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Image Expo 2014: Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless is Coming…

Nameless

Grant Morrison Chats at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Writer Grant Morrison has famously reinvented several iconic superheroes, including Batman and Superman and in his book Supergods he critically examines US comic heroes via his own idiosyncratic aesthetic and passionate world views. Ahead of his event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Morrison answered a few questions about his early influences and why he loves the comics format.

Review: Action Comics Vol. 2: Bulletproof

action comics vol 2

Generally I don’t subscribe to the hype surrounding writer Grant Morrison and this trade paperback shows off quite well the issues I have with his writing. This new Action Comics hardcover collects five issues and the first annual, featuring President Superman, Nimrod the Hunter, The Forgotten Superman and much more! Plus: meet “The Boy Who Stole Superman’s Cape,” in a tale from Clark Kent’s early days in Metropolis. That’s a lot to cover and partially why I had issues with this second volume.

I stopped reading Action Comics with the first or second issue. This second volume is the middle of Morrison’s epic storyline, and having read the very beginning and the tale end, some of it makes more sense to me, but still the stories are disjointed a common issue I have with Morrison’s writing. It’s like he has grand ideas, but issues explaining them coherently.

Bouncing back and forth across the multiverse, Morrison in these issues covers multiple Supermen, never really focusing on one for too long. Some of the stories are fantastic, but also feel like they’re dropped in the middle of an ongoing story, not connected at all to what’s going on. That’s a shame too. At least one of the the Supermen covered deserves an arc all to himself, but this second volume jumps around too much to get us to focus on the Clark Kent and Superman we know.

What confuses me more is Action Comics at this point is set years before where DC’s New 52 is in time. It’s the origin of Superman. With a lack of focus on that character, how are w supposed to really connect with him? This seems like a grand-storyline for down the road, not to kick things off.

Then there’s that time issue. Some of it is in the past, some of it is in the present, you have to guess based on the costumes. Some of it makes no sense whatsoever.

If I could sum this up with one word, it’d be “disjointed.” For die-hard Superman fans only.

Collects Action Comics #9-12, 0 and Action Comics Annual #1.

Story: Grant Morrison, Sholly Fisch, Max Landis Art: Rags Morales, Brad Walker, Cully Hammer, Gene Ha, Ben Oliver, Cafu, Ryan Sook, Rick Bryant, Andrew Hennessy, Bob McLeod
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Batman Incorporated Vol. 1: Demon Star

Batman Incorporated Vol 1Batman Incorporated was always a weird comic series for me. It’s clear Grant Morrison has a maxi-story in mind. The series began a bit before DC Comics’ shake-up and after a break returned. The series continued the story, from what I remember, and to me never quite fit in DC’s New 52. Was it part of continuity? Was it not in continuity? I never knew, and as a whole, I’m not a huge Morrison fan, so I stopped reading the series after a few issues.

The first volume has Batman and Robin facing off against and assassin calling himself Goatboy while in the background Leviathan develops their mission. There’s a hit out on Damian too, hence that whole Goatboy thing.

While the story is interesting, but the tone is a bit comedic to me. It never quite clicks. that has nothing to with Morrion’s ability, it’s more my tastes. There’s some great moments, but I feel like you need to enjoy a certain type of Batman story to dig it. Add on top of that the later tragic events, and the comedic tone is an odd choice to me.

We also get glimpses at the concept of Batman Incorporated with some of the volume dedicated to setting up its worldwide franchises. That though is a bit short in the story. If the focus is the idea of a global network of Batmen, the focus should be on that network, it’s still mostly on Batman and Robin here.

The story does put Talia Al-Ghul in the spotlight though. Fleshing her out in a way that makes her really feel like a threat and worthy successor  to her father’s empire.

The art isn’t bad but, the style isn’t my personal taste and that is where I am with this first volume. It’s a lot of set up and a lot I like, but at the same time, it doesn’t quite click for me.

This collects Batman, Incorporated #0-6.

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Chris Burnham and Frazer Irving
Story: 6.75 Art: 7 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review – Requiem’s Batman Incorporated #9, Teen Titans #18, Nightwing #18 and Red Hood and the Outlaws #18

Batman Incorporated #9

batman incorporated #9 coverThe fallout from last month’s shocking turn of events has Batman on the run! Is The Dark Knight a murderer? Batman Inc. is still battling their foe, Leviathan. This is the continuation of the previous issues shocking event. Batman and his allies deal with the death of Robin and getting their collective butts handed to them.

This issue is filled with sorrow. There’s also another death of a Batman Inc. member that has to be dealt with and that’s done as well. But, again, there’s a lack of emotional heft that I’ve felt has been an issue with a lot of the  “Requiem” tie-in comics.

Morrison, in the last issue, gave us what should have been an emotional and shocking moment. Instead, it came off as a stunt in that issue. Here, I’d hope for a melancholy issue full of emotional outpouring. Instead it feels like the regrouping of Batman and his allies after getting their asses handed to them.

There just hasn’t been a reflection that I’ve been hoping for. Face it, this isn’t the first time Batman has gotten a kid killed. You’d think there’d be some more reaction, just based on that.

Much like most of what I’ve read of Morrison’s the story jumps around, almost to the point of choppiness. I know some folks are huge fans, but I’m not one of them. I can only recommend this issue for folks who have been keeping up with the storyline. Definitely not a point for new readers to jump on and find out what’s going on.

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Chris Burnham and Jason Masters

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Teen Titans #18

Teen Titans #18 coverUnknown to the Teen Titans, Red Robin’s condition is worsening after the events of “Death of the Family.” And now Red Robin must face an even greater tragedy! The new Dr. Light is coming for Solstice! Guest-starring the Suicide Squad!

Red Robin (was he a Robin? I’m kind of confused) is a close member of the Batman family and here he deals with the death of Damian in some pretty touching scenes. They’re a little by the books, but still touching.

What’s good though is Lobdell uses this death to focus on Red Robin’s mission. He formed the Teen Titans to protect super powered teens. With the death of Damian, he failed. And there’s all the other death’s on his hands. He’s not doing so hot when it comes to his mission.

So, he takes the Teen Titans on a mission to free another teen from Amanda Waller’s prison. That puts them directly in the cross hairs of the Suicide Squad. Lots of fighting ensues and it’s entertaining.

There’s also a nice twist, but that I don’t want to give away.

Overall, the issue feels like a bit of a kick start and mission statement for the series. Nice to see the death of a character lead in a positive direction and used for the narrative good, instead of just shock.

Story: Scott Lobdell Art: Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira

Story: 7.5 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Nightwing #18

Nightwing #18 coverDick Grayson lost so much during “Death of the Family” that some new events are going to push him right over the edge! Nightwing has almost no hope left until the chance for vengeance presents itself. What decisions will he make?

We know there’s some big changes in store for Dick Grayson. With the next issue, he heads to Chicago, so this issue is a bridge between the death of Damian and his new location. It’s a reflection of the past as well as a look towards the future.

The issue feels like it’s an attempt to wrap up some plot points and ghosts haunting Grayson. He still spent time as Batman in the New 52, so he was a partner of Damian’s. The death of his former partner weighs on him, as well as his past role as Robin. And out of all of the characters, his seems to be the most emotional and believable. There is some catharsis and reaction here that totally makes sense. And it’s more than welcome, since it’s missing from a few other issues where it should have been more prevalent.

The issue is solid for another reason, it’s a good jumping on point. There’s some big changes coming for Nightwing, and this is the point new readers can hop on to find out this change’s motivation. It accomplishes two things, allows Nightwing to deal with the past and look towards the future. It’s one of the best of the “Requiem” tie-ins.

Story: Kyle Higgins Art: Roger Bonet

Story: 7.75 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Red Hood and the Outlaws #18

Red Hood and the Outlaws #18 coverJason Todd suffered terribly at the hands of The Joker in “Death of the Family,” and now he’s changing the Outlaws’ mission! Something is bound to break with all that’s happened…will it be Jason’s soul?

So, did Jason die in the New 52? I stopped reading this series only a few issues in, so not sure what was retconned and which is still events. But, I’m going to assume that Jason was still killed at the hands of the Joker, instead of just being beaten severely.

So, you’d think next to Batman, Jason would be the most affected. Especially since the Joker tortured him a bit more than the rest. The story is two parts. There’s Jason struggling with his torture. The other part deals with Bruce/Batman dealing with the fact he has failed twice now when it comes to Robins.

First, there’s the pseudo issue with the fact this has Batman sitting around a lot when the other issues has him acting a lot and getting his aggression out by beating people up.

Then there’s what’s going on within Jason’s psyche. I really don’t know much about his coming back from the dead and whatever else was referenced in this issue. It’s interesting, but predictable. I’m sure there’s more to it for long time readers and fans.

The issue had a bit of the emotion other issues of “Requiem” has missed. It’s a predictable issue, but a decent read.

Story: Scott Lobdell Art: Timothy Green II

Story: 7.25 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided some of these comics to Graphic Policy for FREE to review

Review – Batman Incorporated #8

robin-batman-inc-8It’s the biggest buzzed about comic this week, Batman Incorporated #8 got the major newspaper treatment with it’s shocking twist spoiled before the Wednesday release date. This is the final showdown between Batman Inc. and Leviathan and everything that Morrison has been planning since the beginning of the series has lead to this issue’s stunning events.

Batman Inc., a global organization created by Bruce Wayne and his allies, has changed the world by using the symbolic power of the Batman on a global scale. But, Batman Inc. has been facing it’s greatest threat, Leviathan.

Leviathan is a terrorist organization formed by Talia al Ghul. They’ve created a “ring of terror” ensnaring hundreds of innocent children and turning them into killers targeting Batman and his allies across the globe.

I am a read who read the first two issue of the series, then dropped it, it didn’t do a whole lot for me. To me Morrison is very hit and miss, and his Batman has been largely miss in my eyes. But, this is an issue I thought I had to read due to the main stream media headlines. Yes, DC’s press shop did their work and got me to want to check out the series.

I found a fairly spare comic with little dialogue and lots of action. I felt like I was dropped in the middle of an action movie during the big action sequence towards the end of the movie. I missed the set up, I missed the reasons. I’m just watching the ass-kicking, but don’t really know why it’s going on.

But this issue is about that shocking moment. I read the other Batman books, so wanted to see the act that’ll impact them. And that to me is this comic. It’s lots of hoopla over one panel. The comic itself feels flimsy to me story wise. There’s lots of action. There’s lots of quips. And it’s fun, but without reading the rest of this story, this issue doesn’t quite have the impact I’d have expected it to.

I like Damian, he’s grown on me as a character and I enjoyed watching his relationship with Bruce/Batman grow. Sadly it was cut short way to soon and in a way that robs the character of the emotional impact he deserves.

But, there’s something, not sure what that just feels empty to me with how this act goes down. The emotional part of it is missing to me and overall that’s a let down. I think the greater impact of this issue will be the aftermath shown in other books, because based off of this issue, we’ll have to look for that key component elsewhere. That’s where I’m hoping to find that feeling of loss that this issue lacked.

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Chris Burnham

Story: 6.5 Art: 7.25 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Pass

Preview – Happy! #4 (of 4)

Happy! #4 (of 4)

Story by: Grant Morrison Art By: Darick Robertson Variant Cover by: Frank Quitely
Price: $2.99

Christmas is here and the bad men are about to open their presents! It’s showdown time but can Nick Sax save the day without Happy to help him – or will he screw this up like everything else? You must not miss the blood-drenched conclusion of our heartwarming Yuletide classic!

happy04_cover

DC Comics Provides First Look at Grant Morrison¹s Final Action Comics Story

Since DC‘s ambitious New 52 initiative began in September 2011, legendary writer Grant Morrison has been writing the adventures of Superman in Action Comics. March 6th sees the release of Action Comics #18, the final issue of Morrison’s run as series writer. That’s a year and a half of comics and this is a special oversized issue.

Morrison said this is “like no Superman story before, there’s a lot of stuff going on it.”

The readers themselves are implicated in the story. We’re going to se a lot of Red Kryptonite hallucinations. The idea is basically; the villain is from the 5th Dimension, this character Lord Vyndktvx is acting Superman in a lot of different levels. I thought it would be fun to show what it would actually be like to be attacked by a being from a higher mathematical reality who’s got control of all your life and can enter from any point. And from that it seems that would be a kind of big battle, it wouldn’t just be a big physical battle it would happen in all kinds of levels. So I think what we’ve done to the comic is we’ve created this battle between Superman and a monster that resonates across a whole bunch of different ways of attacking Superman including conceptually and morally and physically. So it’s a real big assault on the idea of Superman and of course our hero fights back.

On top of lots of Easter eggs and surprises, Morrison also says we can expect to see the debut of a new DC Comics super team in the issue, and it ties into one of the characters that’s been in there before.

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Happy #3 Sells Out, Gets New Printing

It’s a “HAPPY” New Year for Grant Morrison‘s and Darick Robertson‘s Image Comics miniseries as its third issue, released on December 19, has sold out at the distributor level. Every issue of the skewed take on a classic holiday story has received a second printing.

The second printing of Happy #3 (NOV128183) will be in stores on January 30.

Preview – Happy! #3 (of 4)

Happy! #3 (of 4)

Story by: Grant Morrison Art By: Darick Robertson
Price: $2.99

With a day left until Christmas, and time running out for Santa’s innocent victims, Happy the Horse learns what turned Nick Sax from golden cop to broken-down hitman. But can he convince Nick to do the right thing or is it Happy’s turn to face some uncomfortable home truths?

happy03_covera

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