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Doomsday Clock #1 [Review]

doomsday_clock_0001_supermanThat Annihilated Place

Writer: Geoff Johns
Illustrator: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Gary Frank & Brad Anderson (Lenticular based on existing art by Dave Gibbons)
Associate Editor: Amedeo Turturro
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 2018
Cover Price: $4.99 ($5.99 Lenticular variant)

It’s been a long time, offhand, since I read a comic quite so dense as Doomsday Clock #1. And I use the word dense as a good thing overall–in this age of $4.99 comics that hardly take any longer to read than a $3.99 or $2.99 comic, where everything is written to flow seamlessly as a 4 or 5 or 6-issue "graphic novel," it’s great to have a comic that just wants to be a single issue.

I was rather frustrated to learn that the image I’ve seen MOST USED in association with this issue (the Gary Frank Superman cover pictured above) is actually a VARIANT and not the "main" cover. The main cover seems to be a generic "The End is Here" cover (that leads into the issue itself as the classic Watchmen covers did!). In keeping with my usual, though, wanting the cover I’ve most seen advertised and such with an issue, I managed to get the Superman cover. Of course, then I saw a lenticular variant, one I had probably heard of/read about, but not paid attention to (again: VARIANT)…but it being lenticular, and "cover price" (albeit $1 more than the standard issue to account for the lenticular-ness) and me really getting a kick outta the design–Rorschach’s face goes from just the blobs to the symbols of "the trinity" (Superman/Batman/Woder Woman), I went ahead and got that one as well. It’s certainly no worse than having bought a Marvel lenticular, where the lenticulars were entirely different images from their "regular" covers.

I don’t know what I expected from this issue. Being that it’s an obvious follow-up to Watchmen, and apparently integrating those characters into DCU canon (if not continuity, then perhaps affecting continuity from the outside), and seems to have been "timed" to release at the 25th anniversary of Superman’s death (real-world, that is–November 17-20ish 1992), and stuff previewed or "leaked" online indicated an in-issue reference to that date…I had extremely high expectations for this issue. It’s honestly been a long time since I feel like I actually was taken in by "the hype," usually seeing the hype entirely for what it is and maybe "choosing" to "give in," say, on actually getting a variant cover, or actually getting an issue of something I don’t normally get, or diving into an event I’d intended to stay away from. Here, it’s more of an emotional hype…one that left me feeling rather let down.

As said above–this is a dense story–one that would take a long time to really summarize, and for my own reading experience, get well beyond the initial reading I tend to do for reviews. Essentially, we meet a new Rorschach, who is piecing stuff together, much as the original did, starting out the original series. We get glimpses of this current world–late 1992, about seven years after the original’s 1985 setting, as we meet various characters and are re-exposed to older/originals. We also learn that Ozymandias has a sort of countdown clock of his own going this time, but in a much different way than before. Finally, the last several pages give us a glimpse into a non-Watchmen DCU, and an extremely familiar-looking take on the Kents…which makes sense, given Frank was the artist on Superman: Secret Origin, that laid out a particular vision for the characters.

While this has a lot as a single issue, and certainly many layers with stuff that’d be picked up after a second or third or FIFTH reading, still more to be picked up on STUDYING the art beyond the words, and even more on top of that to be noticed after subsequent issues come out and shed more light on stuff…on my single-read-through I hit the end and thought "Wait…that’s IT?" and was starkly reminded of similar disappointment with Grant Morrison‘s Final Crisis.

This is not a "casual" issue, apparently. Picking it up and reading it "cold," even if you’ve read Watchmen, there doesn’t seem to be all that much to it. It’s a first issue, and world-building or re-world-building. It’s surely a strong foundation on which the rest of the issues will draw. But for me, in just picking it up, after all the months of hype, I just did not enjoy it or get much out of it. And I’m steeped in comics history, especially DC, and even more specifically Superman.

Visually, it’s a very good issue–I’m quite a fan of Gary Frank. I felt like there was a lot that was recognizable and familiar here, despite Frank not being Gibbons, and outside of not seeing a Superman costume or a Batman costume or a Wonder Woman costume–really, it felt like there was virtually nothing actually DC in this issue–I felt like this was set in the world I recalled from reading the original Watchmen all those years ago. There’s also a LOT crammed into this issue: it seems to me that the lowest panel-count on any given story-page was five…which is a far cry from the all-too-often-used "cheats" of full or DOUBLE-page splashes with barely a word to go with the art. I welcome the "grid" layouts of the pages, the actual panels and "traditional" gutters–both for squeezing in more content as well as mimicking the style of the original.

Basically, this seems like a really slow start to something, and that it was vastly overhyped, as well as being quite "confusing" as far as the covers go–once again, a major problem with doing variants AT ALL. The $4.99 cover price is rather steep, even with 30 pages of story (if a 20-page issue is $2.99, another 50% would be only $4.50!) but I suppose it’s a bit offset by some of DC‘s issues being $3.99 (the 1-per-month books) so this actually fits that rate.

I wanted more–I wanted something brighter and splashier out the gate than what I got here–but I’m still looking forward to the next issue, looking forward to see how things build, though I suspect this will be a far more impressive story in larger chunks or as a whole rather than as a single-issue-at-a-time monthly (or less-frequent) journey.

doomsday_clock_0001_blogtrailer

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Some Recent Effective/Appealing Ads from DC

I usually try to ignore ads, or avoid them, or get past them ASAP. But some of them work, and actually ARE appealing and/or effective. Here are several recent ones that caught my attention, from Superman #20 and Action Comics #977.

dc_ads_early_april2017_thebutton

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to make of the news of The Button…it was "news" but seemed so far off. Now, lately, this ad has me chomping at the bit for the story…I’m not sure if this image is two parts of the same "lenticular cover," or if it’s an amalgamation of two, or what…but this ad itself, this split-down-the-middle image is one I really dig, and has me extremely interested and eager to get to the story!

Perhaps it’s that it still feels rather new to me (relatively speaking) to see Batman and the Flash so closely linked.

dc_ads_early_april2017_teentitans_judascontract

Then there’s the new Warner Bros. Animation animated film Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. Sure, it’s an updated "based ON" sorta thing, adapting the ’80s story to fit a 2010s-era setting (characters, versions of said characters) and to shoehorn it in to the DC Animated Universe.

But as one of THE original stories I remember being talked about for these films, way back in 2007 or 2008 or whenever it was that this line started (was it really a decade ago?!?) it’s good to see that this is finally getting a release.

Of course, it also means I’ve long passed my window for reading the original story first…something that I (shamefully) have never actually read myself.

dc_ads_early_april2017_baneconquest

I’d known Bane was getting a "limited series," AND that Chuck Dixon was back writing the character, but then I forgot again.

I really wish they’d put a cover price with ads like this…either boldly proclaim its worthiness at a certain price…or if it’s thought that the price would be a turn-off, consider a different price!

I don’t know if this will be $3.99 or "only" $2.99 offhand…at $2.99 I might follow it. $3.99 and I’ll probably check out the first issue and then wait for the cheaper collected edition(s).

dc_ads_early_april2017_revenge

I have a definite love/hate thing going on with DC and their portrayal of Zod in the Superman books. I’ve lost track of all the different Zods we’ve had, just in the last 15 or so years, so on one hand, I’m not keen on yet another.

On the other hand, the drama to this image–"everyone" knows the whole "Kneel before Zod" thing–so just SEEING the character, AND seeing Superman…well…kneel…yeah.

dc_ads_early_april2017_lazaruscontract

And finally, I have to reiterate that THIS is the way to do the multi-panel "build-an-image" thing with covers!

You do NOT force someone to buy 2, 3, 4, or more copies OF THE SAME ISSUE to form the one image!

You treat someone to a cool, larger image as a "reward" FOR following a larger set of issues (whether a crossover, story, mini-series, whatever)!

I’m tempted to check this out partly in support of that alone (we’ll see if I actually remember or feel the same way once the issues start coming out.)


Of course, there were many, many more ads and such in the two issues, but these were the stand-out ones to me.

A sort of "runner-up" would be a "post card" from a comic shop for a 4-part story in Old Man Logan…the images of Wolverine in different costumes with older comic covers making up the background is a really cool design, and probably would have hooked me…except the issues are Old Man Logan–a Marvel title, $3.99 an issue, and I’d rather read a singular story OR even just wait six months and maybe remember to read it on Unlimited.

Thoughts on Rebirth #1, Lois and Clark #8 and Superman #52[SPOILERS]

weekly_haul_week_of_20160525a

I’d been looking forward to these issues for awhile, with way more excitement and interest than I’ve had in most comics in ages.

Please be forewarned, I’m going to spoil these issues here, especially the Rebirth issue!

Superman: Lois and Clark #8

I remember highly anticipating the first issue of this series, due to the prospect of this meager “bone” tossed to me as a fan of the pre-Flashpoint Superman. It’s been a rich series, giving me so much that I’ve wanted, particularly as “my” Superman was now like I remembered the pre-CoIE Earth-2 Superman–not being the focus, not being “the” Superman, there could be hugely major shakeups in the status quo, such as Clark and Lois actually having a (biological) son. There’s the huge, overwhelming (to me) loss of the pre-Flashpoint world they knew…but with stuff in Rebirth I think there’s something to be said/suggested in this Superman sticking around but at least us as readers having “hope” that his world and past and loved ones are still “out there somewhere.”

While the above was more speculative and incomplete, I’ll be “spoiling” Superman #52 below as well as the Rebirth issue after it.

Superman #52

This issue concludes the Super-Leag…er…The Final Days of Superman story that’s crossed the various Super-books for the last few weeks/couple months. I’ve known what was coming, it was part of why I opted to follow the story. Get the story, see the events that lead to the apparent death of the New 52 Superman.

SPOILERS!

I don’t know what I expected, but this was not it. Surely there’s more DEPTH to stuff, things to be explored, subtexts one can root out…but on the surface, on initial reading, reading to get to the end…I felt like this was a letdown.

That’s it?!? That’s how he goes out?

And even with an 8-part story leading into it (remember, 1992’s Doomsday! arc (aka The Death of Superman was 6 chapters plus a Justice League tie-in) that should have made this epic, this felt padded and drawn-out, and while Superman “knew it was coming” this seemed like a weak way for him to go out, despite doing so literally in a “blaze” of glory (and that is NOT intended as a reference to the character Blaze).

Clark–the pre-Flashpoint Superman–steps in, the two DO meet (albeit briefly–and yeah, here’s the selling point that had me buying the #50s…I wanted to see them MEET), and we get an abrupt end to the New 52 Superman, which paves the way for the other Superman to ‘take over’ or ‘step back into his rightful place’ or some such.

The story ultimately doesn’t seem to have had much POINT except to “clear the board” and allow for things to keep moving FORWARD without actually backtracking or saying someone didn’t exist, etc. And that will surely also be coming into play in the next few months of stories.

Below, I SPOIL stuff in the issue, so be forewarned!

DC Universe: Rebirth #1

Now that I’m ready to actually write about this, I’m at a loss for words.

The art was an immediate attention-grabber…it just looked GOOD. And with the likes of Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, and so many other “brand name creators”, how could this not? These are The Big Guns, some of THE big names whose art I’ve so enjoyed in the past (over the last 10-15 some years), so seeing their work was a huge treat, and I did not mind the bits of difference between ‘chapters’ and such…I was far, far more interested in the story itself.

And that story takes place across nearly 70 pages, with so many little moments that I really can’t even begin to properly “summarize” it, nor am I going to offer a page by page commentary on the issue.

Suffice it to say, I’m spoiling this issue.

This.

Is.

Your.

Final.

Bit of.

Spoiler.

Space.

To quote one River Song… “Spoilers, Sweetie!”

So…

Wally is BACK. My Wally. Original Wally. Wally West, Wally that was Kid Flash, in the Teen Titans, great friends with Dick Grayson, that became Flash after Barry died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally that “died” during Zero Hour, Wally that was the focus of more than 226 issues of his own ongoing series, Wally that disappeared and was seemingly–at best–“replaced” to be in line with the then-upcoming/now established tv show.

And he’s brought back in a way, it’s explained such that it does NOT invalidate the New 52 Wally West, it allows both to exist, to co-exist without my having any particular problem with it.

All the hype, and in getting to that, typing that…I’ve realized that THAT was my take-away with this issue.

Wally West is BACK!

Add to that we have some coy setup, more someone behind the scenes of the ones behind the scenes of the ones behind the scenes.

I remember the woman from Flashpoint #5, the ending, when stuff was somewhat supposedly “put right,” she had influence on what became the New 52 including the incorporation of the Wildstorm characters into the main unierse along with elements formerly/primarily Vertigo. Well, this woman–Pandora, I believe–is dealt with, and whatever power she had? She’s minor compared to this other power.

And from Wally’s narration, there’s this concept that 10 years had been “stolen,” that “love” had been stolen, “legacy” had been stolen, that it had all been stolen to make the heroes weaker, prevent them from being capable of taking something on.

Everyone being YOUNGER. A Superman in his early/mid-20s instead of mid-30s, and never married, etc. Barry, with no Legacy; no Jay to Barry to Wally to Bart. A compressed span of time in which Batman went through numerous Robins. Etc and so on and so forth.

And ultimately, to ME, to MY reading, the way I read this, the way I took it to heart…this “salvages” things. This validates the New 52 against pre-Flashpoint DCU. Essentially we have someone messing behind the scenes, manipulating vastly untold powers in ways that affect the very multiverse…and there’s still something COMING.

Continue reading

After Watchmen: Before Watchmen

So…the long-rumored “Watchmen 2” is officially Before Watchmen, the collective heading for 7 mini-series and a one-shot. (Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl, and Silk Spectre with 4 issues each; Minutemen, Comedian, and Ozymandias with 6 issues each, and Before Watchmen: Epilogue.

By my count, that’s 35 issues. Assuming all are $2.99 cover price, that’s $105. Whereas the original, complete story of Watchmen for the past quarter-century has been a single $20 volume. Not nearly as enticing for purposes of purchasing.

This project in one swoop makes the original a mere quarter of the whole. Though still a whole itself, it’ll now be PART OF a larger “universe.”

And DC does not have the greatest track record with me when it comes to collected volumes, and no comics company has any great record anymore with PRICING of collected volumes. (Collected volumes being my first thought, because I just cannot see spending 35 weeks trying to follow these in singles rather than a whole story for any given character). Heck, for the entirety of my awareness of comics (going back nearly 24 years), Watchmen has existed as a collected volume.

Yet despite any and all negative thoughts toward this…I have to admit…I cannot see avoiding these on any principle. I may avoid a FORMAT (singles), I may opt to get whatever collected volumes from the local library…but I’m fairly certain I’ll read these. And then I’ll go back to the original, and re-read that, and it’ll be in a new light. New details from the prequels to impact the emotional impact…worst-case, the original could be a palate-cleanser.

The official announcement of these minis came today, from DC‘s The Source blog. Interviews and cover images and such are scattered across media outlets…and the above constitutes my own initial thoughts/gut reactions to the basic announcement that these’ll exist. PLENTY of time yet for all the news and hubbub to “convert” me OR “sour” me on these. Time will tell.

Watchmensch [Review]

Writer: Rich Johnston
Illustrator/Letterer: Simon Rohrmuller
Cover Colors: Matthew Vega
Publisher: Brian Kirsten
Published By: Brain Scan Studios

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this going in, but found a rather amusing spoof of Watchmen–the second such spoof I’ve picked up in the last few weeks. Unlike Whatmen?! though, this one was more to my liking with less of the Family Guy flavor of spoof.

This take on Watchmen follows the spoof-versions of the characters as they deal with events unfolding as related to Watchmen being released as a movie despite the troubles between the author and the publisher of a lot of his work.

There are a number of fun sight-gags (I especially liked this take on the visual/reasoning of the Dr. Manhatten character’s appearance) “borrowed” from the source material. On the whole, the art works really well and I have nothing that jumped out as complaint-worthy to me.

The story was more engaging than in Whatmen?! and worked a lot better for me. While this is a take on Watchmen, it also has its own story to tell, issue to be brought to attention. Other than the writer’s weekly rumour/gossip column, I don’t believe I’ve read anything he’s written as far as actual comics go–having read this, I now plan to seek out some of his other work.

This issue felt rather thin, and so when I flipped through, I counted 23 story pages and 1 page of mid-story material. Normally I’d consider that unacceptable for a $3.99 book…however, having the pages in the 9-panel-grid made each page feel like it had loads more content than the average mainstream (DC/Marvel) comic and thus feels like a far better value despite the price. Additionally, I was rather disappointed that we only had that one page–I found myself reading it, and would have read another couple pages in its vein if they’d been included.

All in all, if you enjoy Watchmen, and know much of anything about the history of the DC/Alan Moore goings-on, this ought to be a fun issue for you…and certainly comes off as smarter than other spoofs I’ve seen.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Whatmen?! [Review]

Whatmen?!

Written by: Scott Lobdell
Pencils by: Alejandro Figueroa
Inks by: Aldo Giordanelli
Colors & text page design by: Amber Shields
Lettering by: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Edited by: Chris Ryall & Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW

I wasn’t going to buy this book–I enjoy some parodies/spoofs, but was going to avoid the various Watchmen spoofs. I also tend to avoid IDW because I refuse to pay $4 for a standard-size comic, and care nothing for cardstock covers and high-quality sturdy gloss pages. I just want to read a good story from a comic, and I’ll get a collected volume if I’m interested in a high-quality version that’s not going to sit in a box for years.

But this is a one-shot, and felt thicker than usual, so against better judgment I bought it. If you know the story of Watchmen, you know the basic elements found in this book. We follow along roughly the same story, but at breakneck pace and with a “_________ Movie” twist to numerous elements (including a nice use of Dr. NYC “spoiling” a couple of subplots since there’s not room in a single issue to adapt a 300-page graphic novel).

Given that this IS a spoof, not too much to be said story-wise, except that it hits on some of the main “moments” fans of Watchmen would probably expect to see in any abridgment.

The art is good, and actually does in most places remind me of Gibbons’ work on the source material. The art certainly goes with the story, and I have nothing here to complain about. There are some amusing sight-gags: watch for Spider-Man, and Snoopy clones, among others–when one looks past the “simple” exterior of these gags, there’s further amusement to be had realizing what they stand in for.

All in all, this is a fairly amusing book. I don’t think it’s on the level of being a “must-read!” or anything, but if you’ve an extra $4–and don’t mind spending $4 for 28 pages of visual story and 4 text-pages (all in the general style of Watchmen)–you’ll find yourself with a decent comic if you snag this.

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

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