe I was hung up on the notion of actually, finally getting “my” Superman (of sorts) back. The pre-Flashpoint Superman.

What I’ve found is that Superman apparently living on the New 52 Earth (or one very much like it), with things striking me as being pretty much the same as the “current” DC Comics Superman. Having realized the world was quite different, he stuck to the background, and even went “underground,” taking the name White, and operating strictly in secret, restraining himself from getting involved.

Since the New 52-ish world is similar in many ways, he’s–while operating in secret–sought to do what he can to prevent the rise of certain entities, prevent certain events from coming about. Meanwhile, Lois has written a number of books as an anonymous author, impacting the world as she can that way, while together they raise their son Jon.

When I think of Dan Jurgens on Superman, everything goes back to 1992’s Superman #75, The Death of Superman…particularly VISUALLY. It’s an unconscious thing, that issue, that story being such a key part of my childhood and early days in comics. As a result…it’s a bit jarring and such when my brain wants to see Superman one way visually and get something different.

Though he’s the writer, the art is actually be Lee Weeks, with a style distinctive from Jurgens‘ own. Getting past that, I like the art in this issue. Aside from “noticing” it’s not Jurgens‘ art, I really have no active/overt gripe with it. I never got pulled out of the story, out of the reading experience by any surprise or “weirdness” or such; there was no oddity to my eye with the depiction of the characters. And maybe it’s my earliest issues of Superman/Adventures of Superman–when I was introduced to the modern version of the character–but I really dig Superman/Clark with a beard.

Story-wise, this was a bit of an odd experience…having a lot of loaded pre-conceived expectations and notions as to what this should be, what I wanted to see, how I hoped the characters would be shown, etc. Given my personal “history” with Superman–the character being THE core of my comics-reading experience and the reason I was even first introduced TO comics–I freely admit that there’s really no way this was going to live up to my idealistic hopes.

What I got is mediocre compared to what I’d hoped for.

In and of itself? This was a solid issue. There’s some flashback/exposition that I’m not sure would make MUCH sense to someone just jumping onboard to “try” this, without familiarity with pre-Flashpoint continuity or having read Convergence and the Superman 2-parter from that. It provides just enough for me, to get around the lack of a textual “previously” page (and sets this up for the inevitable “graphic novel”) and to clarify that yes, this is the pre-Flashpoint Superman, yes, he went back and helped end the first Crisis, yes, he’s aware of this world’s other heroes, and despite reservations, he’s left them to their things and focused on protecting his family while helping in secret as he can.

We’re introduced to a couple of elements I don’t believe have been dealt with in the New 52 Superman stuff (or if they have, it’s not been in the limited handful of stuff I have personally read/been made aware of). Intergang, and Hank Henshaw. Lois is working on something with this world’s Intergang (a dangerous proposition)…while Clark seeks to make sure that Henshaw’s spacecraft does not meet the same disaster it did in the world HE remembers.

Of course, as always…the world is different, and there are other forces at play, and this is only the first issue of four or six or some such (though I’d love for it to be an ongoing series).

There’s not enough here to truly display the historical significance of this version of Superman/Clark and Lois, or of their having a child, being married, etc. The significance comes from being an “old” fan, to fully appreciate the unspoken, unmentioned context that gives plenty of weight to this. I can only assume that otherwise–to a newer reader–this is nothing more than an alternate, older version of Superman. That this Superman is now what the “Earth-2” Superman may have been to others in the silver age comics, or the “pre-Crisis” Superman to readers in the time I was getting into comics.

This book can surely be enjoyable for new readers and old alike, but I am on-board as the older fan/reader, and appreciating this bone I’ve been tossed, as SOMETHING for me that isn’t New 52 or some “out of continuity” one-off.

The ’90s Revisited: Action Comics #761

actioncomics761For a Thousand Years…

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: German Garcia
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Seps: Wildstorm
Letterer: John Costanza
Associate Editor: Maureen McTigue
Editor: Edddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $1.99
Cover Date: January, 2000

This is one of those fairly “one-off” issues, the sort I tend to quite enjoy, despite being one who thoroughly enjoys a rich “continuity.” While cover-dated as January 2000, this came out in 1999, and is one of the later issues of the ’90s run on the Superman titles that has really and truly stuck with me through the years.\

While there’s stuff with ongoing plot details, the heart of this issue is about Wonder Woman recruiting Superman to assist an ongoing battle of the gods. Unfortunately, the two find themselves stuck–they cannot return home until the war is over…and they learn that war can last for a very, very, very long time.

I quite like the cover of this issue…at least compared to the main interior art. The art isn’t bad, mind you–but it’s a bit less detailed and more cartooney than I remembered. Beyond that, I’m neither put off nor enamored by the art–it does what it should conveying visuals of the story, it just doesn’t blow me away in and of itself.

The story is what really makes this issue stand out in my memory, such that I had but to see the cover to know this was the issue the story was in, and recall the overall plot. This is the Superman I grew up on, and hold to be “my” Superman: the one who is great friends with Wonder Woman, but extremely sure of himself and his relationship with Lois. That what he had with Lois was essential to who he was, and not something casually set aside for some woman who also happened to be “more than mortal” or some such.

I like the epic-ness of the issue, though it’s a bit far-fetched in a lotta ways, especially in this “era” of Superman. At the same time, it fits–as there had already been hints–if only in Kamandi: At Earth’s End and the DC One Million stuff–that suggest Superman would go on to have an extremely long lifespan. I honestly don’t recall how much “fallout” there was from this issue–but there was some, I’m almost certain.

Despite plenty of attention given to the supporting cast, this issue is a fairly good stand-alone issue, if plucked by itself from a bargain bin. For me, it’s one of the stand-out issues of the 1990s-era Superman run, of all the ongoing titles, simply FOR its dealing with the Superman/Wonder Woman/Lois “triangle” and (to me) strongly affirming where the characters stand with each other.

Superman #2 [Review]

Flying Blind

Script & Breakdowns: George Perez
Pencils & Inks: Jesus Merino
Colors: Brian Buccellato
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: Perez & Buccellato
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

From the very first look at this issue–the cover–there’s something that’s been missing for me for a long, long time from Superman comics. I can’t quite put my finger on it, put words to it…but I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with just really liking the look of this new costume as shown here. Maybe it’s just simply that I like Perez‘ art over so much of what I think of with a lot of Superman stuff in recent years and so the cover grabs me. This also seems like the sort of cover, somehow, that “fits” an early issue of a new series, and whatever else to it I can’t find words for…I just simply like this cover.

The interior visuals are high quality as well, and I can’t help but think some of that’s gotta be Perez doing the breakdowns, which makes things fit the story moreso than if the writer and artist were working far more independently of one another. Paging through the issue again, I really can’t find anything that particularly bothers me about the visuals, that isn’t attributable to a generic creature/antagonist or keeping with a “newish” younger look to Clark Kent.

The story itself is good, with all the elements that I’ve tended to enjoy about a Superman comic. And for what seems like the first time in too many YEARS, Clark Kent is actually a part of the Superman story again. Maybe not a huge part, and it’s too soon for me to have much hope of any great emphasis being placed on the Clark Kent personality…but Clark is there, is a part of the story unfolding, and for now, that’s a marked improvement over things during the New Krypton era of the previous DC Universe. I really enjoy that we have Clark, Lois, Jimmy, and Superman all playing parts in the overall story. Cat Grant even appears here, and we at least have a mention of Perry. There’s even a sense of continuity here, that Superman’s got a past, even though in some ways this is like a new beginning of his career. He comes off as a bit unsure of things and yet confident enough to do what he’s gotta do.

As we open the issue, Superman’s awaiting information from Sam Lane, who remains distrustful of the man of steel from their prior encounter (in the “5 years ago” story going on in Action Comics right now). We then transition to Lois and Clark discussing their encounter at the end of the previous issue before returning briefly to General Lane, and then Superman encountering the “monster” of this issue–a creature that everyone but him seems to be able to see. After getting knocked around by the creature, Superman of course figures out a way to deal with this threat, in a fight that rages across 11 of the issue’s 20 pages. Finally, we cut to Superman recording an audio journal or log–his narration has not actually been internal this issue, as it originally appeared to be. This also allows for some more defining of the current relationship Clark has with Lois, and then we’re set up with a mild cliffhanger to lead into the next issue.

All in all…another great issue, which is quickly cementing this as a version of Superman I’d love to read long-term…and somehow, I’m even ok with Superman and Lois not (yet) being romantically involved here. It’s also great that rather than load the back of the issue with a preview I’m not even going to read (yet tend to be annoyed at having to page through to make sure there’s no other RELEVANT content to the issue in-hand), this issue has only a single page advertising Batman: Noel.

Though there’s obviously an over-arcing story building…this is the second issue, and we’ve already had two stories where amidst the other character interactions and details, we’ve had the beginning, middle, and end of a creature’s introduction and battle with Superman, rather than stretch either of these into 4+ issue arcs apiece.

Of the two main Superman books, this is by far my favorite for the story, art, and the feeling of actually getting my money’s worth in content. I expect Action Comics will read as a fast but engaging graphic novel, if you want an actual comic with serialized adventures of Superman, this is certainly the title to get. As an “old fan” I’m greatly enjoying this…but it seems there’s enough here that a new or lapsed reader would be able to figure stuff out fairly easily as well without missing out on anything.

Highly recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8.5/10

All-Star Superman #4 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: The Superman/Olsen War!

On this particular day in the life of Jimmy Olsen, the kid’s got his hands full with an evil Superman and a plan to save the world…question is, what will it cost him?

allstarsuperman004Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Frank Quitely
Digitally Inked & Colored by: Jamie Grant
Letters: Phil Balsman
Asst. Editor: Brandon Montclare
Editor: Bob Schreck
Cover Art: Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant
Publisher: DC Comics

I hardly even remember the previous issue, offhand. Thankfully, due to the nature of this series, one doesn’t really have to remember that issue to "get" and enjoy THIS one.

Jimmy Olsen here is working on a series of "For a Day" columns, in which he takes on certain jobs for a day, following them with a column about his experiences. The focal role he takes on in this issue is as Director of "P.R.O.J.E.C.T."

Of course, Jimmy being Jimmy, trouble ensues, resulting in the summoning of Superman to the scene, to bail everyone outta said trouble…though this, predictably, only leads to more trouble–and ultimately, a certain ‘friction’ between Superman and Jimmy.

The conflict becomes physical, and as the issue’s story-title suggests, we get to see Superman and Jimmy really go at it–while providing a semi-unique interpretation of yet another character, working it into the "All-Star" version of things in such a way that doesn’t interrupt status quo, and is left open to return later.

This issue is yet another example of how both Morrison and Quitely present a Superman comic that greatly differs from the current/ongoing main titles…and yet "gets" a certain essential aspect of the characters, telling stories that are possibly more fun and entertaining than those main titles. This may not be THE Superman that everyone seeks…but this version of Superman should be recognizable by anyone.

The art is clear and distinct–conveying exactly what needs to be conveyed. The visuals may not be "photorealistic," but they don’t need to be–they have a style all their own, that works very well for this issue–and the series as a whole.

While I am personally a fan of "continuity," this issue is argument in itself showing what can be done outside the bounds of "continuity."

Long-time Superman fan or newer reader, this issue–and the earlier issues of the series, as well–are very much worth picking up. If you don’t care for the main Superman books, this series is far enough removed that you needn’t worry about some infinite crossover or anything. Being approximately bi-monthly, the series puts less strain on the wallet, and each issue having a self-contained story, while carrying certain threads from one to another makes for a rewarding, satisfying reading experience.

Ratings:

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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