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Action Comics #901 [Review]

Reign of the Doomsdays part 1

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artists: Kenneth Rocafort, Jesus Merino
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Kenneth Rocafort
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

The first thing I noticed about this issue was the banner at the top advertising the Green Lantern film due out June 17 “only in theaters.” Now, I know Marvel has done this for YEARS, but they’ve generally done it by way of the upper corner box by the issue’s number and such. And I appreciate this on the GL books–it’s most appropriate there. But on a Superman title, it’s less appropriate, except as the full-DC-wide blast of the advertising. After all, why hide the ad on an interior or the back cover when by having a banner at the top, you’re advertising off any and all ways of displaying comics that allow the top portion to be seen?

That aside…the cover doesn’t impress me all that much. I do appreciate that Doomsday looks a lot closer to what I’m used to than it has in awhile. But the image does seem rather generic to me–Doomsday standing amidst wreckage, the bodies of the Superman Family sprawled at its feet. Something about the imagery just doesn’t do it for me. Then again…the cover is not why I bought the issue.

The story picks up where the lead story of Action #900 left off–the Superman Family has found that they are facing several Doomsdays, each tailored to a diffeent power set, but all set on destruction of the entire group. Cyborg-Superman welcomes destruction, the chance at death. The others, however do not–so after Superman neutralizes the Cyborg, the group gathers up and heads away from their attackers into the depths of the prison they’ve found themselves in. Meanwhile, on Earth, an imminent extinction-level event is detected, and (in contrast to the controversy over a short in the previous issue) the American President proclaims the country’s need of Superman, of any super-powered beings able to help. As Superman & Co. realize their prison is fast approaching Earth, they encounter yet another threat, who steps forth to prevent them from saving the planet. Without wasting time arguing, he delivers a shocking blow to the group, leaving their reaction as our cliffhanger.

I’m not a huge fan of the split art duties on the issue. Rocafort‘s visual style seems a bit “off” to me, and reminded me of my least favorite art from #900, though on a double-checking, it’s not the same. There’s something to this style that makes the characters seem overly generic, Superman especially. Somehow it looks to me more like some guy in a Superman costume, and the face alone doesn’t say “Superman” to me. Merino‘s art in the middle of the issue stands out, and is far preferable to me–the characters look a lot more “on” on those pages…and it makes it rather jarring to then shift right back to a different visual style.

Cornell‘s writing is solid…I haven’t yet read much of his work…the first issue of the Black Ring arc and then the lead in Action 900. But I do like the concept, at least, that’s at play here…and I really enjoy having Superman teamed up again with Supergirl, Eradicator, Steel, Cyborg, and Superboy. And given the first time these characters all got together, it’s fitting that they’re dealing with Doomsday. Given this context–their teamup, and the Doomsday situation…I’m tentatively hooked. I came back for this issue, having figured to only pick up #900 as the anniversary that it was.

While much of the story is fairly serious and played straight…there’s a part where we actually get a thought balloon for Superman, which seems somewhat out of nowhere–especially as I’ve grown used to the LACK of thought balloons in favor of “voiceover” narration and such. The use of the thought balloon in this issue seemed hokey and a bit forced; and momentarily took me out of the story while I thought about it. Not a huge deal, but noticeable.

Where the story is most hurt in my eyes is that I have no idea how many chapters to expect…just as I had no clue how many to expect, really, with the Reign of Doomsday hopping along through various other books without really meaning much. I certainly hope this arc is not dragged out…though this is labled Reign of the Doomsdays part 1 (escaping Reign of Doomsday which was around a half-dozen issues), it’s essentially the same story continuing, so this feels like the 7th chapter, and I’m not sure I’ll want to stick around long-term if it’s simply a dragged-out slugfest or punch-and-run-and-punch-again kinda thing.

While this doesn’t really hold a candle to Reign of the Supermen, if you’re a fan of these characters, this packs a good bit of nostalgia and hope of a new classic. Worth picking up if you enjoy seeing these characters all brought together, and/or if you read #900 and want to follow this Doomsday story.

As of now, I’m interested enough to see where this goes that I plan to come back for #902.

Recommended.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6.5/10
Overall: 7/10

Action Comics #900 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

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

Superman: World of New Krypton #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: World of New Krypton Part One

Superman begins his new life on New Krypton by getting to know a bit of his new surroundings as he is tasked with choosing a Guild to belong to.

supermanworldofnewkrypton001 Writers: James Robinson and Greg Rucka
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Gary Frank with Brad Anderson (variant by Ladronn)
Publisher: DC Comics

We open this issue on Superman’s solo journey from Earth to New Krypton. Arriving, Superman is confronted by locals informing him that Zod wishes to meet with him–Superman declares that his family comes first and proceeds to his Aunt’s home. Here he declares his intention to live amongst his people on New Krypton as a Kryptonian, leaving Earth behind. As such, he must choose a guild and in general adjust to Kryptonian customs as just another guy in the crowd, since he’s nothing special on a world where everyone has his super-powers. After exploring a bit and meeting with Zod, his guild is chosen and we’re left with a Superman facing a future as a Kryptonian with other Kryptonians.

The art here is not bad, but I’m not terribly thrilled with it. It just lacks the detail/feel or something that I get from other artists like Jim Lee, Dan Jurgens, and Gary Frank (That the cover is a Frank image allows for that much more an immediate comparison). The story is conveyed, we can see a range of expression in characters’ faces where called for and so on, so the art is simply not to my personal taste/preference.

The story is solid. While I haven’t entirely bought into the seeming suddenness of Superman’s decision to pursue this course of action–it’s felt fairly forced/arbitrary like plopping playing pieces where-ever one decides on a gaming board and then throwing some almost arbitrary reasoning to the placement–I can’t deny the potential this story has. It’s been nearly two decades since we last had a story exploring a world without a Superman–but that story was a world which had lost its Superman to death, not one “deserted” or “abandoned” by its hero. Either way, this is the series that follows Superman as he deals with leaving Earth behind in order to live with his people, seeking to protect them from a threat that they don’t want to acknowledge.

On the one hand, this may not be the best point to jump on-board without the context of Brainiac or the branded New Krypton story, if one understands simply that Superman is beginning another “quest” that involves his going to and living on this planet of Kryptonians, this shouldn’t be too bad a point to start into things.

As only the first issue of twelve, it’s hard to say where things will go. For now, I’m taking this simply as another Superman book, and do look forward to seeing how the character handles this new year-long status quo.

Ratings:

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

Steel #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

 

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

Superman: Secret Origin #6 [Review] (updated link)

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Superman: Secret Origin #6 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Action Comics #890 [Review]

The Black Ring, part one

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: David Finch, Joe Weems & Peter Steigerwald
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

This issue opens with Luthor strung upside down over the edge of a building…many, many stories above the ground, being threatened. He takes it in stride, though, knowing that if they wanted him dead, he’d already be so, and that his captors want something else. While he waits to see what that is, he reflects on how he wound up in this position…from his deputization as an Orange Lantern during the Blackest Night, to his growing obsession with learning the secret of the rings–any ring, but particularly the black ones–as reflected in a conversation he has with “Lois” before he gets ready to suit up (remember, he has that goofy purple and green battlesuit) and head off in search of a ring.

The story is fairly reasonable…after having access to such incredible power, Luthor naturally would not want to give it up…and being stripped of it, would naturally seek to get it back. That it was an orange ring (avarice/greed) makes this all the more fitting. And as Luthor is supposed to be this evil genius, one of the smarter men on Earth in the DCU, he’s likely to find a way to at least get close to a ring again. This makes for an interesting status quo, and a show of actual repercussion from the recent event. Though I’ve yet to see any numbers or time-frames…no one has said “for this arc” or “for the next year” or anything regarding how long…Lex Luthor is presently the star of Action Comics for awhile, as Superman is embarking on a lengthy walk across America in the main Superman book under Straczyinski‘s direction.

The art is familiar…I got fairly used to Woods‘ work during the New Krypton stuff. Something about the style works a lot better for me here with the Luthor cast than involving Superman/Kal-El. And even apart from comparisons…it looks good here. Nothing to really complain about.

Though this is issue #890 of Action Comics, it’s essentially Lex Luthor #1. As first issues go, it’s not bad…though one jumping in totally fresh might lack info about Blackest Night, and one should note that this takes place–apparently–after the events of July’s Superman #701 which I assume is when Superman will leave everything behind to walk across the country. This is very much a “spin-off” of Blackest Night and not just some arbitrary “new title.” It continues Luthor’s story and does not try to reinvent it. The cover even sports the Blackest Night trade dress, albeit with the word “Aftermath” added.

If you’re a fan of Luthor, this is a good point to jump on and dig in. However, if you’re “only” a fan of Superman and only want to read about the adventures of Superman himself, this is not a book for you.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

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