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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!

Superman (2016) #2 [Review]

superman(2016)_0002Son of Superman Part Two

Storytellers: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Gleason, Gray, Kalisz
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Early September 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

In a way, there’s not much to this issue. At least, in a simple way of looking at it, there are just several main things. First, Jon accompanies Clark–Superman–on a mission, to save an icebreaker. While Jon proves reluctant, he is shown–“live”–his father in action AS Superman. We also see that Clark is aware of what happened with the cat, and Jon confesses. They head home to allow Lois in on that. While Lois and Clark discuss the outing, Jon is joined by the neighbor girl, and they discuss things sitting in a tree before the branch they’re on breaks. She and her grandfather soon arrive at the Smiths’ door, where the adults’ meeting isn’t the greatest. Meanwhile, a Kryptonian energy signature is detected in Antarctica, drawing the attention of an entity not seen in quite awhile.

[Spoiler warning for further into the review]

I’m pretty sure I’ve had an issue with Gleason‘s art in the past. Assuming so, I feel like that’s made up for here. The style is not 100% to my preference…but it’s growing on me. Perhaps it’s not even the art, but the designs–elements such as the more familiar version of the “S” in the S-shield, or that Jon and the neighbors are new characters, or that I’m flat-out simply enjoying the Rebirth stuff in general so far. The art in general carries a sort of simplicity that is working well for me, as well as conveying the story in general. There’s plenty of other art stuff in that–especially the colors, that I’m liking. I never minded “the trunks” in Superman’s costume, but I’m appreciating this new look that kinda blends the classic with the new.

Story-wise, I’m really enjoying Superman as a father. Not just a father-FIGURE (we can go back 8 or 9 years to the stuff with Chris Kent for that) but an actual father…an older Superman (old ER, not “old”), with a 10-year-old son.

We’re still in early issues of this status quo…less than a year including the Lois and Clark series, and even including the Convergence issues. And this is “only” the 2nd issue of THIS series…and it feels like it. We’re getting development that feels natural and authentic (if a BIT quick), and as the STORY title indicates, the focus is on the SON of Superman…essentially, we’re seeing Superman in his own book as his son transitions from “kid who discovered he’s heat-resistant” to being active “out there” with the “S.” And we know that’s coming, in the Super-Sons book that’ll pair Jon with Damian (Robin), so Jon has to go from some kid who learns he can reach through fire to someone who can keep up with–and perhaps keep in line–Damian.

[Spoiler warning for further into the review]

Earlier in the issue, I wondered at what it was that was homing in on Clark, on the Kryptonian energy–and had my suspicion as to what it could be. Namely, that it would be interesting if it was a new version of a certain Kryptonian artifact…even though Clark did not have one in his fortress, nor did this Earth’s Superman in his (as discussed in the Superman: Rebirth issue). Seeing my suspicion borne out on the last page–and the LOOK of that last page–just made me smile.

[Final Spoiler warning for just below this line]

I love seeing the visored figure…and we’re presumably back to it being just what it looks like. I’ve–since 1993–always enjoyed stuff with the character, though didn’t care as much for what they did with it for and after the Imperiex stuff with Our Worlds at War in 2001…but any time you involve this character or the three contemporaries, I’m generally a sucker for it. I’d been used to the Eradicator’s later appearance…but seeing it back in this form is a real treat, and leaves me totally chomping at the bit for the next issue.

That an issue did that–it’s a great sign. I didn’t just passively “not dislike” this issue…I truly ENJOYED it. And seeing the last page as I did…reminds me how much I’ve missed in the Superman books, for years–aside from an all-too-brief blip, it’s been close to a decade.

Obviously at “only” #2, at “only” a chapter of the first arc that’ll be inevitably collected into a graphic novel/thicker format, I won’t say jump in on this issue. But I dare say that THIS is the title for lapsed Superman fans, those who were reading 10, 15, 20 years ago…even as it paves the way with a new character (Jon) from the new, dealing with events and a world born of the New 52, in which that Superman did exist, did live, did do the Super-thing.

I definitely recommend this title, and this issue just serves to solidify my being glad to be “back.” Anecdotally backing that–I have the issue pre-ordered as part of a “bundle,” but rather than wait for the end of the month, this copy that I read is a “duplicate” copy that I bought, at full price, just because I want to read new Superman stuff–that I’m enjoying–every week. (This being biweekly, alternating with Action Comics–which I’m also thoroughly enjoying–makes for a weekly, enjoyable Superman experience for the first time in ages!

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

JSA Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom [Review]

The Kingdom

Story: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Fernando Pasarin
Inkers: Mick Gray, Jack Purcell, Norm Rapmund & Fernando Pasarin
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Earth-2 Pin-Up: Jerry Ordway
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Fernando Pasarin)
Publisher: DC Comics

The main thrust of this issue follows several JSAers as they react to Gog’s “gifts”–reactions both positive and negative. Damage is very much in support of Gog–who, after all, healed his face. Others point out that Gog sent Power Girl to an Earth 2 where she was hunted as a traitor, and we see Dr. Mid-Nite and Sand both dealing with the negative repercussions to their being “cured” of what had seemed on the surface to be a curse. As “war” breaks out within the JSA, it appears that Gog might finally tip his hand, as we approach “The Seventh Day” which may or may not usher in–through Gog–the end of the world.

There’s a lot going on in this issue, and a lot of characters juggled. While it’s easy enough to lose track of everyone, Johns still manages to keep things engaging by focusing on several characters and let us see their arcs unfold in context of the larger whole. What began with the apparently simple premise a year ago of “Kingdom Come Superman arrives on New Earth” has become a lengthy, enjoyable epic that has drawn me back to the Justice Society and made the team a favorite. This is a story that will likely go down as one of the definitive Justice Society runs.

The art is–for the most part–well-suited to the story. There are a few points where characters appear a bit “off” (one panel has Superman looking like he ate too many burritos too quickly)…but as a whole, no significant complaint art wise. It’s easy to follow visually, and none of the characters seem unrecognizeable.

I’ve enjoyed these specials. While a bit pricey–both cover price, and simply by their very existence at all–I think they make for a great addition to the JSA narrative, and allow for far more than we could get with just the core title alone. It is unfortunate, though, as we have important events in these that are certainly key to the overall story, such that if one wants the full story they are essential and one will have missed a great deal reading “only” the core JSA title.

There’s a double-page pinup-style spread of the Earth-2 Justice Society included–I’m not sure I “get” exactly why it’s included…but it’s a cool little “moment” of that team sitting for team photo…there’s a lot going on in that one image that says a lot about the characters without dialogue needed…it would make a great poster.

All in all, a good package that–despite the higher cover price–feels like something special and important,and is worth the money paid. You could do so much worse by way of out-of-core-title tie-in specials in a major story.

Story: 8/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

JSA Kingdom Come Special: Magog [Review]

Thy Kingdom Come – Magog: The Real Me

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Dale Eaglesham & Mark McKenna)
Publisher: DC Comics

We get a look at the new (true?) Magog in this issue–the former marine known to the JSA as Lance Corporal David Reid. Reid was recently “killed” but immediately ressurrected by the entity known as Gog, and seems to be Superman’s worst fear come true, a sign of his “history” repeating itself. The story takes a break here to follow Reid/Magog to some old comrades, allowing for flashbacks to fill us in on his past and what they meant to him. As Reid lashes out at those who captured his old friends, he becomes more like the Magog known to readers of Kingdom Come.

The story is pretty straight-forward, and nicely fleshes out the David Reid character, filling in details hinted at but not fully revealed. We get the background to his motivation, and what makes him what he is at present. This adds depth not only to him, but to the Magog we know from Kingdom Come…and gives cause to see Reid’s potential here.

Once more I’m unfamiliar with the artist, so I have no point of comparison on quality. However, in terms of this story I have no complaint. The visuals follow the story, and there’s a nice level of detail that does not disappoint. The visual style is very much that of a super-hero comic book…showing Magog as a recognizeable figure, but distinctly contrasted with Alex Ross’s rendition as seen on the cover–like comparing a live-action product with the comic adaptation.

We’re also treated to a back-up story, focusing on:

The Secret Origin of Starman

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Lettering: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain

This back-up story fills us in on the origin of this latest Starman as well as his costume. The art is a real treat…no complaint there, as I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s also cool to see well ahead time that for however it’ll play into Final Crisis, that Legion of 3 Worlds has some bearing on how we got this version of Starman. I find it interesting the “mythology” I’m beginning to really notice with Starman, the way the various people to use the Star- name are linked…something quite enjoyable.

This backup does feel almost like it was crammed in, though…rushed to explain stuff before the overall Thy Kingdom Come / Gog story(ies) finish. Almost segmented TO get the information told where there may not be room in the main JSA series or even these specials to tell it otherwise.

On the whole, this was another strong issue, giving further background of major players in the Gog saga as we head (presumably) toward its conclusion soon.

I’m not sure this is essential to the story, but if you’re diggin’ the story and are interested in more about Magog and Starman and how they play into the ongoing saga, this issue’s worth picking up despite the higher price tag (justified, I suppose, by this being a special and not just a regular issue of a series).

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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