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REBIRTH WEEK 4: Action, Detective, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Justice League

This post is a little late due to timing and leaving the partially-typed post at work. Six books this week, including the “in isolation” Justice League #52 that I got strictly because of tying to the Superman stuff in Rebirth

JUSTICE LEAGUE #52

justiceleague0052This week starts with a sort of one-shot, posing as an issue of Justice League. This issue is basically a “bridge” issue, taking Lex Luthor from one apparent status quo at the end of The Darkseid War and getting him into position for his role in Action Comics. We get a lot of narration from his side of things, making him definitely a sympathetic character…especially as he comes off–to me, on one reading–as actually being genuine, if not pure in his intentions. This IS Lex Luthor, after all…but I find it a lot easier to identify with this version of the character than I did the pre-Flashpoint one. Ultimately…it seems Luthor gave up rulership of Apokalips and all that would entail to return to Earth, to be a hero, a champion, to better himself such that he would make his sister Lena proud. Whatever else he is, whatever side things he might have going, whatever his methodology and such, he wants to be someone his sister can be proud of. And I kinda dig that.

ACTION COMICS #958

action_comics_0958This issue is the second of this Rebirth run, yet both issues take place after the Justice League issue. (Of course, JL apparently was delayed/late, so…your mileage on the matter may vary). We have Superman and Luthor forced to team up against Doomsday, while various elements of the story are brought to bear. Who is this Clark Kent, and how is he separate from Superman? We as readers know, but characters in the story are left to wonder who this Superman is, given they’ve been told Superman is dead. Lois and Jon watch news of goings-on on tv, as Jon begins to learn a bit more about his father, and we see Lois trying to hide her worry so as to protect her son. Because this is Doomsday, and seems to be THE Doomsday; somehow the same one that DID kill Superman, and not just some construct or entity that can turn into spores and be inhaled or infect someone. Superman–our Superman, this Superman, pre-Flashpoint Superman, recognizes the creature, feels its power, and is himself worried. The issue ends with a cliffhanger that leaves me wondering where the story’s headed, and very interested in the questions half-raised by it in the back of my head…all ultimately stuff that enrichens Superman, Luthor, and the story as a whole.

DETECTIVE COMICS #935

detective_comics_935“Only” two issues in, and I’m quite enjoying this series. Like Action Comics, it feels like a flagship title again. It is definitely, obviously a Batman book…but it’s more a “family” sort of title in that we have Batman, Batwoman, Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan, and even Clayface in the mix. If I can’t have a Tim Drake as Robin/Red Robin solo book, I’ll absolutely “accept” his presence here…particularly seeing that there IS something between him and Stephanie…an element definitely missed since…too far back. I’m not too sure about Kate’s father and what’s going on there…but I’m interested in finding out. I like this mix of characters. I like seeing them, period. And I’m liking the art, and the story holds plenty of potential. I don’t like Marvel‘s double-shipping because of pricing and feeling “obligated” to a title or such. Here, with Detective shipping twice a month, I’m enjoying the story so far and am actually interested in the story, therefore getting another issue every two weeks is a rather welcome thing…especially with each issue “only” being $2.99 vs. Marvel’s $3.99.

THE FLASH #1

flash(2016)_0001While I had bought the entire The Flash: Rebirth mini-series back in 2009 or 2010, whenever it was–I’ve never been a huge Barry fan. Comics-wise, I’m still not, in that he was GONE when I was introduced to comics, and despite occasionally short appearances (Time being wibbly-wobbly and all that) he served as inspiration for Wally and the rest of the Flash family more so than being present himself. But thanks to the tv series, the character has grown on me, and since I’ve quite enjoyed that and I see some elements of crossover, I’m enjoying this. Granted, this is the first issue and only the second issue focused on the Flash in the Rebirth initiative thus far…so I’ve not had much to go on. The story’s not put me off, and something about the art strikes me as something I would not care for with most other characters, but something to it simply “works” for this character. I’m also quite eager to see what all comes up with the fact of Barry being one of apparently only a few individuals to really know “something” is going on, that ten years have been stolen, and so on. That that mystery is something I’m expecting to be drawn out over a couple years makes this title–as a rarity–all the more interesting as a key part of details being learned.

WONDER WOMAN #1

wonder_woman(2016)_0001Possibly the most appealing thing–to me–of this issue is the cover. That’s a beautiful cover, definitely worthy of a poster. Despite that, I’m not sure at the moment if I’d consider it “iconic” or not…I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what the cover of #2 looks like, as well as other elements such as how the title will be collected…as at least for the first few, we’re going to have one story going on in the odd-numbered issues with a “Year One” going on in the evens. While the cover may be the most appealing part…I still liked this issue. It’s just not singularly-stand-out or anything. I’d quite enjoyed what I’d read of Rucka‘s Wonder Woman back around Infinite Crisis and such, but by the time of The New 52 and such, I’ve had no particular interest in the character…really only having anything to with the character by her presence in other stuff–mainly Superman–that I’d read. I’m still looking forward to this series–these first couple stories at minimum–but this is more of a passive enjoyment than an active “chomping at the bit for more” kinda thing. On this single issue alone I could probably take or leave the title if I had to…but having the next several issues coming (eventually) as parts of bundles, I do look forward to reading them and going from there.

AQUAMAN #1

aquaman(2016)_0001I’ve both been aware and simultaneously ignorant when it comes to a lot of Aquaman stuff…particularly longform continuity and back story. I have a couple mental images of the character from the early/mid 1990s of the long-haired, bearded, harpoon-handed period of the character. Despite a couple silver/bronze age issues of my grandfather’s that I’d come across the character, my main introduction to him was in Zero Hour, with a continued “awareness of” the character through the ’90s. Which is all past stuff, and this is a new first issue, the Rebirth issue being a prologue. I don’t know these characters from much familiarity. The whole Aquaman-and-Mera thing is recent for me, from Brightest Day. I’ve known OF Black Manta as a villain going back to early DC Heroclix days. And I’m pretty sure somewhere I’d come across something about his history with Aquaman (I’m thinking Manta was the one that cost Arthur his hand in 1994). Which is alllll to say that I don’t have enough conscious background to really care much one way or the other for this character and his cast…except I’d heard good things about him with the start of the New 52 (though I never jumped in) and I consciously want to like this here, now. It’s a “good” issue, I’m definitely satisfied for my $2.99…but I’m just not EXCTIED by it. As part of a bundle I’m happy to keep reading the series…taken strictly in a pass/fail capacity I think this would be a “good, but just not my kinda thing for single issues” title.

OVERALL:

Another great week of stuff, with no major letdowns. I’m really glad that I ordered bundles starting with July because this is definitely way too much to keep up with, with any regularity otherwise. As with previous “special months” that DC has done, I will occasionally dive in with a bunch of stuff for that month…but to want to carry over fully into following months…this has not happened in a long time!

At this point, I’m thinking I will definitely throw support behind Action Comics and Detective Comics, as well as Superman–wherein even though I’ve ordered the bundles, I’ll still buy the singles day-of-release at the shop. (For what I’m saving on the bundles I still come out way ahead, price-wise).

Only hard thing will be waiting for the end of the month and then cramming in the time to get everything read!

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #112

wonder_woman_0112Game Over

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

There was little doubt in my mind of Wonder Woman’s survival…more just a matter of “how” the story would end.

We have a much smaller time gap between issues this time, as we open in the midst of the battle with “Doomsday,” which we do know is not the REAL creature, but more a sort of “clone” being fed power from the machine that allowed its creation. Given the enormity of the situation, and the significance of Doomsday (apparently) showing up, it’s no surprise that we get a guest-bit with Superman…a family moment as he places a tree he got for his parents, right before Jonathan pulls up to share a radio report of the creature’s presence. Superman heads off intending to join the battle, despite his parents urging him not to. While Wonder Woman and Champion join forces against the creature, and even Cassie gets into the mix, stuff at Lazarus’ place comes to a head as the authorities arrive to take him into custody over the situation. His “son” the computer spawns yet another creature that kills on the spot, and finally a last-ditch idea is tried…that resolves the situation, allowing the creature’s defeat (before Superman even gets there), and an almost too-neat wrapup to this 4-issue chunk of the series.

As with the last three chapters, this was solid overall, particularly on the art. I liked that the story “expanded” a bit, and brought Superman into play–it only makes sense that he’d be made aware of Doomsday seemingly showing up again, and would NOT make sense to not even give any time to his reaction, or that of anyone who knows him. This is also placed as being during that time when Superman and Lois were broken up…which gives me a better “consciousness” as to the timing of this issue and why I was so totally unaware of Doomsday’s appearances in the previous issue and this one: this came out while I was “out of” comics, between the end of The Trial of Superman and prior to the Superman Wedding and then the Electric Costume saga.

There’s nothing “new” really to say on the art–the creative credits have been the same across all 4 issues unless I’ve misread something somewhere, and what I’ve said before holds true to this issue as well. Perhaps the fact that we get Byrne drawing the mid-’90s Superman with the longer hair is another plus (adding to what I’d said earlier about seeing Byrne tackle Doomsday).

Story-wise, my only primary complaint is the seemingly over-the-top language spouted by Ma and Pa Kent in the Superman bit–that just seemed so shoe-horned in/exaggerated that it didn’t ring true at all to my reading…despite the fact that Byrne was the one that did the early work on the Kents being alive into Clark’s adulthood and seeing him be Superman.

The end of this issue–and ostensibly the “story arc”–seemed a bit quick and almost too-tidy as a wrapup, with some exposition trying to suggest this could never happen again, Lazarus rather quickly coming around about the truth of it not actually being his son truly in the computer, etc. Echoing comments I made with one of the other chapters, this is very much from the era when it was relatively RARE for a collected volume to be put out, with only the biggest, most sold-out stories getting a volume. This was still single issues as the primary focus…such that I don’t even know what to call this four part story. With issue names like “Level 1,” “Level 2,” “Level 3,” and “Game Over,” I suppose it COULD be called Game Over (and probably would with a modern-day collection put out), but there’s no overall title, of which the names would (with a contemporary 2016 comic) would be “sub titles” within the arc’s title.

For an 80-cent overall cost to me for Wonder Woman #s 109-112, this was absolutely a real treat to read, and leaves me confident in the fun nature of Byrne‘s run on the title, and very much interested in carving out some more time (eventually) to read this series at length…along with the likes of the Wally West Flash series.

If you find these issues–this one, or the previous several–they’re definitely well worth bargain-bin pricing (up to $1ish each), as the four issues at even $1 would be the cost of a single current issue…and this story is more than worth the price of a single current comic. As this is not actually part of some large, singular overall story, one could even conceivably dive in here, with the majority of what you need to know being that Wonder Woman’s engaged in battle with fake-Doomsday, and how things go and get wrapped up. The stuff with Lazarus and his wife/companion even give what would seem to be enough context and exposition to let one “get” the basics of what is–and has been–going on to get to this issue.

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #111

wonder_woman_0111Level 3

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

This is the third issue of a story, and we pick up shortly after where we left off in the previous issue. Doomsday is on a rampage in Gateway City, despite the fact that–to the best of anyone’s knowledge–the creature was hurled into space some time back, never to return to Earth. As the creature tears up real estate, Wonder Woman is brought into the mix–interrupted from the advisory assistance she’s receiving in identifying the substance the fake-Flash and fake-Sinestro were made out of. Even realizing this is the creature that KILLED Superman, Wonder Woman doesn’t hesitate to engage it in battle. While taking her lumps, Champion joins in–though he takes a Supergirl-like hit that takes him out immediately. Seeking to aid her mentor, Cassie retrieves the Sandals of Hermes as well as an unknown artifact and goes to Wonder Woman’s aid. When she’s hit–and nearly killed–it distracts Wonder Woman enough that the beast gets the upper hand, and it looks like this might be game over for our heroine.

Three issues into the story and I’m enjoying stuff…and actually had to “force” myself to NOT dive straight into the next issue. I’m enjoying this story, the art’s good, and I just want to get more of everything. See more of Wonder Woman in action, see more of Cassie and get details of her background, as well as see more of the rest of the supporting cast–Cassie’s mom, Mike, Champion, Wonder Woman as Diana NOT in action…three issues in and this is simply flat-out an enjoyable book!

I had no idea just from the cover what the context of Doomsday’s presence was, but now having read the preceding issues and this one, the creature is a construct created by a computerized process controlled by the “consciousness” of someone’s son. The “clones” are created and programmed, and then let loose on the world, though Kris–who apparently died, but his consciousness was “saved”–can see through the constructs’ eyes. Even though it’s a “fake,” this Doomsday is quite powerful, and not “just” some run-of-the-mill villain, showing up and totally diluting the character. Flash-forward twenty years to present day, and the character is just another of Superman’s rogues–like Darkseid or Mongul. But in 1996, this was before The Doomsday Wars, so Doomsday itself was still an extremely rare villain to actually (or seemingly-actually) show up.

I like the cover (obviously), even though Doomsday is a bit “off” in appearance. This fits with the story, though, and so I can forgive it quite easily. There’s also something rather gratifying about seeing John Byrne handling the character–both from the writing side, and even moreso from the art side, as so much of the Superman mythos at the time of the Doomsday! / The Death of Superman was still closely, tightly tied to the foundation work laid out by Byrne during his tenure on the Superman titles.

This story started with level 1–The Flash, a hero–apparently accidentally causing damage. It continued to level 2 with Sinestro, a villain–causing damage but not outright killing anyone. Then on to level 3 with Doomsday and untold damage and destruction and death. Wonder Woman is facing one of the most powerful things she’s ever faced, and this issue ends trying to convince us of the bad place she’s in…but it’s a comic, it’s #111 where I know the series passed #200, and I don’t recall any other major “Diana-gets-replaced” type stories, so it’s a given she survives. Still, she and her fellow fictional chracters don’t know that as this ends, so it’s on to the next issue to see what comes of this build-up!

And once again, as noted before…EVEN THOUGH this is the third issue of an arc, it still reads like one could pick this up and be no worse off than I was reading the first part of the story. You’re thrust into the action, get a bit of context and new action, and a cliffhanger to lead to the next issue. One story, but each issue could pretty conceivably be someone’s first without them being as totally lost or “coming in mid-story” as one would be picking up the third issue of a present-day arc.

REBIRTH WEEK 2: Action, Detective, Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman

This week gave us three new Rebirth issues–serving as starting point, prologue, and #0s for newly-relaunching ongoing books…as well as the first issues of two ongoing series: Action Comics and Detective Comics, doing the opposite of expectation and instead of a fresh #1 for either title, leap back to their “legacy” numbering–adding their past 52 issues onto their last pre-Flashpoint issue, bringing the books current as if they’d never been renumbered.

And while it may not be the best technical term, my overall feelings after reading the week’s issues lead me simply to the sentence “Holy crap! DC‘s comics are awesome again!”

ACTION COMICS #957

actioncomics0934I couldn’t contain myself to just a few basic comments…I absolutely loved Action Comics #957 and wrote up a bunch of thoughts on it separately.

Like…I thoroughly enjoyed the issue.

It’s the best single-issue Superman comic of one of the ongoing titles I can consciously recall as of this typing.

It’s like re-united with an old friend not seen in years, and realizing that even though life has gone on, we’ve grown and changed, what we had is still there.

Fantastic story.

Fantastic art.

A mere twenty pages for “only” $2.99, and just this issue alone made me smile, and feel like a kid again, and I really, truly am looking forward to the next issue. I walked away for four years. With an issue like this, such a strong start like this, it sucks that I have no choice but to WAIT two weeks for the next issue.

DETECTIVE COMICS #934

detective_comics_934I think I was originally intending to ignore this issue, this series. Unlike with the Superman books, I’ve been a lot more flexible in my overall Batman collecting, with a much more punctuated “history” with the character and books. Then I was “only” going to get this because of deciding to throw in for the start of the Rebirth initiative, just diving in with “everything” for a few weeks, to really give it a chance. And for the first time since I can remember, I thoroughly enjoyed an issue of this title.

I have never cared for this Batwoman character, but here, as presented in this issue, I’m cool with it. I didn’t read the whole Gordon-as-Batman-and-then-Bruce’s-Return stuff nor any recent Justice League stuff, so I’m certainly missing a bit. I don’t much care for the black-bat-outlined-in-gold chest-logo, but I can accept it as the current, knowing that it’s a lot more cyclical than say, Superman’s S-shield.

I love that I get Tim Drake here, seeming very much like the character I’ve loved and appreciated nearly my entire time with comics. And as he started out without a solo title, appearing in the Bat-books…so here he’s “just” another character in a book with several characters. And while he has a double-R logo now–Red Robin instead of “just” Robin–it’s a great melding of new and old, and I’m happy with it at least for the moment. The use of Clayface and Spoiler as well lend interest for me, and I think I’m around for the next several issues at least…doing as a single issue should, I’m quite entertained and felt my purchase was worthwhile, and I’m actively looking forward to the next issue.

THE FLASH: REBIRTH #1

flash_rebirth_0001This is the first of these issues to really, directly reference and involve stuff that went down in the Rebirth one-shot, weaving stuff from that into the flow of this story, giving us even more on the return of Wally and setting his journey and Barry’s own as we head into coming books. While the art was a bit off-putting, seeming a bit more “artsy” than I’d prefer, it worked well enough in conveying the story, and I was never left wondering what’d happened in a panel or scene. It’s just not a visual style I tend to prefer (even if it LOOKS very New 52 Flash to me at a glance).

We have Barry, and get Wally, and get some real, direct expansion on stuff from Rebirth. This issue makes me really look forward to The Flash and Barry in coming Flash issues, as well as Wally’s own journey, and seeing how things go with Batman as well. I never used to think of Batman and Flash as being a good pair, but this issue shows me how that definitely works, beyond contrivances with an alternate universe story I’d had little idea would mean what it did half a decade ago.

Though this is a single issue and not a 6-issue mini-series, like its predecessor, I’m more interested in Barry than I was before reading, and am definitely looking forward to continuing adventures of the character.

AQUAMAN: REBIRTH #1

aquaman_rebirth_0001I’ve never been much of an Aquaman fan. I’ve been aware of the character, read plenty of issues of varying quality involving the character, dabbled in reading iterations of ongoing series with the character, but despite “potential” several times, just never got into the character. As such, by rights, I shouldn’t care to check this out, or to enjoy this issue all that much…but I checked it out, and enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to seeing a bit more development.

That said, this is (for me) probably the weakest of all the Rebirth issues so far. It’s NOT bad, and the art is fantastic, and there’s a heckuva lot of potential for the series. But this one issue doesn’t do a lot for me…doesn’t change my take on the character, doesn’t infuse me with excitement and interest for the next issue…it’s just an issue serving as prologue to the initial arc on the officially-ongoing series (making this very much a #0 issue). Particularly when stacked up against the likes of Action Comics #957, the one-shot Rebirth issue itself, and my excitement toward several other launching-soon titles, this didn’t have much chance.

Another way to put it, though, I think would be this: Aquaman sits amidst some phenomenally enjoyable comics that are collectively serving as a breath of fresh air after years of really just flat-out NOT REALLY CARING, PERIOD about DC comics in general, and finding refuge in bargain-bin back issues. This issue is solid, introducing/re-introducing characters, status quo, motivation(s), and setting up what’s to come. I’m not disappointed at buying it. I just find the thought rather interesting that weighing the various issues out so far, if I had to “cut” any from purchasing, this would likely be the first. Still, I’m onboard for now, and it’s great to see the character in action and in a relationship, and coming off as a serious character, while there’s acknowledgement of the rap the character gets.

WONDER WOMAN: REBIRTH #1

wonder_woman_rebirth_0001Rucka on Wonder Woman again… yeah, that’s definitely a positive selling point for me. That this issue addresses and begins in its own way to ADDRESS discrepancies in the character’s origin and backstory, moving the story forward while not disregarding or throwing anything out goes a long way in making me want to read more. There’s a familiarity to the character in this issue that I really enjoyed, both narratively and visually. I recognize the character as one I’ve seen here and there and even read a bit in the Superman/Wonder Woman book for the New 52…but I also see something of prior iterations of the character as well–Rucka‘s run from around Infinite Crisis as well as stuff going back to Byrne, and even back to the beginning of the post-CoIE run with Perez.

While I’m “aware OF” something with Wonder Woman and her being the God(dess) of War now (from reading Superman/Wonder Woman), other than that, in my own reading experience, the character has felt largely defined as “finally” being Superman’s girlfriend…I’ve not followed the solo series, and so have only really seen much with the character when it’s involved Superman.

Here we get a character that’s very much her own, in an issue whose story is strong in how it shows the character and in acknowledging mixed versions of her origin and backstory. The art is solid and I like it overall…despite the way the character could easily be conveyed, I feel like the character radiated independent strength that leaves me wanting to read more and see more, without it being tied to how she looks.

The familiarity from having Rucka back on the character’s title is another positive, and a key factor for me to just stick around, trusting from the past that this is gonna be a great ride.


Three weeks in…and still enjoying stuff, still greatly enjoying the fact that for the first time in years, the DC Unierse feels like “home” again, that I’m as interested in the “universe” as I am individual characters or a couple individual titles.

I know the quality won’t hold–I can’t imagine any line could–but this whole push is just SO refreshing that I’m enjoying it, and “on the hook” for at least the next seven or so weeks and ready to add another 4 to that!

weekly_haul_week_of_20160608a

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #110

wonder_woman_0110Level 2

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: June 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

This is only the “second” issue I’ve read in this particular set of issues, but I’m quite enjoying the title. Where the previous issue appeared to guest-star The Flash (only it turned out to be a fake), this issue has an appearance of Sinestro–who at this point in DC‘s continuity was dead, his neck snapped by Hal Jordan just before he went all Parallax and such.

We open on Sinestro/not-Sinestro carving up the city, trying to get Wonder Woman’s attention. Once he has her attention, they battle–or moreso, Wonder Woman battles him, and he just keeps on keeping on…at first seeming like a joke, then an actual-true threat. Eventually, it appears that Wonder Woman’s defeated, and a new guy–Champion–shows up, saving her…though he gets the same result from “Sinestro” as Diana had last issue with “The Flash” as we see that this is just some sort of construct that can self destruct into dust. While Champion (who has himself a back-burner subplot brewing that surely leads to something bigger down the road) and Diana puzzle over the similarities in the Flash attack and now Sinestro, as readers we’re given the inside scoop, as the scene shifts and contextual details are revealed…explaining the fakes’ presence and setting things up for the next couple issues.

As with the previous issue–Wonder Woman #109–I definitely enjoyed this issue. The story and art both worked well in and of themselves, and especially as a cohesive whole. With the same creative and editorial team as the previous issue, this definitely FELT like the next issue. No major changes, no weird oddities…it’s just the continuing story.

Perhaps by comparison to contemporary comics, though, this issue does NOT pick up 100% EXACTLY from the previous issue…it picks up as a “next chapter” without being merely the next chunk of story in a larger graphic novel being ‘serialized’…and I actually like that. I’m all for the singular story of a graphic novel…but for this being a “single issue” I like that–even as a continuing story–it maintains its identity AS the single issue.

The story in this issue fills us in as readers much more than the previous issue…this is where comics worked quite well in the ’90s as both ongoing sagas and having stories that can be collected into a “graphic novel” or such. We (I) had no idea any background on stuff in the previous issue–The Flash simply showed up, turned out to be a fake, and we’re left to wonder what the heck’s going on. THIS issue gives us the context and such on where not only The Flash but also Sinestro came from…and goes beyond that to show us the genesis of the threat for the next issue, serving as setup and cliffhanger, and getting to the last page left me quite ready to get to the next issue. Of course, it wasn’t surprise, as it’s the cover of the next issue that grabbed my attention to begin with.

Even though this is Level 2, a second chapter of a story (though perhaps not quite as solid/singular a story as I’d thought–though it plays into the genesis of these back-from-oblivion characters), one could conceivably pick up this issue and be just as good as starting with the previous issue. You get the characters, some context as you go through, and editorial notes to point you where to go for a bit more expansion of stuff touched on here.

It’s also EXTREMELY REFRESHING that there’s just the one cover, it’s (presumably, since there’s no separate cover credit provided) by the interior artist, so fits both visually AND exaggerates (slightly) a scene that actually appears in the issue, and is not merely some stock or “iconic” image that could be interchanged with any other cover.

First issue, Second issue (in this present read-through, it’s MY second), or just another issue if one is reading a run, this is a strong, solid issue well worth the 20 cents I paid for it!

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #109

wonder_woman_0109Level 1

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: May 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

This is one of those ’90s issues that–while revisiting “the ’90s,” is a new-read for me. I’ve dabbled here and there through the years with this book–getting the odd issue because Superman’s on the cover, or something tied to a comic book course in college, or some cover grabbing my attention or there’s a chapter of a crossover I’m following. I jumped on the book toward the tail-end of Rucka‘s run in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, and then followed for a few issues shortly after, but never stuck with the book for all that long. So while I can’t recite lists of characters–particularly the supporting characters–I’m at least “loosely familiar” with who Wonder Woman is, that the exact “who” she is has shifted a bit through the years, and I know OF some of the major story beats of her series.

So this issue opens with a flight passing over Gateway City, where the Lexair passengers are surprised at the random sight of a girl flying with winged shoes. As readers, we quickly learn that this is Cassie Sandsmark and those are the Sandals of Hermes, and she’s not exactly well-practiced in their use yet. Wonder Woman flies after, and the situation is soon resolved as Cassie figures out–a bit–what she’s doing, and the two get back safely to the apartment Cassie and her mom live in. They then prepare for an evening–Cassie is under Wonder Woman–Diana’s–care, and Diana has a “date” that’s not a date. Unfortunately, the Flash shows up and causes a lot of destruction to the buildings along the street the restaurant’s on and more than a little trouble for Wonder Woman. This isn’t Wally West, though, and when he bursts into dust, no one has any idea what he was or why he was there…leaving Wonder Woman with a mystery on her hands.

I bought a 50-issue run of this series, and one cover that REALLY stood out to me had some iteration of Doomsday on it, which had me quite curious–it’s not an issue I was ever consciously aware of back in the day, nor was it something I knew of AS a Doomsday appearance. Fortunately (or not, depending on perspective) I noticed the “title” of the issue included a “3,” so I checked the previous issue–that had a “2,” so I went back another issue–this one, #109–to find the “1.” I have no idea what happened immediately preceding this issue, nor do I recall what happens after. I’m nearly entirely certain this is AFTER “the Artemis” stuff when Diana ceded her role as Wonder Woman, so she’s “back in the role” now and things are moving along at a good clip.

Story-wise, we’re dropped right into the action, with no immediate context–just story. Being somewhat aware of stuff, I followed along without any trouble. I did not open the issue expecting to “know everything,” and so I was not disappointed. It’s like watching an early episode of some tv series from SEVERAL seasons earlier. I’d forgotten Byrne‘s run on the title, or that it was this early–what I DID remember made me think he’d started on the book more in the early 2000s, so that shows what I know.

Visually, I really enjoy his art here. It works very well with the story, and both Wonder Woman herself and the Flash look good…though through no fault of the art, Cassie does NOT look like I think of her from Geoff JohnsTeen Titans run…which makes sense, as this is from 1996, predating Young Justice by a couple years, and Young Justice itself ran several years before Teen Titans.

All in all, for an issue I had not planned to read, but ended up reading for momentary/immediate ‘context’ to the issue that actually grabbed my attention, I really enjoyed this, and look forward to progressing a couple more issues to the one I actually originally planned to read. This also bodes well for my enjoyment of the run, and of (eventually) filling in the gaps in my Wonder Woman run from the Perez “reboot” through Infinite Crisis.

My Multiple Editions of Kingdom Come

While it’s only more recently with the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the book that brought it back to my attention (as well as several podcasts and other recognition being given to celebrating the 20-year-history of it), Kingdom Come is truly one of the "classics" from my formative years being into comics.

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Pictured here are the 4 original issues, the hardback of the novelization, the 2008 new edition TPB, the original 1990s edition TPB, and the just-released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Hardcover.

Consciously missing are the Absolute Edition as well as some other ’90s hardcover, and the MMPB edition of the novelization (which as of this morning ranges from ~$32 with shipping on Amazon for "used" copies and ~$84-87 for "new" condition).

I had tried the first issue or two "off the rack" 20 years ago, based on the Alex Ross art, and I think a bit of the "collector" mentality–this being the "next" Alex Ross project, or DC‘s version of Marvels. (having little idea that he’d be a key foundation for Earth X as Marvel‘s version of Kingdome Come!).

I never initially finished out the story–it was a couple years later at least before I got a copy of the first TPB edition and finally read the entirety of the story. And of course, the novelization was a real treat, roughly in the age when I so thoroughly enjoyed other novelizations like The Death and Life of Superman and Batman: Knightfall (and though I didn’t know they were novelizations of comics at the time, several Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator novels).

While I’m not opposed to owning any of the "missing" editions, the only one I’m particularly interested in is the book-on-tape "audio-drama" edition, though I don’t expect to ever find that for anything resembling a reasonable price.

I missed Dark Knight and Watchmen by just a couple years…but it’s been an interesting experience seeing what an integral part of the "landscape" Kingdom Come has been, for my actually being there from the start.

Now, DC Comics just needs to do a single-volume edition of the Johns story from JSA a few years back–Thy Kingdom Come and include the Kingdom Come Specials in the volume.

Superman/Wonder Woman #29 [Review]

supermanwonderwoman0029The Final Days of Superman part 7: Fire Line

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Karl Kerschl
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

This is it–the penultimate chapter of The Final Days of Superman, and of the New 52 Superman’s story, period, it would seem, at least as he’s been given to readers since September 2011.

We have Solar Flare Superman facing New 52 Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, Convergence/pre-Flashpoint Superman gets his wife and son to the fortress he’s kept secret from them, and he and his Lois have a ‘discussion’ over the matter. While Batman gets New 52 Lois away from Solar Flare, New 52 Superman and New 52 Wonder Woman do a number on Solar Flare Superman, before the Flare entity gains the upper hand. Learning of the ongoing battle, Supergirl leaves the DEO only partially-powered to join the fray, and we leave off with New 52 Superman in the clutches of Solar Flare.

Which is all a slightly obtuse, quasi-intentional way of expanding on the fact that not much of anything really HAPPENS here, except some pieces are moved around the board, marking time for the concluding chapter yet to come as we head into Rebirth itself as well next week…and to emphasize the fact that we have three different Supermen in play in this issue alone, as well as two Loises who don’t even meet.

Story-wise, this isn’t BAD at all–that’s not what I’m saying. But we basically have a big fight scene punctuated by accounting for several “subplots” (as much as such things actually exist in 2016 DC comics). Being well aware of this being chapter 7 of 8, and of what’s about to happen, and expecting it to unfold in the final chapter of this story and spill into the big Rebirth issue next week, I can’t truly fault the writing for not being able to DO much in this issue except move pieces around the board.

Visually I’m not enamored…while everyone’s quite recognizable, the linework just makes everyone look a bit “off” to me…and that is something firmly accentuated with the addition of color effects, to say nothing of just not caring for–or being used to–a Superman in any sort of armor, whatever its backstory/reason/necessity (or lack thereof). I also don’t care for the layouts…though they vary page to page, many pages seem to have too-big panels with too few words…and whether that’s art expanding to fill a lack of script or a script allowing an expansion of art, I’m not sure…but it makes $3.99 feel that much more expensive for the quick read this issue is as a whole (particularly compared against comics read this week from 1996, 20 years ago, purchased for 20 cents each!).

Finally, the cover isn’t all that appealing…I’ve not gone back to check out later printings of earlier chapters, though I saw a couple in passing and this one seems to fit those. The cover copy “Burning Love!” seems ill-placed as well, and the entire image is a bit misleading as Supergirl is not involved in the core action of this issue.

All in all…this issue is for those following the entirety of The Final Days of Superman, or completing a run of this particular title. If you’re just looking for the apparent death of the New 52 Superman, that should be next week; and if you’re not already following stuff, this chapter does not give enough to justify itself in and of itself for anyone to try to “jump in” just for this particular issue as any sort of “random” purchase.

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 18, 2016

For being a really small week with only one pull-list book and going in planning on one off-the-shelf book…this turned into a huge week of new-to-me comics!

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Been following–and quite enjoying–the Final Days of Superman story, if only for the fact of it being a multi-part story spanning four titles with a new chapter coming out each week, wherein I’m following the story itself and not so concerned about what title any given chapter falls in. Then there’s also Spawn, added to my pulls to support the high-numbering that’s been maintained through an age of renumbering/reboots/etc, as well as holding to the $2.99 price point amidst a sea of $3.99+ books. And I have yet to talk myself out of Power Man and Iron Fist, which I’ve thus far been enjoying overall.

And I’m definitely a fan of some of the Wizard specials…the Zero Hour book wound up costing me a whopping 20 cents this week!

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For $1 each–or all four of these for the price of a single Marvel–snagged these classic “digest” editions. No real rhyme or reason, just that they were there, lotta Batman on the cover, and they’re those classic digest editions!

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Getting into the bargain bins–freshly stocked, and I thought 25-cents-each (but turned out for the shop’s 29th-Anniversary-Sale, discounted to 20-cents-each), got a couple “shiny” dupes for the heckuvit. Then there’s The Longbow Hunters…I thought I was grabbing “all 3” issues but got home and realized that in my haste to delve into the fresh treasures of the expanded bargain bins, I only wound up with two distinct issues and a dupe-on-the-spot. Win some, lose some, I guess!

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First seven issues of The Power of Shazam!–dupes, all, but I recall several of my prior editions having some sticky residue or such, so worst-case, I have some dupes to choose between when I get to the sorting phase with my collection and that initial-pass to weed out dupes.

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Several one-off gems: a silver edition of The Strangers #1 as well as the mail-away The Solution #0. “Limited,” “hot” books around 1993/1994…25 cents here today! I’m kinda kicking myself for not snagging the bunch, but there were a number of The Brave and the Bold issues. My personal focus being Superman, though, I restrained myself from picking more up just because they were there. They weren’t in great condition, but for the novelty, I grabbed #150…thicker anniversary issue, and something just seemed really familiar to me–triggering nostalgia–with the cover. And then, even though it’s a bit wrinkly–probably water-damaged–DC Comics Presents #85, the “infamous” Swamp Thing issue I’ve been wanting to read or re-read or otherwise have…but couldn’t remember if another copy is truly hiding amidst my longboxes or not. For 25 cents (or as it turned out, 20 cents) absolutely a great purchase.

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Quasi-spoiling the find, I was unable to locate the fourth/final issue, but along with Underworld Unleashed #s 1-3, scored three special tie-in issues that I don’t think I’d ever consciously known existed…or sure didn’t remember, anyway.

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And then totally throwing my budget for the week out the window, nearly 50 issues of Wonder Woman. #s 89-136, and Annual #4. I’m truly curious now to “discover” what I actually own of this series…I have a bunch of early issues from a lot Dad bought for me years ago, and think I recall getting another run of issues somewhere in the 60-80 range, now this. Definitely a good way toward having the entire run, and at the very least, this purchase in itself gives me a four-year run of the title!

All in all…bought 75 or so comics, when I went in planning on 2. SOMEDAY I’ll get around to reading everything…

The Weekly Haul – Week of April 27, 2016

This seems to be a small week overall. I’d thought I had more stuff on my pulls than I actually had waiting for me.

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I’ve been looking forward to Aliens: Defiance for ages now; and I’m following the current Superman story as we head toward Rebirth, and wasn’t about to pass up the new Darkwing Duck (especially with no personal conflict–I have yet to have any problem with this publisher, while I’d’ve been quite conflicted if it was again a Boom product).

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Taking up some of the “slack” I did a final raid of the Essentials bargain bins. I got these four volumes for the price of a whopping TWO new Marvel single issues.

I honestly would’ve snagged a bunch of other volumes, but they were “later” numbered volumes in series that would be financially prohibitive to try to track down amidst everything else…to say nothing of simple shelf-space which has come to be a definite premium on the whole.

Then there’s the online stuff…where my doubt and stubbornness paid off in placing an order today that I’ll likely post about next week when it arrives. Along with the Age of Apocalypse Omnibus, it takes care of the “splurging” part of my tax return for the year, I think.

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