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Review: Spider-Man #240

Trade paperback copies of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man from the local public library were what got me into comics, and the first Marvel comic I ever subscribed to was Ultimate Comics Spider-Man featuring Miles Morales. So, it’s safe to say that I was rooting for Spider-Man #240  to be a fantastic ending to Bendis’ 18 years on Spider-Man and seven years writing Miles. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case even though Oscar Bazaldua is one of Marvel’s best up and coming artists and can fill a page or double page spread with action and emotion beats. Speaking of emotion, Bendis’ farewell letter at the end is more moving than anything except Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor’s final page. I’m surprised I’m saying this about a Bendis comic, but Spider-Man could have used one more issue with the return of Uncle Aaron/Helicarrier theft storyline ending in Spider-Man #240, and the next issue acting as a proper send off for Bendis’ work with Miles Morales and Spider-Man instead of this rush job/bottle episode.

After a cliched present-to-flashback sequence, Spider-Man #240 has a pretty nice fight sequence between the Champions, the new Sinister Six, and the Latverian army. Bendis and Bazaldua even make the stakes personal with both Miles and his uncle Aaron tumbling off the Helicarrier with a black and gold color palette from Laura Martin in an almost silent double page spread. But, then, it all cuts to black, and we’re back in the hospital. There’s a lot of fades to blacks and hospital scenes like Bendis was simultaneously streaming the ER and Sopranos finale while scripting his own finale. To go with this, there’s a lot of telling and not showing and a bunch of abrupt cuts in the storyline like Bendis was trying to set up a quick subplot or two at the end and didn’t resolve it.

For example, Miles is in the hospital after his battle with the Latverians because there is something up with his genetic code, but we never find out what it is even after a shoehorned Tony Stark cameo. Bendis also seems to be setting up a new path for Miles and his new writer with a connection to espionage, but cuts before the “reveal” of the Marvel Universe big shot, who wants his help. Less egregiously, he resolves a Ganke subplot with expository dialogue and hand waves the ending of the issue’s opening battle with an off panel Avengers appearance. Dialogue is still one of Bendis’ strengths, and he has a lot of fun with the banter between the Champions members (And Goldballs!) without resorting to awkward “millennial speak” like Mark Waid, but seeing Miles’ mom Rio interact with Captain America would have been way cooler than just a word balloon.

Also, Bendis and Bazaldua drop the ball when it comes to the interactions between Miles and his Uncle Aaron in Spider-Man #240, which was the through line of this final arc as Miles tries to help his uncle use his technological skill for good and not crime. Aaron disappears during the final battle and then reappears at Miles’ hospital bed in a darkly lit scene from colorist Martin. Bendis’ writing for Aaron is simple; his time with Miles over the past few days has helped him think about doing good. But then there are some really awkward visuals like a close-up of Miles utterly freaking out when Aaron touches his hand before yet another fade to black. Intentional or not, there is a dreamy quality to the hospital scenes, and it is like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Normal Again” where Buffy think she has hallucinated the past six years of her life. Thankfully, Bendis doesn’t go for “It was all a dream” cop out ending, but the hospital setting limits the type of interactions Miles can have and hamstrings the whole ending.

However, Spider-Man #240 isn’t all bad, and there is one series of scenes that made me smile. Brian Michael Bendis and Oscar Bazaldua spend a decent amount of time closing the curtain on the main constant in Bendis’ run writing Miles Morales: the friendship between Miles and Ganke. (There’s a reason that they’re the sole stars of the final Pichelli and Ponsor drawn page.) After weird medical testing talk, it’s refreshing to just listen to them talk about girls, video games, and how crazy their lives have been. After fighting supervillains and Latverians, Miles just wants to hang out and be a regular teenager. Bazaldua also includes a nice sight gag of Spider-Man (The Peter Parker one) lounging in a web hammock outside the hospital room in a great nod to Miles’ origin as taking on the dead Spider-Man’s legacy in the Ultimate Universe as well as Bendis’ 11 years of writing Peter in Ultimate Spider-Man.

Some cool flight blocking from Oscar Bazaldua, smart color shifts from Laura Martin, and every time Ganke shows up, Spider-Man #240 is an unceremonious end to Brian Michael Bendis’ time writing Miles Morales. There were some good ideas in this storyline, like the return of his “Uncle Ben figure,” Aaron Davis, but it’s squandered with start and stop subplots, and can we seriously stop with the fading to black panels. Bendis stuck the landing with Jessica Jones and Defenders as farewells to his other big Marvel creation and his work on street level and team books, but sadly strikes out in his final issue of the book that got him in the door and made him a star back in 2000.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Oscar Bazaldua Colors: Laura Martin with Matt Milla and Peter Pantazis Final Page Art: Sara Pichelli with Justin Ponsor
Story: 5  Art: 8 Overall: 5.5  Recommendation: Pass

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: DC Nation #0

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got three stories for 25 cents!

DC Nation #0 features Tom King, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles, Brittany Holzherr, Jamie S. Rich, Brian Michael Bendis, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dexter Vines, Alex Sinclair, Josh Reed, Jessica Chen, Mike Cotton, Brian Cunningham, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, Andworld Design, Andrea Shea, Rebecca Taylor, and Marie Javins.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Preview: DC Nation #0

DC Nation #0

(W) Tom King, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Brian Michael Bendis (A) Clay Mann, José Luis García-López (A/CA) Jorge Jimenez
In Shops: May 02, 2018
SRP: $0.25

These stories will appear only in this comic book and will not be reprinted in another comic book before each series’ collected editions. Only the first printing of this issue will have a cover price of $0.25. This issue will ship with four covers.

Just in time for Free Comic Book Day, this special comic priced at just $0.25 US features three brand-new stories from a lineup of superstar talent-and each tale serves as a prelude to some of the biggest DC events of 2018!

First, find out how The Joker reacts when he discovers Catwoman has turned her back on crime and plans to marry his archnemesis. Can the Clown Prince of Crime stand to see Batman happy? Writer Tom King and artist Clay Mann set up the events that lead to BATMAN #50!

Then, DARK NIGHTS: METAL shook the DC Universe to its deepest foundations-now it’s time to rejoin legendary writer Scott Snyder, along with all-star artist Jorge Jimenez and co-writers James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson, for the prelude to JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE! Discover what universe-shattering mysteries have emerged from the most wondrous and chaotic corners of the cosmos to hunt the Justice League in DC’s summer blockbuster event!
And get your first glimpse at Superman’s new world in this exclusive preview of the upcoming six-issue miniseries MAN OF STEEL, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by José Luis García-López. With Truth, Justice and the American Way all under attack, both Superman and Clark Kent find there’s never been a more important time to stand up for what they believe in.

Preview: Spider-Man #240

Spider-Man #240

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A) Oscar Bazaldua, Sara Pichelli (CA) David Marquez
Rated T
In Shops: May 02, 2018
SRP: $3.99

THE END OF AN ERA FOR MILES MORALES!
Marvel Comics proudly presents the final issue of Bendis’ epic (bio-electric) run! Over seven years and across two universes, Miles Morales has been an Ultimate, a Web-Warrior, an Avenger and a Champion. A New Yorker, a student, a son and a friend. And whenever the city needed him (and one time when all of reality needed him), he was always SPIDER-MAN. Don’t miss the chance to see comics superstar Brian Michael Bendis bid farewell to one of his most beloved creations, and to glimpse what the future may hold for Miles Morales.

Preview: Invincible Iron Man #599

Invincible Iron Man #599

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A) Stefano Caselli, Alex Maleev (CA) Chris Sprouse
Rated T+
In Shops: Apr 25, 2018
SRP: $3.99

THE SEARCH FOR TONY STARK CONTINUES!
• TONY’S BACK!

Review: Action Comics #1000 Captures Superman’s Inspirational Power

In Action Comics #1000, an all-star team of writers, artists, and colorists try and for the most part succeed at getting to the heart of Superman. Some stories touch on different eras of history from his time in the 1930s as a non-flying, slumlord buster and the Mort Weisinger Silver Age sci-fi kookiness to classic comics like Kingdom Come. Others look at his relationships with his parents, wife/co-worker Lois Lane, and his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. One story even looks far in the future of the DC Universe while another acts as a semi-controversial prologue to Brian Michael Bendis’ upcoming Man of Steel miniseries and his runs on Action Comics and Superman.

To give each story the attention it needs, I will do a short review of each one and score it at the end of the paragraph. A final aggregated score  will conclude this (hopefully not that long) “80 page giant” review.

Action Comics #1000 opens with one hell of a curtain call from writer/penciler Dan Jurgens, inker Norm Rapmund, and colorist Hi-Fi that acts as a victory lap for Jurgens’ DC Rebirth run on Action Comics and his tireless work turning Superman from the edgy, armor wearing New 52 version to his classic role as a heroic hope bringer and a family man too. The story is simple. Metropolis is holding a Superman celebration day, but Superman doesn’t want their praise and adulation and wants to keep saving the day. However, through a little trickery from Lois and the Justice League, he ends up getting his moment in the sun. Jurgens’ writing cuts to the core of Superman and his positivity with a small-time Metropolis criminal named Benning talking about how he got him a job after prison so he wouldn’t keep relapsing and running with different supervillains. His art is a little old school, but that’s not a bad thing, and Rapmund’s inking helps make the crowd shots sharp in a story that shows Superman’s bond with the citizens of Metropolis and the superhero community while not neglecting the family elements that have been a big part of the Rebirth era of Superman. There really wouldn’t be a superhero genre without him.

Story: 9.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.8

The next story “Neverending Battle” from the Superman creative team of Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Alejandro Sanchez is a tiny bit philosophical, somewhat historical, and definitely epic as a story only done in full page spreads. It’s about Vandal Savage weaponizing Hypertime to trap Superman in his own history so he can’t get back to Jon and Lois to celebrate his birthday. Tomasi’s writing is a little corny at times with adages like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “History repeats itself”, but Gleason and Sanchez’s glorious visuals and the through-line of Superman consistently overcoming great odds wins out just like Superman over Vandal Savage. The first spreads are the most iconic with Golden Age Era Superman punching out gangsters, stopping locomotives, and throwing tanks around with Tomasi commentating on the simplistic, good vs. evil nature of these early stories. But he and Gleason aren’t afraid to get vulnerable with a poignant homage to the scene in The Dark Knight Returns where Superman is weakened after stopping a nuclear explosion that blocks out the sun or a page where he’s trapped in the Phantom Zone. However, despite cunning and powerful enemies and occasionally death itself, nothing will stop Superman from being a hero or spending time with his loved ones on his birthday. Gleason has a strong handle on the moral clarity and goodness behind Superman’s strength and I look forward to his upcoming work as the main Action Comics artist.

Story: 8.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.3

The third story “An Enemy Within” with a script from Marv Wolfman, Butch Guice and Kurt Schaffenberger inking over recently discovered Curt Swan, and colors by Hi-Fi straddles a thin line between optimism and naivete and definitely falls on the naive side. Superman is too busy fighting Brainiac in Japan so he relies on Maggie Sawyer and the Metropolis PD to take out a mind controlled teacher, who is holding his students hostage. There is an opportunity to address social issues, like school shooting, gun control, police violence, and even homelessness in a scene towards the end, but Wolfman, Swan, and Guice gloss over these issues with a simplistic “humanity is good and will save themselves” mantra and use the mind control plot device to cover their asses. Honestly, your enjoyment of this story will depend on how much you believe in the idea of original sin or your tolerance level for after school specials. Guice’s inks bring an interesting grit to Swan’s usually clean, bright pencils, and honestly, the best part of the story is a solemn Superman pinup at the end inked by the late Schaffenberger.

Story: 4.5 Art: 6.5 Overall: 5.5

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Olivier Coipel, and Alejandro Sanchez turn in a stoic, 1930s era Superman story about a small time crook named Butch who gets his car beat up when trying to fight Superman. It’s probably the car from the cover of Action Comics #1. Johns and Donner’s take on Superman is a little rougher and little more stern, but he has a solid moral compass and cares for humanity as shown by his empathy towards Butch, who lost his dad in combat during World War I. Coipel’s art is wonderfully rough hewn and is like Norman Rockwell’s work without the sentimentality, and he even plays the “It’s a bird, it’s a plane…” line for sardonic, silent comedy. His Superman commands the page and is someone who you would listen to and definitely take seriously. He doesn’t smile either. But the ending of “The Car” has an earned happiness and is a little spark of light in a cynical world. Johns and Donner really get that heroism is about the little things and not flying the world backwards or time travel shenanigans.

Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.8

Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig tell a quiet, yet time spanning story about the relationship between Superman and Lex Luthor, and how Superman chooses to see the good even in his worst enemy. The story starts intense with shadow wreathed art and dark colors from Albuquerque and McCaig as Luthor has assembled some powerful MacGuffins to take out Superman. But he’s actually just star gazing at the Smallville Planetarium? Albuquerque’s art is sharper and sadder after that with a nostalgic orange palette from McCaig as Lex tells Superman that the planetarium was an escape from bad weather and his abusive parents. They seamlessly blend past and present as it’s revealed that a young Clark Kent gave Lex’s space laser a little boost and saved his life. Snyder uses this anecdote/flashback sequence to hold out hope for a time when “maybe” the cycle of hero and villain will be broken between Superman and Lex Luthor as the story fades to black.

Story: 9.6 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.7

Tom King makes a case for winning back to back Eisners for Best Short Story in his, Clay Mann, and Jordie Bellaire’s contribution to Action #1000, “Of Tomorrow”. It’s a tone poem about Superman’s last day on Earth as he says goodbye to Ma and Pa Kent one last time as the Earth is engulfed in the sun with flames and winds that are reminiscent of the last days of Krypton. King writes Superman as an old man wrestling with his past and legacy, wishing he could save more people, and being supremely proud of his wife and son. And it gets deep at the end when he reflects on his father’s blend of science and faith. Mann captures each tiny, beautiful moment in his artwork as he makes art with his strength, tears, and freeze breath: a frozen statuette of Jonathan and Martha Kent like the one of Jor-El and Lara-El in the Fortress of Solitude. Bellaire goes for Earth tones in her colors as Superman immerses himself in his adopted planet before flying off forever. He loves his parents, he loves Earth, but he realizes that all planets die and all story ends. (Except for his comic book for now.)

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Two veteran comics creators Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway show they still have a lot in the tank in their “Five Minutes” story with colorist Dave McCaig that expertly intertwines Superman’s life as a superhero and Clark Kent’s life as a journalist in five minutes. Simonson’s narration shows that both Clark and Superman’s “powers” come in handy in different situation as Superman is able to dart from a train accident to a hold up and finally to save the city from an asteroid just like Clark is able to write a story and get it in under deadline. It’s a quick, zippy read with a lot of heart and a kind of cheesy “twist” ending, but Simonson and Ordway show how much passion Superman/Clark Kent has for both saving people and reporting. He is precise, efficient, and knows when to fly to next crisis just like a writer juggling different projects. Plus there’s a Bibbo Bibbowski cameo, which will be a treat for Superman fans of the 80s and 90s.

Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.3

Paul Dini, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kevin Nowlan, and Trish Mulvihill turn in a cheeky homage to Superman’s history, Garcia-Lopez’s ability to skillfully render almost every DC Comics hero and villain, and most of all, Mr. Mxyzptlk. Mxyzptlk has the ability to wipe out Superman from the existence in the blink of an eye, but he’s more of a prankster than a coldblooded villain and enjoys toying with him instead. Dini, Garcia-Lopez, and Nowlan also provide a little meta-commentary on how stories involving superheroes in comics never seem to end even after they’re killed off or have passed their mantle to sidekicks or legacy heroes. Probably, because they’re too much fun. This story’s kryptonite is Dini indulging his sleazy side towards the end, but the energy and humanity of Garcia-Lopez’s figures and Mulvihill’s heroic colors more than make up for it.

Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0

In a much darker story than the previous one, “Faster than a Speeding Bullet” happens in a very short span of time as Superman tries to stop a domestic abuser from shooting his girlfriend, Lila, in the head. Artist John Cassaday tells the story in a series of freeze frames as you can see the strain of Superman flying to stop the bullet, and the red, yellow, and blue of Laura Martin’s colors as his chances increase. Brad Meltzer starts incredibly dark in his script with Superman running calculations in his head that he won’t be able to save Lila and ends with Superman admitting that he is inspired by humanity as much as they are inspired by him. “Faster than a Speeding Bullet” is a taut, mini-thriller that also captures Superman’s essence and the strength of his and the people he inspire’s resolves.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

The final story in Action Comics #1000 is Brian Michael Bendis’ DC debut with Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair doing the art. Lee and Williams definitely put the “action” in Action Comics, and most of the story is a third act of Man of Steel fight sequence with collateral damage galore as new giant sword wielding alien conqueror villain Rogol Zaar crashes all over Metropolis and tries to kill the last two Kryptonians on Earth. Yes, Supergirl has a cameo in this comic and is there to get her ass kicked as much as Superman. Bendis’ writing is quippy as ever and doesn’t really pair well with the disaster movie feel of Lee and Williams’ art. He seems to be going for an “Avengers Disassembled” type of throughline in his approach to Superman by physically breaking him down and also taking shots at his past. Yes, the final page of Action Comics #1000 is a huge retcon for Superman’s character, and hopefully, Bendis has the reasoning and great story to back it up, or Rogol Zaar might just be a Mongul knock-off with a cooler sword.

Story: 6.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0

 

Story: Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Brian Michael Bendis  Art: Dan Jurgens with Norm Rapmund, Patrick Gleason, Curt Swan with Butch Guice and Kurt Schaffenberger, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez with Kevin Nowlan, John Cassaday, Jim Lee with Scott Williams  Colors:  Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Dave McCaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, Alex Sinclair
Story: 8.2 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Action Comics #1000

Celebrate 1000 issues of Action Comics with an all-star lineup of top talent as they pay tribute to the comic that started it all! From today’s explosive action to a previously unpublished tale illustrated by the legendary Curt Swan to the Man of Tomorrow’s future-this very special, oversized issue presents the best of the best in Superman stories!

Action Comics #1000 feels like an end, a beginning, and a celebration of a landmark moment, one thousand issues and almost 80 years of Superman. The issue is full of some top notch talent with numerous stories of varied style and quality. All of it though is entertaining in some way.

The issue opens up with writer Dan Jurgens‘ finale to his latest run with “From the City That Has Everything.” It’s clear from his latest run (and all his Superman material) that he loves the character and this story which features art by Jurgens, ink by Norm Rapmund, color from Hi-Fi and letters by Rob Leigh, is that recognition as Metropolis honors the Man of Steel. It’s a cheesy story but one that is so in a way that a speech from someone honoring someone else might be. Touching and a fine way for Jurgens to wrap up his run.

The second story is a really cool one that weaves a story out of what is essentially pin-ups. It’s a great way to include such a thing in a comic without it just being images. I hope we see more of this and the art is from a who’s who of creators. It involves Superman going through time and gives a way for artists to take advantage to take us readers through Superman’s history, some of his key moments, and different artistic styles we’ve seen. It’s an utterly brilliant story and presentation and a highlight of the celebration.

Marv Wolfman and Curt Swan team up for “An Enemy Within” which feels like a bit of a retro story in both pacing and art. While not bad it’s an interesting reminder of how much storytelling has changed over the years. I don’t want to give too much away but the story has some nice twists involving a hostage situation.

“The Game” sees Superman and Lex Luthor match wits in a game of chess. Paul Levitz and Neal Adams team up for the story and it’s interesting and one you can probably debate about the deeper meaning. It’d be nice to see this story in a longer form as there’s a lot to work but with just a few pages we don’t get a lot of depth, just fun twists that feel like they’re from the 80s and an homage to an Adams classic moment.

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, and Olivier Coipel come together for “The Car” which has a criminal recounting how his car was destroyed by a mysterious flying man. The art is fantastic and I think some of my favorite work by Coipel who seems to be channeling Frank Quitely. It’s such a simple story but one that really digs into what makes Superman super.

“The Fifth Season” sees Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque come together as Superman and Lex Luthor come together in Smallvill. It’s an interesting story that again explores the relationship of the two characters. Particularly it focuses on Luthor being oblivious to the good that Superman does that he doesn’t acknowledge or is even aware of. It’s another story that can be debated as far as its deeper meaning and themes.

“Of Tomorrow” is Tom King, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, and John Workman having Superman revisit Earth one last time before it’s consumed by the sun. It’s a reminder of the loss of the character and a deeply touching entry.

Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway come together for “Five Minutes” which reminds us that Superman has a few jobs, hero and reporter (as well as husband and father). It’s a fun story that plays on the speed of the character and that how he can some times mess up one job due to the other. A funny ending that gave me a chuckle.

“Actionland!” has Paul Dini and José Luis García-Lopez focus on our favorite imp who has it out for Superman. It’s the odd story of the bunch with the focus on the villain but is a reminder that like Superman, some of them have infinite power that they hold back due to… something.

Writer Brad Meltzer and artist John Cassaday honor Christopher Reeve with “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” that has Superman racing to prevent a gun going off and killing a woman. It’s a fantastic story and I had no idea how it’d resolve. Again though, it’s a reminder of some of the things that makes Superman great and boils the character down to his goodness and how he inspires and is inspired.

“The Truth” is Brian Michael Bendis‘ DC debut with art by Jim Lee and what is supposed to lead into the miniseries The Man of Steel which kicks off Bendis’ run. Out of all of the stories, this is the low point of the issue honestly. Maybe it’s the hype but there’s a new baddie who’s out to kill Kryptonians and while Metropolis is getting destroy two civilians are focused on Superman’s underwear? It’s very Bendis and while funny, especially with Lee on art, it doesn’t quite work and honestly lowered my excitement for what he has coming.

There’s a lot packed in here and something for everyone. No matter the era of your enjoyment there’s a story that fits it and this is really a comic that has an amazing amount of talent. It’s truly a celebration of such an iconic character and for the celebration alone it’s a purchase. At times, comics like this are a let down, but this is the exception with every story entertaining in some way and a few that shine. It’s the rare oversized celebration comic that lives up to the occasion.

Story: Dan Jurgens, Peter J. Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Paul Levitz, Neal Adams, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Dan Jurgens, Patrick Gleason, Curt Swan, Neal Adams, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, José Luis García-Lopez, John Cassaday, Jim Lee
Ink: Norm Rapmund, Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger, Kevin Nowlan, Scott Williams
Color: Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Dave McGaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh, Tom Napolitano, Dave Sharpe, Nick Napolitano, John Workman, Carlos M. Mangual, Josh Reed, Chris Euopoulos, Cory Petit
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

C2E2 2018: The Action Comics #1000 Panel

At C2E2 this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Action Comics #1000 panel, which had a lot of information about that specific issue as well as reveals of upcoming Superman artwork and stories, mostly involving new DC Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis. Along the way, the talented group of creators on the panel talked about their connection to Superman while teasing their stories, and some surprise swag was given out at the end…

It’s seriously insane that a monthly comic book has hit four digits in issue numbers and has basically been published since 1938. Some of DC’s best creators convened at the Action Comics #1000 panel to talk about their work on upcoming Superman titles, their relationship to the iconic hero, and most importantly, should his costume have underwear on the outside, or not? The panel included writer Brian Michael Bendis (Alias), who is making his DC Comics debut on Action Comics #1000, writer/artist Patrick Gleason (Superman), writer Tom King (Batman), artist Clay Mann (Batman), artist Jill Thompson (Beasts of Burden), and artist Philip Tan (Suicide Squad: Rebirth).

It kicked off with some information about the 80 page celebration that is Action Comics #1000 as well as a 384 page hardcover book called 80 Years of Superman with all kinds of essays, tributes, stories, and art that looked perfect for a coffee table along with an unpublished story by Jerry Siegel and artists from Joe Shuster’s studio. Continuing with the unpublished theme, Bendis reminded the moderator that Action Comics #1000 has some unpublished art by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan that Marv Wolfman scripted over and geeked out about it. He showed a real passion for being involved with Superman and DC Comics on the panel.

After saying he had almost no time off between doing his last Marvel book, Invincible Iron Man #600, and his first DC book so he could jump in on Action Comics #1000, Brian Michael Bendis set up the first reveal of the panel. It was four pages of lettered Jim Lee art as well as his and Bendis’ first original DC creation, the mysterious villain Rogol Zaar. (There was a snarky joke about red trunks in there too.) Bendis said that the villain will be connected to a secret from Superman’s past. The secret will be revealed in Action Comics #1000 and then expanded upon in the weekly Man of Steel miniseries. He then told Rogol’s secret origin, which was connected to his hospitalization for a MRSA infection in late 2017. Dr. Rogol was a no-nonsense doctor in the hospital, who helped him get better so he decided to name his first big DC villain after her. When Bendis told Dr. Rogel this, she nodded like he was crazy. The next day, she had Googled him and brought out an old Marc Silvestri drawing and said she should look like a bloodstained, bikini wearing barbarian woman. It’s safe to say she wasn’t impressed with Jim Lee’s final design. In his first DC story, Bendis made sure to “write big” for Jim Lee and was influenced by some of his collaborations with Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder on Justice League and Superman Unchained respectively in the salad days of the New 52.

The topic turned to May 2’s DC Nation #0, which is coming out the same week as Free Comic Book Day, but is on sale for $0.25 so the comic could feature more story pages. The book has previews of Tom King’s upcoming work on Batman and Scott Snyder’s upcoming work on No Justice as well as a brand new Superman story by Bendis and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Working with the 70 year old Garcia-Lopez was on Bendis’ bucket list, and he came out of retirement to deliver some beautiful pages featuring group shots of the Daily Planet bullpen reacting to Superman. Also, apparently he’s a super nice guy and still lives for collaborating on comic book stories.

About a month after DC Nation, The Man of Steel #1 will be released with Brian Michael Bendis writing and Ivan Reis and Joe Prado on artwork. In each issue of this weekly miniseries, Bendis is collaborating with a new artist he’s never worked with before except Kevin Maguire and diving feet first into the DC Universe. Bendis talked about how he wanted to make Metropolis a lived-in setting where each nook and cranny has its own story much like Gotham and also how he wants to show why Clark Kent became a reporter to “tell the truth Superman can’t”. He pointed out that unlike his powers and coming to Earth as an infant, becoming a reporter was his choice. Plus there’s going to be a big space conspiracy story featuring various alien races, including the Guardians of the Universe, and its logo was based off of John Byrne’s Man of Steel even if the stories aren’t really similar.

The Man of Steel leads into Action Comics #1001, which will be written by Bendis and drawn by Patrick Gleason, who previously was the co-writer with Peter Tomasi and occasional artist on Superman. Gleason says that Action #1000 is the celebration/jam issue while the real story starts in issue 1001. He talks about how Superman is an all-out superhero book while Action Comics will focus on the Clark/Superman dichotomy and also build up Metropolis and the Daily Planet. He then proved that he is one of the harder working creators in comics and said that he had to draw 15 pages of Action Comics #1000 while also doing full interiors on Superman #45, his farewell to the title. Luckily, all 15 pages of his Action Comics #1000 story “The Neverending Battle” were splashes and was a love letter to Superman stories across time. One of them featured the old Superman “S”, which his six year old son said was incorrect. His son ended up appearing on a page where Superman stops a train, and all four of his kids helped ink a page with Superman fighting Nazis in World War II with Sgt. Rock.

The moderator turned the focus to Tom King and Clay Mann’s five page Action Comics #1000 story, which is already available online. It is set way in the future, fairly depressing, and King began with a little joke about how Batman was better than Superman. King said that he when was he younger that he thought Superman was a fairly “generic” hero. However, through his grandmother, who is from Nebraska and his wife, who is from Chicago, he began to see him as an embodiment of Midwestern values aka focusing on the solution, not just the problem. Then, artist Clay Mann got a nice ovation from the audience for his art skills and talked about King giving him reference material of Mars to draw this future Earth. He also joked about Superman’s tears not evaporating in the sun, which severely hurt Tom King’s “scientific” credentials. King’s explanation was “super tears”, which led to Bendis telling a story about how he wrote an angry letter to John Byrne while he was a comic book store clerk about how Superman shaves with a mirror and heat vision and ended up getting roasted by Byrne in the letters page of Next Men #8. The ghost of John Byrne definitely seemed to be haunting this panel.

Next, Jill Thompson teased some of her art for the upcoming Action Comics Special story with Mark Russellwhich is about Clark Kent roasting Lex Luthor at the White House Correspondents Dinner. It looks super hilarious, and various members of the Justice League are there in dressier versions of their costumes. The wrestler Alex Chamberlain posed for her art. Then, the moderator asked her and the panel who their favorite Superman artists were. Thompson said she liked Steve Rude, especially his work with Dave Gibbon on World’s Finest, where he gave Metropolis and Gotham two distinct looks. Philip Tan’s definitive artist was Alex Ross on Kingdom Come and Mann’s were the aforementioned Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Jim Lee, Dan Jurgens, and John Byrne. King picked Byrne and Curt Swan because “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” is his favorite Superman story. Patrick Gleason said he liked the Superfriends and Bruce Timm Superman cartoons before getting into comics, but his favorite artists were Jurgens and Ross. Bendis closed by giving a shout out to the jam issue (He loves those.) Action Comics #400, which featured Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko, Moebius, and more’s take on Superman. And they all commiserated over the difficulty of drawing the Superman “S”.

Towards the end of the panel, Brian Michael Bendis talked about how what a solid foundation Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, and Patrick Gleason left him on the Superman titles as they went from having two Supermen to just one hopeful, optimistic Superman even with some super crazy stories like the Boyzarro and Rozarro starring Superman #45, which is basically a Bizarro-verse version of the DC Rebirth one-shot. Bendis says the ideal is taking over a struggling book, like Frank Miller on Daredevil, because you have creative freedom, but it’s a tougher challenge to take over a book that has hit a creative peak like Superman.

Bendis said that his take on Superman wouldn’t be a reboot and that he had a seven page manifesto of Superman is relatable to him, especially as a father. (Of course, King quipped about Batman being more relatable.) Plus there is a lot of adoption in his family. He retold a story where as a struggling artist in Cleveland, he took on a gig to do art for a Superman parade where he was paid for Superman merchandise. Siegel and Shuster cancelled so Stan Lee of all people was the guest of honor and called him by name, but it was really because he was wearing a nametag. However, this parade gave him to the opportunity to talk with many comic creators about his career, including George Perez, who gave him 20 minutes of solid advice, including to focus on one project at a time, which has helped him with all those crazy deadlines and juggling multiple books.

The panel concluded with a roundtable discussion about the return of Superman’s red trunks, and Gleason talking about how he and Jim Lee basically designed around them when they were coming up with Superman’s new costume for DC Rebirth. But the panel seemed pretty pro-trunks, and each member of the panel audience was rewarded with their own pair of Superman trunks (Mostly XL.) with #TheTrunksAreBack embroidered on the back.

Basically, Action Comics #1000 seems like it’s going to be historic and epic, and you should pick it up when it drops on April 18.

8 Awesome Things to Do At C2E2 2018

From April 6 to April 8, 2018, Chicago will be the center of the  pop culture universe thanks to the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), which is held annually at McCormick Place right on Lake Michigan. C2E2 boasts of wide range of guests, who have worked in different mediums, including legendary comics creators, like Jim Lee, Chris Claremont, and Brian Michael Bendis; actors from your favorite cult and sci-fi shows like Alan Tudyk and Charlie Cox, big time novelists like Chicago native Veronica Roth and R.L. Stine, and even podcasters like the creators of The Adventure Zone. There’s really something for everyone at this con.

Graphic Policy will be attending C2E2 on Saturday and Sunday, but here’s a completely subjective rundown of eight of the coolest guests, exclusives, panels , screenings, and of course, after parties that will be going on all three days at the temporary mecca of fandom.

Friday

8. Have an IPA Courtesy of Valiant Comics

Valiant Comics, who has the third largest superhero universe after DC and Marvel, has teamed up with Pipeworks Brewing Company to create a special limited edition beer that will be sold on site at C2E2 as well as Pipeworks’ bottle shop and a few other stores in Illinois and New York. Last year’s beer was connected to the relaunch of Valiant flagship title, X-O Manowar, but this year, it’s named after Livewire, a member of the superhero team Unity.  Going along with her name, Livewire has electricity-based powers, and so her beer: Livewire Raspberry IPA with Lime has a bit of tartness to go with its hoppy beer base.

I’m super into both sour beers and IPAs and look forward to relaxing with the Livewire Raspberry IPA after a long day of crowds and walking at C2E2. The drink pairs nicely with a copy of Shadowman #1, a relaunch of Valiant’s mystical themed superhero, which has an exclusive cover by its interior artist Stephen Segovia that is only available at the convention.

TravisandFriends

7. Enjoy An Evening with Podcast Royalty aka Travis and Friends

The McElroy Brothers (Travis, Justin, and Griffin) have established a veritable empire of podcasts since their advice show My Brother, My Brother, and Me premiered in 2010. Their shows include The Adventure Zone, a Dungeon and Dragons podcast featuring their father Clint, which is getting a graphic novel from First Second Books and Shmanners, an etiquette podcast co-hosted by Travis and his wife Teresa McElroy.

After the first day of C2E2, fans of these and other podcasts can kick back and relax at a special An Evening with Travis and Friends, which is basically the Avengers of current podcasts. The show features Travis McElroy, Teresa McElroy, and Symphony Sanders, who played librarian slaying and child soldier commanding Tamika Flynn on the uber popular Welcome to Nightvale. It should be fun time with plenty of surprises.

Saturday

BendisMillar

6. Remember the Ultimate Universe at the Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis Panel

So, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar have definitely done a lot more comics than Ultimate Marvel ones, but I find it slightly hilarious that the original co-writers of Ultimate Fantastic Four are going to be teaming up for a “one on one” panel at 11 AM on the Main Stage at C2E2.

Both veteran creators are at turning points in their careers with Bendis signing an exclusive deal with DC Comics to write Action Comics and Superman as well as his creator owned Jinxworld books, like Powers, and his own special imprint. In contrast, Millar has disavowed the Big Two and sold his comics company, Millarworld, to Netflix where they will make shows and films based on his work. (Fingers crossed for a Starlight movie.)

It will be interesting to see two former Marvel architects talk about their new gigs, and hopefully there will be some good banter about how most of Bendis’ writing is like a stage play and most of Millar’s is a screenplay… (Alias and Old Man Logan are classics though.)

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5. The #BlackComicsMonth Panel Comes to C2E2

When I went to New York Comic Con in 2015, the #BlackComicsMonth panel, hosted by Tee Franklin (Bingo Love) was one of the most inspirational parts of the con and was very hard to get into. What makes this panel so excellent is that Franklin chooses a range of comic book creators to speak from their own experience about important topics like diversity, living with a disability, mental health, and POC and LGBTQ representation.

For the first time ever, the #BlackComicsMonth: Inclusion in Comics Panel is headed to the Midwest and will be held at 3 PM in Room S405A. The panelists include Franklin, Mikki Kendall (Swords of Sorrow), Shawn Pryor (Cash and Carrie),  Matt Santori (Senior Editor of Comicosity), and in the past, there have been surprise guests like The Walking Dead actor and multimedia entrepreneur Chad Coleman. It should be an excellent discussion about real world issues and a nice break from the hyperbole and announcements of some of the other panels.

DaphneVelma

4. Catch the World Premiere of Daphne & Velma

Let’s be real, Daphne and Velma were easily the most competent and best members of the Scooby Doo gang. They finally get their own live action film in Daphne & Velma, which is having its world premiere at C2E2 before it is released straight to DVD and BluRay on May 22.

The movie is set at a super high tech STEM magnet school called Ridge Valley High where Internet friends Daphne and Velma get to be friends in real life and solve their first zombie themed mystery. Sarah Jeffery (Descendants, upcoming Charmed reboot) plays Daphne, and Sarah Gilman (Kroll Show) plays Velma. The film is produced by Ashley and Jennifer Tisdale’s Blondie Girl company and looks super adorable.

Snikt

3. Party Hard at Geeks Out Snikt! Chicago

There are a lot of after parties to choose from at C2E2, but Snikt! Chicago is one of the best and not just because it’s Wolverine themed. Geeks Out is a super cool non-profit organization that founded FlameCon as the first LGBTQ comic book convention, and their goal is to foster LGBTQ awareness and representation at cons all across the country.

The party will be held at Mary’s Attic, the upstairs part of Hamburger Mary’s in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago starting at 9 PM. It will feature drag queens, gender clowns, circus arts, and of course, DJ Tony Breed to flood the dance floor. It’s a 21+ event, and cover is $7 in advance and $10 at the door.

Sunday

WomenofMarvel

2. Be Enlightened at the Women of Marvel Panel

Even though it has taken them until 2019’s Captain Marvel to get a solo female superhero film off the ground, Marvel Comics boasts a fantastic range of female superheroes from Storm to Angela, Kitty Pryde to Jessica Jones. (Okay, those are some of my personal favorites.) The Women of Marvel celebrates their female comics creators as well as the characters on the comics page.

This year’s Women of Marvel panelists, include producer Judy Stephens (Marvel Becoming), editor Christina Harrington (Astonishing X-Men), colorist Rachelle Rosenberg (Iceman), artist Jen Bartel (America), and writer/artist Katie Cook (Secret Wars: Secret Love.) It will be held at 1:30 PM in Room S404. My fingers are crossed for more details about Bartel’s upcoming Storm solo book that she is working on with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.

1. Get All the Feels at the This Is Us  Q and A

I feel like everyone in my office and family watches the NBC hit series This Is Us except me. The show follows the lives of three siblings, who were born on the same day as their father, Jack Pearson (Played by Milo Ventimiglia). It is fairly ambitious for a network TV show and has storylines set in 1980s Pittsburgh as well as modern day. In 2017, Sterling K. Brown won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his performance as Randall Pearson, Jack’s adopted son.

Sadly, Brown won’t be at C2E2, but his co-stars Milo Ventimiglia and Justin Hartley, who play Jack’s son Kevin are doing a panel at 1:30 PM on the Main Stage and can maybe tell everyone what was up with the whole Crockpot ordeal. These actors also have a history of appearing in superhero shows like Heroes and Smallville where Justin Hartley played Oliver Queen years before Arrow. Also, there better be at least one question about Ventimiglia’s rebellious bookworm character Jess from Gilmore Girls. #TeamJessForever

Preview: Spider-Man #239

Spider-Man #239

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Oscar Bazaldua
Color: Brian Reber
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Patrick Brown
Title Page Design: Idette Winecoor
Editor: Nick Lowe
Assistant Editor: Kathleen Wisneski
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 04, 2018
SRP: $3.99

• His Sinister Six is turning on him, and his nephew (SPIDER-MAN) can’t turn a blind eye to his crimes.
• The IRON SPIDER is going down! But how far? And how far will Miles go to avoid losing his uncle again?
• And you won’t believe what Miles’ parents are planning for his future!

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