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Preview: Proctor Valley Road

Proctor Valley Road

(W) Grant Morrison, Alex Child (A/CA) Naomi Franquiz
In Shops: Nov 03, 2021
SRP: $19.99

It’s the 1970s. It’s the most haunted, demon-infested stretch of road in America. Welcome to Proctor Valley Road.

August, Rylee, Cora, and Jennie have organized a “Spook Tour” on the infamous roadway with their classmates to fund attending the concert of their dreams.

But when their visit turns deadly, these four friends race to rescue the missing students… before the town tears them limb from limb and slay the evils roaming Proctor Valley Road… along with the monsters lurking in the hearts of 1970s America.

Visionary author Grant Morrison (Klaus, Batman: Arkham Asylum) and co-writer Alex Child (BBC’s Holby City) along with artist Naomi Franquiz (Tales from Harrow County) present a chilling new horror series about the mysterious monsters that haunt Proctor Valley Road – and the four misfit teenagers who must stop them.

Collects Proctor Valley Road #1-5.

Proctor Valley Road

Review: Superman and the Authority #4

Superman and the Authority #4

After an all-too brief four issues, Superman and the Authority #4 ends before the titular team can even blast off on their first mission together. However, that kind of seems to be the point as Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, and Jordie Bellaire drive home that this is a team that has much bigger fish to fry than Ultrahumanite, Brainiac (I eye-rolled when he was revealed as the “Big Bad”. Of course, he was.), and rejects from the original run of The Authority. Also, in a more metafictional way, Morrison is showing that they’re beyond such petty things as superhero fisticuffs and are giving the DC Universe one last gift of a kick-ass superhero team plus one final, beautiful Superman moment and a couple “stingers” that could fuel a whole damn event comic or two.

Superman and the Authority #4 continues the divide and conquer structure of the previous three issues with Grant Morrison and Janin showing Superman fighting the Ultrahumanite by his lonesome, then the Authority doing their Wildstorm political satire with a heavy dose of punching, and finally, a primal, elemental battle between light and dark aka Apollo and Eclipso for the soul of Lightray. Lightray is more potential than a character at this point, but she does bring in a nonbinary, queer OMAC fittingly named Mac into the story that almost steals the whole comic at the end and might even have Manchester Black and Midnighter beat in the snappy one-liner department.

Each portion of the story plays with tropes from different comics eras or eras of Morrison’s career. For example, the opening fight between Superman and the Ultrahumanite mentions the gangsters he fought in the Golden Age and the different kinds of kryptonite from the Silver Age while Morrison’s whip-smart characterization of Lois Lane is straight from All-Star Superman. And after these small stories come to a close, Superman and the Authority #4 wraps up in a clever way that rejects the final slugfest that most “event” type books turn into and instead act as a road map for future characters, and in universe, heroes.

But, just because Superman and the Authority #4 doesn’t conclude with an apocalyptic punch-up, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty of action. Mikel Janin turns in layouts and choreography that updates early aughts widescreen superhero books for the era of TikTok and NFTs. He takes glee in showing Midnighter kick the shit out of a white supremacist baddie named Iron Cross, who is probably pissed that Donald Trump doesn’t have a Twitter account any more, in swooping panels.

On the other hand, Janin uses tighter grids in conjunction with Bellaire’s intense flat colors to show any time Authority members are stressed out or in real danger like when Natasha Irons has to switch armor while fighting alien refugee Siv, who is not so bad in the end. There’s real power behind the punches and kicks with Mikel Janin adding speed lines and energy bursts to his clean figure work. Kirby Krackle meets ligne claire and all is right with the world as he, Morrison, and Jordie Bellaire embrace the fun, bombastic side of superhero comics while also shifting the paradigm just a little bit.

The Authority’s “new way” of doing things that Superman alluded to in previous issues comes to play in the battle between Natasha Irons and Siv. After making the Authority’s first opponent a totally irredeemable Nazi, Grant Morrison shakes things up and makes Siv, an alien who fights to raise awareness for her species that is hated and feared after accidentally crash landing in California. By beating up some superheroes, she can help her people get resources and recognition. Natasha Irons is aware of this fact, but still ends up shorting Siv out in the heat of battle as she switches armor in mid-air.

Janin’s frenetic paneling and MTV style “edits” helps build suspense as he cuts from Irons free-falling to Manchester Black tussling with one of his old Elite buddies Coldcast, a Black superhero that is trying to repair his reputation … by teaming up with a white supremacist aka respectability politics with metahuman powers. However, after all the hullabaloo, there’s one great panel of Irons apologizing to Siv and doing everything in her power to help Siv’s people while Siv contemplates pacifism. This little mini arc shows that like a great rock song, Grant Morrison and Mikel Janin can nail the quiet moments as well as the loud ones like Midnighter aggressively fighting and flirting with a French queer badass named Fleur de Lis, who I hope makes an appearance elsewhere.

Superman and the Authority #4 features the memorable action and one-liners of its predecessors while having a true heart thanks to the sequences with Superman deciding to move on to deal with other threats and letting his amazing, bisexual son Jon Kent defend Earth as Superman in his stead. There’s a real Shakespeare/Prospero in The Tempest relationship between Morrison and Superman as they, Janin, and Bellaire put on one last spectacle, remark on how the old days weren’t so great (I love Black’s dialogue about JFK), and set up some threads for the next generation of DC Comics writers to play with. I personally think this won’t be Grant Morrison’s last DC story, but if it was, Superman and the Authority #4 is suitably entertaining and thought provoking and looks towards the future instead of being blinded by nostalgia, namely, bring on nb OMAC!

Story: Grant Morrison  Art: Mikel Janin
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Tom Napolitano
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Superman and the Authority #4

Superman and the Authority #4

Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Mikel Janin

Is the team ready for what’s next? Will the Man of Steel’s new super-group fall apart before they even begin? The Ultra-Humanite has put together his own team of rogues designed to match the Authority fist for fist. This series comes to an explosive conclusion that will threaten to split the Man of Steel in half!

Superman and the Authority #4

Preview: Superman and the Authority #3

Superman and the Authority #3

Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Travel Foreman, Mikel Janin

Superman put the Authority back together, but why? What threat is out there that only this group can contend with? The Ultra-Humanite, of course! This fearsome foe is forming a team of his own, one designed to go fist-to-fist with the Authority. It will be their baptism in battle to prove if Superman is right that regardless of who we are, there is a hero lurking inside even the worst of us. This penultimate issue is an important chapter in the new Superman mythos, helping to set up where Clark Kent goes next…and who he goes there with.

Superman and the Authority #3

Review: Superman and the Authority #3

Superman And The Authority #3

The shape of Grant Morrison’s storyline becomes clearer in the penultimate issue of Superman and the Authority #3 with the team going on their first mission and a larger (and very old school) foe rears its ugly head even as the recruitment drive continues. Yes, the final member of The Authority is Lightray aka Lia Nelson from Earth-9 aka the Tangent Comics universe giving the book a continued 1990s/early 2000s feel a la the original team. This extends to Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair’s visuals in an early sequence where the team must rescue June Moone aka the Enchantress from her old nemesis Dzamor that features edgy, energy-filled art work and a delicate Sandman-esque script from Morrison, whose Superman uses cleverness not punching to win the day. However, this art goes bye bye and is replaced by the sleek, modern stylings of Mikel Janin and Alex Sinclair for the inter-team banter and battles to come.

Superman and the Authority #3 really builds off the previous issue’s character-driven focus to put team members which we already care about in intense situations with Grant Morrison splitting the team up in smaller groups except for their leader, Superman, who gets to go mano a mano in his situation. As mentioned in the last paragraph, Superman’s cleverness, not his waning super strength gets a workout in this issue until the final few pages, and the Authority lineup covers up his weaknesses while also acting like variables in equations. For example, Enchantress has no upper limit to her magical abilities when she merges June Moone and Enchantress as one, Manchester Black’s psychic skills and general bad attitude come in handy rescuing and merging said technologies, and Apollo’s solar powered strength slots in nicely for Superman’s old abilities. Plus he treats Superman with the most respect and deference with the exception of Steel, who has a personal relationship with him through her uncle.

Even if this Authority team doesn’t have a multi-adventure/arc future mapped out for them, the interpersonal dynamic that Morrison and Janin craft for the team through dialogue, facial expressions, and body language make for an entertaining time. Manchester Black plays the role of punching bag, (*groans*) devil’s advocate, and general wise-ass, and his continued being cut down to size is more memorable than the bigger plot. Six months from now, I won’t care what the Big Bad was up to (I do admire Grant Morrison’s nod to history and Mikel Janin’s body horror design choice.), but I will remember that Old Man Superman praised the activist-minded nature of late millennial/Generation Z and showed how shallow the “old is good, new is bad” paradigm of books like Kingdom Come were in a two panel exchange with Black. This Superman doesn’t have a no-killing policy because of the Comics Code Authority or Mark Waid, but because death ultimately prevents restorative justice, which is what he seems to be aiming for with this new team.

Yes, that’s the actual Round Table

Superman and the Authority #3 is titled “Grimdark”, and it fits the active violence of the story as well as the literal darkness enshrouding Lightray at her crash pad where Apollo and Enchantress try to snag her. Lightray gets an abbreviated version of the solo sub-stories that Steel, Midnighter and Apollo, and Enchantress got in the previous, and Jordie Bellaire’s palette does a lot of the heavy lifting as she goes from being the first child born on Mars to an influencer type figure and then hiding in the dark talking to a mysterious figure. Bellaire uses a dark red panel for her birth because she was the child of an affair then uses a bright palette for her superhero identity and then turning to utter darkness until Apollo pops in with his whole solar deal. The brightness doesn’t let up as Apollo ends up in physical combat with Lightray’s “body guard”. Introducing a new cast member this late in the game is a risky, but Morrison, Janin, and Bellaire roll the dice and resurrect a wild card character that brings an element of sadness, vulnerability, and pure potential. I’m excited to see the role Lightray plays in Superman and the Authority‘s endgame.

For the most part, Superman and the Authority #3 avoids the “middle chapter” issue in serialized comics as Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, and Jordie Bellaire bring out the team’s opponent, show an aging Superman using his mind instead of his powers and playing the role of strategist instead of tank, and give a glimpse of the actual Authority team in action. It hits that sweet spot between light and darkness kind of like June Moone/Enchantress and her fun new look. (Her attempts at flirting with Apollo are pretty pathetic though.)

Story: Grant Morrison  Art: Mikel JaninTravel Foreman
Colors: Jordie Bellaire, Alex Sinclair Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Superman and the Authority #3

Superman and the Authority #3

Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Travel Foreman, Mikel Janin

Superman put the Authority back together, but why? What threat is out there that only this group can contend with? The Ultra-Humanite, of course! This fearsome foe is forming a team of his own, one designed to go fist-to-fist with the Authority. It will be their baptism in battle to prove if Superman is right that regardless of who we are, there is a hero lurking inside even the worst of us. This penultimate issue is an important chapter in the new Superman mythos, helping to set up where Clark Kent goes next…and who he goes there with.

Superman and the Authority #3

Preview: Superman and the Authority #2

Superman and the Authority #2

Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Evan Cagle, Fico Ossio, Mikel Janin

Clark Kent and Manchester Black continue to put Superman’s new team together, even though keeping Black in check seems like just as difficult a job as convincing the new recruits to come along. The pair hits different parts of the world looking for different types of heroes. While Midnighter, Apollo, and Natasha Irons only need to tie up some loose ends before getting on board, the Enchantress is going to be a little harder. Superman is going to have to set her free from a deadly illusion hell-bent on destroying her before she can help him save the universe.

Superman and the Authority #2

Review: Superman and the Authority #2

Superman and the Authority #2

Superman and Manchester Black assemble the new Authority squad in Superman and the Authority #2, and the issue goes about the ol’ recruitment drive issue in a creative way while still leaving time for plenty of interactions between the Man of Steel and his predominantly fans turned teammates. Grant Morrison structures this comic in a really engaging way collaborating four artists and four colorists to tell a frame story featuring Superman, Manchester Black, and their new teammates (Mikel Janin and Jordie Bellaire), a Natasha “Steel” Irons solo adventure (Fico Ossio and Sebastian Cheng), an Apollo and Midnighter team-up (Evan Cagle and Dave Stewart), and a June Moone aka Enchantress spookfest (Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair). Each of these small units of story allow Morrison and the artists to play in different genres and flesh out each member of The Authority while building to a bigger whole.

The Grant Morrison-penned banter between Manchester Black and Superman along with the clean lines of Janin and strong colors tie together the disparate art styles and sub-stories of Superman and the Authority #2. This older Superman is vulnerable and self-aware about it taking Black’s snipes about his power set reduction in stride while quipping about being “a samurai in autumn” and not caring if he has to take a spaceship (That’s quite cool) everywhere instead of flying. He also is straight up revered by his teammates with Natasha Irons joining the team simply because he’s on it, and Midnighter using the Authority team membership as his anniversary present for Apollo, who breaks his usual reticence and gushes about how Superman was an inspiration to him. (Even if he’s a bit more violent than the Man of Steel.) June Moone gets the last story, and the team doesn’t really interact with her that much, but almost silently, Superman’s silhouette acts as a figure of hope in the middle of the utter hopelessness of the Hilltop Sanitorium.

Natasha Irons gets the first short story, and Morrison, Ossio, and Cheng craft a story that in a previous age might be called cyberpunk. Basically, her and her uncle, John Henry Irons’ Metropolis headquarters has been overrun by sentient Internet beings endangering their operations as well as their city and the whole world. Grant Morrison and Fico Ossio take a literal approach to the enemies they fight, such as trolls, “eternal edgelords”, and of course, plain ol’ misinformation that continues to take the world especially in a world ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. (If you’re reading this review and haven’t been vaccinated, please get the vaccine.) Sebastian Cheng’s garish color palette as Irons battles the racist, sexist slime of the Internet feels like you’re in the middle of a flame war, and Ossio overwhelms the page with figures. However, Steel is no damsel in distress and uses her empathy and intelligence to deal with the threat and prove that she’s a worthy successor to Superman as hero of Metropolis and will fill the tech role (Think Angela Spica in the original Authority) well.

As a known Midnighter fan, of course, the second sub-story from Grant Morrison, Cagle, and Stewart is my favorite as Midnighter and Apollo bicker like an old married couple while trying to save some psychic kids that are being trafficked in a very high tech, body horror kind of way. Evan Cagle and Dave Stewart’s art showcases the dark badass nature of Midnighter with sweeping shadows and minimalist imagery in panels like guns falling or bloods dripping to just show how in control of the situation he is. However, there’s a bit of the hiccup in the action, and this gives Apollo a chance to play hero and then murder children with his yellow glow getting a little sadder. The atomic sheen that Stewart gives Apollo gives Morrison a chance to do some political commentary via Superman and Manchester Black about “idealistic liberals” and basically how a Democrat was responsible for dropping the only atom bombs in history. It’s a fitting observation as leftists and progressives become increasingly disgruntled with a party that won’t do squat while it has control of the legislative and executive departments and negotiates with a party that was responsible for and tolerated a right wing insurrection. Personally, Midnighter and Apollo have a fun, flirtatious dynamic, but their good intentions (Saving Middle Eastern children) turned downright genocidal is a spot-on metaphor for American foreign policy as well as the failure of “liberal” ideals.

Finally, the June Moone story is for fans of Grant Morrison’s work on Arkham Asylum and is a little bit like a less gory, easier to follow Nameless. Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair’s visuals are suitably atmospheric with plenty of dark shadows and corridors plus a mainly monochromatic palette with hints of red. It’s a Lovecraftian psychodrama as June Moone’s boyfriend has been having an affair with the Enchantress and wants to unleash her tonight with the help of an elder, purple god. After the science fiction and superheroics of the majority of Superman and the Authority #2, Morrison, Foreman, and Sinclair capture hopelessness in a house with the door held slightly ajar in the end. Out of the Authority team members, Enchantress is the least traditionally heroic, but every Authority squad needs a shaman or wizard type figure, and she’s a powerhouse on that account. But first the team will have to play Orpheus to her Eurydice.

Superman and the Authority #2 is a master class in how to assemble a superhero team in the space of a single issue. Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, Fico Ossio, Evan Cagle, and Travel Foreman seamlessly combine multi-genre short stories with a thematically rich overarching narrative of an aging Superman and a chaotic Manchester Black trying to do this superhero thing the right way. (No genocides, please!) I can’t wait to see this merry band fight through Hell, and Apollo fangirl over (hot dad) Superman some more!

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Mikel Janin, Fico Ossio, Evan Cagle, Travel Foreman
Colors: Jordie Bellaire, Sebastian Cheng, Dave Stewart, Alex Sinclair Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.2 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Superman and the Authority #2

Superman and the Authority #2

Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Evan Cagle, Fico Ossio, Mikel Janin

Clark Kent and Manchester Black continue to put Superman’s new team together, even though keeping Black in check seems like just as difficult a job as convincing the new recruits to come along. The pair hits different parts of the world looking for different types of heroes. While Midnighter, Apollo, and Natasha Irons only need to tie up some loose ends before getting on board, the Enchantress is going to be a little harder. Superman is going to have to set her free from a deadly illusion hell-bent on destroying her before she can help him save the universe.

Superman and the Authority #2

Preview: Proctor Valley Road #5 (of 5)

Proctor Valley Road #5 (of 5)

(W) Alex Child, Grant Morrison (A/CA) Naomi Franquiz
In Shops: Jul 21, 2021
SRP: $3.99

Will the girls be able to reform their shattered friendship with the fate of their entire town at stake?

They’ll need to band together in order to stop the ultimate evil behind the haunting of Proctor Valley Road… especially if they still want to make it to the Janis Joplin concert.

Proctor Valley Road #5 (of 5)
Almost American
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