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Action Comics #886 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5

Captain Atom
Story: 0.5/5
Art: 2/5

Overall: 2.5/5

Superman #693 [Review]

7734

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s a tone about the Superman family of titles lately. A lot of it’s visual–or at least, the visual that is associated with the unfolding story. More and more, I find my surface opinion, my initial thoughts toward these books colored by a disinclination TO like them in the first place. DC set out to do something that would drastically affect the feel or tone of the Superman books, and in that, they’ve succeeded. Whatever my feelings about the individual writers and/or artists, I’m beginning to feel like it’s a bit of a chore, following the main books.

This issue sees General Lane confronting Mon-El, trying to recruit him into the group made up of Metallo, Major Force, the Parasite, some magical character newly-introduced, and Atlas. When a plan to rebel is executed, a more “human” (or would that be “humane”?) side of General Lane is seen, with words exchanged between the two (and an editorial note indicating that Adventure Comics #2 takes place between the pages of this issue).

I have to admit I’m gladdened at the tighter continuity in the Superman books; the fact that while it’s not the same sort of direct continuation we had for over a decade with the triangle-numbering we’re still getting a larger well-connected narrative. At the same time, there’s a lot that I’m just not buying into. Chief among these elements is the “ressurrection” or “retcon” of General Lane’s being alive now, after the character’s fitting end in Our Worlds at War a few years ago. Though we see some of his human-ness here in this issue, it doesn’t do much to round him out, make him more than a caricature at present. To a large degree, this reads as “What If… General “Thunderbolt” Ross opposed Superman instead of The Hulk?” And while there’s no overt reign of darkness, the gathering of these “supervillains” as a military unit/black ops squad just reads as fairly ridiculous.

The art of the issue is not bad–it’s got its own style that sets it apart quite distinctly from others, and maintains a definite consistency with prior art teams on this book. While it admittedly not bad art by any means…the style just is not to my liking, which continues to taint the story as I have a hard time really getting into it, for noticing the art. If the visual style doesn’t bother you, or you’re a fan of the specific style, it may well be a great selling point. To the creative credit, I found myself quite surprised to discover that the creator credits on this issue seem to match those of the previous issue: something that seems quite rare in contemporary times, and as such, worth noting toward the positive.

This issue’s cliffhanger felt entirely out of nowhere–after an issue full of Mon-El dealing with Lane and 7734, we’re suddenly taken back to Metropolis and the Guardian leading the Science Police to engage the randomly-just-now-showed-up character likely to be the focus of the next issue. (We couldn’t get another couple pages of of Mon-El dealing with his place in the current status quo and end on that sort of note, with these last couple pages serving as a jumping-right-into-the-story kickoff for the next issue?)

Whatever the case, I find that it is presently the recollection of the last couple times I’ve tried to drop the Superman books that keeps me coming back–the idea that since it’s gotten GOOD within about 6 issues of my dropping the titles, hopefully I have but to wait out a few more issues.

As-is, if you’re not particularly invested in the current status quo flowing through the Superman books, this issue’s probably going to do nothing to “sell” you on the status quo nor to hook you into this title, to say nothing of the whole family of books.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

Superman #692 [Review]

Down Time

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

I feel like I missed an issue somewhere. The way this whole “Mon-El is dead, killed by the Kryptonians” plot thread is getting so much play-time seems somehow out of proportion. To me, the big reveal of Codename: Patriot was Sam Lane being what the story’s title was in reference to. Mon-El being killed, or SUPPOSEDLY killed just was not something that really jumped out to me…so I either missed an issue, or failed to “notice” something that would be played out as so significant.

This issue provides some context on the destruction of Metropolis’ sewer/water system and why it’s not simply being fixed by Earth’s metahumans; we also have some references to other characters of recent significance. We see the Guardian reacting to the apparent death of his new friend, as well as what is surely the premature announcement of Jon Kent’s death, though the in-story context speaks to its timeliness.

The art’s pretty good overall, though doesn’t really strike me as other art teams’ work has. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t stand out as wonderful in and of itself. It gets the story across and does what a comic’s art should, but doesn’t strike me as a “selling point” for this particular issue.

All told, not a bad issue in and of itself, but I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I think the New Krypton stuff is beginning to wear a bit thin for me, and I’m also waxing nostalgic for Byrne, Ordway, Jurgens, and other art teams from the late-1980s and early 1990s…so current artists aren’t measuring up to what I hold in memory and nostalgia.

A worthwhile issue if you’re following the title or the Superman family of books. Nothing really here to justify it as a jumping-on point.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

Superman #690 [Review]

The Setup

Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Andrew Robinson
Publisher: DC Comics

While I really don’t have much of a problem at Superman himself being taking out of his own titled-book, I’m increasingly put-off by this title for its contents. This issue begins with a battle between Atlas and Steel in a sequence that flies by and is more than a little hard to follow, as Steel’s been duped into allowing Atlas into his home. We then get a 2-page sequence of Guardian naming team leaders within the science police…and a to-be-continued notice directing us to Superman: Secret Files 2009. Next up is a sequence with Zatara and a stage hand as we’re reminded of Zatara’s irresponsibility, and introduced to this stage hand who proves to be more than he appears, introducing a likely quest we’ll probably see unfold over the next few issues. After this is a one-page sequence between Guardian and Dr. Light in civilian guises, with a to-be-continued notice directing us to future issues of this title as well as Justice League of America. Finally, we get a 3-page sequence of Sodam Yat and an alien that explains away Yat and Mon-El’s lack of interaction…with a to-be-continued notice directing us to Superman Annual #14.

This issue as a whole felt like a lot of filler. We have a semi-pointless fight scene between Steel and Atlas (a character I still care nothing for, and have begun to actively dislike seeing appear in the Superman titles at all), followed by a bunch of seemingly unconnected “scenes” with no real transition from one to another, directing the reader to other titles and whatnot, rather than telling a thorough, consistent story to keep one interested in THIS title, in picking up the next issue. And perhaps this was filler, as I do suspect the Steel/Atlas scene to have at least some import on the Codename: Patriot story upcoming in the majority of the Superman titles for August; the rest of this issue would have been better served kicking off that story in some way.

I’m not much of a fan of the art–especially the depiction of Atlas. Other than that, not much problem with the visuals–my favorite probably being Sodam Yat and the alien, as both came across quite well overall…all things considered.

This issue seems entirely passable–all you need to know is that Atlas beats Steel, and you’re probably good to go for the next arc. Not recommended.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

Superman #689 [Review]

The Tourist

Writer: James Robinson
Penciler: Renato Guedes
Inker: Jose Wilson Magalhaes
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Andrew Robinson
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue focuses primarily on Mon-El exploring the world and encountering trouble all across the globe. He tries to visit one place, and winds up in the middle of a metahuman conflict; he goes to help with a conflict and gets to visit something significant. Meanwhile, the Guardian deals with Morgan Edge calling out the public on Mon-El’s presence…something which Edge then spins back into his own favor once again. We also see General Lane interacting with the Prankster about getting another hero out of town…and preparing for yet another of Metropolis’ heroes to take the big dirt nap.

The art as usual isn’t much to my taste, not really enjoying Guedes’ style, nor that of the rest of the art team surrounding his pencils…though that’s personal taste, and is not to say that the art is horrible: it just doesn’t suit me, and thus detracts from my enjoyment of the book. It still gets across what it needs to–and does so effectively.

The story itself gives me mixed things: on the one hand, it’s doing a good job of keeping me interested in Mon-El’s development as well as the Guardian, especially as the two outright take the place of Superman in his own title for the fourth or fifth issue of at least a year’s worth. On the other hand, I find myself more and more skeptical of the General Lane subplot–whatever the character was depicted as prior to Our Worlds at War, now he seems like a derivitive rip-off of General Ross from the Hulk book(s)…and by his associations in this issue, begins to feel like he’s being shoehorned into the role of a new Lex Luthor quasi-archetype…the primary human enemy of Superman/Kryptonians, including having metahuman “lackeys.” We also get a return of a character at the very end that I didn’t care for the first time around.

If you’ve been following the title, may as well stick on with it–this shows Mon-El experiencing the world he’s sworn to protect as he avoids facing the fact of his mortality. If you’ve not been following things…well, you may not really care for this.

Story: 5/10
Art: 4/10
Whole: 4.5/10

Action Comics Annual #12 [Review]

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Mazi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Renato Guedes
Publisher: DC Comics

I bought this comic out of a combination of “habit” and the fact that it is part of the ongoing narrative of the Superman family of books these days (even though it sports a black “S” in place of a number for this issue’s place in the overall sequence of things).

This issue’s story details how Chris Kent went from the kid we saw in “Last Son” to where we saw him during the initial New Krypton event as the new Nightwing. It also details how Flamebird got to be what/where she is. Since the point of this annual IS the filling in of those gaps in info, I’m not going to dance around the plot being all vague and such beyond what I’ve already said.

The art works quite well on the whole here–I especially liked the depiction of the Phantom Zone as compared to the 3-D crap foisted on us with the Last Son arc. The way it was depicted here gets the same effect across without resorting to the stupid stunt of needing 3-D glasses to see panels clearly and such. I’m not a fan of the newer costumes for Nightwing & Flamebird…something about the looks just doesn’t work for me, regardless of the in-story explanation for them. Despite that complaint, the way they’re depicted is about as good as I suppose I can expect of these costumes.

While this story sheds further light on the characters (even adding a bit to Non, which I liked) it doesn’t seem entirely essential. One could almost see it as one of those guides to a new DVD player’s remote: the buttons on the device are fairly intuitive and you can get by without the guide…but the guide fills in that much more and does give you a different overall experience for having read it than not.

However, I do think the $5 price tag on this issue was just a bit steep–even just the difference to $4.50 would be preferable, steep as that is as well. If the price doesn’t bother you too much, this is a good issue to pick up.

Story: 7.50/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Action Comics #878 [Review]

The Sleepers Part 4

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Diego Olmos
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Andrew Robinson
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue finds a couple of the “Sleepers” (the ones Nightwing and Flamebird are after) house-jacking (cuz hey, they’re Kryptonian and powerful…so let’s go that step above and beyond car-jacking). Lois and Thara talk a bit as Thara explains a bit about her relationship with Chris (K’riss to her). General Lane reacts to recent goings-on and continues to show questionable judgement. Nightwing and Flamebird find themselves back in action (no pun intended) and before long come across an ambush that may or may not pose a significant threat to them.

This issue continues to hold plenty of promise, though the execution is definitely flawed. I’m not all that engaged with the characters, nor do I particularly like them. The abnormally-fast-aging thing with Chris isn’t all that original to me (and I enjoyed the dynamic of him being a much younger child in Clark/Lois’ life, but as a semi-adult super-being…he’s just not that interesting). The story is decent, but not wonderful.

The art’s also in the good-but-not-spectacular sorta category. It fits the story and conveys what needs to be gotten across.

This remains an ok title, and mostly lives up to its name. It’s just not the most engaging, enjoyable thing you’ll find out there these days.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6.5/10
Whole: 7/10

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