Review: H’el on Earth

Supe_Family

Yet again, I got reeled into a cross over event, this time being H’el On Earth involving Superboy, Supergirl, and Superman comics.  While Superman #13 leads up to this event, the real crossover begins with the 14 issues.  And for any wondering about order to read them: Superboy, Supergirl, Superman.  Really, Superboy peaked my interest in it, and I’ve been interested how Lobdell’s Superman would be.  Have to say so far I’m not disappointed, and that some spoilers may lie ahead.

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DC New 52 – One Sentence Reviews, Part 32

I rated the last four comics I read this week all 4 or over … which was a relief because before that, only one issue had attracted as much as a 4.  So it was a hard slog through the start of this batch, with a strong finish at the end. 

As most of you will be aware, I’m going to wrap-up my One Sentence Review series with next week’s last batch of #8s.  I’m currently a full week behind and the leaderboard concept kind of flies out the window with the first round of cancellations and new titles coming online.

I expect to be blogging/reviewing less, at least for a little while, as I’ll be starting a new job this month and want to focus some energy on creative writing projects.  I’ve written the first two scripts for a comic book and want to write at least six issues, and I have a long-neglected novel in the works that I must reacquaint myself with.

I’ll post read/RANT articles when and if the bug bites me, though.

Anyway, as usual, each comic is scored out of five. 

Warning, there could be spoilers ahead, although I try to avoid them.

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Representation/refrigeration of Women in DCnU

As part of the new line-wide relaunch, DC has promised more diversity in their characters in terms of sexuality, race and gender. But as many female fans have already pointed out, Gender diversity seems to be about the same as before the reboot, maybe even worse. So far Power Girl has lost her title, and by the looks of things, her powers along with the name “Power Girl”, Zatanna lost her title. Oracle can walk and is Batgirl again, which has fans divided, Amanda Waller went from a big black powerhouse to Tyra Banks.  

DC also made a commitment to giving their female characters more appropriate clothing (or pants in most cases) Then decided to change their mind and leave them running around in their underwear. After hearing all this, you can’t really blame the female audience for being a tad upset, can you?

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Review: Wednesday Comics #3

Wednesday

Last week’s Wednesday Comics was the first to really disappoint.  The premise of the project should suggest that the creators compress their stories as much as possible, at least in general – when all’s said and done, they only really have 15 pages to finish the story.  While some creators have risen to the challenge, like Caldwell on Wonder Woman or Pope on Strange Adventures, some strips that started out strong have begun to peter off already.

There is still the seeds of genius that were strongly evident in the first two issues, but there are too many non-starters here.  The flaws remain relatively unfixed, with the weakest pages among the first two issues showing little improvement.  Not all is bleak, of course – a project with this many gifted creators is bound to have some astonishing moments – but I am not sure that a book facing all the challenges that Wednesday Comics faces can afford to have many more issues like this one: Not bad, but not quite worth the trouble.

Grade: B-

– Cal Cleary

Wednesday Comics #2

Wednesday Comics #1

Review: Wednesday Comics #2

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Though Wednesday Comics #2 didn’t do much to improve over the flaws of the first one, and certainly won’t change any minds about the project as a whole, it also kept all the charm, wit and creative energy of the first issue, and even improved upon some of the slower stories.  The keyword with Wednesday Comics is variety, and you get a lot of it.

Busiek’s Green Lantern is a wonderfully retro The New Frontier-style sci-fi adventure, while Pope’s Strange Adventures is classic pulp action.  Flash reads like a bizarre blend of romance and super-hero stories, while Baker’s Hawkman offers a dark, fascinating look at a frequently muddled character.  As with the first issue, not every story is a hit, and the two biggest offenders from #1 (Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.) remain relatively weak, though both show at least some signs of improvement over the previous issue.

Meanwhile, the creators are making full use of the space, sometimes in interesting ways.  The Gaiman/Allred Metamorpho is essentially one enormous panel while Caldwell’s surreal Wonder Woman features roughly fifty panels on its only page.  

The format is definitely bringing out the best in many of these artists, most of whom have admirably risen to the challenge.  The less-glossy pages and creases that come from the folding were a worry to some people when it came to the quality of the art, but rest-assured, this is rarely the case.  Only Caldwell’s Wonder Woman and the Arcudi/Bermejo Superman seem to have been hampered by the fact, each of them a little too dark for their own good.  Despite that, however, both pages remain well-crafted and interesting.

Wednesday Comics is too scattershot to appeal to everyone, but those who try it out will find a selection of interesting stories by star creators that hearken back to the early days of comics and the traditional stories without being lazy or condescending.  Everyone involved seems to be having far too much fun to either.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Wednesday Comics #1

Review: Wednesday Comics #1

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Wednesday Comics is here!  While DC often struggles to stay relevant in the fact of a vastly more trendy Marvel Comics, it’s had a few successes in recent years.  One such success was their year-long event, 52, a weekly with an absolute powerhouse of a writing team that managed to gain both critical and fan acclaim – no small feat for an event comic largely lacking Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.  After that, of course, DC felt the urge to repeat their success story with the watered down Countdown and then again with Busiek’s Trinity.  Still, three years in and the weekly format, once a fresh revival, had begun to seem stale.

That all changed with the announcement of their next weekly, Wednesday Comics, a 12 week long project, packaged as a newspaper, in which superstar creative teams would be given continuity-free reins on a vasty supply of DC characters to tell their stories… one page each week.  There were a lot of risks, obviously, but the announcement of the creative teams was where they had it: Gaiman, Busiek, Allred, Azzarello, Risso, Gibbons, Pope, Baker and many more, all getting involved in the project.

So, with all that expectations, how does the issue stack up?

Very well.  Very well, indeed.

It’s tough to review due to the grab bag nature of the book – Caldwell’s Wonder Woman, for example, is gorgeous and surreal, while Kubert’s Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. on the very next page is about as bland as can be.   I toyed briefly with the idea of reviewing each story, but the simple fact is this: these stories stand together or fall together, but the strength of an Azzarello/Risso Batman doesn’t necessarily offset the slow start of the Berganza/Galloway Teen Titans.  You buy one, you get ’em all.

And, as a collection, it works.  This, this is traditional super-hero comics done right.  For those yearning for a set of simple, gorgeous stories, Wednesday Comics delivers.  Not every story will be a hit, but #1 offers a number of strong starts and relatively few missteps.  I eagerly await seeing where it will go.

As a note, however, the stand-outs of the issue for me were Batman, Kamandi, Supergirl, Metal Men, and The Demon/Catwoman, with Superman and Wonder Woman having okay starts but gorgeous art.  The only pages I didn’t really appreciate at all were Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock and Easy Co., so the bulk of the issue was, for me, a hit.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Bruce Castle Presents: Smells Like Teen Hero

 

Invincible #53 (*****)
Man, this stuff is still so good. Again, major props to the art crew. Ryan Ottley rocking the pencils, Cliff Rathburn tracing like there’s no tomorrow, and FCO Plascencia is owning the colors. This book looks gorgeous! Kirkman brings the goods too. After last issue’s shocking violence and ominous finale, we get some realistic teenage angst. Mark has to juggle with his brother being possibly evil, his mother spilling the beans about his identity to her new boyfriend and of course, keeping his new superhero girlfriend happy. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of action to accompany your soap opera. Some plot threads that were established several issues ago are dealt with, a new Fin Fang Foom-esque, sans purple pants, character is introduced, and Invincible pimp slaps a guy. I also have to commend Kirkman for providing endings different from his usual “OMG!!!” stuff. There’s still a little bit of that, but it’s much more subtle. If you’ve been thinking about picking this book up, read issues #51-53. Hopefully you’ll read the previous issues later, but this stuff really is a great “jumping on point”.

Supergirl #34 (****)

There’s about to be a Superman crossover story and this is the team that’s going to handle Supergirl. I have always liked Supergirl, but it’s hard to explain why. She is consistently written poorly. I was pleased to see she got some cool moments in Johns’ current Brainiac storyline and I’m happy to report she’s written well here too. This is more of the human angle for Supergirl. She asks questions that we all ask. Why am I here? Am I doing the right thing? There are plenty of strong character moments. Plus, we get some nice Silver Banshee action and how often do we see that? Also, the book looks pretty. It fits the tone extremely well and it manages to solve an important artistic problem, how do you make a girl with bare midriff and the world’s shortiest skirt not look trashy? My one complaint is why does Supergirl have to cry twice in one issue? It works fine the first time but it is completely pointless the second. Anyway, I’m glad Supergirl is finally getting the treatment she deserves.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #57 – Reviewed on The Pull List Podcast!

Batman #680 (****)

Supergirl #34 (****)

Terror Titans #1 (*)

Hey, yours truly is on this week’s The Pull List, featured on the VsRealms homepage, wherein I help review these three books. I posted my star ratings, but to get the full reviews, go listen to that podcast! Go now! And then leave them a review on iTunes and stuff, they deserve it!

…and if you’re super lazy like me, you can download the episode at this link. DING!

Bruce Castle Archives: Superman/Batman: Supergirl HC

You know how when a movie star dies they have a big chunk of their movies playing on TCM in a few days? Well, since there isn’t a TCM for comics, I decided to do something similar myself and reread a book with the late great Michael Turner’s art. You can’t find much of Michael Turner’s art sadly because of his illness. Even rarer to find is a book with Michael Turner interior art. Well, I own one of the few and that happens to be the second Superman/Batman trade.

This story is basically the reintroduction of Kara Zor-El into the DC universe. You know, the Supergirl that is Superman’s cousin. The old one died in Infinite Crisis way back when. So, I guess Jeph Loeb decided to bring her back. That is pretty much the plot of this book. First off, I love Michael Turner’s art and it looks wonderful here. A big reason why I like this book is because of Turner’s art. However, even if you don’t like Turner’s art, you can still have a fun time.

This is a Jeph Loeb story and if you know anything about the man’s writing, you know pretty much what to expect. It’s not the most complicated story, nor is it the most intelligent, but it is still fun and even a bit heartwarming. I’m not sure if it’s as emotional as Jeph Loeb intended, but it’s still a pretty nice kind of coming of age superhero story. There are a couple lame moments it’s true, but I feel that there are more than enough awesome moments to tip the balance in favor of good comics. If you’re looking for high brow stuff, this comic isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a fun stunningly beautiful book that features a great cast of characters, you’ll definitely want to check this out.

3 stars