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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!

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0004_blogtrailer

General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #3 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0003Truth Hurts

Writer: Ivan Cohen
Penciller: June Brigman
Inker: Roy Richardson
Colorist: Jeremy Lawson
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: Dan Panosian
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

I like these semi-yearly promotions, with DC Comics in cereal. However, this has been THE worst one yet, from two prior Justice League sets and last year’s Batman v Superman: it took an absurd 19 or so boxes of cereal for me to get ONE copy of this 3rd issue. (Meanwhile, I have 9 of #4!) And contrary to the first two issues by what I would consider "name creators" that I recognize, this issue is the worst of the three so far. Or perhaps "worst" is a "strong word," but this is the most generic of the three so far, and comes off worse for comparison to the first two issues.

This one focuses on Wonder Woman where the previous two focused on Superman and Batman, respectively. The Justice League arrives at the site of a volcano that’s about to erupt. The team splits up to approach the situation in their own ways to try to minimize destruction. Aquaman winds up unleashing an underground stream, dousing the League. Then everyone turns on each other, apparently selfish and irritable and downright mean. Wonder Woman–Diana–reflects on an incident from her childhood where she was hurt by stuff her friends had said about her and fled to another island, where she faced the wrath of a minotaur. Based on that experience, she applies the lesson to the present and ultimately the group discovers that something in the water had affected them all, and they resolve the conflicts by admitting the truths that were brought to the surface, and are able to deal with the volcano, preventing any loss of life, though there’s plenty of property damage. Finally, Diana proclaims that real friendship can survive any revelation, and the Justice League are the truest friends of all.

Again, this is the most generic of the issues for this promotion, and comes off that way both story-wise and perhaps even moreso, visually. The story reeks of the "very special episode" and such…perhaps I’m also annoyed and more sensitive to it given the number of duplicates of the other issues I amassed just trying to get this one. But I didn’t feel like the other two issues were nearly as "preachy" on the "special message," though I had noticed a "message" to each of those as well.

The art here is ok–not horrible, but far from wonderful. The characters and designs are recognizable but seem a bit inconsistent, and lacking the "big name" or "recognized" creators, this comes off all the more as what it is–a generic freebie from a box of cereal that happens to have "current" versions of costumes with characters that aren’t given room for much depth (a one-off single-issue story with numerous characters and an attempt to "focus" on Wonder Woman).

That I went through the hassle I did, accumulated a year’s worth (or more) of cereal goes to show my personal OCD and such (and marks me as an ideal "target" for this sort of promotion!). Though the numbering of these–#s 1 through 4–makes for a "complete mini-series" of sorts, if you’re NOT interested in having all four, I would not worry about trying to get this issue unless you want the specific focus on Wonder Woman (a focus that is more of a "gets more pages" than being a Wonder Woman STORY).

Ultimately, for a "free" comic from a box of cereal, this isn’t horrible, but is far from wonderful. I found myself recalling the likes of The Untold Legend of the Batman, which I believe had a "cereal edition" in the mid-1980s. Those were reprints of an actual in-continuity story…I think I’d almost rather see something like that (re)-attempted…or at least, I think something like this (offering miniature editions of comics in cereal) would be ripe for promoting some of DC‘s actual #1 issues to try to hook readers.

I certainly would not begin to consider this issue "worth" a standard cover price, and not worth the boxes of cereal I bought to acquire it…though at least the variety and quantity means I’m not going to have to buy cereal again for a long time, as I will actually (eventually) use it all.

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0003_blogtrailer

Injustice: Gods Among Us Annual #1 [Review]

injusticegodsamongusannual001The Hunt for Harley

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Xermanico, Jonas Trindade, Mike S. Miller, Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez Rodriguez
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover: Juan Jose
Assistant Editor: Aniz Ansari
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Normally I’m not a huge fan of Lobo, though the character occasionally gets my interest. I had enough curiosity in September that I wound up snagging the Lobo Villains Month issue, and since I’m already following Injustice, there was no reason for me to avoid this issue arbitrarily.

The main thrust of this issue is that Lobo shows up to see if it’s worth trying to collect a bounty on Superman. When pointed out that Superman could just throw him into the sun, and there wouldn’t BE even a single drop of blood for Lobo to regenerate from, the big bad biker from space decides that nope, the bounty is not worth it. However, Superman makes his travel worth his time, and sics the bounty hunter on a thorn in his own side: Harley Quinn. So Lobo goes after her, to darkly comedic results, with a hint of Green Arrow and Black Canary thrown in.

This is by no means a written masterpiece…but I have to say that I enjoyed this issue and its story more than I have most comics lately! The story itself fits quite well within the established setting of the Injustice series and its parameters. I liked the longer singular story, compared to feeling more like I’m getting a couple of shorter stories and a random backup in some of the non-Annual issues.

I also enjoyed the visuals of the issue. Nothing glared out at me as weird or “off,” nothing took me out of the story as I turned the pages despite multiple artists; and I really like this version of Lobo.

While there’s a fair bit of context to be had, having read the series so far that makes this issue work, if you’re loosely familiar with Lobo and Harley (say, from the game itself or other media) and you know the premise of the game (superman’s taken over, the heroes are split and alliances are not what they used to be), you can probably enjoy this as a rather expensive (but at least thicker than a standard issue) once-shot story with nice art.

The overall saga of Injustice is not exactly advanced–this is a fairly “timeless” story within the setting and nothing stands out as “key,” though there are references grounding this in the continuity.

But this is still a good issue that I ultimately didn’t mind paying the $4.99 cover price quite as much as I would many others. If you come across this for a decent price (whatever you deem “decent”) it’s definitely worthwhile.

Injustice: Gods Among Us #10 [Review]

injusticegodsamongus010Betrayals

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Tom Derenick, Mike S. Miller, Bruno Redondo
Colorists: David Lopez, Santi Casas of Ikari Studio
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover: Mico Suayan
Cover Colors: David Lopez, Santi Casas
Assistant Editor: Aniz Ansari
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Given the way I was drawn into this series, I almost hate to admit that it seems that even as things with the characters heat up, the series itself is cooling down for me. I have yet to get to play the game this is based on, so only have the story as this comic series to go on, and the premise is wearing a bit thin.

This issue gives us the next three chapters that were originally presented digitally…two dealing with the “main” story and one that’s really just a “side” story for “perspective.” In the main stuff, Superman’s group has learned that the Hawkgirl they were working with was actually the Martian Manhunter in disguise, while Batman’s group had taken out the original. In retaliation, Superman reveals Batman’s identity to the world. This doesn’t go over well with anyone–least of all Bruce–and prompts additional harsh action. Martian Manhunter confronts Superman and Wonder Woman, and uses his shape-shifting ability to threaten Wonder Woman’s life, prompting quick/deadly action from Superman. In the third part, we get a story of a kinder, gentler Superman of the past and how he went to extraordinary lengths to help a kid who fell off a bike.

Art-wise, no particular complaints. The art fits the stories the issue gives, and I never found myself trying to figure out what was going on due to confusing visuals. The “classic” Superman seemed slightly off, but I’m a lot more “forgiving” of that given this series is entirely its own thing…and I’ve gotten used to seeing a lot of visual interpretations of the character that don’t quite fit “my” preferences.

Though the series is cooling off for me, the story isn’t bad. It’s a bit jarring to see these characters–especially Superman–take things as far as they do; and to see where there can be more drastic, shocking consequences since this isn’t the “main” continuity (characters can be killed, maimed, etc.). I’m finding Flash to be a bit more of a “voice of reason” and the most true-to-form of the various characters; certainly “vocally.”

By and large, this far in, the story is steeped in its own continuity so there’s not much of a jumping-on point, and it seems rather unlikely that anyone would be randomly jumping in at a 10th issue without context of the earlier issues; there’s no real recap–externally or within the story itself–which works for me, having read all the earlier issues…but it wouldn’t seem likely to truly “clue in” a new reader looking for context.

Superman allowing–even instigating–the revelation of Bruce’s identity, particularly as retaliation seems uncharacteristic of Superman, given likely ramifications. I’ll buy it for the sake of the story, but with a healthy dose of skepticism. My favorite part of the issue was the flashback which is a rather strong Superman story, period–Injustice and otherwise.

All in all, not a bad issue…certainly nothing to disgust me into dropping the book, but nothing that particularly drives me to recommend someone jump in on this issue, or even the series, without already being interested in the concept to begin with.

As the issue re-presents 3 chapters that were originally 99-cents each, I’m paying a $1 “premium” to get/read this in print. Yet given the page count, it’s in line with (or has more than) other $3.99 books, so no huge issue there.

Injustice: Gods Among Us #8 [Review]

injusticegodsamongus008Public Relations

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Mike S. Miller, Tom Derenick
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover: Mico Suayan with Santi Casas & David Lopez of Ikari Studio
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

While to my knowledge I’ve read the entire series so far, I feel like I’m missing a piece somewhere, like I lost a couple pages or something…or just outright forgot something where a history/”previously…” blurb would have been quite helpful.

Lex Luthor joins in on the debate between Hawkgirl, Superman, and the others, pointing out that they have to change the “image” the world now has of them…to get out in front and explain to the world what they’re doing, their intent–rather than the world being left to merely observe and draw wild conclusions. Meanwhile, word gets out even beyond Earth to Kalibak (Darkseid’s son) on Apokalips, who takes Superman’s intention of peace to mean soft weakness. With Darkseid’s permission he leads a worldwide invasion against Earth, which leaves the heroes to test recent changes in “strategy.”

Other than somehow not remembering Luthor entering things–perhaps a total brainfart, perhaps just not catching it last month–I’m quite enjoying this series, this story. It certainly helps that so far this series is entirely self-contained…it’s epic, “event”-level stuff, yet it’s just…”itself.” No legions of tie-ins and extra minis and specials to buy. Not even any double-shipping to make the $3.99 cover price an even harder “sell.” Just one issue per month on a regular basis…which leaves me actually looking forward to the upcoming Annual (and wondering if that will be simply some extra chapters to keep the digital chapters from being TOO far ahead of the print edition, or something else).

The characters aren’t exactly all that ‘deep’ or anything, but there’s not room for much depth given how many are involved. Still, the overall “feel” to the story, to the issue works for me, as I just kept on turning pages…I was so engrossed in the story that I failed to even consciously note that the art changed in the middle of the issue. I can see it, consciously looking for it, of course. But it’s extremely rare for me to keep breezing through an issue without being at least slightly thrown off by such a shift.

The art’s good, obviously. There’s that consistency throughout, and the fact that nothing was so jarring as to pull me out of “the story” the entire art team gets loads of credit from me. I like the costume designs here…they’re classic overall, with some modifications that seem partially New-52 influenced, partially just modifications likely from the designers of the game this is based on to have the characters look cooler on-screen.

I typically don’t care much for comics based on video games, but if I was “just” reading this and had no context that it’s based on a game, I’d simply take it as an Elseworlds type thing; an alternate universe.

I imagine one would enjoy this particularly if familiar with the game…yet, in my own experience it’s enjoyable simply for being an alternate take on the characters, centered around a crucial event in Superman’s life.

If you’re not reading Injustice yet, you can get it as single chapters through the Comixology app on app-supportive devices; single issues (about 3 chapters each) in print, or wait til November or so for the first hardcover collected volume (first 6 issues/about 18 chapters).

Batman ’66 #2 [Review]

batman66002Emperior Penguin & Chandell’s Chanteuse

Written by: Jeff Parker
Art by: Ty Templeton & Jonathan Case
Colored by: Wes Hartman
Lettered by: Wes Abbott
Cover art by: Michael and Laura Allred
Edited by: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

When I first heard of this digital-first series, I wasn’t that impressed. New comic stories based on the campy 45-year-old tv series? Where’s the fun in that? Yet, due to the price point–only 99 cents for the first digital chapter–I gave it a try anyway, and something about it pulled me in. I went ahead and bought the second chapter, but then discovered that unlike others, the print edition and third digital chapter would hit the same week–so I decided I’d “go print” on this.

The same issues I had with the first–particularly the art–are present here. I can “appreciate” the visual style for trying to evoke the ’60s and such, but it’s not that appealing to me personally. Yet, it certainly fits the story, so in and of itself I don’t really have much complaint. The character designs certainly bring back memories of the characters as played by the real-life actors, which I would say means goal achieved, placing these stories as fitting the classic series.

Story-wise, the plot definitely fits. A giant iceberg floats into Gotham harbor, blocking shipping traffic. Turns out the block of ice is ruled by The Penguin–now recognized as Emperor Penguin–as the iceberg’s been declared its own country (legally binding and all that!). Batman and Robin get involved where the police can’t, and the duo quickly discovers the Penguin’s ally–Mr. Freeze! Of course, things go cold before warming up, and the dizzying duo of detectives declares fowl (er…foul) and things come to a head.

In the back part of the issue, Bruce flies solo on a date with Kathy Kane, and winds up facing someone called the Siren as Batman, who eventually winds up benefiting from Kane’s assistance. I have no idea if this character ever appeared in the classic series or not, but I have no interest in the Siren, and this sort of story especially comes as a turnoff for me–in this comic as well as the way it always did in the tv series.

All in all, not a bad issue on the whole, though at only 2 issues, some of the novelty is already wearing off. If this were a mini-series there might be more appeal for me, but I have to wonder how long this will hold my attention as an ongoing. Despite that…if only for wanting to support what I see as one of the few things DC‘s doing “right” lately, I added this to my pull list, and hope to give it at least a few more issues before I’m “driven” to dropping it.

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

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