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Review: Superman #32

superman #32 coverAfter much build up, writer Geoff Johns, and artist John Romita Jr., with inker Klaus Janson take over the duties on Superman, starting with Superman #32. This is Romita Jr.’s first work for DC Comics, and he’s kicking off this new chapter in his career with the Man of Steel.

In this new adventure, Superman is flying solo. That is, until he meets the intriguing new character Ulysses, the Man of Tomorrow. Ulysses shares many of Kal-El’s experiences, including being rocketed as an infant from a world with no future. But what will his emergence mean to Superman and the world?

But, the changes aren’t limited to Superman, because what would he be without his alter-ego Clark Kent. Kent has been off being a blogger, but Perry White offers him a chance to return to The Daily Planet.

There’s also a mysterious character targeting Metropolis with strange mechanical creations… and that person has some connection to Clark’s past.

There’s a lot here in this first issue, giving a fresh start to Superman, from a fresh creative team. I’ve been generally unimpressed with the handling of Superman in DC’s New 52. The character lost something in the revamp, but there’s a tone to this first issue that comes close to figuring out what’s missing.

But, the story isn’t really the focus here, it’s the fact John Romita Jr. is providing the art. I’ll be honest, while I like Romita’s art at times, I’m not blown away by it as so many are. I find the character’s faces often lack distinction, in that they’re mostly the same, and you can see that here with the scientists towards the beginning, or Clark standing next to Perry White. Other than their hair, these two sets of characters are just too similar. Romita has a distinctive style, it just doesn’t appeal to my taste.

If you’re a fan though, Romita’s use of motion fits Superman quite well, and there’s some solid action scenes throughout. For Romita fans, you’ll find a lot to like here and a lot of that is due to Janson’s inking. Johns’ story is interesting. It has a lot of build up, and there’s a lot of potential, especially with the clear compare/contrast between Superman and Ulysses. The key will be how this pays off in the end.

Overall, there’s been much hype leading up to this debut. The issue is good, not great, filled with a lot of potential, and a step in the right direction for Superman in the New 52.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: John Romita Jr.
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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The Week in Comic Reviews

It’s been a while since I’ve done some quick comic reviews, but I do read a hell of a lot each week, and I don’t have time to do long reviews for each. So, I decided to bring back my quick reviews to give everything I read their due, and let you know what I think. These won’t be in depth, but you’ll get an idea of what I think of each.

The 7th Sword #2

In the aftermath of a vicious attack, Zenzion’s new leader, Kathleen Galway, seeks out battle-weary Daniel Cray to help defend her people and her home. But will the reluctant warrior pick up his Malathane blade one final time?

The series is two issues in and have been pretty interesting. This is a western/samurai tale set on an alien world. Each issues has been good, but I think the greater story together is what to measure this one by. Still, good for those who enjoy either genre.

Story: John Raffo Art: Nelson Blake II
Story: 6 Art: 5 Overall: 5 Recommendation: Read

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Artifacts #37

When someone uses math to access an ancient and evil power, it’s up to Tilly Grimes to find the answer to stopping them. But even with Tom Judge and the Rapture on her side, this may be too big a problem for the Numeromancer to solve.

While I generally thought the story was ok (though resolved rather quickly), my biggest issue with this story arc has been the art, which is WAY too dark at times to figure out what’s going on. Artifacts has seen better days in story and art.

Story: Dan Wichline Art: ROM
Story: 6 Art: 5 Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

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Axe Cop: The American Choppers #1

President of the World Axe Cop reunites with Super Axe, an old friend from college, and the two of them decide to start a superteam of axe-wielding heroes to defend America, called the American Choppers. They are joined by Captain Axe, Axe Girl, Axe Woman, Axe Dog, and other axe-wielding heroes. The only problem is that there are no bad guys left, but that all changes when mysterious giant creatures attack the city!

I’m very new to the whole Axe Cop thing. I watched the ADHD cartoon series, which lead me to this. My “first issue” and it’s enough for me to come back for more of the Axe family. For folks who are reading this after seeing the cartoon, does Axe Cop now sound like Ron Swanson?

Story: Malachai Nicolle Art: Ethan Nicolle
Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

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B.P.R.D. #119

As Manhattan erupts with Lovecraftian demons, a young psychic must lead the remaining B.P.R.D. crew through the monster-packed streets of New York back to headquarters for safety, as Liz Sherman goes supernova.

This arc comes to a close, and it’s a solid ending. There’s a lot here that gets wrapped up, and that’ll lead to what comes next. I think all those threads that are left hanging are partially why I have this as a read. There’s some plot points I wish were a bit more completed. B.P.R.D. fans should be happy though.

Story: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi Art: James Harren
Story: 7.75 Art: 8.25 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

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Brain Boy: The Men from G.E.S.T.A.L.T. #1

Agent Price’s new mission pits him against a doomsday cult leader with a political agenda that poses a direct threat to the president. But a mysterious hive mind has more menacing plans for Brain Boy. He’ll have no choice but to go head to head—brain to brain—with the mysterious Men from G.E.S.T.A.L.T.!

To say Brain Boy is fun is an understatement. There’s a mix of pulp, there’s a mix of modern action. This second volume starts off with a bang and I’m sure this second volume will be as exciting as the first. I mean, the first part of the issue is really exciting, and what a twist.

Story: Fred Van Lente Art: Freddie Williams II
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

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East of West #12

A last ditch effort is undertaken to avoid a war between the nations by the most unlikely person on the planet. The remains of the Chosen reassemble.

I’m not sure what I like more, the story or the art. So much happens in this issue, and those actions will reverberate for a long time. An amazing series if you haven’t had a chance to check it out. It’s not too late… though it might be for the nations.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Nick Dragotta
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

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Flash Gordon #2

As Flash’s heroic reputation grows across the cosmos, his fantastic talents are tested by the Beast Men Of The Outer Lands Of Arboria!

The classic character is back and Parker is doing it with some retro pulp fun with an updated story. If you’re a fan of the character, do yourself a favor and check out the series.

Story: Jeff Parker Art: Evan Shaner
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

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Forever Evil #7

It’s evil versus evil in the shocking “take-no-prisoners” conclusion to Forever Evil! What will be the fate of Lex Luthor and his Injustice League? Who will live – and who will die? And why is The Hooded Man the most feared being from the Syndicate’s world? Do not miss this startling finale that will leave the DC universe reeling and reveal the secrets to the future!

The DC event wraps up. But something seemed a bit off. While there’s some cool moments, everything wraps up quickly, and the titanic battle I was expecting doesn’t happen. The ending is good, just not as great as it could have been… and we’re not going to go into the delay.

Story: David Finch Art: Richard Friend, David Finch
Story: 7.25 Art: 8 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

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Invincible #111

A new beginning for Invincible as things take a turn down a dark path. Everything changes as Invincible is betrayed by one of his own. You won’t want to miss this explosive issue #1… 1… 1! It packs the punch of THREE relaunched number one issues!

Wow what a brutal issue. I know I’m late to the series, but holy crap is this issue good. It’s a brutal starting point that shakes up the Invincible universe.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Ryan Ottley
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Justice League #30

It all changes here with the first chapter of “Injustice League”! The next era of the Justice League begins as heroes quit, villains join and a Justice League roster you’ve never seen before emerges, led by the world’s greatest hero — Lex Luthor?! As the dust settles and the bodies are buried, the violent consequences of Forever Evil must be dealt with — while a mysterious new force sets its target on the League. But is this force friend or enemy? And why does he want Luthor dead? (If you ask Batman, it’s a long list.)

If you want to know where the DC universe goes post Forever Evil this is a good comic to start with. Villains are heroes. Heroes are villains. It’s very interesting, and a great issue to kick off where DC goes next.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
Story: 8.25 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

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Justice League of America #14

In the wake of Forever Evil, the Justice League of America’s mission has come to an end – so where do they go from here? No one’s survival is assured!

As a follow up to the major event, there’s nothing wrong with the series, it’s a good bridge to what comes next. The issue is the fact we already have two issues of Justice League United out, so we know what has happened for the most part.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Eber Ferreira, Eddy Barrows
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

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Magnus the Robot Fighter #3

How do you kill a robot fighter? Send a human. LEEJA CLANE: HUMAN HUNTER! Her guns are huge! Her car is fast! Her theme music is awesome! How’s Magnus possibly going to survive against an opponent with no robot parts?

The return of the classic character has been fun so far, but I’m waiting to figure out exactly what’s going on with this world and Magnus. It feels a bit like the Matrix, but with Robots, which is kind of cool.

Story: Fred Van Lente Art: Cory Smith
Story: 7.25 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

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Original Sin #2

WHO HOLDS THE EYE? WHO KNOWS ITS SECRETS? The cosmic manhunt for the Watcher’s killer continues. More bodies are discovered. The killer’s trail leads to the far corners of the universe and beyond. And just when Nick Fury and the Avengers think they’ve cornered their murderer… EVERYTHING EXPLODES, unleashing the Marvel Universe’s greatest secrets.

So far this new Marvel event has been interesting, and in the second issue we get one reveal. Overall, the series has been good, though it’s a bit choppy jumping around so much between the various investigative teams.The individual issue is good, I think the overall story will be much better.

Story: Jason Aaron Art: Julian Totino Tedesco
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: Recommendation: Buy

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Saga #19

Saga returns! New planet, new adversaries, and a very new direction, all from the same old Hugo Award-winning team.

So, so, so, so, so, so good.

Story: Brian K. Vaughan Art: Fiona Staples
Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.75 Recommendation: Buy

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Solar: Man of the Atom #2

In the stunning wake of Issue One’s shocking climax…where is SOLAR? What will massive doses of unstable radiation do to his family? And even if they survive, what horrors are lurking in the stars?

The first issue was good, this second issue has really caught my attention. Where this series goes from here, I’m game and want to see.

Story: Frank Barbiere Art: Joe Bennett
Story: Art: Overall: Recommendation: Buy

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Transformers: Windblade #2

Cybertron UNDER FIRE! Someone is out to kill Windblade—but discovering who means turning to some less-than-savory ’Bots. Can Windblade trust her informants enough to stake her life on them? And who will she turn to when the events of Dark Cybertron come back to haunt them all?

A breath of fresh air for the Transformers comics. The look and style of the story are both very different from what’s come before. The style has a manga/anime feel about it, and the story is more of a detective story. Both are very cool, and that, along with such an interesting new character have created an awesome new Transformers series.

Story: Mairghread Scott Art: Sarah Stone
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

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Undertow #4

Anshargal and Ukinnu Alal dine with a cannibal god, but it’s more than Kingu can stomach. Zikia’s rescue team is closing in, and so are the deadliest killers ever indoctrinated by Atlantis. The secret origin of the Atlantean missing link as the exploration action roars on!

The excellent series continues into the second half of its miniseries. There so much going on including a discussion of god, country, and so much more. It’s been a fascinating read for four issues, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Artyom Trakhanov
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

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V-Wars #2

With the Vampire Wars burning hotter and bloodier with each new day, Reporter Yuki Nitobe is abducted and brought into the vampire underground. When Yuki is shown the world of these new species of vampires, she realizes no one has been telling the truth! Does she risk everything by exposing both sides or file the report that she knows gives her the biggest ratings?

This series, which is also a book, and soon to be television series, is an interesting mix of politics and action. Here, the vampires are a minority persecuted by normal humans. Are they as innocent as they claim? Is there some greater conspiracy? The second issue continues to look at that bigger picture, but it’s a bit disconnected from the first issue.

Story: Jonathan Maberry Art: Alan Robinson
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: ReadVWars02-cvrA copy

 

Velvet #5

The first arc draws to a shattering conclusion. This series has been absolutely been amazing from start to finish. The art, the story, the amazing female lead, all of it has been fantastic, and makes up one of the best series on the market.

Story: Ed Brubaker Art: Steve Epting
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Aquaman #25

AQM_Cv25_mn3re92of7_With Aquaman #25, writer Geoff Johns abdicates his trident pen after 2 years running the life of the ruler of the seas and Atlantis. With the first issue, Johns breathed new life into a character who had become a pop-culture punchline. And with him, he brought not just Aquaman, but Mera to the forefront of DC Comics, reintroducing the character and reinvigorating him and his cast of aquatic friends.

Since the launch, Johns has embraced the character’s straddling of two worlds and embraced him as a key member of DC’s universe. During his time, the mythology has been expanded and that’s evident with his swan song concluding event. In “Death of a King,” Aquaman/Arthur Curry is putted against the Dead King Atlan – the first King of Old Atlantis and the mad ruler that cast his kingdom into the depths of the ocean long ago. The Trench are back, and the waters churn with the waves of anger they bring with them. And as we’ve come to expect from Johns, villains become allies, friends become enemies, and the scope of Aquaman’s undersea world grows bigger than ever!

With these twenty-five issues, it was clear Johns had a love for the characters he was writing, and as evident with this issue, he long ago planted seeds of things that are just beginning to come to fruition. While the issue is a lot of battling and not a ton of dialogue, it’s still a packed issue that not only wraps up the current storyline, but gives us a lot to look forward to, including the next big Justice League event.

The story itself is pretty good, though a bit thin at points. There is a lot of action that looks fantastic. By itself, the story is only ok, but as an ending for what Johns has built up, it’s a satisfying conclusion. The biggest downside to the issue is inconsistent art. Not bad, but there’s just some noticeable issues.

With newly cast upon light of his family’s bloody history and the massive task of uniting Land, Sea and the hinted about Seven Kingdoms, Johns not only re-launched Aquaman, but has set him up for many adventures to come.

Up next issue is the new writer, the talented Jeff Parker with current artist Paul Pelletier. They’ve got solid ground to continue from, thanks to Johns.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Paul Pelletier and Sean Parsons
Story: 7.75 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Diversity in Comics? Rethinking Green Lantern #0

This is an adapted version of an article published on Reading with Pictures.

GL_Cv0_dsIn September 2011 DC Comics attempted to create their first major Arab Muslim American superhero, a new rendition of the Green Lantern, a staple character in the DC lineup dating to 1940. This new superhero, Simon Baz, made his appearance in Green Lantern #0, written by Geoff Johns with art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy, and added a spark of diversity to the publisher’s largely white cast.

Unfortunately, they did so with a deeply troubling origin story in which Simon Baz stole a van that, unbeknownst to him, had a bomb in it. He was quickly arrested, taken to Guantanamo Bay and tortured. He was saved by the Green Lantern ring, which chose him as the world’s next protector. The ring allowed him to escape, whereafter he was pursued as a dangerous terrorist by the Justice League. All of this was published under the guise of authentically narrating the experiences of Arab and Muslim Americans.

Newspapers as respected as The New York Times reported on the Arab Muslim addition to the DC comic book universe, and interviews with writer Geoff Johns revealed his Lebanese ancestry — this, it was made to seem, gave him the credibility to write about Arab and Muslim American experiences.

Indeed, while it is critical that the experiences of racial prejudice, harassment, suspicion, and violence perpetrated almost daily against Arab and Muslim Americans be represented, there remains the damming potential for such representations to be the only way in which media consumers come to know Arab and Muslim characters. By default, these representations become the lens through which they come to view not only fictional people, but real lives.

The problem is one of character design: how the characters are created to be. This is a problem for all media, though it is particularly crucial for comics, since the industry is currently undergoing a push from fans and new creators to be more representative.

What this often means, as Green Lantern #0 shows, is checking off identities on a list of non-white/non-male categories, with the aim to please by name and number. Companies like Marvel Comics can now say, “Yep, we’ve got an Afro-Puerto Rican Spider-Man” and DC can say, “Yep, we’ve got an Arab Muslim.” But DC’s 2011 attempt at diversification also shows that diversity is limited, often to aggrandized stereotypical stories that, say, frame Arabs and Muslims as terrorists (even if by accident). So how about a little background on this issue.

To say that life has not been easy for Arab and Muslim Americans after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001 would be farce. As literary critic and self-identified Arab American Stephen Salaita pointed out in his fantastic study of Arab American literature, Arab American Literary Fictions, the concept of Arab or Muslim Americans as a unified, racially distinct segment of the population emerged in response to fears of foreign Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and the need to control potential threats at home.

Even before 9/11, Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism — that brand of racial ideology that fetishizes the Arab world, the East as a whole, and its cultural products as an exotic, mysterious, and must-have Other (i.e. “not us”) — had long structured America’s view of Arab and Muslim immigrants to the U.S. In the 1950s-1970s they were regarded as a model minority alongside Indians and Eastern Asians. Regardless, they were not considered a distinct group with identifiable and discernible characteristics.

In other words, unlike Blacks and Latina/os, Arabs and Muslims didn’t bother white middle-class suburbia. You know, those gl0so-called “average Americans.” Arab and Muslim Americans were not disruptive enough to white society to need designating as a specific racial group.  This is in part because before 9/11 “The Arab” and “The Muslim” were doofy Ottoman costumery, children’s parodies (Aladdin), and occasional bad guys (Indiana Jones).

In the wake of 9/11, violence against Arabs and Muslims, whether American or not, increased exponentially and was governmentally sanctioned via the stripping of Constitutional rights for the purpose of national security. Arabs and Muslims were widely depicted in film and on television as the enemy. Scholarship on the issue of Arab and Muslim representation has finally reached a headway, a result of the growth of Arab American Studies as a discipline emerging out of the long-established field of American Studies, and is best exemplified in Evelyn Alsultany’s Arabs and Muslims in the Media (NYU, 2012).

The violence, in many cases, is often spurred by the inability to read beyond media representations and to think critically about the plurality of Arab and Muslim lived experiences. Sikhs, non-Muslim Arabs, non-Arab Muslims, Muslim Arabs, and sometimes Jews are conflated with the identity of the singular, Otherized muslimarab-arabmuslim, a seemingly insoluble identity that is, according to government policy and popular belief, potentially engaged in fundamentalist Islamic activity or at least aware of such activity.

Not all Arabs are Muslim, not all Muslims are Arab. The United States hosts some 3.5 million Arab Americans, whose group identity is based largely in shared cultural and linguistic traditions which hail largely from the twenty-two members states of the Arab League.

Some are Christian, Jewish, atheist, Baha’i, etc. Muslims, on the other hand, number roughly 2.6 million, only 26% of which are of Arab descent. Many are from South(east) Asia, are black Muslims, white, or Hispanic, according to the 2006 American Community Survey, and in 2009 and 2011 they made up the largest percentage of immigrants to the U.S.

So where does this information, a context which we can use to critically read Green Lantern #0, leave us? Ultimately, it reminds us as readers who have market influence in comics more so than in almost any other format of Nerd media, that we need to demand more than stereotypes. I have not read Ultimate Spider-Man, but I have heard many fans attest to the sincerity with which Bendis writes Miles Morales. Gail Simone, likewise, writes female characters with an eye to their long history of being sexualized, fetishized, and abused by creators and fans.

We have to demand more than a story that, by all means, breaks boundaries but which simultaneously places other barriers to diversification. When “terrorist” and “Arab” or “hijab” and “Muslim (woman)” are binaries used to define an entire population of radically diverse lived experiences, we have to be willing to call bullshit. We have to be willing to exert the same kind of buying and petitioning power as when we got Orson Scott Card kicked off Adventures of Superman.

If anything good came out of Green Lantern #0, it’s the possibility to learn from a company’s mistakes and do “diversity” better. We’ll see how Marvel does with Ms. Marvel, and hope a lesson was learned.

DC Comics Releases a First Look at Forever Evil #4

This Christmas Eve, see the Dark Knight like you’ve never seen him before.

In Forever Evil #4, Batman must deal with the guilt of Nightwing’s identity being revealed. And even if Dick Grayson returns from the Crime Syndicate alive, will his life be forever ruined now that his deepest secret is out?

Meanwhile, Batman and Catwoman come face-to-face with Lex Luthor and his growing army in the halls of Wayne Enterprises. But what are these two teams doing there? And how does Bruce Wayne have a yellow ring?! Are Batman and Luthor fighting for the same thing or against one another?

Writer Geoff Johns recently said about the issue and series:

If the Crime Syndicate attacks — how would the villains react if they actually won? If the villains won, and they won in this way, would everyone go along with it? I don’t think they would, because everyone wants something different. At first glance, Lex wants to be as beloved and respected as Superman, though there is a far greater secret in his life that pushes him to strive for success in everything he does, which we’ll learn more about as the series progresses. Lex Luthor is the main character of the whole thing, and that becomes more and more clear as we move forward. In particular with issue #4. So, like Lex, we’re exploring these villains and contrasting them against one another and asking — what would it take to put them in the role of good guy?

There’s a lot of fun to be had between Lex and Bizarro. There’s fun to be had between Batman and Catwoman, and when those characters collide. Some of the Syndicate members, as twisted as they are, they’ve been fun to write. Power Ring — trying to conceive a character that was everything that Green Lantern usually wasn’t, and amplifying that. There’s a mythology with his ring that we’re going to dive into that explores a very different look at what a Green Lantern could be — if it’s somebody that’s based on a weak will, and a weak sense of self. We see that with Power Ring and how he’s behaving, and we’ll see more of that as we reveal more about him, and the source of the ring.

Below is a sneak peek of David Finch’s interior art for Forever Evil #4, which shows Batman revealing the Bat Cave to Catwoman for the first time, as well as Ethan Van Sciver’s variant cover for the issue, which depicts Batman using the powers of his yellow ring against the Crime Syndicate’s Power Ring.

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DC All Access Has Geoff Johns Talking DC’s 5 New Television Shows

Geoff Johns discusses the five (yes, five!) new DC TV shows currently in development in today’s new episode of DC All Access. In the episode DC also looks at the intriguing new Batman Eternal illustration, get some tips on villain-proofing your home from Vine sensation BatDad, and talk Batwoman with Marc Andreyko, Fairest in all the Land with Bill Willingham and the Lighter Side of Dave Berg with MAD’s Sam Viviano.

Preview: DC Comics Releases First Look at Forever Evil #2

This week, the comic book world was set ablaze with the launch of Forever Evil. As highly anticipated as they are treacherous, the events of this miniseries promise to reshape the scope and characters of the DC Universe forever.

Fans who have already picked up issue #1 know that the status quo of a world where the Justice League are presumed dead is totally unlike anything we’ve seen in The New 52 so far. Following the shocking events of the first issue, what will the Crime Syndicate’s ruthless plans to take over Earth cause them to do next?

Writer Geoff Johns explained:

One of the things that’s at the root of it is that they’re our world’s greatest heroes, but turned inside out. We wanted to present them and explore them in ways that would completely contrast like, say, Green Lantern and Power Ring. What are the differences and what are the similarities? The Crime Syndicate is a great way to explore our heroes through a different lens and say, ‘This is how our world could have been. Throughout the series, in both Forever Evil and the Justice League books as well, we’ll get to see how the Syndicate formed and why they’re here and what they want. And in contrast to the question of how Ultraman and Superman are different – how are they similar? So it’s not just a matter of good and evil. It’s much more complicated than that. And you’re going to see why the laws of nature and the laws of humanity and laws of life are different in this other world that has led to this dark, twisted Justice League.

As for how artist David Finch approached redesigning the Crime Syndicate for The New 52?

Honestly, what appealed to me with this project, and what appealed to me with Justice League of America, was working with Geoff Johns. That was what I wanted out of it, first and foremost. Being able to draw a whole book full of villains and something as dark as this that goes to the places it does was a huge bonus, obviously. And drawing the Crime Syndicate was a really nice treat. I’m a big fan of Frank Quitely’s version that he did a number of years ago [in the graphic novel JLA: Earth 2].

I think some of the original costumes from years ago are pretty cool, so I wanted to take some elements from both of those, and talking to Geoff especially about who the characters were. No writer I’ve ever worked with has been more succinct about getting down to what the character’s aspect is, and I think that really affected the look of the characters for me.

Check out some of Finch’s interior art for Forever Evil #2. What is the next step in the Crime Syndicate’s plan for global domination? What have they done with Nightwing? And do the Teen Titans stand a chance against this group of super-villains who have seemingly eradicated their predecessors? Find out on October 2nd.

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Review: Forever Evil #1

FEVIL_Cv1_dsThe first universe-wide event of The New 52 begins as Forever Evil launches! We’re teased that the Justice League is dead! And the villains shall inherit the Earth!

Building for quite some time, DC’s first universe-wide event starts with a building simmer as the action and stakes are raised. Told from some interesting viewpoints, the story flows directly from Trinity War as the Crime Syndicate move to conquer Earth. While doing so, they gather the DC universe’s worst villains to form an all new Secret Society.

The comic starts from the perspective of Lex Luthor, arguably DC’s greatest villain, as a more evil batch of characters moves in on his territory. And that to me so far is the most interesting thing about the fist issue and potentially this event.

For all the fantastic villains that DC has, they feel a little like the classic villain with some sort of scheme that gets foiled by the good guy. I never quite feel like the bad guy is going to off a hero, or someone close to them, it’s a bit Pollyanna-ish. But, to me, Forever Evil is chucking all of that out the window.

After gathering their army, the Crime Syndicate makes it clear that this isn’t your classic DC villain story. After quickly offing a voice of dissension, they go to town on a classic and loved character. They not only threaten him, but threaten his friends, family and anyone he knows. This is a shift to the more “gritty” villains we might expect from other publishers. It’s an interesting move and partially what I think this event is about, the old “safe” villains versus today’s “gritty” villains.

I fully expect some villains to rise up and take on the Crime Syndicate, saying their new way messes up the old dynamic, we get hints of that in the last panel. But, for seven issues, who knows what to expect, especially after this first one.

Is the comic perfect? Nope, there’s absolutely some flaws, but after quite a while of my being pretty down on events, DC seems to be giving us one that is a little bit of old, a little bit of new, and a lot of fun.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: David Finch, Richard Friend
Story: 8 Art: 7.75 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Justice League #23

JLA_Cv7_R1_ujwy76ywta_Six parts is how you do an event it seems, as Trinity War concluded with this issue! But, to call this an ending to the story just isn’t true. Justice League #23, builds up throughout the issue to a climactic result that leads directly into DC Comics‘ event Forever Evil, which launches this week. And this issue, and event, does something impressive. Even though it flows directly into a bigger event, it’s also a standalone story that does well in answering the questions raised throughout, including what exactly is Pandora’s Box.

I’ll admit, I’m generally event fatigued, but DC has done an excellent job here making this feel more like a multi-part story arc as opposed to an event jumping from series to series. Made up of only three comics, with a few tie-ins that aren’t important, Trinity War to me was a success, though didn’t completely blow me away.

As a whole I’d sum up each part of Trinity War as a fight that gets out of hand due to some misunderstanding, folks come to their senses for a little bit, then run off on some next clue to fight again. Wash, repeat.

But, that’s what I found most interesting about this issue. It breaks the narrative from the previous five parts. Instead of watching heroes fight (it does happen a bit) we get the story from the perspective of the Outsider, a villain whose identity is revealed in this issue. And the bigger plan is also revealed as well. The Secret Society is what we’ve been focused on for quite some time, thinking they were the main bad guys, but in fact it’s all been a well orchestrated plan to bring forth much worse villains. Sadly all of that was spoiled leading up to the issue, but I did well to avoid that online, and don’t want to do that for you here.

I also like DC’s use of some hints and imagery throughout the series. We assumed the trinity was one thing, when in fact it is also something else. Going back and re-reading some of those hints, there’s a lot of word play that I have to give credit where credit is due. All together it’s a lot of fun.

In the end, the issue is a fun one. The artwork is solid and it’s a nice wrap-up and lead in to what’s happening next. Trinity War as a whole was a fun for me, bringing together the bulk of the major DC heroes and letting their personalities run wild. There was a enough twists that it kept me on my toes and wasn’t what I was expecting. Overall I had fun reading this and that’s what comics are about.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado
Story: 8 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Justice League of America #6, Superior Carnage #1, Batman ’66 #1

Talk about a weird line up for a review…but these titles caught my eye this week, and though there were plenty of other gems on my pull list from the Big Two, like Batman and Catwoman #22, Batwoman #22, Wonder Woman #22, the titles in this review deserved just a little bit more attention. We’re talking debuts and major events, people!

Justice League of America #6

JLA_6I wasn’t incredibly impressed with Justice League #22, the first part of the Trinity War event, if only because there was a ton going on, and although it melded well over a dozen stories together, for some reason it didn’t click. Must’ve been the Doctor Light thing…such a huge lead up to “someone” getting killed, and it just kinds puttered by (albeit wrapped up in a fancy Ivan Reis package to go). That, paired with Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 and my qualms therewith, I really just wasn’t sure what to think before opening JLA #6. But, damn! It. Got. Good.

Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire pull us into the aftermath of what is a life-changing event for the New 52 Superman, and which has the two non-Dark JLs rather shook up. I think Justice League of America #6 has revived Trinity War from the path of Age of Ultron because it combined serious mythological mystery, superhumans plagued with the problems of mortals, and strikes fear and concern into the hearts of the World’s Finest. We start to learn more about the Question, and just what he can do, and we find out that the gods of Olympus used Pandora because they were afraid of the box (that clarifies some of my conundrums with Pandora #1).

Johns and Lemire deliver what is not only the best JLA issue so far, matching the Johns’ skill at complex multi-level narrative creation with Lemire’s ability to make his characters seem human, imbuing them with emotions and fears we never think to see in the like of Superman (who’s now got a cold!). Douglas Mahnke provides pencils that rival Reis’, though they have a more cartoony feel compared to Reis’ very realist approach to character representation. The page spreads in this book are magnificent, fitting the grandeur of two Justice Leagues going head to head.

Trinity Warriors, Justice League of America #6 effectively redeems the long-awaited event, takes the intrigue of Justice League #22 to a new level by questioning the origin of evil, pitting mythology and science and magic against one another in a tale of drama that captures the mystico-scientific and superpower paranoia facing us mortals in the real world.

Trinity War continues with Justice League Dark #22, and if JLA #6 is any indication of how earth-shatteringly awesome this event is panning out to be, then you can’t miss the next installment.

Story: Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire  Art: Douglas Mahnke
Story: 8  Art: 7.75  Overall: 8  Recommendation: Buy

Superior Carnage #1

2961334-superiorcarnage_1_coverI’ll lay it bare: even for a Spidey fan (my second favorite Marvel menace), I had absolutely no idea who Carnage was until the solicits for Superior Spider-Month, and I’m not necessarily ashamed, though my collection includes Amazing Spider-Man #340, an issue in which Peter is attack by a bunch of female baddies, and just four issues before Carnage’s debut in #344 (1991). So putting Superior Carnage #1 on my pull-list was really just a nod to the whole Superior Spider-Month of July. I can say after reading it, that as a fan of horror comics, this five-part mini-series is going to stay securely on that list.

Writer Kevin Shinick, who has a very diverse track record, and artist Stephen Segovia blew me out of the water with this first issue, and creeper me out just a bit…they almost had me a shit-stained Ted Connelly. Scarlet Spider’s monstrous side, and the more demonic incarnations of Venom, have nothing on Superior Carnage, who’s really a blood-red Venom on bathsalts, a murdering, rampaging monster, and the ultimate weapon.

Shinick’s use of the throwaway Connelly character is a brilliant way to build the legend of Carnage for a first-time reader, allowing the anticipation of the red horror to sink in for seven pages before SPLOOSH! Carnage is back, baby! Segovia’s Carnage is the child of nightmares, and he expertly captures the fear and piss-stains of Connelly, and shows his talent with a remarkable full-page bleed panel in which The Wizard reveals something of Venom’s history and his own plans for Carnage. The transitions between characters while juxtaposing Shinick’s monologue for The Wizard is cover-worthy comic art.

Superior Carnage #1 is a fantastic debut for this creative team, and a great way to get to know this absolutely terrifying character. I’m a little on edge to see what The Wizard has in store for Carnage, but I trust this series will live up to the first issue and make for a great Marvel horror saga.

Story: Kevin Shinick  Art: Stephen Segovia
Story: 7.5  Art: 8  Overall: 8  Recommendation: Buy

 BATMAN-66-1-CoverLRBatman ’66 #1

I’ve saved the best for last, and no, I didn’t think this comic was going to be worth even the $3.99 cover price—I think I need to stop underestimating comics, or maybe I should keep doing it so I keep reading great ones when I’m expecting drivel. Batman ’66 #1 really is a case of judging a book by its cover; it’s a little mean to say, but Michael and Laura Allred’s cover is offputtingly ugly (which is weird, because Michael Allred’s covers are usually fantastic), but once you get past its ugly exterior, it’s a joyride inside.

Jeff Parker weaves a tale of the Riddler and his quest to solve a riddle left in the statues of a bygone artist, and this first issue involves Batman, the Boy Wonder, Catwoman, and the Riddler. Holy Good Writing, Parker must have rewatched Batman: The Movie (1966) and the original television show (1966-1968), because all of the dialogic camp of Adam West and Burt Ward is incarnate in the script. The original TV series and movie will always have a place in comic fans’ hearts, and though we may laugh at the ridiculousness of the 60s Batman, Parker has made Batman ’66 #1 both an impressive homage to that era in the Dark Knight’s history as well as a light-hearted adventure that I think even the most close-minded of Batman fans with take seriously.

Jonathan Case goes miles beyond Parker’s script to creates the atmosphere of the iconographically pot-drenched, acid-tripping 1960s (seriously people, there was more to that whole decade that peculiar intoxicants and smelly dancers swinging to guitar medleys), and with the fell swoop of his artistic genius he invigorates Batman ’66 #1 with bold pastels and bright psychedelic hues. Case does not shy away from an ingenious and plainly fun use of Kirby dots in a nod to that era’s artistic style, and he pairs these with some of the best colorist work I’ve seen all year. Is it too late to sign him up for a Harvey?!

Batman ’66 #1 is a unique pleasant surprise, a nice break from the dark world of today’s larger-than-life superhero narratives, yet still couched in the mythology of the Dark Knight! Go figure, folks!

Story: Jeff Parker  Art: Jonathan Case
Story: 9  Art: 9  Overall: 9  Recommendation: Buy

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