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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

Red One #1 [Review]

redone001Welcome to America, Part 1

Script: Xavier Dorison
Pencils & Colors: Terry Dodson
Inks: Rachel Dodson
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

I had an itch last week to try something new. I saw several #1s and have noticed others in recent weeks, so figured what the hey, I can try SOMETHING new. And after seeing a bunch of variant covers for Chrononauts, I opted for something withOUT a ton of variants so went with Red One. I actually didn’t pay attention to the price–I’m so used to $3.99 that I figured as an Image comic this would at least be $3.50 (since Image books seem much more reasonable about their price creep). Noticing this is a $2.99 book is a huge mark in the “positives” for it.

The issue opens on a film premiere…a film of the “adult” variety. The primary actress is on-site, though the premiere has been picketed and she’s essentially chased off by the crowd seeking to turn her from her ways. Leaving, her car is attacked by a figure from an overpass and the car crashes…and she’s left to burn. Later in Moscow, a female agent is recruited to go to the US. She will become a “super-hero” to rival The Carpenter (the vigilante that caused the death of the adult film star). She’s provided a cover identity and equipment and a starting job to get situated in the US…though she has other “talents” that help. Once she meets with her contact and gets a costume she’s pretty much ready to go…though the costume isn’t the exact fit that was intended.

While the cover was a bit offputting–I’m not really into comics going for blatant sex appeal–the back cover’s question “What happens when America’s greatest superhero is a Russian spy?” sold me. I was curious.

On reading the issue, the story and art work very well together providing a pretty dense experience–plenty of dialogue, and the layouts are primarily small panels–many pages carrying at least 6-7 panels, some with 10. As I read primarily for story but appreciate art when it works well…this was a real treat. I’m not exactly a fan of the Dodsons, though I’m familiar with them from past stuff I’ve read–but I do like the look of this book. There’s no prior history of any characters for me to compare their work/interpretation to, so it just IS.

And the story’s concept is a good one…as said, it was the elevator pitch posed on the back cover that did “sell” me on checking this out. I don’t know that I’d ever heard of Dorison…which left the concept to be that much more impressive as I was taking a shot on (to me) an unknown.

I like that even though this could have gone for gratuitous visuals it still leaves plenty to the imagination…which allows the story to be itself as a story and draw one in. That the issue takes longer to read for so much packed onto each page is a welcome change-up from full and double-page splashes and multiple pages of blown-up visuals with little text to slow one from flying through the pages simply soaking in the images. This issues is far more worthy than most $3.99 books of the price point and yet it’s only $2.99.

I by far prefer collected volumes for most of my comics these days, and Image doing so many vol. 1s for only $9.99 provides a great entry point to the format…even a $14.99 “regular” volume with 5-6 issues makes for a darned good price (especially compared to the more expensive volumes from certain other publishers. Given that, I don’t know if I’ll stick with this for the long haul as single issues…but it’s certainly got my interest with this issue such that I’ll be very likely to pick up the first collected volume in a few months and go from there.

X-Men #7 [cxPulp Mini-Review]


Review posted to cxPulp.com
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Overall: 4/5

X-Men: Second Coming #2 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

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

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