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From the Archives: Superman #650

superman0650Up, Up, and Away! (part 1)

Writers: Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Nachie Castro
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover Artists: Terry & Rachel Dodson
Cover Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

[ This review originally written for and published at comiXtreme/cxPulp some time back while the issue was new–within the first days to a week that the issue was available for sale. ]

It’s been a year since Superman apparently disappeared, and the fine folks of Metropolis have moved on, though many take an evening to revisit the past, watching a retrospective on the life and times of their favorite son. Among the spectators are Lois Lane and Clark Kent, who discuss the authenticity of the retrospective with a couple different viewpoints. Shortly after, other familiar elements of the Superman story are reintroduced–Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, Perry White. A familiar "villain" is introduced here as well–one that may be familiar to older readers, but I’m not sure this character has appeared in the Superman comics since the mid-80s reboot. As this villain is attended to, we as readers are clued into at least part of why Superman has been absent for a year.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this issue. I’ve been concerned at the idea of "my" Superman–that is, the character (re)introduced in Byrne‘s Man of Steel mini-series–being shuffled off to the side in favor of yet another/different reimagining of the character. While this is only the first of an 8-parter that re-establishes the character post-Infinite Crisis, the writing team of Busiek & Johns has assuaged some of my concerns as several aspects that have defined the character and supporting cast for the last 18+ years are re-established here. However, there seem to be a number of minor or subtle shifts that distance things from the past, settling the characters very much in a sort of "timeless" present.

Busiek wrote my favorite Superman story in 2004’s Superman: Secret Identity. Johns on the other hand has written some other very compelling stories that I have really enjoyed over the past several years (including pulling me into following The Flash for 30 issues after never previously caring for the character). That said, both writers have a lot to live up to in my eyes, and for the moment, I’ll cautiously advance the idea that yes, they have lived up to those high standards.

The writing here is clear and definitely gets across the idea first of the broad strokes of Superman’s history that just about anyone will be vaguely familiar with (whether you know the character solely from last month’s issues, the Christopher Reeve films, Smallville, Lois & Clark, a parent/grand-parent’s stack of older comics, or just picking up on elements from years of the character’s suffusion of popular culture. If this is the first-ever comic starring Superman that you’ve read, you’ve got yourself a good starting point. If you’ve been following these comics for 20 years, you’ve got a good read that revalidates the character for the present, showing that both the old and newer elements can come together in a single well-written manner that gives us a story of Superman.

Offhand, I am unfamiliar with Pete Woods‘ art, but this issue makes for a good introduction. Everything seems nice and clear/clean–reading along with the story, the art shows exactly what is going on and pretty much just does it’s job of enhancing the written word to contribute to the overall look and feel of the issue. The art’s not perfect–but very little is. The main quibble I have is the depiction of the S-shield; it comes across a bit too "shiney" or metallic for my own tastes.

However–whether in Woods‘ art itself or the coloring (or both)–this issue somehow has a "brighter" feel to it than a lot of recent DC issues–by design or not, this lends itself to this being an upbeat, bright start to a new "generation" of Superman.
I very much recommend this issue, whether you are a new, old, or an on-the-fence reader.

superman0650_blogtrailer

Action Comics #900 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

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

Superman: World of New Krypton #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: World of New Krypton Part One

Superman begins his new life on New Krypton by getting to know a bit of his new surroundings as he is tasked with choosing a Guild to belong to.

supermanworldofnewkrypton001 Writers: James Robinson and Greg Rucka
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Gary Frank with Brad Anderson (variant by Ladronn)
Publisher: DC Comics

We open this issue on Superman’s solo journey from Earth to New Krypton. Arriving, Superman is confronted by locals informing him that Zod wishes to meet with him–Superman declares that his family comes first and proceeds to his Aunt’s home. Here he declares his intention to live amongst his people on New Krypton as a Kryptonian, leaving Earth behind. As such, he must choose a guild and in general adjust to Kryptonian customs as just another guy in the crowd, since he’s nothing special on a world where everyone has his super-powers. After exploring a bit and meeting with Zod, his guild is chosen and we’re left with a Superman facing a future as a Kryptonian with other Kryptonians.

The art here is not bad, but I’m not terribly thrilled with it. It just lacks the detail/feel or something that I get from other artists like Jim Lee, Dan Jurgens, and Gary Frank (That the cover is a Frank image allows for that much more an immediate comparison). The story is conveyed, we can see a range of expression in characters’ faces where called for and so on, so the art is simply not to my personal taste/preference.

The story is solid. While I haven’t entirely bought into the seeming suddenness of Superman’s decision to pursue this course of action–it’s felt fairly forced/arbitrary like plopping playing pieces where-ever one decides on a gaming board and then throwing some almost arbitrary reasoning to the placement–I can’t deny the potential this story has. It’s been nearly two decades since we last had a story exploring a world without a Superman–but that story was a world which had lost its Superman to death, not one “deserted” or “abandoned” by its hero. Either way, this is the series that follows Superman as he deals with leaving Earth behind in order to live with his people, seeking to protect them from a threat that they don’t want to acknowledge.

On the one hand, this may not be the best point to jump on-board without the context of Brainiac or the branded New Krypton story, if one understands simply that Superman is beginning another “quest” that involves his going to and living on this planet of Kryptonians, this shouldn’t be too bad a point to start into things.

As only the first issue of twelve, it’s hard to say where things will go. For now, I’m taking this simply as another Superman book, and do look forward to seeing how the character handles this new year-long status quo.

Ratings:

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

Action Comics #890 [Review]

The Black Ring, part one

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: David Finch, Joe Weems & Peter Steigerwald
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

This issue opens with Luthor strung upside down over the edge of a building…many, many stories above the ground, being threatened. He takes it in stride, though, knowing that if they wanted him dead, he’d already be so, and that his captors want something else. While he waits to see what that is, he reflects on how he wound up in this position…from his deputization as an Orange Lantern during the Blackest Night, to his growing obsession with learning the secret of the rings–any ring, but particularly the black ones–as reflected in a conversation he has with “Lois” before he gets ready to suit up (remember, he has that goofy purple and green battlesuit) and head off in search of a ring.

The story is fairly reasonable…after having access to such incredible power, Luthor naturally would not want to give it up…and being stripped of it, would naturally seek to get it back. That it was an orange ring (avarice/greed) makes this all the more fitting. And as Luthor is supposed to be this evil genius, one of the smarter men on Earth in the DCU, he’s likely to find a way to at least get close to a ring again. This makes for an interesting status quo, and a show of actual repercussion from the recent event. Though I’ve yet to see any numbers or time-frames…no one has said “for this arc” or “for the next year” or anything regarding how long…Lex Luthor is presently the star of Action Comics for awhile, as Superman is embarking on a lengthy walk across America in the main Superman book under Straczyinski‘s direction.

The art is familiar…I got fairly used to Woods‘ work during the New Krypton stuff. Something about the style works a lot better for me here with the Luthor cast than involving Superman/Kal-El. And even apart from comparisons…it looks good here. Nothing to really complain about.

Though this is issue #890 of Action Comics, it’s essentially Lex Luthor #1. As first issues go, it’s not bad…though one jumping in totally fresh might lack info about Blackest Night, and one should note that this takes place–apparently–after the events of July’s Superman #701 which I assume is when Superman will leave everything behind to walk across the country. This is very much a “spin-off” of Blackest Night and not just some arbitrary “new title.” It continues Luthor’s story and does not try to reinvent it. The cover even sports the Blackest Night trade dress, albeit with the word “Aftermath” added.

If you’re a fan of Luthor, this is a good point to jump on and dig in. However, if you’re “only” a fan of Superman and only want to read about the adventures of Superman himself, this is not a book for you.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Superman: World of New Krypton #12 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Superman: World of New Krypton #11 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

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