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General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #4 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0004Alien Justice

Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Tom Grummett
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Sotocolor
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: John McCrea
Cover Colorist: Mike Spicer
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

This is the fourth and (presumably) final issue this time around. Several years ago, they did a run of #s 1-4, and the next promotion had #s 5-9…so I would not be shocked if that happens again (or not, either way). But to my knowledge, for the current promotion, there are only four different issues, of which this is the last.

For me, personally, this is also the most common and plentiful…as of this typing I have something like 9 or 10 copies! It’s become the one to LOATHE seeing when I pull it from a cereal box. That said…

This was probably my favorite read of the four. Perhaps its the immediacy of it–the most recent one I read–as well as the generic feel of #3 that this certainly topped by far. But I really enjoyed this in and of itself.

A giant alien ship shows up over San Diego, and begins sucking up the ocean just offshore. Aliens broadcast to the world what they’re doing and why–they’re taking Earth’s water, as Earth has too much of it and their world doesn’t have enough, and that’s just a huge injustice! The League springs into action, attacking this threat on multiple fronts, each to their strength/specialty. As this is an Aquaman-centric issue, he gets more page time and we get stuff more from his point of view…including the requisite (for this series) “flashbacks” to his youth. As the present-day situation continues, we flash back to see a young Arthur dealing with being of mixed heritage–part surface-dweller, part Atlantean. He sees people react to the notion of someone different, and then talks with his dad, who advises him on the wisdom of finding common ground when one is so different from another. Young Arthur gets a tangible opportunity to put that advice into practice when he encounters some Atlanteans threatening some local fishing boats. The lesson apparently stuck with him, as back in the present, he devises a solution and quickly acts to implement it. With help from (perhaps unexpected) sources beyond “just” the League, a bad situation is halted, with a bit of potential redemption coming out of it, with elements of a win/win scenario.

I was comparatively quite disappointed with the last issue and its feeling of being so generic after the first two issues of this “series.” This issue gets us back to “Name Creators” that I recognize, and is a second Bedard-written issue…with art from Tom Grummett, another creator whose work I quite enjoy, period. As such, it should not have surprised me to enjoy this story as I did. It’s a self-contained piece, and does include a bit of that “special message” peachiness to it…but that’s mitigated quite a bit by my relative lack of familiarity with details of Aquaman…he’s a character I’m pretty aware of while having quite the significant blind spot. Though I’m certain this issue’s flashbacks are “new” and involve a version of the character perhaps different from others…it doesn’t bother me as I have so very little to compare it to.

That lack of familiarity also lent itself to my being able to TRULY appreciate this as I believe one would hope the target audience would/could: this makes me a little more familiar with the character and his background, shows me some important elements of the character, and generally serves as a bit of a touch point for me. It sets some of my character-specific expectations for Aquaman in a way that the other issues did not do for the leading characters…and reminds me a bit of the impact The Untold Legend of the Batman had on me as a kid and my then-knowledge of Batman, or that The Man of Steel #3 “audio comic” did for my understanding of Superman.

Grummett‘s art carried a definite sentimentality for me…the visuals for this issue reminded me of other work he’s done, particularly his prior work on Superman, as well as Robin and Superboy. That’s certainly a good thing–as is the art in itself. This is not just a good-looking “cereal comic,” but a good-looking comic, plain and simple!

Though I’d be inclined to choose Superman or Batman first…this Aquaman issue is definitely THE treat of the set, and very well worth reading if you find it!

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General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #1 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0001Power Play

Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Jerry Ordway
Inker: Juan Castro
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Comicraft
Cover Artist: Ale Garza
Cover Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

Once again, DC Comics and General Mills have teamed up to put comics in boxes of cereal. And, once again, I’m buying cereal specifically to get a copy of all four issues available as part of the promotion. This is the fourth such promotion I can recall in "modern" comics’ times–two prior Justice League runs, last year’s Batman v Superman, and now this. As with the previous ones, these LOOK like they fit in with contemporary issues, just that these are missing UPC boxes, and are atrociously TINY. But hey…they’re "free" with the purchase of a specially-marked box of cereal, and no hassling with coupons, mail-aways, shipping/handling, etc.

As with previous promotions, though these issues are numbered, I’m almost certain there’s no sequential "continuity" to them–this first issue is self-contained with no cliffhanger or anything "driving" one to the next issue. I’m pretty sure the PRIMARY purpose of the issue number is to help "legitimize" the thing as a miniature comic book (and not just some mini-magazine/"insert" or such) and to–as successfully accomplished with me–trigger the OCD to track them all down, because darnit, there are FOUR numbered issues, so I want all 4 issues, and won’t want to have a #4 withOUT 1-3 and so on.

Getting to the issue itself, as an issue…I’m quite impressed with the main creative team. Tony Bedard‘s name is definitely recognizable to me, and even topping that is artist Jerry Ordway, who is an old favorite from my earliest days in comics.

The story is rather prescient given its timing–at least for me as I read this. We open on the Justice League (current Rebirth incarnation, with everyone looking on-model for Rebirth year one) in Metropolis, being celebrated for all their work and constant saving of Earth. A large group statue is unveiled, and almost immediately comes to life, forcing the Leaguers to face off against their giant bronze counterparts. The mischievous antagonist is quickly revealed: Mr. Mxyzptlk! Muddying matters, the League must summon Bat-Mite–another 5th-Dimensional imp–to counter Mxy’s fun. Tricking Mxy yet again into saying his own name backwards, Bat-Mite extracts a promise from the League and then disappears himself…a small bronze addition left with the once-more-inanimate statue, celebrating Bat-Mite side-by-side with the rest of the League.

This story comes outta nowhere: no prologue, nothing setting it up. Just the "typical" generic "our heroes gather to be celebrated by the common people they’ve saved, however reluctant they may be with such adulation and then must save them yet again." Of course, this is NOT some issue partaking in any crossover or event, nor is it "merely" some reprint of just any random issue from within a run…and it’s not anything someone reading the regularly-published comics needs to track down to get a full story, so it’s rather necessary, then, for this to be its own thing in a relative "vacuum." Additionally, there is no cliffhanger, nothing left hanging to "force" or "coerce" someone (while many adults may track these down, I’d assume a large majority of readers are children whose parents had to provide the cereal for them to have the comic) to "have to" get the other issues.

Yet, while the story is pretty simplistic, and doesn’t necessarily play up individual character elements that’d be present in solo books, the characters are recognizable as who they are, and the lineup seems to fit in such that someone reading this and then walking into a comic shop would easily find current DC issues featuring these very characters. Bedard doesn’t really get room to shine as a writer, but he doesn’t play the characters as fools or overly talk down to the audience (though there’s a little bit of that "special lesson" to be imparted to kids: "don’t run from your problems, own up to them…and sometimes you will have to ask for help from others, and that’s ok."

The cover’s art is a bit "off" and generic to me….Superman’s costume (at least on my copy of this issue) seems a bit weirdly-colored and the whole image is basically generic poses of the characters on a yellowy-orange burst-effect…no background setting or situation (though also nothing to give away the antagonist from within). Ordway‘s art on the interior is a huge treat for me, and I really like the depiction of the characters. I don’t much care for Simon’s version of the Green Lantern costume–never have–but it looks as good as is possible here. And somehow most notable to me, Mxyzptlk looks really good in this issue–much like in my first conscious exposure to the character back in 1989 or so.

I imagine I’d have quite loved this as a kid. As an adult, it’s simplistic but pretty…and as something "free" in a box of cereal, it’s much better than it has any "right" to be. Even if you’re not a fan of the cereals, I’d recommend this as a quick-read novelty item…especially as I doubt this or any of the previous ones will ever warrant a full-size collection of their own, so this is likely the only way to read ’em!

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R.E.B.E.L.S. #4 [Review]

Quick Rating: Decent
Story Title: From Beyond

Dox’s team is coming together, and the villain is revealed!

REBELS Cv4 dsWriter: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Claude St. Aubin
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Swands
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Cover: Ed Benes and Rob Hunter
Publisher: DC Comics

Dox’s team is coming together, and we as readers find out a bit more about what’s set current events into motion, and who it was that took over LEGION.

The story feels like it’s loaded with potential, particularly on the cosmic side of the DCU; drawing from older characters and concepts but placing them well within current events of continuity and whatnot. However, even four issues in, I’m not really feeling like I have much to care about with these characters nor their situations. The "main villain" for this arc is one of my least-favorite in the DCU, and even being revamped a bit visually still doesn’t interest me. I’m not familiar enough with these characters to know how their depiction here works with prior versions of them, but they do seem consistent within this series, at least. We’re only four issues in, so hopefully a lot of this is simply foundation-laying, building toward some solid payoff in the near future.

The visuals maintain a nice consistency from earlier issues (even with a different artist). Visually, I can’t help but feel that this is to "cosmic DC" what the earlier issues of the 2003-launched Outsiders series was to the more traditional DCU. The art may not be for everyone, but as what it is, it certainly works for this book and gives it a style that sets it apart from a lotta other books.

Bedard seems to have a good grasp of the cosmic stuff, and if you’re a fan of his stories or of the old LEGION characters, this book’s probably right up your alley. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem like anything terribly essential as yet.

Ratings:

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

R.E.B.E.L.S. #3 [Review]

Quick Rating: OK
Story Title: A World of Hurt

Dox continues to assemble his grouping of individuals to assist reclamation of his former organization…with little regard for his methods, focusing on the end result.

rebels003Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Andy Clarke
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Swands
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Cover: Andy Clarke
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue continues to show Dox as he acts on the information he’s been given, but doesn’t really let anyone else in on it. He’s building a new team, focused on the final result and apparently not all that concerned about what steps he’s gotta take to achieve it. After changing someone into an energy-being, Dox heads off with her to see some old allies and recruit them–after explaining that he did not orchestrate the attacks on them that they recently survived. Ultimately, they find that they face quite a formidable foe.

The art on this is quite good, and very consistent with the earlier issues. Its style fits the story, while adding its own "flavor" to the overall product. There’s a sort of dirtiness to it that contributes to the atmosphere, setting this apart from other books visually.

You could do much worse than this book, but then, I’m also finding myself quickly losing interest. While the nostalgia factor prompted my initial interest in the book, I’m not finding these characters to be familiar to me (other than by name/concept), and really not connecting or engaging with ’em. Something about this story feels like it will be much better when read as a complete arc, but on the issue by issue basis, I’m just not feelin’ it.

I suppose if you’re enough of a fan of the writer or artist this’d be worthwhile; ditto if you’re particularly interested in or informed as far as the characters go. As a casual reader, this doesn’t really seem to be anything essential.

Ratings:

Story: 2/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

R.E.B.E.L.S. #2 [Review]

Quick Rating: Not Bad
Story Title: The First Recruit

Vril Dox and Supergirl take on the mercenaries, while Dox finds out more about his benefactor and what he’s expected to do moving forward.

rebels002Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Andy Clarke
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Swands
Asst. Editors: Rex Ogle
Editors: Marts & Cunningham
Cover: Andy Clarke
Publisher: DC Comics

Resuming where the first issue left off, we find Vril Dox and Supergirl fighting the mercenaries that are trying to capture Dox. Dox finds himself faced with a message from the future intended to help him, but opts to use his own methods to go about attaining his goals. Making for Starhaven, Dox’s recruitment drive is in full effect, as we see that this is not a character we’re meant to like overall–he’s a real jerk (to put it mildly).

The story itself isn’t bad, though I’m not all that familiar with most of the characters overall (except Supergirl). Though I recognize Dox and a couple others, I don’t recognize most of the characters, and so am not all that interested. The writing seems solid so far–there’s enough foreshadowing that at least for this arc, it seems there’s a build toward some decent payoff–though I’d prefer to be more engaged in the story.

The art’s not bad, though it’s a bit different than what I’m used to, particularly on the Superman family of books and their depiction of Supergirl. Clarke’s art does bring just enough grittiness to make this seem like a book that doesn’t just fit in general into a generic DCU, but has an edge that reminds me of the earlier issues of Outsiders from 2003 to Infinite Crisis.

All in all, a decent book. Unfortunately, as it’s failed so far to really engage me, I suspect I wouldn’t miss it much (if at all) if I simply skipped it. If you’re interested in the cosmic stuff, you’ll probably enjoy this a bit more; ditto if you’re more familiar with Vril Dox as a character.

Ratings:

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

R.E.B.E.L.S. #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Decent
Story Title: The Future is Now

Vril Dox (Brainiac 2) arrives on Earth with pursuers on his tail, and seeks out Supergirl for a special purpose even he doesn’t know.

rebels001Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Andy Clarke
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editors: Siegel & Ogle
Editors: Marts & Cunningham
Covers: Andy Clarke
Publisher: DC Comics

This is the second time offhand that I have bought a R.E.B.E.L.S. #1. The last time I did so was way back around September 1994. L.E.G.I.O.N. was rebooted during Zero Hour as R.E.B.E.L.S., and was one of the series I’d decided to jump on to check it out from the very beginning. Fourteen-and-one-half years later, this new incarnation of the title had my curiosity, if only for nostalgic value.

This issue opens with a bit of a cliche–people going about normal life, talking about something that then sorta comes true with the arrival of an alien or whatever (in this case, Vril Dox), who asks for something rather simple that I for one normally wouldn’t expect an alien to ask: "Where’s the nearest restroom?" We quickly find out that Dox is being pursued, that his own organization has been taken from him and is now being used against him. Being rather cool and calculating (or rather, not-so-compassionate) he is prepared to see numerous human lives lost to attain his goal. Once Supergirl enters the fray, a couple secrets come out, and we find that there is a good deal at play, just waiting to be revealed.

Overall, I like Clarke’s visuals in this issue. There’s a certain level of detail and a style that seems to fit the story very well. The main complaint I have is that Supergirl looks a little "off," but characters I presume will be main/starring characters for this title have a good look about them that does NOT seem "off." One of the aliens reminds me a bit of both the Aliens as well as Arkillo from the GL books, and yet still has enough of a unique look to be its own thing, while evoking those others–regardless of the intentionality of the similarity.

The story is fairly basic, dealing with a bit of cliche–at least on the surface. Cliche or otherwise, there are some hints dropped as to stuff-to-come, and at least one bombshell drawn from existing continuity that casts characters in a new light. I’ve not read much of Bedard’s work, but recall liking what I have read. This issue really–aside from Supergirl–is playing in its own sandbox away from other DCU books. That sets it apart for me as it is not directly involved in other current stories that I’m following and thus has room to develop and build a bit.

There’s not enough here in this issue to convince me that this’ll be a great title nor that I’ll want to be in for the long haul, but there’s just enough of something to it that I’ll probably give it a couple more issues to pan out and really hook me. In the meantime, it’s a debut issue of a new series and it’s still within my $3 general threshold.

Worth checking out if you’re curious, but doesn’t seem an essential read.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

DC Universe Online Legends #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

 

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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