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General Mills Presents: Justice League #4 [Review]

Breakout!

Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Bruno Redondo
Colors by: Tony Avina
Letters by: Wes Abbott
Cover by: Dan Jurgens, Sandra Hope, Carrie Strachan
Associate Editor: Kristy Quinn
Group Editor: Ben Abernathy
Senior Art Director: Larry Berry

So…Atlanteans are just like normal humans, except they live underwater. That’s ‘interesting.’ And Batman’s determined that no other family will ever be destroyed by crime. Penguin instigates a prison breakout to keep Aquaman busy, but the rest of the Justice League show up to help Aquaman and Batman. And we get several of the common “nicknames” such as “Big Blue” (Superman) and “Caped Crusader” (Batman).

This issue continues the trend of feeling rather generic, as well as having some stuff that feels a bit ‘forced’ in the course of dialogue or story.

The art’s not bad…also as with the other issues of this “mini-series” I’m not familiar with the artist…but, the art overall isn’t anything I actively dislike, which makes it good in my book.

The story is pretty basic, but it DOES have simple stuff worked in that would help inform someone on aspects of the characters–namely, that Batman’s all about not seeing another family destroyed as his was. This issue’s nothing special in the grand scheme…but as a comic that’s likely to be read by someone much younger than me…this isn’t a bad starting point to get someone interested in pursuing more about these characters.

And as a whole, this issue–and the whole “mini-series”–serves as a very basic introduction to the Justice League and several of the individual characters that doesn’t really contradict what I’m aware of about the characters, but this also makes the “real” comics look that much better.

Best of all, these comics are 24 pages of story–making them 4 pages (20%?) longer than current $3-$4 comics. And while totally separate from actual continuity…these even work a lot of “standard” elements in that give a “physical structure” like that of any contemporary comics–varied panel sizes, and even double-page spreads.

If these issues were to be collected as a full size 96-page one-shot in the $5 realm, I’d probably buy it for the novelty–and it’d be interesting to see if it would attract younger readers.

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

General Mills Presents: Justice League #3 [Review]

Sinister Imitation

Written by: Doug Wagner
Art by: Steve Scott & Livesay
Colors by: Tony Avina
Letters by: Wes Abbott
Cover by: Dan Jurgens, Sandra Hope, Carrie Strachan
Associate Editor: Kristy Quinn
Group Editor: Ben Abernathy
Senior Art Director: Larry Berry

This issue is the classic, cliche robot-duplicates story. I’m not all that thrilled with the art…again, not familiar with this artist. By the end of the issue, though, I wasn’t noticing the negatives of the art, though, which I find likely to be that it’s just not art I actively enjoy…but it’s nothing for me to actively dislike, either. The characters are all quite clearly recognizable, and other than being in their “classic” costumes, nothing really looks all that “off” about them.

The writing is a bit more “off” than the art. There’s something that doesn’t really ring true about this league, and while they claim to be friends, it seems more like a surface detail than anything that’s really FELT. It is cool to see that the villain is a familiar one…though there doesn’t truly seem to be any motivation for him, and it seems odd that he’d actually give the whole league this kind of trouble, when typically he’s been a Superman villain.

However, as with the other two issues so far, this is rooted quite strongly in the realm of being for kids, who most likely aren’t going to care for the stuff I look for in my comics at age 30–deeper character moments, stronger stories, etc.

In connection with the first two issues, this adds a little more to the Justice League as we find out Flash is “Barry,” and that he’s friends with “Hal” (Green Lantern), and so on.

All in all…maybe my least favorite of the three, but for (again) something out of a cereal box, not horrible.

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

General Mills Presents: Justice League #2 [Review]

Artificial Invasion

Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Derec Donovan
Colors by: Allen Passalaqua
Letters by: Wes Abbott
Cover by: Dan Jurgens, Sandra Hope, Carrie Strachan
Associate Editor: Kristy Quinn
Group Editor: Ben Abernathy
Senior Art Director: Larry Berry

Though Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Batman are on the cover and have a one-panel cameo…this issue focuses on Superman and Wonder Woman. Or rather, it doesn’t so much focus on them, as it does star just the two of them.

Metropolis is being swarmed by robots that keep replicating, using mainly car parts they scavenge. Superman and Wonder Woman find themselves in the middle of things, but even their powers aren’t stopping the robotic invasion. As they fight, they’re contacted by someone who manages to get past the robots to tell the heroes how these robots came to be. The robots then manage to catch the heroes…but the end result is not exactly what might be expected.

I’m again unfamiliar with the artist, and the visuals for this issue seem a bit more generic than #1. The art seems a bit more uneven on this issue, though I can’t really say it’s all that bad. It’s not exactly my cup o’ tea, but it’s preferable to some art I put up with in comics I actually buy, so I suppose this ought to be considered good, at least in and of itself.

The story itself is quite generic…but it does allow a SLIGHT glimpse into the motivations of the two main characters, showing a 3-panel flashback for Superman and another 3-panel flashback for Wonder Woman. Being familiar with the characters, I know most of the characters shown…but there’s nothing actually saying who they are, and so I wonder if the impact may be lessened.

In and of itself, this issue isn’t quite as fun as #1…but as another piece in addition to it, there’s a bit more character depth here, at least in us seeing that there’s more to Superman and Wonder Woman than their fists. And by issue’s end, they even realize that and state it explicitly.

My main issue is with Wonder Woman’s utterances of “Great Gaia” and “Great Hera”–they seem quite forced here, and at least a small bit out of character given lack of any other context.

All in all…a decent addition to things, and not nearly as bad as I’d expect a free comic from a box of cereal to seem.

Story: 5/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 6.5/10

General Mills Presents: Justice League #1 [Review]

Unstoppable Forces

Written by: Scott Beatty
Art by: Christian Duce
Colors by: Allen Passalaqua
Letters by: Wes Abbott
Cover by: Dan Jurgens, Sandra Hope, Carrie Strachan
Associate Editor: Kristy Quinn
Group Editor: Ben Abernathy
Senior Art Director: Larry Berry

It’s been years since there’s been anything worth buying cereal for. Well, that phrasing may not be entirely accurate–I’ve been a cereal guy all through this time. But it’s been a lotta years since there was anything extra–a “prize” or “bonus” or whatever–contained in the cereal box as any true incentive in and of itself. But now, select General Mills cereals include a “free” Justice League comic book, making up essentially a 4-issue mini-series. They’re labeled as 1-4 “of 4,” anyway.

This first issue is rather bland, but in a fun sort of way. You have the various characters–Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman–but virtually nothing of their secret IDs, and the story isn’t all that deep. It’s really a done-in-one, out-of-continuity sorta deal.

Some time back, the heroes manage with some difficulty to subdue something called “The Shaggy Man,” and go on with their lives. Years later, a real estate developer breaks ground on the very spot the Shaggy Man is in stasis…awakening the creature. The Justice League springs into action, and ultimately find a better solution to keep the world safe from this Shaggy Man’s threat.

The art isn’t bad, though it suffers (for me) from a strong sense of being generic–this IS a “free giveaway” in a box of cereal, after all. It also feels rather weird seeing these characters in their “old” costumes–this giveaway comes barely 2 months into the relaunch of DC’s superhero line, so it would seem to have been a better thing to have this wait or at least have featured the new versions of the characters. Heck, make it a four-issue thing detailing some of the backstory of the New 52…or even reprint some prior material (do 2 issues of the Heroes’ origins from 52, and 2 issues of Villains’ origins from Countdown or some such).

The story is self-contained, and aside from that sense of being generic, the art IS NOT bad…though I’m not familiar with this artist. This is definitely something you could give to kids…it skirts deeper issues in favor of vagueness, and there’s no real depth of character for any of the characters here…but that only irks me as a fan of continuity and stronger stories.

The cover features an image by Dan Jurgens which helps offset the interior art; it also features a subtitle “Unstoppable Forces,” and the story is truly a done-in-one, which makes the “1 of 4” a bit strange–there’s no “To Be Continued,” so this didn’t even need a number. Seems the number is there to “legitimize” there being 4 different comics, and make this look more like a “real” comic.

Despite my complaints and whatever negativity…the truth is…this is EXACTLY the sort of thing I would have been THRILLED with at age 8 or 9 or 12 when I was first getting into comics, being exposed to multiple heroes and seeing them doing heroic stuff. Long before I came to care about things like depth of character and the sort of stuff that’s lacking here. The back cover shows all four covers to this “mini-series,” and even has caption “Enjoy reading all 4 comics together as a family!” I don’t know about anyone else, but I figure that would be a splendid idea–you’ve got the cereal, you’ve got the comic, and you can spend some time reading with your kid.

Or if you’re an adult…enjoy the simple stuff about comics that made them a joy to get into when you were a kid.

Story: 6/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 7/10

Flashpoint #5 [Review]

Flashpoint part 5 of 5

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inkers: Sandra Hope and Jesse Delperdang
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Cover: Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, Alex Sinclair
Asst. Editor: Kate Stewart
Assoc. Editor: Rex Ogle
Executive Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics

Flashpoint #5 was a rather quick read for me. For now, not much in the way of emotional investment: I read #1 a few months back, but that was the last I’d read. I picked this issue up solely for the promise of it “explaining” the transition to the New 52. In and of itself in that regard…I probably could have done just as well to not bother buying this.

The story moved pretty fast, and was mostly this epic final battle between Barry and Thawne (Flash and Reverse-Flash). Thawne had screwed with Time–killing Barry’s mother–and Barry had tried to set things right, resulting in a the screwed-up “present” of the Flashpoint universe. When Barry realizes what he has to do to TRULY put things right (at great personal cost), he gives it a shot–and seems to succeed. Of course, what he doesn’t know is that there are minor differences–while some things are as they should be, others are drastically different…as will be discovered throughout the New 52.

That the story feels like primarily one huge fight scene, an ambiguous “emotional moment” with Barry and his mother, followed by an ambiguous epilogue scene doesn’t give it much to go on in and of itself as a single issue. That hurt my enjoyment of it–and my rating of it–but I’m sure it’s got much more resonance with someone who has read the entire series.

The art on this book looks great overall, and I really enjoyed it. Of course, as with the writing, most nuances were lost on me at this point, not having read issues 2-4 nor any of the tie-ins. I do intend to read the full story when the collected volume comes out, and perhaps the tie-ins as well. I just wasn’t going to follow this entire event as single issues with numerous issues to buy at full price every single week for months. (I also hadn’t initially realized the significance of this particular event until things were underway, or I MIGHT have considered otherwise).

My core quibble with the art is “the” 2-page spread that’s supposed to explain things: there’s reference to 3 timelines, though I feel like I saw 4…not sure which was doubled, or if there were 3 timelines PLUS the Flashpoint line (which may be, but not having read the core of Flashpoint, I can’t quite tell visually).

If one were to read this issue “in a vacuum,” that is, without knowing about the New 52 and such, the ending would seem on the one hand to be pretty much a non-issue: Time gets screwed up and put back, Barry remembers, and the main thing beyond that is to impact Batman. on the other hand, it would seem to be rather open: with multiple timelines instead of just changing one line back to another, there seems to be a new timeline formed, ripe for exploration.

Unfortunately, I must leave it to others for now to determine if this was a good ending to Flashpoint as a whole. As an ending to the DC Universe I’ve spent the last 23 years with, it’s not a horrible ending, but it’s almost unneeded. Probably the main thing for me about having this issue is to have it–to be in on the end and the beginning this week, having also grabbed Justice League #1.

If you followed Flashpoint, obviously this’d be an issue to get. If you’re just jumping into things for the relaunch, you’d be just as well-served to find the image of “the” spread online rather than buy this issue out of context.

Story: 5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 6/10

Flashpoint #1 [Review]

Flashpoint Chapter One of Five

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Cover: Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope & Alex Sinclair
Editors: Adam Schlagman & Rex Ogle
Executive Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics

Narration opens the issue–we don’t know who it is, initially–telling us of Barry and having been inspired by him. Then Barry’s woken up in the forensics lab, but finds himself confused by the world around him–something’s not right. Racing out, he finds the ring with his costume is missing…a surprise that sends him tripping down a flight of stairs to meet his mom. The scene shifts to Batman in Gotham has he hunts information on the Joker, and is confronted by Cyborg. Cyborg and the heroic community need Batman’s help. Following plenty of exposition to ideally psyche one up for the 15+ mini-series and specials attached to this event, we find Barry later entering the Batcave from an un-tended-to Wayne Manor, to voice the “big shock” of this issue and set some of the tone for what’s to come. Continue reading

Booster Gold #23 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Booster Gold
Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5

Blue Beetle
Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5

Overall: 3.5/5

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