Running this in a same fashion as the last group. Three small reviews (with possible spoilers) for the three comics that work with H’el on Earth; Superboy, Supergirl, Superman.
This week in comics, we… oh, it’s a fifth Wednesday, so basically nothing happened at all. Superman and Wonder Woman made out. That was big news for some reason.
“Truth, justice, and the American way” no more?
Superman is an old character, and one that some people have often had trouble relating to. Seen as the ultimate boy scout, as a man in a stable marriage who works a 9-to-5 job, teens in particular often reject him. And while other writers have played up Superman’s genuine outsider status (most brilliantly in recent years, Kurt Busiek in the fantastic and melancholy Superman: Secret Identity), few have aligned it so thoroughly with the spirit of teenage rebellion than Grant Morrison is doing in Action Comics right now. I don’t know if the audience will bite, but Morrison has envisioned a thoroughly youthful Superman, a self-righteous warrior for truth with a black-and-white view of right and wrong and the power to try and enforce change. But like we all discover eventually, change is really, really, really, really hard – even for Superman – and pushing against the status quo is a great way to make enemies.
Version 2.1 is here! Why 2.1? Well this is basically version 2 but with a rant about Crisis events due to a recent message from Didio countering an older interview of Harras and Berganza.
Growing up, I was never much of a comic book reader. I didn’t grow up with Superman, didn’t grow up loving the Man of Steel, and so when I finally did start reading comics late in high school, and get really interested in comics in college, I never understood the adulation he got, his place in the pantheon of All-Time Pop Culture Greats. I thought he was boring. Who cares about an hero who can’t get hurt? Who can do everything?
“Better late than never,” my Mum often says. Perhaps no one understands this better than comic book fans in Australia. While our peers in America are enjoying this week’s comics and writing new reviews, we’re waiting for our comics to arrive (fingers crossed for tomorrow). And, since I don’t have anything better to do while I wait for said comics, I figured I’d review the one New 52 comic from last week that hasn’t been fully reviewed on read/rant as yet.
“Last but not least,” is another Mum-ism … and that’s also a very apt description of Swamp Thing #1, which was comfortably one of the three best debut issues from the first two weeks of DCnU.
As always, there may be spoilers ahead.
I’m a fan of the Teen Titans, especially the latest incarnation that went from 2003-2011 and as this relaunch makes it seem their entire history may be erased, I wanted to give them a farewell starting with issues 1-7 (also collected in trade form as “A Kid’s Game” or the soon to be released Teen Titans Omnibus 1). Like usual, beware of spoilers.
So DC gave us a “relaunch” where bits are the same, others erased, and the general timeline crunched down due to de-aging many (but not all) of the characters. Due to this I at least am very confused on how everything fits in. So with the help of the other bloggers, I’ve decided to piece together a timeline.
One week in, and I have to say: I’m impressed. It’s not that all of the books are winners. They aren’t. There’s a fair bit of mediocrity here. But it’s the sort of mediocrity that SELLS. It’s the kind many people like. While I found the Batbooks lacking the ambition of Morrison’s run or the strong characterization and storytelling of Snyder’s run, the fact is that all of them are solid executions on a formula that works. Outside of maybe Hawk and Dove (the only book I put down without having a solid grasp on what it wanted to do or say), every book on here stands a fair chance of finding a loyal audience – and what’s more, there’s an awful lot of ambition on display.
But what has really impressed me is the variety of stories on display. Whether it’s the way Morrison and Morales have shaken up the way Superman is ‘supposed to’ look, act and sound, the way Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder are effortlessly blending superheroes with horror or the way Ivan Brandon gives war a terrifying new dimension in a world full of superhumans, the New DCU seems to have something to offer everyone! Continue reading
By now, the internet has been flooded with reviews for the book that launches a whole new status quo for the DC Universe. And, as many reviewers have commented, this is not your dad’s DCU and you’ve never seen this Justice League before.
So what could I possibly add to the digital cacophony, especially since I had to wait a few extra days for my comics to travel halfway around the world to Australia?
Instead of offering yet another review of Justice League #1, I have decided to focus on what is, for me, the most important part of any story – the characters.
While lebeau continues to give you a fantastic title-by-title breakdown of the upcoming relaunch, I’m going to take a slightly different take on things. With the full solicits revealed, release dates included, we now have a slightly better idea of what to expect come September. So I’m going to break down the solicits by release date, talk a little bit about what I’m going to get – and what I’m going to skip – and why, so you’ll have an idea of what some of the books that will definitely see coverage here will be… and which of your favorites you can heartily mock me for skipping.
So, with that brief introduction, on to week one of the solicits, otherwise known as… September 7th.
When last we left Superman, Mon-El had been beaten up, a bomb had gone off, Lane’s plan was revealed to us, and Superman himself, back on Earth for a brief time, had tried to stop a Kryptonian agent from a devastating strike. And while this issue is in many ways a direct follow up to that, it feels painfully schizophrenic in doing so. The world now believes Mon-El to be dead, a water shortage has caused its value to skyrocket, everyone thinks Superman is a traitor, Lane is a national hero, John Henry Irons is in a coma and Zatara has been kidnapped, taken to an alternate dimension, and is being pumped for infor… wait, what?
Before “Codename: Patriot”, Robinson’s Superman was a stellar blend of action and drama that managed to turn Mon-El and the Guardian into compelling characters. Now, we skip entire story-lines – such as the Zatara one – and get our exposition through psychopathic rants from Morgan Edge, who spend the entire issue enraged and half-shaven and just generally looking homeless. Anti-Kryptonian sentiment runs rampant as Edge and Lane stir up an insultingly jingoistic humans-first agenda, but the plot is missing exactly what Robinson normally does best: the human touch. Frankly, every single one of us knows how the bulk of this story will play out. What we don’t know is, how are the people in Metropolis reacting? Why?
Unfortunately, when a book’s scope magnifies and the crossovers begin, one of the first things we lose is almost always that human element. New artist Fernando Dagnino is given little to do with this issue, so it’s hard to judge how well he’ll fit on the title. His brief action scenes seem competent, but then, his Morgan Edge looks like a complete lunatic. Though it is impossible for me to make any long-term statements about him on this title and nothing in the issue sets him apart as a particular talent, he does a fine job with illustrating most of what Robinson throws his way.
Pre-“Codename: Patriot”, Superman was only a crossover in name. It was given space to explore its own world and tell its own stories, and it had a great deal of potential there. With “Patriot” come and gone, however, the book is rushing headlong into the master-plot. If that master-plot was fascinating, perhaps this wouldn’t be a problem, but Superman is offering nothing you haven’t seen before. It isn’t terrible, it’s just painfully average.
– Cal Cleary
Thus far, James Robinson’s work on Superman has been pretty stellar non-stop since Superman left the title to charmingly awkward Daxamite Mon-El. With the recent “Codename: Patriot” arc spread across all Superman titles (and a one-shot), however, the recently-excellent Superman family books have devolved into a predictable mess, and worse yet, a predictable mess that requires you to be reading all the Superman family titles to enjoy.
The book starts in the middle of a conflict about… something… between Kara and Mon-El and Nightwing and Flamebird, and things don’t get much clearer from there. A lot happens in the issue, but it’s all so intricately tied into the “Codename: Patriot” story that regular readers of Robinson’s run shouldn’t even bother picking the book up unless they’ve invested in the entire arc. This is not to say that you can’t follow what’s happening; after a few pages to orient yourself, you should have no trouble with that. The problem comes with the realization that you just won’t care to – these problems, taken out of context, seem trite and dull. Even Guedes, normally excellent, offers a clunky opening fight scene, though he comes back up to his usual high standards shortly thereafter.
Supposedly, Gail Simone’s much-rumored Big Event for next year has been either pushed back or shelved indefinitely in favor of a Johns-penned Earth/Krypton war. If “Codename: Patriot” is any hint at all as to what we could expect from such an event, all it will do is drag a number of otherwise excellent titles through the mud in pursuit of the sort of racial-themed action books that X-Men has been doing pretty much nonstop for the last 40 years. We get it: humans hate everyone and everything indiscriminately. Can we move on yet?
– Cal Cleary
Hey everyone. Sorry about the continued backlog of reviews – I’ll try and get them out this weekend! Just finished the last of my coursework for my Master’s degree two days ago, so I’m finally free and clear. Now, if I can just find a pesky ‘job’ before my money runs out!
As someone who isn’t traditionally a fan of the character Superman or any of his books, the quality of his titles right now has come as something of a surprise. No title illustrates this quite as well as Superman: World of New Krypton, a sprawling sci-fi book about Superman’s adventures off Earth, among his own kind. Working together, Greg Rucka and James Robinson have turned what could have been a labored year with Superman off his main titles (and Earth) into one of the most creatively intriguing periods of the character in recent memories.
With the attempted assassination of General Zod, New Krypton is panicked, and the House of El steps up to try and maintain order. Rucka and Robinson continue to portray all the characters, from the sociopathic Ursa to the cold Alura, with far more humanity than they’ve ever been shown elsewhere, and it makes the drama all the greater. Things continue to degenerate on New Krypton, and the big crossover between the Superman family titles – “Codename: Patriot” – clearly starts here. It’s an exciting opening to the story, though I have to say, I hope you don’t have to read all four relevant books in order to follow the story.
Woods, normally quite good, demonstrates a little bit of weakness early in the issue as the assassin attempts to fight his way through the crowd of Kryptonians, but picks up quickly – by the time you see him dragged down, screaming, by forty or more angry supermen, you’ll begin to realize the damage a riotous population can do. He also continues to do excellent design work on the world itself, amping up the alien feel of the technology while still making it a recognizable offshoot of the familiar Fortress of Solitude designs.
Ultimately, World of New Krypton remains an interesting, fun book that does an exemplary job of illustrating just what it is that makes Superman so great while laying seeds for a ton of potentially fascinating future stories. With hope, “Codename: Patriot” can live up to this excellent opening issue.
– Cal Cleary
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.
– Cal Cleary
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.
– Cal Cleary