Tag Archives: Superman

Runners up for week 36: #new52, Stormwatch 1, Animal Man 1, Action Comics 1

2. Stormwatch #1 (DC comics)            
Okay, I love the first couple of volumes of the Authority (I finally got around to buying the trades yesterday) and this has me all giddy about those characters again. Very exciting to see some of my favorite familiar faces back like Jack Hawksmore, Jenny Quantum (the spirit of the 21st century), the Engineer and of course Apollo and Midnighter. In equal parts due to their appearance, their original use of superpowers and their bad-ass personalities these characters are among the very best of the spandex crowd to have arrived fairly recent.  It will be really interesting to see how this team will interact with classic DC characters. A tip of the iceberg was already shown, as Martian the Man Hunter is part of Stormwatch (as well as the Justice League). Basically, Stormwatch is the interdimensional secret superhero police. This new series is basically Stormwatch trying (very unsuccessfully) to get Apollo to join them because they want someone with ‘Superman-level’ powers. But then the roguishly handsome Midnighter sweeps all the members of Stormwatch off their feet to hit on Apollo: ‘I’m the Midnighter. With your help, I can kill every evil bastard on the planet. Interested…?’ (Cheers for my favorite couple in comics) Great art too! Oh, and what’s with the shimmering red cloaked guy that’s showing up in all the new 52 first issues?
Art: 8             Writing: 9       Overall: 8.5

3. Animal Man #1 (DC comics)        
This introduces Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, just as I remember him. This guy can tap into the morphologic field of all the world’s fauna, to use the animal characteristics he needs. A superhero despite himself, yet foremost a family man. The first half of this issue tells you everything you need to know, neatly and elegantly. Without spoiling too much, first we get to know him and his wife and two children in his home environment. Then he puts on the costume to stop a guy who’s holding hostages in the children’s ward of the local hospital. In this sequence we learn about the kind of hero Buddy is. He´s hesitant to use violence, much rather trying to talk conflicted persons out of their troubles. Lastly we see one of his nightmares, which is portrayed wonderfully disturbing and then we see him waking up to see the weirdness has hit his private life again… Okay, now that´s a creepy cliffhanger… …well, maybe it´s not so much the cliffhanger that’s creepy, as much as the visuals of it (keep away from the last page if you’re allergic to dead animals). Nothing wrong with the writing here, leave it up to Jeff Lemire to rock his keyboard and make some magically good comics. Now the art though… Until the relaunch announcements, I´d never heard of Travel Foreman. And in the lead up to the relaunch his work got pretty hyped. And although I love the cover, and this issue´s dream sequence, I just couldn´t get into the rest of the art. It´s not bad, just not my kind of style I guess. It improved throughout the issue, but not enough as I´d like. Something about the rough, detailed line-work and lack of blacks just doesn´t sit well with me.
Art: 7.7           Writing: 9       Overall: 8.4

4. Action comics #1 (DC comics)      
This is a hard book for me to review, I had pretty high expectations, which weren’t met. Which doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, not at all. It’s pretty good, just not quit here nor there for me. Basically it’s whats been dubbed Bruce Springsteen Superman, with his shirt and jeans and working man’s boots. He’s a little edgier than we’re used to, threatening non-super powered villains with death. He’s also a lot more brash, making statements to the media that: ‘You know the deal Metropolis. Treat people right, or expect a visit from me.’ He seems to be standing up for the little people more than ever, which I also like. It gives him a bit of a political activist edge. Also, this issue introduces familiar mainstays like general Lane, Louis Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Lex Luthor. Plus a great Morrison idea of weaponizing the city against the man of steel. Art was pretty good, reminded me more than a little of Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spiderman for some reason. Come to think of it this whole issue kinda feels like the ultimate take on Superman: He’s younger, has to start from scratch in modern times, gets deconstructed to the ground, hmmm… Well if it worked for Spidey, it surely can’t hurt Supes. Plus if Bendis can pull something like this, I think Morrison should be able to do it well enough too.
Art:Writing: 8       Overall: 8

Come back tomorrow, to see if I can add anything new to my already extensively formulated love for Locke and Key. As I review the latest issue of Locke and Key. Clockworks…


Quick shots for week 29: Cosmic Odyssee and Stephen King

Since I only have two books in the Quick shots section this week, I will go into a little bit more detail than normally about the first one (Cosmic Odyssee)…

5. Cosmic Odyssee (trade paperback)

Cosmic Odyssee TPB

Cosmic Odyssee TPB

This is a trade paperback I bought recently, it collects the four 48 page prestige format issues of a major DC cross-over event originally published in 1988. I have always been a big fan of Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet, written by Jim Starlin. Last year I found out that he had done another cross-over event for the Distinguished Competition that was described as the Infinity Gauntlet for the DC Universe. This piqued my interest and so I was very excited to crack the spine of this beautiful Mignola drawn 200 pager.

The first thing that struck me was Mike Mignola’s art style. I’m not particularly well read in Mignola’s work, but I’m familiar enough with his great work on covers the last years and this was something entirely else. While it definitely has some of Mignola’s stylistics trademarks, it conveys both the trademarks of a gem in the rough as well as a product of its time. The art in this can be seen as a mixture of Mignola with art styles that were popular at the time, most notably that of Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. While it wasn’t bad, let’s just call it ‘interesting’.

This looks strikingly like Jim Lee art right? Wrong! This is early Mike Mignola.

This looks strikingly like Jim Lee art right? Wrong! This is early Mike Mignola.

The second thing that hit me was crappy lettering. It took me a while to figure out that I have been spoiled by digital lettering. Maybe it was because of a pressing deadline, or maybe it was just the lettering of the times, but words and sentences were broken down clumsily very often.

The writing is from another time too and I kept that in mind, but still it had me cracking up at different times in the story. For instance, after Batman tracks down a stranded giant from Apokolips who keeps some mangled bodies in a meat locker, his caption boxes say: ‘Now I know who I face… …a cannibalistic alien.’ This had my mind reeling: Cannibalistic is when you eat you own species, right? And aliens and humans are definitely different species right? Right?

This sequence with Batman and the giant takes place in the sewers and the colouring of the sewers had me laughing out loud. While sewers are a destination often frequented by many a superhero, it’s seldom that you see ‘realistic’ colouring of the sewers’ content. Not in Cosmic Odyssee however: The colours leave little room for imagination as to what is flowing into Batman’s neck:

Here's to hoping the cowl's water proof....

Here's to hoping the cowl's water proof....

The plot of Cosmic Odyssee revolves around the Antilife Equation, Darkseid’s ultimate object of desire. While originally the Antilife Equation was an abstract threat to all life in the universe, in the pages of this book it somehow becomes a creature of its own. Darkseid is the first to discover this transformation and tricks the New Gods to team up with Batman, Superman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian the Manhunter, Starfire and Etrigen the Demon to stop the embodiment of the Antilife Equation.

Although I prefer Grant Morrison over Jim Starlin, I have to hand it to Starlin on this one. He explained the concept of the Antilife Equation better than Morrison ever did in Final Crisis.

In my opinion this book does not hold up well against the Infinity Gauntlet, but it seems like Starlin set out to do something different here altogether. The whole universe-saving-big-action story feels very contrived and has many problems, but at the end of this book is where the writing shines. Here’s where many emotional beats are executed perfectly. I think that these emotional arcs are what Starlin wanted to write the most, it just took him really long to get there. When he does however, it’s gold. The most important arc is that of John Stewart who fails in his mission and because of this a solar system is destroyed killing billions upon billions of its inhabitants. At the end of the book he tries to commit suicide because of this. Martian the Manhunter talks him out of this however. This sequences is a marvel both to look at and to read. You can see the desperation in John’s eyes, the fear as he puts a space gun to his head, and his resolve when he puts the gun down.

John Stewart tries to commit suicide, as rendered by Mike Mignola.

John Stewart tries to commit suicide, as rendered by Mike Mignola.

Also, the book goes out with a bang when Batman, out of nothing bitch slaps Orion!

Batman slapping a god.

Batman slapping a god.

Considering it doesn’t hold up particularly well through the years and it wasn’t anything like the Infinity Gauntlet I still enjoyed it pretty much. For fans of Mignola, the New Gods, John Stewart or Darkseid I really recommend this trade.
Art:7.5  Writing:6.5         Overall:7

6. Stephen King (one shot)
To round this week off I read another biography comic by Blue Water Comics, this one about Stephen King. I liked it quite a bit. I think it found a good balance between being informative and entertaining. The last Blue Water biography comic I read, about Vincent Price was neither entertaining or informative… The edgy, thick lined art took a little getting used to. Strangely it felt a bit reminiscent of Gabriel Rodriguez the partner in crime of King’s son Joe Hill on Locke and Key. The storytelling was a bit confusing at times because it consisted of three different narratives: caption boxes by a third person story-teller, caption boxes with first person King quotes and the story that unfolded in the world balloons. This not withstanding I learned something new about Stephen King (his 1999 accident its consequences as well as some family stuff). For anybody interested in the author but not enough to plow though a prose biography this may be a good read. I bet it’s also good for high schoolers writing a report on King.
Art:6.3  Writing:6.9         Overall:6.6

Quick shots week 27: Great art and nostalgic video games

5. Flashpoint: Hall Jordan #1                                                                  7.7
For a photo realistic art style, this book is really dynamic, both in layouts and the panels themselves. A hugely entertaining read of the reckless Hall Jordan trying to sway Carol Ferris. At the end of the book Abin Sur shows up, but he already has his own Flashpoint series. Does that mean Hall will be intergalactic deputy of space Sector 2814?
6. Ultimate X #5                                                                                       7.4
The best book Jeph Loeb has done in a long, long while. The art by Art Adams is what really sells this book. ‘Karen’ finds a last gamma irradiated addition to her X-men who are not X-men and Nick Fury shows up as a kind of deus ex machina. Didn’t they stop doing that? Don’t worry though, just look at the pretty pictures.
7. Sonic  the Hedgehog #226                                                                      7
Inspired by Vince B. of the Eleven O’Clock comics podcast I decided to give the blue speedster hedgehog of video game fame a try. I wasn’t disappointed, yet I wasn’t blown away. It’s a good comic that’s appropriate for kids and had some great lines for adults. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup of tea.
8. Carnage #5                                                                                                 7
My guilty pleasure if ever I had one. This does not change the symbiote game like the current Venom series does. It’s just Venom beating the snot out of Spidey and Iron Man. I’m a product of the nineties and this makes me nostalgic for Maximum Carnage, both the story and the SNES 16 bit video game. I just kept wondering, why not use a sonically based weapon and be done with it? Zebb Wells has a good handle on the characters and the dark Clayton Crain arts suits the mood of Carnage.
9. Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #1                                                         7
Surprisingly good start to this self-contained mini-event. I liked Jonathan Maberry’s writing on the Vibranium Wars and this is equally good. The guy knows his way around a large cast. Great dark, moody art by Laurence Campbell enhanced with Lee Loughridge on colors. It’s like Marvel Zombies seen though the heroes’ eyes.
10.  Fear Itself #4                                                                                       6.9
Great art, not so good writing. The characters don’t sound right and plot jumps around too much and Cap and Thor start to resemble their movie counterparts more closely every proceeding panel. To me personally this is the worst event book I’ve ever read.
11. Flashpoint: Project Superman #1                                                        6
I read this after Flashpoint #3, expecting to find out more about the Superman I saw in the main book. What do I get instead? A story about another guy with bad character design (especially the angular hair) and the promise of the real Superman next issue. Decent story, though not what you would expect of the title and really rough art.

So my second week as a comic book reviewer. Honestly it was great fun. I read 16 issues and on average grade them 7.9. Not bad at all.