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Action Comics #888 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 2/5
Art: 2.5/5

Captain Atom
Story: 1.5/5
Art: 2/5

Overall: 2/5

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Action Comics #886 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5

Captain Atom
Story: 0.5/5
Art: 2/5

Overall: 2.5/5

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

Action Comics #885 [Review]

Divine Spark, part 3

Writers: Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Javier Mena
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Cafu with Santiago Arcas
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

With Chris safe (for now) from the aging that was killing him, Nightwing and Flamebird confront The Guardian and his Science Police as well as Mon-El. The confrontation sees revelations shared as to what the two are doing on Earth, and new alliances as the “true” “enemy” emerges. Lois confronts her father, and everyone’s lives are in jeaopardy at issue’s end.

I continue to hope for another spark of enjoyment of this title like I had during the Brainiac arc. While I still don’t like that Jonathan was killed off, there was something to Johns’ story then, and Frank’s art, that as a whole made for a very enjoyable product. Fair or not, that’s the standard I find myself holding this title to, and it’s a standard that–for me–is not met.

The story itself is fairly straightforward, and well within the bounds of the overall story being played out in the Superman family of comics from the past year-plus. It continues to hold potential, but somehow just doesn’t quite fully take off and actually do anything with it.

The visuals also are pretty solid, but not much to my liking–but as with all art, that can be very subjective. Characters are all recognizeable and no one comes across as particularly abnormal-looking, and there’s little trouble following the action. The art certainly fulfills its role that way…it just doesn’t have anything that leaves me in awe or particularly marveling at the issue’s visuals.

Taken in a vacuum, the story’s worn thin and worn out its welcome with me–I’m ready to see Superman restored to the blue and red as well as to his own title and this one. Taken in context of solicitations, previews, and the like…it’s great to know that the “status quo” is about to change, if only to see what the next “phase” of the overall Superman corner of the DCU will be like.

Captain Atom, Chapter Seven
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Cafu
Colorist: Santiago Arcas
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

In this issue’s second feature slot, Captain Atom battles a number of other DC super-heroes in typical fashion before ultimately having a chance to explain himself and what he’s doing here. Others then step in, leaving us on a “cliffhanger.”

Visually, this segment isn’t all that bad, though the characters all come off with a somewhat generic appearance, almost a lack of some sort of detail I can’t quite put my finger on. The story is typical and seems to break no new ground, and really just serves to fill in a continuity hole, bridging events involving this character over the past six years.

While Captain Atom’s story is presently tied to the Superman books by story itself as well as being a second feature, it seems that his segment shortchanges the lead story, taking valuable space from that. It’d be preferable to have a separate bi-monthly or quarterly regular-sized-issues series to tie this character into things.

As a whole, this is another standard issue of the title. If you’re already following things, it’s worth continuing. If you’re on the fence…I can’t say this issue would really convince you to hop on in. I’m obviously not blown away by the issue…but neither am I convinced to drop it. Just disappointed that this doesn’t in any way feel like required Superman reading.

Action Comics
Story: 4/10
Art: 5/10

Captain Atom
Story: 4/10
Art: 5/10

Overall: 4.5/10

Superman #693 [Review]

7734

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s a tone about the Superman family of titles lately. A lot of it’s visual–or at least, the visual that is associated with the unfolding story. More and more, I find my surface opinion, my initial thoughts toward these books colored by a disinclination TO like them in the first place. DC set out to do something that would drastically affect the feel or tone of the Superman books, and in that, they’ve succeeded. Whatever my feelings about the individual writers and/or artists, I’m beginning to feel like it’s a bit of a chore, following the main books.

This issue sees General Lane confronting Mon-El, trying to recruit him into the group made up of Metallo, Major Force, the Parasite, some magical character newly-introduced, and Atlas. When a plan to rebel is executed, a more “human” (or would that be “humane”?) side of General Lane is seen, with words exchanged between the two (and an editorial note indicating that Adventure Comics #2 takes place between the pages of this issue).

I have to admit I’m gladdened at the tighter continuity in the Superman books; the fact that while it’s not the same sort of direct continuation we had for over a decade with the triangle-numbering we’re still getting a larger well-connected narrative. At the same time, there’s a lot that I’m just not buying into. Chief among these elements is the “ressurrection” or “retcon” of General Lane’s being alive now, after the character’s fitting end in Our Worlds at War a few years ago. Though we see some of his human-ness here in this issue, it doesn’t do much to round him out, make him more than a caricature at present. To a large degree, this reads as “What If… General “Thunderbolt” Ross opposed Superman instead of The Hulk?” And while there’s no overt reign of darkness, the gathering of these “supervillains” as a military unit/black ops squad just reads as fairly ridiculous.

The art of the issue is not bad–it’s got its own style that sets it apart quite distinctly from others, and maintains a definite consistency with prior art teams on this book. While it admittedly not bad art by any means…the style just is not to my liking, which continues to taint the story as I have a hard time really getting into it, for noticing the art. If the visual style doesn’t bother you, or you’re a fan of the specific style, it may well be a great selling point. To the creative credit, I found myself quite surprised to discover that the creator credits on this issue seem to match those of the previous issue: something that seems quite rare in contemporary times, and as such, worth noting toward the positive.

This issue’s cliffhanger felt entirely out of nowhere–after an issue full of Mon-El dealing with Lane and 7734, we’re suddenly taken back to Metropolis and the Guardian leading the Science Police to engage the randomly-just-now-showed-up character likely to be the focus of the next issue. (We couldn’t get another couple pages of of Mon-El dealing with his place in the current status quo and end on that sort of note, with these last couple pages serving as a jumping-right-into-the-story kickoff for the next issue?)

Whatever the case, I find that it is presently the recollection of the last couple times I’ve tried to drop the Superman books that keeps me coming back–the idea that since it’s gotten GOOD within about 6 issues of my dropping the titles, hopefully I have but to wait out a few more issues.

As-is, if you’re not particularly invested in the current status quo flowing through the Superman books, this issue’s probably going to do nothing to “sell” you on the status quo nor to hook you into this title, to say nothing of the whole family of books.

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

Superman #692 [Review]

Down Time

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

I feel like I missed an issue somewhere. The way this whole “Mon-El is dead, killed by the Kryptonians” plot thread is getting so much play-time seems somehow out of proportion. To me, the big reveal of Codename: Patriot was Sam Lane being what the story’s title was in reference to. Mon-El being killed, or SUPPOSEDLY killed just was not something that really jumped out to me…so I either missed an issue, or failed to “notice” something that would be played out as so significant.

This issue provides some context on the destruction of Metropolis’ sewer/water system and why it’s not simply being fixed by Earth’s metahumans; we also have some references to other characters of recent significance. We see the Guardian reacting to the apparent death of his new friend, as well as what is surely the premature announcement of Jon Kent’s death, though the in-story context speaks to its timeliness.

The art’s pretty good overall, though doesn’t really strike me as other art teams’ work has. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t stand out as wonderful in and of itself. It gets the story across and does what a comic’s art should, but doesn’t strike me as a “selling point” for this particular issue.

All told, not a bad issue in and of itself, but I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I think the New Krypton stuff is beginning to wear a bit thin for me, and I’m also waxing nostalgic for Byrne, Ordway, Jurgens, and other art teams from the late-1980s and early 1990s…so current artists aren’t measuring up to what I hold in memory and nostalgia.

A worthwhile issue if you’re following the title or the Superman family of books. Nothing really here to justify it as a jumping-on point.

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

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