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Preview: Batman/Superman #20

Batman/Superman #20

Story: Gene Luen Yang
Art: Ivan Reis

The Man of Steel and the Dark Knight need time to recover from their manic melee through the Archive of Worlds, but the heroes won’t rest for long! Despite the efforts of new friends El Diablo and Alanna, Auteur.io, the cybernetic architect of these alternate realities, seems to have the upper hand! And to make matters worse, the Archive of Worlds unleashes its most horrific story ever put to magic-infused celluloid: the dark and twisted tale of that demon from the depths: Etrigan!

Batman/Superman #20

Review: Superman and the Authority #1

Superman and the Authority #1

Imagine a world where the Justice League failed in their mission to bring about modern Camelot on Earth, either the King Arthur one or the John F. Kennedy New Frontier one. Both fell any way. Writer Grant Morrison, artist Mikel Janin, and colorist Jordie Bellaire explore this avenue plus an ailing Superman in the first issue of their new miniseries Superman and the Authority. This comic is the perfect distillation of Otto Binder and that other British comic book writer with a beard who was a sex pest. Opening with an earnest chat between Superman and JFK and concluding with a gin-swilling British anti-hero vomiting on (a representation of) the world, Superman and the Authority brings together Silver Age and the Dark Age, but the decent Vertigo/Wildstorm stuff, not Lobdell and Nicieza on the X-Books.

Grant Morrison hits this sweet spot by focusing Superman and the Authority #1 by focusing on two characters, Superman and Manchester Black setting up the thesis for the series before the inevitable recruiting drive in next month issue’s. They bring in plenty of bells of whistles with their script, including edgy dialogue and vomit noises for Black and Silver Age deep cuts for Superman. (Kryptonian Thought-Beasts are so cool, which might be the only thing that Geoff Johns and I ever agree on.) However, what truly brings these two disparate worlds and characters together is the visuals of Janin and Bellaire. Mikel Janin’s clean line style with slight Ben-Day dot expertly conveys the nostalgia of the 1960s (Which happens to be the decade Morrison grew up in.), and his film strip layout of astronauts and Superman leaping on the moon along with JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy waving to passerbys captures an era of youth and optimism.

But this all broken up by distorted line-work from Janin and reds and blacks from Bellaire than come in any time characters are stressed and in trouble throughout Superman and the Authority from Manchester Black taking gunfire in a flurry of grid panels to Superman basically taking a life and death gambit with Phantom Zone prisoners to persuade Black to join his team. For this extended sequence, Janin works from odd angles and emphasizes the agony of a slowly depowering Superman, who can’t fly any more aka the opposite of the smiling Silver Age hero, who could breathe in space and turn a lump of coal into diamond with his bare hands. Again, there are lots of reds and repetition of the word “Die” like it’s a Misfits song or something until Manchester Black reluctantly decides to be a hero, and Jordie Bellaire pours on a bit of telekinetic blue because telepathy doesn’t work on drones. In the spirit of Hitman #34, Superman’s true power isn’t heat vision, X-Ray vision, or flight, but the ability to provide hope and inspire even the most gin-sodden anti-hero.

Speaking of hope, some fans and critics were definitely a little bit taken aback by Superman leading The Authority, a team that in past incarnations had no problem killing and doing other various terrible things in the spirit of proactive superheroing. However, Grant Morrison does a good job of making a case for a collaboration between Superman and them without shying away from action, a bit of mystery (Aka shadowy figures talking about kryptonite), and some big ideas. Even though Superman and the Authority opens with JFK and Superman smiling and laying the foundation for both the Justice League and the moon landing, the rest of the book focuses on the Man of Steel’s vulnerability. For example, instead of flying to Manchester Black’s rescue from helicopter sniper gunfire tearing across the pages, he leaps over a building in a single bound (A la New 52/Golden Age Superman), and Mikel Janin abandons his usual clean style for hazy, black lines. Morrison’s dialogue also alludes to this weakness like lines about Superman hovering over the ground for short periods as a kind of “exercise”.

It’s a far cry from a smiling figure flying into the sun, and it’s why Superman has recruited anti-heroes like Manchester to replace his lost powers and strike from the shadows and the margins because trying to change the world from out in the open leads to the assassination of JFK or MLK or RFK, who are all alluded to in Superman and the Authority #1 along with traditional Superman comic book opponents Intergang, Darkseid, and Doomsday. These baddies’ names evoke corruption, pure evil, and the ultimate defeat as Doomsday was solely created to kill Superman. (And boost sales!) They could definitely kick the current Superman’s ass as evidenced by his struggles with some drones from the Phantom Zone, which is where the new incarnation of the Authority comes in. Superman shows Black a literal Round Table when making his sales pitch, but Manchester Black’s vomiting and the overt mention of anti-heroes in Grant Morrison’s dialogue show that this team is going to be the polar opposite of their JLA.

Superman and the Authority #1 finds a balance of hope and cynicism through the characters of real time aged Superman and Manchester Black. Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, and Jordie Bellaire give Black a true arc in this issue as evidenced by inset panels showing him walk away from the Fortress of Solitude and eventually slowly turning back to help him. Although Morrison makes cracks at traditional superheroes like the X-Men and JLA, their writing comes across as healthy skepticism more so than grimdark for the sake of grimdark. This is what Superman and the Authority the natural next step in their take on superhero team books as it captures the spirit of an age where racism, inequality, and senseless suffering continue with an added bonus of a climate crisis despite the social reforms of the 1960s.

To sum it all up, Superman and the Authority #1 is about the failure of the supposed Age of Aquarius as Morrison, Janin, and Bellaire turn from smiling, well-hewn Superman to a half-naked Manchester Black surrounded by detritus and targeted by the mooks of American imperialism. But there’s always hope even the more commercially successful superhero team failed in their mission to make the world a better place.

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Mikel Janin
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Superman: Red & Blue #5

Superman: Red & Blue #5

Written by: Daniel Warren Johnson, Mark Buckingham, Joshua Williamson, G. Willow Wilson, Judd Winick
Art by: Daniel Warren Johnson, Mark Buckingham, Chris Sprouse, Valentine De Landro, Ibrahim Moustafa

There’s no dog in the Multiverse quite like Superman’s real best friend, Krypto! Join us this month for an epic retelling of Superman’s canine companion’s origin story, along with four additional tales about the Man of Steel, including one that proves that even in his secret identity Clark Kent is just as super. While Superman is known for his larger-than-life heroism, in this issue we tell the story of a delicate infant rocketed through the unforgiving universe! Also, meet for the first time the man rescued by Superman more often than anyone else in the Multiverse. And follow Pa Kent as he learns what it really means to be the father of a superhero. You won’t want to miss the penultimate issue of this star-studded anthology celebrating the Man of Steel!

Superman: Red & Blue #5

Preview: Superman and the Authority #1

Superman and the Authority #1

Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Mikel Janin

Sometimes even Superman finds a task almost impossible. Sometimes even the Last Son of Krypton needs to enlist help. Some tasks require methods and heroes that don’t scream “Justice League.” So Clark Kent, the Metropolis Marvel, seeks out Manchester Black, the most dastardly of rogues, to form an all-new Authority tasked with taking care of some business on the sly. Not only will Black know the right candidates for the team, but if Superman can make him behave himself and act in service of the greater good, then he’ll prove literally anyone can be a hero! They’ll have to move quickly, however, as the Ultra-Humanite forms his own team to take out the Man of Steel.

This new limited series helps launch an all-new Superman status quo, setting up story elements that reverberate across both Action Comics and Superman: Son of Kal-El in the months to come. And not only is Superman putting together a superstar team, but it takes superstars to tell the tale: Grant Morrison (The Green Lantern, All-Star Superman) and Mikel Janín (Batman, Future State: Superman: Worlds of War)!

Superman and the Authority #1

Preview: Action Comics 2021 Annual

Action Comics 2021 Annual

Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by: Siya Oum, Scott Godlewski

The return of Future State’s House of El! It’s time to head back to tomorrow, as Superman’s descendants face a threat from today. This special tale connects to “Warworld Rising” as the actions of Clark Kent in the present reverberate, leaving long-lasting changes…and a deadly threat for the House of El to reckon with. Can Brandon Kent, the Superman of his era, stop the danger from hurting the next generation? Also, for those wanting to know more about Brandon’s relationshop with Theand’r, the Tamaranean queen, prepare yourself for a little romance as well.

Action Comics 2021 Annual #1

Preview: Action Comics 2021 Annual #1

Action Comics 2021 Annual #1

Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by: Siya Oum, Scott Godlewski

The return of Future State’s House of El! It’s time to head back to tomorrow, as Superman’s descendants face a threat from today. This special tale connects to “Warworld Rising” as the actions of Clark Kent in the present reverberate, leaving long-lasting changes…and a deadly threat for the House of El to reckon with. Can Brandon Kent, the Superman of his era, stop the danger from hurting the next generation? Also, for those wanting to know more about Brandon’s relationshop with Theand’r, the Tamaranean queen, prepare yourself for a little romance as well.

Action Comics 2021 Annual #1

Preview: Superman #32

Superman #32

Written by: Sean Lewis, Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by: Sami Basri, Scott Godlewski

The end of “The One Who Fell”! Superman and Superboy were duped by the old divide-and-conquer routine, which is especially dangerous on a faraway planet where you can’t tell who your enemy is. As the Shadowbreed makes their big move, Superman discovers what happened to the friend who originally sent the distress beacon that lured him and his son across the galaxy. Let’s just hope it’s not an answer that came too late! Elsewhere, back home on Earth, Jimmy Olsen leads his misfit team on the hunt for the sinister Projectress.

Superman #32

Preview: Action Comics #1032

Action Comics #1032

Written by: Michael Conrad, Becky Cloonan, Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by: Michael Avon Oeming, Daniel Sampere

“Warworld Rising,” part three! As the Superman family fights to keep the mysterious refugees alive, they find shocking answers about their lost colony. Meanwhile, Atlantis faces destruction by a host of supernaturally powerful sea kaiju, apparently created by the newfound “Warworld fragment”! As other world governments come to understand the devastating power Atlantis now possesses, tensions rise, and the threat of global war looms closer. As this goes on, back in Metropolis, the time-flung version of Midnighter digs deeper into Trojan’s dirty scheme.

Action Comics #1032

Preview: Batman/Superman #19

Batman/Superman #19

Written by: Gene Luen Yang
Art by: Emanuela Lupacchino, Kyle Hotz, Darick Robertson, Steve Lieber

To thwart the apocalypse cascading across multiple realities, Batman and Superman must join forces with their counterparts and sojourn to strange lands! The World of the Knight and the World of Tomorrow are not the only two creations crafted by the sinister Auteur.io – and this nefarious cybernetic despot is hell-bent on at last crafting his own twisted notion of utopia. Join a list of all-star artists as we tour through the ARCHIVE OF WORLDS!

Batman/Superman #19

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here! What are you all doing? Is there any geeky things? Sound off in the comments below! While you wait for the weekday to end and the weekend to begin, here’s some comic news from around the web.

Kotaku – Superman Flying Around, Eating Rice In New Japanese Comic – This could be fun.

Book Riot – 8 Stellar Sci-Fi Manga Titles – What would you add to the list?

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Solve undead mysteries in INTO THE MIDNIGHT CITY – Free comics!

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