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52 Week #40 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good
Story Title: Man Ain’t Nothing But a Man

Steel vs. Lex Luthor (and a teaser on what’s up in Kahndaq)…

52week40Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Chris Batista
Inks: Rodney Ramos & Dan Green
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue is almost entirely focused on Steel, and his fight with Lex Luthor. Only the final two pages deal with anything else–Kahndaq and the worsening situation there (that likely will be picked up and run with before too long as the final quarter of this series kicks into high gear).

John Irons–Steel–arrives at the LexCorp building to confront Luthor over his role in the New Year deaths of thousands, as well as to rescue his neice from the evil businessman’s clutches. He’s got some help, though they split off to deal with various threats, ultimately paving the way for Steel’s personal confrontation with Luthor.

At face value, this is just one big fight-scene, though there are a few moments scattered throughout for characterization–particularly via characters’ interactions. This fight has been building for months…since the beginning of the series, really.

I for one really enjoyed this issue. I’m pretty sure the last time (in-continuity) that I really saw Steel in action–the John Henry Irons Steel, that is–was the end of the Superman: Man of Steel series or the Superman vs. Darkseid: Apokalips Now 4-5 years ago. I only recall seeing him become a literal "man of steel" in the earlier issues of this series, not actually using the armor he created for himself. As such, seeing the character suit up and dive into battle here was very, very welcome.

The writing’s about normal for this series…being a big fight-scene, there don’t seem to be any deep or nuanced bits of dialogue to dissect, just two men throwing down after building hard feelings over a course of the last 10 months or so.

However, whether intentional or just my reading too much into it, I’m reminded of one of the closing chapters of The Return of Superman where the characters are battling their way into the heart of Engine City to confront the Cyborg and have to face their own individual battles en route, while fighting for the larger single goal.

The art for this issue is quite good–I have no complaints with it, and actually enjoyed it. There’s a full-page shot of Steel that would make a great poster, and is the best I recall seeing the character since some of his earliest appearances in the 90s. I don’t recall offhand if I knew Batista‘s art prior to this series, but the name sticks now, and I certainly enjoy his art.

This issue’s story takes the full allotment of pages, leaving no room for an origin backup, which is more than fine by me. In that sense, we get a full "normal" issue’s-length on the Steel/Luthor story, with the Kahndaq sequence replacing the backup, keeping this issue as a whole from being "just" some wrongly-titled issue of Steel.

If you’ve not been along for much of the ride, not much to sell you on here; if you’re a fan of Steel, though, this is a great issue, if only to see him in-armor and in action. Otherwise, this is an issue for those in for the long haul with the singles.

We’re well past the half-way point, squeaking past the 3/4 point…and I’m strapping in for the final section of this particular roller-coaster ride.

Ratings:

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

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52 Week #36 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good
Story Title: How to Win a War in Space

The space heroes confront Lady Styx, Montoya’s spurred to action, and Supernova’s in a spot of trouble…

52week36Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Jamal Igle
Inks: Keith Champagne
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s a lot going on in this issue. We pick up with Lobo delivering the space-heroes to Lady Styx, and betrayal mounts. As the heroes face the threat posed by Styx, one of them falls, delivering on the expected death. On earth, Montoya comes to a decision on what to do about her friend, rather than sit around waiting for him to die without his dignity in the Gotham hospital. Finally, as promised on the cover’s ticker, we get to see Rip Hunter’s ‘secret location’ as well as glean a bit more information on Supernova.

I remember with earlier reviews of this series, talking about the slow build and hoping there’d be payoff later on; that establishment of a foundation was a necessary evil (well, they may not have been my exact words then, but they are now.) We get a fair amount of payoff in this issue, as well as some forward movement (if not outright teasing) of what’s to come in the near future.

I for one have quit looking for individual voices in scenes, content to know that the writers are all contributing in one form or another, maintaining a consistency from issue-to-issue. On that note of consistency, we get to see a logical progression of Lobo’s character, maintaining both what has been established of him in this series over the last 4 months or so as well as much earlier in the character’s existence, with a nice nod to a couple specials, even. There even seems to be some room to question some translation–I for one derived a bit of twisted amusement contemplating the authenticity versus some other motivation.

Montoya’s scene seems to straddle a nice line between the real and the fiction that is comic books–her frustration/desperation and sadness at what seems to be a foregone conclusion is blended with the supernatural that is commonplace in the comic book world, allowing a glimmer of hope that may not be realistic in terms of our real world…but it seems to fit very well into the universe we know of through this series.

Supernova and Rip Hunter are shown briefly–and for the moment weigh as the weakest part of the series for me at present. While I expect some cool payoff later on, right now I find that I’m just not that interested in Supernova as a character–I don’t feel anything’s really known about him, and other than "teases" as to identity (and I for one have not picked up on clues that apparently have been dropped here and there, nor "gotten" any that I’ve spotted) there seems to be very little TO the character as yet. It certainly doesn’t help when so few pages have been afforded the character thus far.

The art stays fairly subtle–it’s there, but doesn’t overstep its bounds; it serves the story without offending the eye. My one gripe visually would be the panel when Lady Styx first strikes Lobo–I can figure it out based on context, but without context it’s hard to clearly make out exactly what is happening there. Still, the complaint’s one panel of many, and may just be my own eyes.

Overall, this is another very good issue of the series, and reminds me that I do indeed enjoy the story and format, and look forward to next week’s issue.

The Origin of Power Girl
Writer: Mark Waid
Art & Color: Adam Hughes
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Michael Siglain

Another standard-ish origin. Pretty much a simplified version of the telling of what I’d already figured out from pre/during Infinite Crisis stories. Still not a big fan of these, though that DOES seem to be tempered in part on whether or not I’m (personally) familiar with the character. Visually, may be a treat for certain folks, but doesn’t appeal to me. Still, it’s two pages…hardly enough to "break" an issue…and it certainly beats the pages being used for ads.

Ratings:

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

52 Week #32 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Seven Days in Nanda Parbat

Ralph and snow don’t necessarily mix; Black Adam Junior and Sobek meet the Teen Titans; and the space heroes buckle down.

52week32Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inks: Drew Geraci
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Stephen Wacker & Michael Siglain
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue doesn’t bring anything new to the table format-wise. It’s like a prime-time TV series…you get some intro, you check in on various characters in their present situations, the credits roll, and you’re off. If you’ve been following the series, this should be quite familiar to you; if you’ve not been following the series, you’re probably not gonna find anything here to change your mind.

At this point–six weeks over the "hump" with 20 left to go, I think it’s a safe bet that most anyone who’s going to follow the series in its serialized nature is onboard for the run, while those who aren’t going to jump in haven’t and won’t. So reading this, you’re in for the long haul, whether an issue/"episode" is slow OR fast-paced.

The familiar elements of the book are here: for this reader at least, the names in the credits are all recognizable, be it from earlier issues of this series or just seeing them as credits for other series. The cover dress is normal, the style of the credits is normal, the few pages here and there to "check in" on some subplots while one or another gets the most pages is there.

Is it GOOD, though? Yeah–Though I’m not familiar with Nanda Parbat, Rama Kushna, and so on, aside from seeing the names mentioned in the past, and any prior appearance of ’em in this series.

We get–as the focus of this issue–more development of the Ralph storyline as he and the helmet of Fate spend some time in Nanda Parbat, and Ralph seems to find some information he’s been seeking. We get to see the first(?) meeting of Black Adam Junior and Sobek with the Teen Titans, which in itself seems to further solidify the characters into the DCU as a whole and see that prior actions–"sins of the father," if you will–indeed have consequences. We also get to check in on the space heroes as they continue to realize the seriousness of their situation and what they’re going to have to face.

So the story advances on at least these three long-running plotlines, and by the series’ format, the whole story moves forward as a result.

Visually, I can’t complain about the art. I’m not terribly familiar with Olliffe or Geraci, though I’m sure I’ve seen the names before. Regardless, the art seems solid; everyone looks consistent and the visuals enhance the story.

As a whole, the whole package comes together as another solid issue of this title; nothing to spur one to drop it in itself, but nothing to convince a new reader to jump on based on this issue alone.

The Origin of Blue Beetle
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Ed.: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Ed.: Jeanine Schaefer
Editors: Wacker & Siglain

I actually learned some new information from this 2-pager. In and of itself, the art’s fine, and the writing’s fine. I’d still rather get a couple extra pages of story, but that’s a personal preference. Though BB’s not playing any major role in this series, this origin seems to sum up the main points of what I assume is the unfolding story in the character’s own new title, which ever so slightly piques the interest in this reader.

Ratings:

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

52 Week #28 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Beyond the Black Stump

Batwoman’s back, Tornados show up, and a check-in ‘n revelation in the goings-on of the lost-in-space heroes (and heroine).

52week28Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Drew Johnson
Inks: Jack Jadson, Rodney Ramos & Ruy José
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Stephen Wacker & Michael Siglain
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

After the ‘revelation’ that Montoya and the Question stumbled onto last issue, the two are back in Gotham City to contact Batwoman, and make her aware of what is prophesied to transpire with her involvement. We get a look at a group of people apparently playing with parts of the Red Tornado…truth be told, I’m not terribly sure what’s going on there. Finally, just earlier this week I’d been thinking about how it’s been a number of weeks since we got to check in with the heroes-lost-in-space…and voila! Here they are again…though a different light is cast on Lobo and the entity they’re facing in combat.

Overall, I am enjoying this series. Just over halfway in, it seems we’re into the thick of things, stuff’s happening, and there’s a number of questions cropping up as well as pointers at the title holding more significance than simply being a one-year/fifty-two-week periodical.
A certain pace seems to be in place, and being this deep into the series, it’s no longer as unfamiliar or unexpected as it seemed in the beginning.

This issue in particular I’m not nearly as thrilled with: I don’t care at all about this Batwoman character, and if I recall the previous issue correctly, there was a certain logic-jump that seems rather "forced" to me (isn’t BatGIRL’s surname Cain?)

I’m also not familiar enough with the Red Tornado to particularly care at the ‘cameo’ situation in this issue.
Structurally, this series could greatly benefit–in my opinion–by an introductory page to remind us of where things were left with certain characters when we last saw them, given the number of pages between appearances.

Visually, nothing jumped out at me; the art is solid and on the whole, it works very well for me; no complaints from me on that.

This is definitely an issue that will likely only really appeal to those already following the series; there doesn’t seem to be anything that in this issue singly that greatly affects the greater DCU, and doesn’t seem to particularly stand all that well on its own without the ongoing context of the series-as-a-whole.

The Origin of Catman
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Dale Eaglesham
Inker: Art Thibert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Ed.: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Ed.: Jeanine Schaefer
Editors: Wacker & Siglain

Not a bad couple of pages; this pulls together the different portrayals of the character and makes for a singular narrative of the character, acknowledging both the ridiculous/goofy past and the sharper current stuff. The art’s attractive, and as far as these origin segments go, this fits right in with the rest.

I still would prefer a single special with nothing but origins, in exchange for a couple more pages of actual story per issue, though.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Booster Gold #14 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Stars in Your Eyes, Part 2

Booster and a questionable ally seek the point in time at which to stop the Starro infestation before the whole of Time can be infected…a feat that may have a large cost to accomplish.

boostergold014Writer: Rick Remender
Penciller: Pat Olliffe
Inker: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Chris Batista and Mick Gray
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue begins with a Booster Gold trapped in a sea of malevolent starfish intent upon taking control of the hero. Showing some smarts some don’t credit him with, Booster quickly escapes, but finds that his challenge might just be insurmountable–Starro has (through Rip Hunter) gained access to the Timestream itself and is taking over, eradicating from existence anything and anyone who might be able to stop him. Finding an unexpected ally, striking a (figurative) deal with a lesser of the two evils, and utilizing access to the Timestream, Booster fights back, risking not only his life but the whole of free-thinking reality to try to save Rip Hunter and set time right.

While certainly not my favorite Booster story, this issue certainly wades in deep with the sort of adventure the "All-New" (as opposed to "Pre-Infinite Crisis") Booster Gold is meant for. The story has some decent moments, characters are believable (even if I didn’t know before who a certain villain was prior), and shows that while maintaining an ongoing story it is very possible to have stories done in less than six chapters. This is a solid story, and well worthwhile for Booster Gold fans (or fans of Starro).

The art is of strong quality. I have no real complaint with it, as characters are all unrecognizable and distinct, there’s a good amount of detail (especially if you look closely at points), and the story comes across nothing but enhanced by the visuals. A panel on the last page in particular–while perhaps not entirely true to that character–almost made me laugh as my mind fills in the blanks from what we’re shown.

I’m sure you could find issues better than this within this series and others. But honestly? You could do so much worse than this issue. If you can find the previous issue to go with this, I recommend snaggin’ both for a good, simple two-issue read.

Ratings:

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

Booster Gold #13 [Review]

Quick Rating: Not Bad
Story Title: Stars in Your Eyes, Part I

Booster & Michelle vs. Starro-Rip in a battle with huge consequences.

boostergold013Written by: Rick Remender
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inks: Jerry Ordway
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Chris Batista & Mick Gray
Publisher: DC Comics

We open this issue with an image of Superman being punched to the ground, as Booster and his sister move in to save a life Superman (would have been) unable to save. Booster explains why they can’t just save everybody, and the two return to Rip’s lab, only to find Hunter with a starfish…er…Starro Spore hugging his face. The possessed Rip heads into the timestream, and it quickly becomes apparent that Starro has taken over Everything. Booster and Michelle head into the timestream themselves, set on preventing Starro’s takeover. The two find out how the Starro Spore came into contact with Rip, as well as just what it means to face a world that Starro has conquered…and Starro reveals something rather personal to Booster.

This feels like a pretty "standard" sort of issue for this title. The story fits the characters: we have an opening that showcases Booster & Michelle in action doing their time-travel set-things-right-one-life-at-a-time thing. We’re then introduced to the beginning of the primary story, and thrown into the action. This is what Booster’s supposed to be doing, at least as the premise of this title as set up over a year ago, so no problems there. On the whole, this feels like an issue of Booster Gold, the Greatest Hero You’ve Never Heard Of.

The art’s good, as well–no real complaint there. It’s not quite a match for Jurgens‘ art…but it’s darned close, and having had a few weeks since reading my last issue and not thinking about it going in, the difference was not particularly noticeable–which I feel is a good thing. Visually, this book certainly holds its own in terms of definite quality. I also have to give it credit for consistency, as I did not once think to myself anything or anyone looked funny or out of the ordinary.

On the whole, though, this feels like a so-so issue. It’s good, don’t get me wrong–but it’s not quite up to what I’ve come to expect of this title. There weren’t any scenes that made me smile, or wax nostalgic, or any of those things that have made so many of the other issues such great reads. Though I’m familiar with the existence of Starro, the character is not a character I’m all that familiar with in particular. Nor am I at all interested in the character. Having such a character as the villain of the piece lessens my emotional investment in the story–as does knowing that this is only a two or three part story, and then I believe Jurgens returns to do both story and art…which leaves me very confident not much of consequence will happen in this story (except perhaps Booster figuring out what was revealed to the readers at the close of Johns‘ tenure on the book).

I certainly will not recommend against this issue…but it’s not an example of what’s made me so enjoy the previous issues thus far.

Ratings:

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Booster Gold #12 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good
Story Title: Vicious Cycle

Booster & Michelle continue to “fix” time…

boostergold012Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencil Art by: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Jurgens & Rapmund
Publisher: DC Comics

This second chapter picks up with Booster and his sister in the Batcave, at the mercy of Alfred–Batman’s butler…who intends the heroes stay put until his master returns, and holds a shotgun to back up his words. With a little help from Skeets, the two manage to abscond with some necessary (and perhaps not-so-necessary) resources, and continue their mission. Of course, though simple enough conceptually, their plan’s execution is a bit wanting, resulting in some further complications.

Dixon‘s writing portrays the characters quite well, and seems a perfect fit for a brief excursion into the Bat-corner of the DCU for this tale. Everyone seems to be in-character, and we’re provided with a number of cool “moments” and some fun nods to longtime fans (I assume plenty of people can identify with Booster in some of his comments about The Car, for one).

Jurgens & Rapmund continue to keep me impressed on the visuals. I really can’t find anything about the art that doesn’t work for me. From the opening page to the closing cameo panels…everyone looks spot-on, and that leaves me to simply enjoy the pretty art with a fun story.

All in all, another good issue of this series. While perhaps “just” a fill-in story between major creative lineups, the issue doesn’t feel like filler–it continues the basic premise of the series, and even sets things up for potential stories down the road a bit should anyone choose to follow up on certain points.

As the 2nd chapter of a 2-part story, this isn’t the best single issue to jump in on…but if you can find #11, the story makes a nice, fun point to jump on-board, and get a done-in-two story without needing to jump in for 6-some issues.

Recommended.

Ratings:

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

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