Tag Archives: Metropolis

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

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.

DC Announces Metropolis, a New Live Action TV Series to Debut on DC’s Digital Service

Batman before Batman = Gotham. Superman before Superman = Kryprton… and Metropolis!? DC Entertainment has announced a weekly live action series that explores the City of Tomorrow, Metropolis. The series will be set before the arrival of a certain Man of Steel and will follow Lois Lane and Lex Luthor as they “investigate the world of fringe science and expose the city’s dark and bizarre secrets.”

The series will air exclusively on DC’s upcoming digital service which will also be the home of the live action Titans series.

The series will explore the City of Tomorrow, before the emergence of Superman and establish the world leading up to his arrival. The concept sounds familiar, because it’s the same concept as Gotham and executive producers of that show, John Stephens and Danny Cannon, will oversee this. Cannon will direct the first episode from a teleplay by Stephens, and story by Cannon and Stephens.

With the series setting, the tone of the show should be much different than its similar in concept sister show with a science fiction tone.

In addition to Metropolis and Titans, the new DC digital service will also have two animated series, Young Justice: Outsiders and Harley Quinn.

Metropolis, which will debut in 2019, has received a direct-to-series order for a first season of 13 episodes and will go into production later this year.

LEGO Dimensions Main Game Includes 14 Distinct Levels

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment revealed today some of the many different environments that exist throughout the 14 levels of LEGO Dimensions, the upcoming entertainment experience that merges physical LEGO brick building with interactive console gameplay. Players can interact with most of the fan-favorite universes within LEGO Dimensions from the Starter Pack main game, no matter which characters, vehicles and gadgets they choose to play with, and with no additional purchase or expansion pack required.

At the start of the game, the heroes Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle begin their journey on the Yellow Brick Road in the colorful world of Oz. Their quest takes them through the city of Ninjago, plus Metropolis, Middle Earth, and Hill Valley, just to name a few. Each level offers players a new mission on their path to save the LEGO Multiverse.

For players who want to further customize their gameplay experience, the characters, vehicles and gadgets from any of the LEGO Dimensions Level Packs, Team Packs and Fun Packs can be brought into any of the different level environments with no restrictions. The LEGO Dimensions Level Packs will provide players with an additional level to play of a given entertainment franchise, in addition to the 14 levels included in the main game.

Launching September 27, 2015, LEGO Dimensions will be available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and the Wii U.

Here’s a look at the 14 levels.

Back to the Future

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Doctor Who

LEGODimensions_DrWho_1 LEGODimensions_DrWho_2 LEGODimensions_DrWho_3

Ghostbusters

LEGODimensions_GhostBusters_1 LEGODimensions_GhostBusters_2

Metropolis

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Middle Earth

LEGODimensions_MiddleEarth_1 LEGODimensions_MiddleEarth_2

Ninjago

LEGODimensions_Ninjago_1 LEGODimensions_Ninjago_2

Portal

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Scooby Doo

LEGODimensions_Scooby_1 LEGODimensions_Scooby_2 LEGODimensions_Scooby_3 LEGODimensions_Scooby_4 LEGODimensions_Scooby_5

Wizard of Oz

LEGODimensions_WizOfOz_1 LEGODimensions_WizOfOz_2

Review: Action Comics #42

ac042With the Truth segment of this Superman crossover finished after one month, the story now moves on to Justice, a change of some sort which is not immediately evident to the reader.   The move to deconstruct Superman to show that he is super beyond his powers is an intriguing venture, but thus far there has been very little of a unified approach as to how he is being portrayed.  The somewhat directionless approach has spilled over into four different series, but with each one set in a different time and place with different stakes on the line, and so it makes what is going on a bit hard to grasp.

The heart of the story line can be likely tied to Action Comics.  Superman-Wonder Woman and Superman-Batman looked at his relationship with those two heroes, and the main Superman book seemed a bit hesitant to get into the new Superman, Action Comics has thus far been responsible for the setup and delivery of most of the differences.  AS was previously shown, Superman returns to Metropolis, mostly powerless and faces against a police force that is tired of cleaning up after him, and yet also a group of citizens who stand by him for all that he has done.  As a shadow beast attacked the neighborhood, he was forced to intervene, and the two groups, both pro- and anti- faced off.  This is the followup to the first issue of this arc, where Superman attacks the shadow beast, and where the citizens face off against the police.  The battle with the shadow beast is fun enough, especially as Superman realizes that he can’t do everything that he used to, but the protests of the citizens come up a bit empty.  In a story with a superpowered alien fighting a shadow beast, it is the protest which comes off as the most unlikely part of the story.

Stories from the big two comic publishers often have a problem of avoiding controversy.  Four years ago the Occupy Wall Street movement took off and caused some people to reconsider what they took for granted as the system in place in North America for economics, and now finally DC has gotten around to its own demonstration, though this one is seemingly self-aware.  It should be said that the plot point of superheroes getting sued is one which should probably never be breached in comics.  Just like their fantastical powers which defy most of what we know of science, it is a state of being in the superhero world that superheroes are not responsible for their damage, otherwise most superhero books would turn into one lawsuit after another.  While the action here did a decent job of living up to the name of the titular series, the setup does not, nor does it really do justice to any comics.  This new direction for Superman is still trying to change the boundaries of what defines the hero, it is just not really clear if it is going about it the right way.

Story: Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder Art: Aaron Kuder
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Pass

Review: Doomed #1

doomed001The Truth story line from the Superman comics is one that is meant to make the character more approachable to the average fan, while also giving long term fans something more to read as the character’s fundamental meanings are laid out to be more apparent.  While it has only been partially effective in doing so, the intention is evidently there, to make Superman more of a likable hero than superpowered alien god.  That being the case, it makes one wonder why a different approach was not taken for this examination of the archetypal superhero, and Doomed serves as an example of a different route which could be equally effective.  This series is also interesting as DC has played at the idea of a Hulk rip-off before, notably with the new 52 version of O.M.A.C. but it has never really worked.  The dynamics of the Marvel characters are such that they are hard to replicate, but perhaps DC has found its green goliath after all, except in this case as one that can kind of turn into Doomsday.

The story here follows Reiser, a bit of a scientific prodigy who has gotten himself a job at S.T.A.R. Labs.  Although he is first introduced in his Doomsday persona, it is is not Doomsday which really defines this first issue.  The character is shown as a fish out of water, as the Metropolis, the City of Tomorrow, is seemingly replaced with New York City.  The character has to fight transit to make it to work, is hired basically as an intern, and has to squeeze an extra roommate into an already cramped apartment.  As these sequence of events take place he is accidentally exposed to something which causes that he has some kind of powers, although they are not powers that he seems to be interested in.

If there was meant to be a shake-up in Metropolis, then this is evidently a better route than the story arc that is dominating the other Superman titles.  This is s fresh take on the city and its superheroes, and the first real bit of something different for the city in a long time.  The character feel real and they are approachable, and his supporting characters even beg for more panel time as they themselves seem to have interesting stories.    Although this might be a little low on some people’s reading list, it probably shouldn’t be.  It was a fun read and it leaves the reader waiting impatiently for the next issue.

Story: Scott Lobdell Art: Javier Fernandez
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

52 Reviews, Part 4

So, for the fun of it, I collected all 52 DC #1 issues. And I’m offering up my final reviews of the entire group. Keep in mind, though, that I’m generally a Marvel fan and, while I’m working may way through DC’s recent big events, I’m only up through the middle of Countdown and I haven’t read any of DC’s non-event comics in a long time, so I’m coming at these stories with a bit of a disadvantage in terms of chronology and character knowledge. Since DC is certainly trying to attract new readers, though, this makes me come at them with a perspective similar to their hypothetical new fans… Tomorrow or the next day, I’ll have a post on my overall thoughts on the whole reboot.

All Star Western #1 (DC) – I was prepared not to like this too much. I liked Jonah Hex as a kid, but I hadn’t read it since then. And I generally don’t like anything Western. Add to the mix that Hex wears a Confederate uniform and is anti-science and anti-urban and there’s no reason I should’ve liked this. And yet I loved it. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti tell a very well-written tale that incorporates Western tropes, Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes and the mythology of Gotham City. It all fits together very well, although a possible turn with the villains of the story could upset me if it goes the way it looks. I could probably do without another dead hooker story, but since it’s a Jack the Ripper homage, I’m okay with it in this case. It’s hard to argue that Moritat’s art isn’t perfect and while I don’t usually notice color artists in comics, Gabriel Bautista’s work is good enough here to get a shout out.

Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.75

Aquaman #1 (DC) – Aquaman is a character I’ve never really liked. I bought all the jokes about how lame he and his powers were, so I never really paid much attention. Which played me right into Geoff Johns’ hands in this one. This is a funny comic book, maybe the funniest of the entire New 52. It makes fun of all of those jokes and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It also puts all of those jokes to rest and shows us that Aquaman isn’t the joke we think he is, he’s much more powerful than that. This issue also sets a new paradigm for the character and is a great way to re-introduce him to the world.

Story: 10 Art: 8 Overall: 9

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 (DC) – Hands down the Batman books are the backbone of the New 52. Every one of this is good to great and they give us a lot to look forward to. This is the worst of the bunch, but it is still readable, entertaining and looks good.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Blackhawks #1 (DC) – My deceased father was a childhood fan of Blackhawks and he always talked about them, even into his 60s. They weren’t really ever around much in my comic reading days, so I was interested in giving this one a shot as a way to connect with my dad’s comic book tastes. I think he would’ve liked this one and I thank the creators for giving me that connection to my father once again.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1 (DC) – Another character I haven’t read much of since my childhood is Firestorm. The way the character(s) work here is quite a bit different, so far, than what I remember. The issue is pretty good and Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone do some pretty strong writing in terms of tackling stereotypes and race. I will say the ending to the issue left me a bit confused, but hopefully that will be cleared up next month.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25

The Flash #1 (DC) – This one was a bit of a spoiler for me, since I’ve only read major DC events up to Countdown. I had no idea Barry Allen was back. This is a pretty nice story with a good mystery and a pretty awesome last page. Brian Buccellato’s art is quite good, too.

Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 (DC) – The Green Lantern comics have also been pretty strong across the board and this one adds to that. The story here is quite interesting and leaves with a pretty good cliffhanger that will definitely have me back next issue.

Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

I, Vampire #1 (DC) – Wow. That’s really the best word to describe this, which I think is the best issue of the entire New 52. And I generally hate vampire tales. But this one is so well-written and so beautiful that I am now officially hooked on this series. The plot has such a great apocalyptic feel to it that I find myself wondering if the old I, Vampire tales were quite this good. I don’t remember them ever getting to this level.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Justice League Dark #1 (DC) – Magic tales are not usually my cup of tea, but DC seems to have been getting them right in recent years and this is no exception. Unlike most of the new issues, this one really is the start of something new and it is a good beginning that really makes me want more. There are some amazing visuals in this book, particularly the June Moone splash. Some of the dialog and text is superbly written as well, such as the line: “The reek of skinned babies and sliced eyeballs.” Man, is that creepy or what? There’s more where that came from.

Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9

The Savage Hawkman #1 (DC) – No question this is the weakest book of the week. For one, I’ve never really been a huge Hawkman fan, but this issue is confusing, makes no sense at times (Hawkman starts off by shooting his old costume) and doesn’t look very good at times. It’s not terrible, but with all the other great comics DC put out this week, this one pales in comparison.

Story: 6 Art: 6.5 Overall: 6.25

Superman #1 (DC) – George Perez re-introduces Superman here with a tale told in a throwback style with lots of third-person narration, a nostalgic tale of Metropolis’s history and a strong introduction to the themes and supporting characters in the series. Oh, and there’s some kind of epic battle with a fire-monster alien, too.

Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

Teen Titans #1 (DC) – Another tale launching a new team with introductions to some of the team members, this one is entertaining and has a lot of potential. Scott Lobdell does much better here than on Red Hood, so much so it’s hard to believe this is the same writer as that crap. Red Hood looks even worse now that we see that Lobdell can write a strong female character (in this case Wonder Girl).

Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8

Voodoo #1 (DC) – This issue conflicted me the most this week. After two weeks with controversies over female characters and their depictions as weak or nearly naked, it was disappointing to open this issue and see a half-naked stripper jump out at me. And then to see page after page of half-naked strippers for the entire issue. But Ron Marz shows that he isn’t writing as simplistically as you might expect. The opening page, as Brett pointed out to me, says “Are you ready gentlemen? Because this is why you’re here!” as if the near-nudity is meant as a tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended) thing and a slap at the fans who buy books for that purpose. But I kind of got the same feeling from this as I got from a story on Fox News where they condemn pornography while showing a clip from a porn movie. Marz does make sure to show us that the female characters in the issue are, at a minimum, intellectually, physically and even morally superior to the male characters (except for maybe the end of the issue where moral superiority drops off). This is definitely a comic where the female characters are the only characters that matter, but I wonder if that same point couldn’t have been made by having Voodoo work as a waitress instead of a stripper, since that would’ve fit the logic of the story just as well.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5