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Superman Unchained #1 [Review]

Superman Unchained #1The Leap

Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Assoc. Editor: Chris Conroy
Group Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

So…$4.99 for this Superman Unchained #1. It’s functionally a 20-page story with a 2-page “epilogue” or “backup” or “extra feature.” 22 pages for $4.99. BUT there’s what was billed as a “tipped-in POSTER” included. This poster is just a double-sided foldout allowing for two single images roughly 4x the size of a normal-sized page, the most “poster-like” loaded with caption boxes. Maybe technically this counts as an extra 8 pages…but that STILL only brings the pagecount to 30…for $4.99. Removing this so-called “poster” involved peeling it off a bound-in piece of tagboard–something which I would assume complicated the printing/binding process in itself to put in, plus the folding, placement of the glue, and the placement of the “poster.” And the “poster” itself had a couple dots of this glue, keeping it from flapping open.

All this hassle, and it’s basically for one side of a “poster” being this huge image of Superman crashing through a satellite, and then an extra-large image of him narrating the situation on the other side. Hardly something that would really make sense on the wall as a poster, more just some comic page pulled out of an issue and stuck on the wall.

$4.99. Five dollars. And while I read the first arc of Superman when the New 52 began–so have a BIT of context of Lois, Perry, and Clark’s relationships…I’m not even that clear on what things are here. And the issue’s big “reveal,” the thing that’s such a big deal, isn’t. Not to me. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t interest me. It doesn’t change things.

So, objects are falling to Earth. Superman’s trying to stop them, letting one go since he sees it’ll fall “harmlessly” while he stops this huge “Lighthouse” satellite that’s gonna hit like a gigantic nuclear bomb. He confronts Lex Luthor, who has an alibi, and as he seethes over this, learns someone stopped that object he’d let go–but if it wasn’t him, Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern–then who, exactly, WAS it that stopped the thing? We learn of General Lane’s involvement, and of a secret weapon against Superman that goes back to the beginning of things.

Visually…the art’s good. It’s Jim Lee, whose art I’ve tended to almost always enjoy. Maybe I’m just irked about the “poster,” and/or the price and/or my own lack of context for not keeping up with Superman the last 15 months, but the art doesn’t blow me away. It’s good, but it’s not the “great” that I’d’ve hoped for. It’s not the Jim Lee art that a decade ago prompted me to NOT drop the Superman titles but rather keep up a few more months until Lee‘s run on an Azzarello story would begin.

Story-wise, I’m just not interested. I know a lot of people are loving Snyder‘s work, and will consider this to be great Superman…but unfortunately, this is NOT “my” Superman. Perhaps the collected volume(s) will end up being my thing, if I myself hear enough good about it to warrant checking them out. But for now…this issue just doesn’t do anything (positive) for me.

I have no intention of grabbing the next issue, and it’ll depend on others’ reviews whether or not I even bother returning to this title in any form, outside proper bargain bins. For your page count, you’d be better off grabbing the first Superman: Earth One graphic novel and reading that, especially if you’re looking for a specific tie-in to the Man of Steel film.

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The New 52! #1 [Review]

The New 52! #1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Kenneth Rocafort, Gene Ha
Color: Alex Sinclair, Rod Reis, Blond, Art Lyon
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor: Kate Stewart
Editors: Dan Didio & Eddie Berganza

This issue is mostly teaser, and seems especially designed more for those following DC‘s The New 52 for the past 9 or so months moreso than a brand-new reader that might be sucked in for Free Comic Book Day 2012.

We’re shown a sentencing for a trio of characters, all of whom–if not off the bat, then by their fates–have a certain familiarity, as we see the origin of “Pandora,” who we see here has a much larger role to play in the new DCU in the near future. These three characters have been condemned by The Wizard (as in Shazam), punished for contributions to harm of mankind. In the present day, Pandora stirs up some trouble stealing back her box as she seeks to unravel her curse, and we’re then shown a glimpse into the near-future of the DCU, and the coming “event” due out “next year.”

There’s a whole mix of art to the issue, culminating in a fold-out posterlike 4-page spread by Jim Lee spotlighting the main Justice Leaguers in the “near future.” Overall, given this is essentially a sampler issue and I had no idea what to expect of it, the art didn’t stand out all that much to me. Some characters are familiar, others not so much, and I’m not sure if the unfamiliarity I have is with the New 52 in general, or with concepts being “introduced” in this issue.

Story-wise, there’s not a whole lot; this is like having the “origin” of Pandora (and a couple other characters) thrown in front of us to pull one in, like “hey, remember these guys? Here they are! See! Now you HAVE to read the coming event!”

As a free issue…yeah, this is worthwhile. If it weren’t for the credits taking up much of the bottom of the image, I’d be inclined to pull the center out of the issue and stick it on the wall as a small poster, at least. Almost half this issue is a section of 2-ish page “previews” of the second wave of DC titles, and I skipped over ’em. I already bought Earth 2 #1, and NOT being an art person, have no interest in the 5-7+ page previews DC‘s often stuck in the back of its books, and 1-2 pages mean even less.

Probably for the worse (to me), this issue makes it clear that The New 52 is building toward some huge event (coming next year, though), and since I’m not willing to invest in a bunch of titles as-is, I have even less interest now.

Story: 4/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 6/10

Justice League #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Brightest Day #0 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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

Detective Comics #853 [Review]

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? part 2 of 2

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Andy Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s something to this story that makes it fit in quite well with the stuff that we’ve had from longtime writer Grant Morrison. The abstracts and symbolism, the nods to other eras of continuity and obscurities of the Bat-verse…these are all pretty much at home in my limited understanding of Morrison’s works. At the same time, where this sort of story wouldn’t work for me coming from Morrison, there’s something about the “history” that I have in reading Gaiman’s books and enjoying, understanding, and simply “getting” them that makes this story work very well.

The story is pretty simple, with not very much action here. A large chunk of story is Bruce talking to an image of his mother, sorting out where he is and what he is seeing. As the issue progresses (everything in the previous chapter having set up the foundation for what we get here, now) we begin to see a bit of a cyclical element to the story–one that actually reminds me just a little bit of Ragnarok, the final Thor story a few years ago from Marvel.

The art, though it doesn’t really jump out at me all that much this issue, is still extemely strong, capturing a classic feel without making me feel like this is actually a comic from decades past. Visually, there’s not much of anything I can think of that’d make it much better.

Gaiman references an old children’s book to great effect in this issue. It’s a reference that is fairly key to the whole thing, bringing a lot of stuff to a fitting close…and a reference that to me, makes this that much more a great story.

Though this doesn’t really serve as a hard bookend, closing the door on a version of the character, it still provides a nice breaking point, a send-off of sorts to characters well-known and loved in the Batman continuity. The story that began last year in RIP, continued through Final Crisis and Last Rites actually continues in the mini-event Battle for the Cowl and into some relaunch-type material in a couple months…perhaps the marketing or something else makes this feel like more of a side-story…a “What would happen if we DID decide to end things now?” kinda thing.

On my first read-through of this issue, I was not sold on the ending. Upon further reflection and asking a friend about the book I thought was being referenced, I realized the brilliance of this story. Whether you’ve been a longtime Batman reader or not, you should have no real trouble following this 2-part story. In fact, you might actually enjoy it all the more being aware only of characters’ existence and not being steeped in the history.

Whatever the case, if you can find the story now as single issues, it’s only two issues and so quite worth snagging that way…if you’re unable to get the story as singles, I very highly recommend picking up the collected volume when it comes out this summer.

Story: 9.5/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

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