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Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Not Bad
Story Title: Yesterday’s Hero

The Legion members recount how a young Superman came to be part of their team…

legionofsuperheroesinthe31stcentury001Writer: J. Torres
Art: Chynna Clugston
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Rob Clark Jr.
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Cover Art: Steve Uy
Publisher: Johnny-DC/DC Comics

The initial draw for me to this issue was the price. The prospect of buying a new issue with no discounts at a bricks and mortar store for just over the $2 mark grabbed my interest out of principle (though I sheepishly admit to virtually ignoring all Johnny-DC books for the last couple years). It’s a first issue, it’s cheap, and it features characters I’m not terribly familiar with…so hey, might as well check it out, right?
The first thing I noticed with the issue was the paper quality. Very thin, and if it isn’t, sure feels like the classic newsprint from comics of days gone by…which explains the cover price.

The story is pretty simple and straight-forward: the Legionaires have conflicting views on what exactly it was that led to a young man of steel being part of their 31st-century team. We basically get several narratives from the characters, recounting a couple of quick adventures, collectively serving as a first-issue introduction-and-origin of the team and info about its starring characters.

We’re given a look at the Legionaires "interviewing" the young man of steel to see that he’s eligible to join (this seems vaguely familiar to me as something from one of the original Legion of Super-Heroes stories from way-back-when); and then a fight with the Fatal Five.

The art is also fairly simple and not terribly detailed (which is not to say there’s no detail), and somewhat manga-ish. I realize this is to have it fit with the actual cartoon this series is a companion to (though I’m not sure if the first episode’s aired yet). It’s not particularly my cup of tea so to speak, but it fits the tone of the book, the characters are distinct and recognizeable, and so I really can’t complain about it in and of itself.

I’m not sure how this book will go over with long-time Legion of Super-Heroes fans, as my primary knowledge of the characters comes from the first year of the current iteration in the mainline DCU, but while this is definitely much different from that, I found it to be entertaining enough. I’m not a huge fan of the "Americanized-manga" styling, and a seemingly-on-the-surface over-simplification of things (the perception of which has largely kept out of the Teen Titans animated and Teen Titans Go! comic series). But as a simple, fun story not bogged down in continuity, this definitely isn’t bad.

It’s also a self-contained "full" story, in a debut issue of a new series, that actually introduces the main/core team, gives a look at all the characters and interacts with them…which scores points in MY book.

This is worth checking out if you’re looking (at least) for a quick diversion from all the heavy seriousness of many other current fare, and wouldn’t be a terrible issue to offer to the younger crowd–or read WITH them. Nothing all that spectacular, but certainly NOT bad at all.

Ratings:

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

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Blackest Night: Titans #3 [Review]

“When Doves Cry”

Written by: J. J. Krul
Art: Ed Benes
Inks: Scott Williams & Ed Benes
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Rob Clark Jr.
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editors: Eddie Berganza & Brian Cunningham
Cover: Benes, Rob Hunter, & Rod Reis (variant by George Perez)
Publisher: DC Comics

In a way, when you get right down to it, there isn’t a whole lot to describe for this issue. The various Titans continue to deal with their respective Black Lanterns, who are dredging up some very specific and painful emotional reactions from the living heroes. However, as we see the Black Lantern Hawks accosting Dove, we witness an interesting reaction that is likely to play a key role in upcoming chapters of the Blackest Night event.

As a mini-series–as with the Batman and Superman ones that also ended this month–this doesn’t have a very satisfying conclusion, as we’re basically left with a lead-in to these characters joining the bigger party of the event now that their “foundation” and “connection” to the overall story has been established. While the incursion of the Black Lanterns was saved for the actual kickoff of the event with Blackest Night #1, this first wave of minis seem like they would have been better-served as either prologues, or triple-sized one-shots, to launch the respective characters into the event as a whole.

Despite that, as a reader not steeped in Titans knowledge nor invested in the ongoing series, it’s great to have a series that is reasonably accessible to chronicle the characters’ involvement in the event without having to have ongoing plots in the main book competing with the story elements of the event I’m following.

Donna Troy is forced to face her dead husband and child, and must overcome what her eyes tell her to act based on actual knowledge. Beast Boy faces the same challenge with his lost love, and has some self-realization in handling things. Dove (who seems to be the same character I recall being killed in Armageddon 2001 almost 20 years ago) is in a similar predicament as then, but doubled.

The visuals are very well-done, and really accentuate the story itself. The “big moment” of the issue with Dove is something that would not come off the same way with bad visual work. There’s also a bit at the end of the issue that really illustrates the way story and visuals work together in a comic in a way that isn’t possible with the same subtlety in a prose work.

As the final issue of a 3-issue arc, I don’t recommend this issue unless you can snag the first two; but taken with those first two and as its own story tied to Blackest Night, this is well worth your while. I suspect the older Titans fans more familiar with the characters and their history will appreciate things more; but for me, this has exposed me to characters I haven’t had much exposure to in awhile–if at all, and has put down groundwork for me to care about their involvement if they continue to play much of a role in Blackest Night.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Blackest Night: Titans #2 [Review]

Bite the Hand That Feeds

Written by: J. J. Krul
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Scott Williams & Ed Benes
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Rob Clark Jr.
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editors: Eddie Berganza & Brian Cunningham
Cover: Benes, Hunter, & Pete Pantazis (variant by Brian Haberlin)
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s a fair amount going on in this issue. Donna deals with the Black Lantern versions of her late husband and child, battling the emotions brought to the surface seeing them back. Dove deals with Black Lantern Hawk who has just killed her sister, a newer Hawk…and of course the implications of a recently-deceased individual in proximity to black rings. Beast Boy deals with the deception presented him, and the whole team winds up facing the imminent attack from old enemies newly risen as Black Lanterns.

This was a pretty good issue, though I didn’t “get” everything that was going on, not being overly familiar with many of the characters…even less familiar with their specific current status quo. However, that doesn’t detract much from the story, I don’t think–just that I’d get more out of it being more familiar with recent stuff. There’s plenty of forward movement story-wise (really, for the middle chapter of a 3-parter, that’s part of what’ll make or break the series). Everything introduced in the first issue that I can recall is followed up on, and we’re left with enough that it’s hard to believe there can be a complete story here with only 3 issues TO the mini.

The art by Benes is top-notch; really no complaint there. The characters are all recognizeable, and even in the yuckiness of the Black Lanterns, this is some of the best I’ve seen these characters…a state of affairs I’ve gotten rather used to in the case of Benes-pencilled works. I wonder just a bit at Williams not inking the entire issue…curious if it’s a timing issue or some such. Despite wondering, I didn’t even notice that UNTIL I specifically looked at the credits for this review, which is saying something (positive) about it in MY book.

This is a bit of a niche book; probably best suited for those familiar with the Titans side of the DCU and seeing how they’re affected by Blackest Night. But if you’re simply following Blackest Night itself, this issue (and the series it’s a part of) seems to serve as a good instroduction to key characters in the Titans family of books.

This is another high-quality issue, well worth getting in context of the above-referenced conditions.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Blackest Night: Titans #1 [Review]

When Death Comes Knocking

Written by: J. J. Krul
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Rob Hunter, Jon Sibal & JP Mayer
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Rob Clark Jr.
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editors: Eddie Berganza & Brian Cunningham
Cover: Benes, Hunter, & Rod Reis (variant by Brian Haberlin)
Publisher: DC Comics

I’ve been out of the Titans/Teen Titans loop for some time now. The issue opens with the various Titans observing Heroes Day–setting this on the same day as the opening of Blackest Night #1, as everyone is paying their respects to fallen heroes around the world. The Titans discuss lost allies, and even whether or not someone who once served as an ally should be memorialized alongside everyone else who had not betrayed the team. The argument leads Beast Boy to seek some alone time which makes him a perfect target for a particular Black Lantern to work with. The other focus to the issue is on the current Hawk and Dove, as they face an appropriate Black Lantern, who pushes a number of buttons for the duo.

The art for this issue is top-notch…I really enjoyed it, and never found myself wanting for clearer depictions of what’s going on. Benes is an artist wose work I’ve tended to enjoy since I “discovered” his art years ago on Superman. The entire creative team provides for a well-done visual that gets the story across very well.

I’m not familiar offhand with the writer, but found the story here to be perfectly solid. This is the tie-in mini I was least anticipating for Blackest Night, and had originally considered passing on entirely…but something to it actually pulled me in, and I’m glad I did not pass on it. My limited Titans knowledge was stretched a bit here, but with the current arc in Booster Gold, actually caught references and context that would otherwise have been lost on me. Some of the expositional dialogue in the early pages of the issue seems a bit strained, and yet is believable given the characters’ context.

I was surprised at the presence of Hawk and Dove, and am curious about the way dialogue danced around exactly what happened to the original Hawk (I’m unsure, for example, if post-Infinite Crisis the events of Armageddon 2001 still happened). Still, the timing of this issue’s release is fortuitous as I just a few days ago watched an episode of Justice League Unlimited starring the original Hawk and Dove, which added to my contextual knowledge and appreciation of the characters.

Overall, an enjoyable issue in itself, and I expect it’ll be even more enjoyable (or at least able to be further appreciated) by longer-time Titans fans or those more knowledgeable with the property than I.

Recommended for Titans (or really, classic Teen Titans, given the characters involved) fans, and/or those simply following the whole of the Blackest Night story.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Final Crisis #6 [Review]

How to Murder the Earth

Script: Grant Morrison
Art: JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, Marco Rudy, Christian Alamy, Jesus Merino
Colors: Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis
Lettering: Rob Clark Jr.
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: JG Jones (sliver cover by Pacheco, Merino & Sinclair)
Publisher: DC Comics

This sixth issue opens with a scene featuring Superman and Brainiac 5…presumably our Legion of 3 Worlds link. Brainiac has something he needs Superman to see, and Superman’s concerned because he’s been beyond reality and has to get home (no mention of Lois). We then cut back to a gathering of heroes doing what they do, and the Supergirl/”Black Mary” battle (we find out who’s pulling Mary’s strings). Heroes find themselves facing friends and loved ones now under Darkseid’s thumb; the Flashes hatch a plan, and Batman breaks one of his personal rules in order to face Darseid. Finally, Superman enters the battle on Earth, bringing with him anger not often displayed.

The art jumped out at me for this issue–unfortunately, though, not a good thing. Rather than the fairly distinct JG Jones art alone, we have a number of other artists brought on to get this done, and so there is quite a bit of variance in the visuals throughout the issue–this looks like just another comic instead of a singular, special event/series. The art in and of itself isn’t all that bad–characters familiar to casual readers are familiar and recognizeable. The Tawky Tawny battle, though, was a bit hard to follow, and took me a bit beyond the battle itself before I even realized who won the fight. While I’m sure intended for dramatic effect, a key double-page shot toward the end looks almost comical (in a “ha, ha” sort of way) and seems almost out of place in this title given other events that have ocurred off-panel and been referred back to almost as an afterthought.

The story is far from wonderful, but it is serviceable, at least on the surface. We get a number of scene-jumps without much flow, just jumping from one scene to the next. One has to keep track visually of what and who is where as the Supergirl/Mary battle is cut with the Tawny battle, for example. The main Batman scene comes across like it’s supposed to be reminiscent of a certain speedster in a prior Crisis, and for this reader felt forced and overly predictable.

On the whole, due to one character’s fate apparently shown here, this issue is pretty important to DC continuity, at least for the moment. However, this is an issue I read more to seek a conclusion to Batman: RIP and in the hopes of staying somewhat current with the most major goings-on of the DCU than out of enjoyment. This is one of those comics that is probably going to wind up being pretty “essential” to the bigger picture in the DCU…though it lacks the feel I’d expect for something of its supposed enormity.

Recommended for its necessity in the DCU-to-come, but not for the story and art.

Story: 5/10
Art: 3/10
Whole: 4/10

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