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Adventure Comics #8 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

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The Rest of the Stack: Second Coming, Superman, & Deadpool

When I want to touch on more than I care to review, I post “mini-reviews” under this heading. These, after all, ARE the rest of my stack for the week.

X-Men – Second Coming: Prepare #1 –  I got back into the X-Men comics for a short time a couple years back for the Messiah Complex story. I don’t think I even really meant to, but I wound up picking up the one-shot that kicked the story off, and found myself interested enough to follow it through the various books. I even followed some of the books for a short time after, taking in the new direction of the X-Men stuff (and the milestone issues of X-men and Uncanny X-Men). I passed on Messiah War, though I still hold some small hope at eventually acquiring the hardback to get to read that story. This preview is very underwhelming in and of itself, but the preview art, the slight bit of characterization given of Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, and Cable pricked something within me that now has me on the fence about picking up this arc. The “reference materials” in the back of this issue seem to be reprinted from various other works–though as those had been freebies as well, I’m not bothered by it, and they are pertinent to this current stuff. This was a free issue, and there’s a chance it might have done its hoped-for job with me. Time will tell.

Superman #697  – I’m tired of the current Mon-El stuff. I don’t care for the costume–at all, not just the recent changes–and the way the character’s been handled…I just don’t care for the character. There’s not a huge case of dislike, just a case of disinterest. I feel like I SHOULD like the character, but I don’t. This is yet antoher issue of Superman in which Mon-El is the stand-in, though we do see a bit of personality and authenticity here when he admits that he wasn’t ready to take Superman’s place. Though the story and art are not to my liking in general–they just don’t appeal to me–possibly my largest complaint is the gratuitous near-nudity, and general explicitness of a sexual relationship Mon-El’s involved in, which seems to be something that wouldn’t be shown in such detail between Superman and Lois, and does not strike me as something that needs to be anything more than alluded to in general. It looks like Adventure Comics (#8 continues the story from this issue) is becoming little more than an extension of this book…but if that speeds getting this story over with and Superman back into his own title, I’ll be more than happy for that.

Deadpool #20  – After what has seemed at points to be longer than 4 weeks but less than 8 weeks between issues, this title now has reached a 3-parter being told in 3 weeks of 3 consecutive issues. Though I enjoy Deadpool, and am leaning toward a consideration of choosing a single Deadpool title to follow (and this one’s in the lead should such a decision be made), I’m still not a fan of Hit-Monkey or Hitman-Monkey or whatever the character is. I do like that this issue saw the return of Deadpool’s hallucinations–to great effect, I might add. I also like the fact that Spider-Man clues in on and confronts Deadpool about his apparent fear early in this issue, as it addresses a question I had…and was wondering if Spidey was gonna just get screwed over (er…that is, if the character hasn’t already been that way for a couple years now). This is the best (and MOST) of Spidey I’ve read in awhile, and I appreciate the opportunity to read the character as himself, without having to face the changes wrought in that infamous story. Definitely a worthwhile issue for Deadpool fans; not sure it’s a selling point in and of itself for new readers, though. Probably’d also be enjoyable for Spider-Man fans as well…especially those avoiding the Amazing Spider-Man for one reason or another.

Superman #696 [Review]

Man of Valor part three

Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

I continue to read this book, though I’m a bit anxious to see if it improves once Superman (assumably) actually returns to it. Mon-El is a character I’ve never cared for all that much–what little I’ve known of him–and given that, I much preferred him as “Valor” from the early 1990s. But that’s from a different continuity and reality, apparently…at least since Infinite Crisis…so we’ve got what we’ve got. Mon-El–despite being written by James Robinson–remains almost entirely uninteresting (aside from the fact that I look forward to him facing off with General Lane). I’m also not much more interested in the Guardian. After the set-up of his apparently having a “daughter” to care for–who has hardly been referenced in I-don’t-know-how-long) and the confusion I have as to his identity (to this day, I have not figured out if this Guardian is a clone of the Guardian I read in the 1990s Superman titles, or if this is that same Guardian, with his origin played up more than ever before). Yet, I don’t really care enough to find out, as neither option thrills me. I also care very little for Nightwing and Flamebird. Despite their potential, there just hasn’t seemed to be much in the way of satisfying development with them…I feel like they’re just pieces being pushed around a gameboard for some inevitable endgame or arbitrary “big sacrifice” or other role in coming events.

This issue continues the “Man of Valor” arc from Action comics…which at least in itself is kinda refreshing–though it renders the cover “shield numbering” fairly irrelevant (Parts 2 and 3 of this story are “shield #23” and “shield #25” respectively). Mon-El, Nightwing, Flamebird, and Guardian make sure everyone is ok after the blast that seemingly took ’em all out. Mon-El and Guardian send Nightwing and Flamebird away, preparing to hold off General Lane’s forces while the Kryptonians make their getaway…unfortunately, the two lovers double back fearing for their friends, but ultimately leave at Mon-El’s urging. While Mon-El and Lane trade words, Guardian finds someone apparently named “Control,” and Mon-El rushes to their side to face the horror of what has happened to this character.

I don’t know who this “Control” is, though I suspect she is just one particularly forgettable character that never made any real impact on me whatsoever in my reading. As stated above, the writing inspires no real sense of connection to any of these characters, nor any interest in them.

The art comes across as better than some recent issues, though it’s still not something I’d categorize amidst my favorite work.

I can’t help but wonder if this story being more of a “crossover” with actual Story Name and chapters crossing from Action Comics is an effort to tie things together, get things over with quicker, or both.

If you’re already following the events of this ongoing “World Against Superman” mega-arc or the Superman/Action Comics Man of Valor arc…this issue’s probably worth getting. Otherwise, nothing special or spectacular here to warrant picking up outta the blue.

Story: 5/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 5.5/10

The Rest of the Stack: Two Weeks of Other Books I’ve Read

Due to hitting the busy season at work, I basically took a week off from reviewing. With the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve had a chance to catch up a bit. As usual, these are mini/”capsule” reviews of books I picked up but am not writing out a full review for. This post is double-sized due to covering TWO weeks’ worth of books.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1
This issue’s a real treat. For the same price as a black-and-white issue of Tales of the TMNT, the issue is full-color. Best of all, it’s the classic #1 issue, now in color for the first time as a comic. (It’s been colorized at least once before, in the First graphic novel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Book I). The coloring looks quite natural, and it would have been awesome to see the original series re-issued in color…or at least, the first ten issues, the one-shots for each turtle, and Return to New York. For that matter, City at War as well. As-is, at the very least, this is a nice version of #1 to add to one’s collection without breaking the bank. Highly recommended for any TMNT fan, or anyone curious as to how the turtles’ story got started.

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #5
This issue continues the story of Deadpool, Zombie-head Deadpool and Dr. Betty facing Hydra agents trying to kill them to get the head themselves. A bit of cheesecake art to the issue, but that can be overlooked for an excellent scene in which Deadpool and Bill (not Bob–he insists he’s Bill, though Deadpool can’t seem to really tell the difference from his old buddy) have an exchange over the Star Wars series of movies. Suffice to say that reading this, one knows exactly where Deadpool stands regarding the trilogies. Overall another fun issue. I’m pretty sure the story wraps with issue 6, so at this point if you aren’t already following the book or able to get the first few issues, you’re probably just as well to wait for a collected edition. The story so far definitely seems well worthwhile for Deadpool fans, whichever way the story’s read.

Supergirl #47
This issue provides a good deal of backstory to Alura, and her courtship by Zor-El. We also see the character FINALLY acting out of real motivation that can be understood, instead of just coming off as a near-villainous witch of a character. Reactron is put on trial, and Alura is determined that he will be tried justly and not simply killed out of vengeance-seeking. Unfortunately, her fellow New Kryptonians don’t all share the sentiment, leading to some interesting character development. Though Supergirl is present in these pages, this is very much Alura’s story, with her daughter playing a minor role. The end of the issue has an interesting (in a way) revelation that does seem par for the course. Not a bad issue, but not wonderful. If you’re already following the title and/or the over-arching story in the Super-books, this’ll be just fine. It’s not really an issue to entice new readers, I don’t think. Not sure if it’s significant or just an oversight on someone’s part, but the cover lacks the “World Against Superman” banner the titles have been carrying lately, though this retains the red-shield numbering begun with August’s Codename: Patriot arc.

Flash: Rebirth #5
I’m pretty sure this started out as a 5-issue mini-series…I recall it seeming slightly “off” as I recalled Green Lantern: Rebirth being 6, and thinking the two ought to be pretty much the same length. This issue sees all the various speedsters team up, as well as a development that presumably “solves” whatever issue it was Wally’s kids were having with their powers…and we seem to have a new Impulse (given Bart gave up the identity to become Kid Flash back in 2003). This continues the “legacy” aspect of the Flash line. There’s a revelation that affects Barry’s past…as well as a very specific threat to his past. This is a sorta interesting issue, but on the whole, continues to be more “miss” than “hit” for me. GL: Rebirth dispelled my unease toward returning a long-dead character to an old status quo and really set up a great new status quo that worked everyone into the mix. This Flash: Rebirth has not at all sold me on any “WHY” Barry needs to be back, and simply puts things logically into place to ALLOW for the character being back, and incorporating pretty much everything else involving the Flash family of characters. Recommended if you’ve already invested in the first 4 issues of the series.

Uncle Scrooge #385
It’s great to be able to pick up this series now. I’d bought maybe 3 issues several years ago while it was being put out by Gemstone, but simply could not justify the $8 per issue, even if it was squarebound and double-ish-sized. This issue is fairly low-key, picking up from the previous issue. Scrooge, Donald, and the nephews continue to deal with Magica as she tries for Scrooge’s Number One Dime. Once things are wrapped up at the mine, Scrooge & Co. wind up looking for sunken treasure, and dealing with Magica AND the Beagle Boys. While not the greatest of comics, this is still a good, fun issue, and well worth getting if you’ve any interest in these characters.

Archie #603
The “Wedding Story” has taken a twist I didn’t expect: rather than being a 6-part exploration of Archie marrying Veronica, after 3 issues of that the story has switched to give us the story of what would happen if Archie married Betty instead. I’m really enjoying this “longform” story that not only takes more than a page to tell, but multiple issues. I’ve picked up the occasional Archie book through the years…but with stories like this, I might just stick around on a monthly basis.

Superman #694
This issue sees Mon-El’s “official” return to action as he re-reveals himself to the people who’ve thought him dead for awhile. This also debuts the “new” costume…which honestly seems a non-issue to me, despite the big deal being made of it. On the whole, it looks to me like the only difference is that Mon-El is now sporting a small “S-shield,” as he’s holding Superman’s place…and Blue shorts to contrast with the red costume (sort of a reverse-Superman color scheme). Probably the best part of the issue is the interaction with Connor and Ma, showing that Mon has a place within the Superman family of characters.

Image United #1
I have mixed feelings on this book. For one thing, something of this scale ought to have a huge multi-panel fold-out cover, such that all the primary characters are spotlighted…instead of one having to choose one of six segments of the picture as the cover to purchase. I chose the Savage Dragon segment, that character long being one of my favorite characters that I rarely read, though the Spawn cover was cool, too. The “jam session” of having each character’s creator doing that character’s visuals is a very cool thing, and a different take on doing a crossover project. The story itself seems to be a slow build and full of little but action (presumably to show off the blending of the different art styles). Being familiar with these characters for the past 16-17 years, the blended style worked well, and nothing really seemed all that jarring. Since this will surely be collected into a single volume eventually and my proclivity toward this type of variant/alternate covers…I’ll probably pass on the subsequent issues and snag the collected volume when that comes out, if I still have enough interest.

Son of Marvel Reading Chronology
This is one of those freebies that Marvel puts out on occasion, to try to hook one on buying more product. While I prefer the “Saga” issues (they’re free, and take far, far longer to read than any other single comics, and fill me in on stuff so I know what’s up overall without having to keep up on Marvel’s output in general), this guide is rather informative, showing what volumes are out there, in-print…and what they collect. As well as, of course, the order to read them for a chronological reading experience in-continuity. If nothing else, this has informed me that there are currently 10 hardcovers collecting Ultimate Spider-Man, so I know there are only 5 left that I want to try to track down. This is definitely a worthwhile guide if you can find it and not have to pay for it…or at least, please don’t pay much for it, as It is SUPPOSED to be FREE.

THE REST OF THE STACK #1

I’d love to be able to review every comic I read–for comixtreme.com as well as this blog. However, as a volunteer thing for which I’m not paid and yet devote considerable time, the effort it’d take would sap all the fun out of it. I still like to weigh in on new comics, throw my opinion and thoughts out there, and even just vent about something that strikes me that doesn’t merit a full review. As such, I’m going to periodically post one of these Rest of the Stack pieces to cover–as the title implies–the rest of the week’s stack of comics not covered by individual reviews.

I don’t know that I’ll post this on any particular schedule–I know that as soon as I would make an attempt to post this, say, every Monday then next Monday something will come up and I’ll have broken the schedule as soon as it was set, so I’ll just leave this to be something I’ll likely post after I’ve finished the week’s reviews, before the next week’s reviews are posted.

Red Circle: The Shield one-shot

This issue read really quickly, and somehow did not feel like there was much of a completed ending to it. Sure, it gives us the quick ‘n dirty origin/introduction of the character, but it felt like more of a bridge or stepping-stone to what I expect to see in the Red Circle ongoings than it did a full story in itself–unlike the Web or Hangman one-shots. Not bad, but somewhat disappointing on the whole. I’ll be interested, though, to see how this Shield character plays out within the DC Universe.

Flash: Rebirth #4

This issue gives a new look at the origin of the Speed Force which also provides a role for Barry and reason for him to be back. I’m curious as to where the “modern” Zoom has gone with the return of the “classic” character–if that’s been shown in this book, I don’t recall it. While I tend to enjoy Johns’ work and Van Sciver’s art, this series has been fairly disappointing when compared to its Green Lantern counterpart. I expect it’ll make more sense in two more issues when I have a full story in front of me, but for the moment it’s something I’m buying more for its potential than actual monthly enjoyment.

Wonder Woman # 35

My first question with this issue is–where’s the story title on the cover? I rather like those banners, and often find myself mentally keeping track of a story by the story chapter number moreso than the title’s number. Between the previous issue and this, I’m enjoying the dynamic between Diana and Dinah…and would certainly enjoy seeing Dinah a permanent co-character in this series. There are a few things to Wonder Woman I’m still sorting out, and it was a bit odd the character’s suggestion to Tom at the end of the issue. I recalled an interview with the writer where she said she’d be exploring that facet of the character a bit (or that’s the take-away I recall getting from the article), and then it made sense. Still…can’t quite bring myself to simply wait for the trade, as I’ve come to enjoy Simone’s take on Wonder Woman–both the character AND the title.

Superman #691

This wraps the 4-part “crossover” Codename: Patriot story, and it certainly does what “they” said it would do: the story has provided things that will reverberate throughout the various Super-family books for awhile. We do get to see exactly who Codename: Patriot is, and while it fits in the context of what’s been established in the Super books, I’m not all that thrilled with the “reveal.” It’s cool seeing some different opposing forces beyond Luthor and his minions, but I don’t really “buy” this character as an opponent…or at least, not in any original way.

Superman Annual #14

I don’t know if the “origin” of Daxam had ever been explored before…to MY knowledge it’s always just been said that Daxamites are like Kryptonians–super-powered by a yellow sun, but weak to lead instead of Kryptonite (and their homeworld is still intact). The explanation of the planet’s history here make sense and nicely ties the two together, while contextualizing Mon-El a bit more. It also provides for what’s going on in GL Corps presently with the incursion of the Sinestro/Mongul Corps and whatnot. Not a bad issue for its price…though very glad it was NOT a $5 issue. Seems a bit of a take-it-or-leave-it thing…but if one’s immersing one’s self into the Superman books lately, it’s definitely a worthwhile read.

Action Comics #874 [Review]

Suspicion!

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Pablo Raimondi
Inkers: Pablo Raimondi & Walden Wong
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue picks up with Superman having a bit of a tantrum on New Krypton at the fact that General Zod not only has been freed of the Phantom Zone but that he now lead’s New Krypton’s army. After fists fail, talking ensues, and Superman grudgingly seems to let things slide for now, though he makes known his misgivings.Back on Earth, Kryptonians–with a specific exception made for Superman–are banned, which sparks the new Flamebird and Nightwing into action as their clock is ticking (and a blurb informing readers to follow them into next month’s Action Comics). Superman and Lois visit his fortress while he ponders things, and then a voice from his past cries out, leading to the issue’s cliffhanger.

The story isn’t bad, but really lacks some “oomph!” I find myself actually bored by the New Krypton stuff, especially given the abrupt ending of the titled story while this still feels like it should fall under that heading. This story also feels like filler, just sorta moving pieces on the board around to force stuff into a new status quo for next month with the Superman family of books.

The art also is not bad, but doesn’t particularly thrill me. Not bad, but not spectacular. It gets stuff across that needs gotten across, but doesn’t begin to get in line to be art I’d specifically choose for Superman.

Origins & Omens

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Renato Guedes
Inker: Jose Wilson Magalhaes
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

This backup stars The Guardian, and basically follows him through some (for him) relatively normal activities in his new job as head of the Science Police. Some of his history is touched upon–particularly recent developments/revelations, with some hints of what may be in store for him given.

Though I don’t particularly care for Guedes’ art style, it works for me pretty well here–perhaps because it’s not Superman/Clark himself depicted but other characters I don’t have so firm an idea in my head as to what they look like. The story is basic, but then, six pages is hardly room for any great storytelling for the most part.

If you’ve been following everything New Krypton, or the “triangle numbers,” this is worthwhile, This is probably also worthwhile as a bit of a prologue to the new status quo for Superman and Action Comics to come. That the main story is shorted for the backup doesn’t exactly make the issue all that enticing.

Story: 6/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6/10

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