Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Comics Recap 8/13

I don't regularly read comics, but I do often check DC's website for sales and in the last month I started to check Marvel's site too so I can pick up some stuff to read on the cheap.  By the nature of those sales I tend to read a bunch of comics for one particular character or storyline.  So here are a few brief reviews from ones I've read in the last couple months:

Superman:  For Tomorrow:  The first half of this was really good.  It starts a year after a mysterious device has caused thousands of people (including Lois Lane) to vanish off the face of the Earth.  Superman starts to get more proactive in fighting evil, which leads to him interfering in a third world country's civil war with not so good results.  Then we start in with the plot twists and things start to make less and less sense.  Incidentally, the Zod in this is closer to the one in "Man of Steel" than "Superman II."  I'd give the first volume 5/5 and the second volume 3/5.

Superman For All Seasons:  You could consider this a reboot of a reboot since for the most part this rewrites a lot of the 1986 John Byrne reboot of Superman.  Because of that it feels a little stale, but it's still a good story about how Clark Kent develops into Superman.  It doesn't feature as much angst and as many mind-numbing plot twists as "Man of Steel" nor does it feature the 80s cheesiness of the 1986 reboot, so that's good.  4/5

Trinity:  This is another kind of prequel about how Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman all first met.  Though as I recall the author cheats a little in that Batman and Superman already know each other a little bit.  This wasn't bad but I honestly can't remember much of the plot so it's obviously not very memorable. 3/5

Justice League (New 52) Vol 1:  Another prequel this is set "5 years ago" to separate it from the other titles in the New 52.  It entails the formation of the Justice League with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, and Cyborg, which is necessitated when Darkseid first shows up on Earth in search of his daughter.  Really if WB/DC wants to do a Justice League movie they should just adapt this book as it'd be a good starting point.  But that would imply someone at WB/DC actually knows what the hell they're doing.  Anyway, for my "Girl Power" book I borrowed the idea that even though you have all these guys (and one gal) with awesome superpowers it's the one who doesn't have any superpowers who ends up saving the day . 5/5

JLA Vols 1 & 2:  This was the late 90s reboot of the Justice League of America with Grant Morrison at the helm.  From my brief comic book reading in the last couple years I've had a conflicted relationship with Morrison's work.  Some is really great and easily accessible and some of it is too surreal or too much aimed at insiders.  Volume 1 is more of the easily accessible Morrison.  A new group of "heroes" shows up on Earth and it's like that "Twilight Zone" episode "To Serve Man" in that the heroes start giving stuff to the lowly humans seemingly out of the goodness of their hearts but of course there's a catch that only the JLA can sniff out.  Then Vol 2 starts in on the less accessible Morrison involving some kind of cosmic key and whatnot.  I'd give volume 1 4 stars and volume 2 3 stars.

[But Volume 2 is kind of funny in that in encapsulates a unique moment in DC history where you had Electric Blue Superman (Google it), Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, Wally West Flash, Green Arrow's son Connor as the new Green Arrow, and bearded/shirtless/robot-handed Aquaman.  Pretty much just Batman and Wonder Woman were in their traditional incarnations.]

Captain America Vol 2:  These were the first Marvel comics I picked up online during a 4th of July sale--because what other hero goes better with Independence Day?  Anyway, this was the 2011 relaunch of the title after Cap was "killed" a year or two earlier.  There were like 19 issues that go through four different story arcs, though they're all kind of connected.  Most of it involves a resurgent HYDRA being run by a hot (and of course scantily-clad) queen and an old ally of Cap's from WWII.  In one part his steroids seemingly wear off and in another HYDRA uses a Rush Limbaugh/Bill O'Reilly-type jerk to turn people against Captain America.  It's kind of a mixed bag, but overall I thought they were pretty decent 3.5/5

Flashpoint:  Basically this is like "Back to the Future II" only with the Flash instead of Marty McFly.  Or you could say it's like "Time Enough to Say Goodbye, Tales of the Scarlet Knight Volume II."  Really I did everything Geoff Johns did in this only 2 years earlier.  Because I am a genius.  Anyway, maybe out of professional jealousy then I didn't really appreciate it as much as I could have. 3/5

Avengers Vol 1 by Brian Michael Bendis:  Another time-traveling yarn, this starts out like the end of "Back to the Future" where Doc Brown returns and says, "It's your kids!  Something's got to be done about your kids!"  Only the kids in this case are kids of the Avengers.  But we never really get back to that as the whole story becomes consumed with the cliche stuff of dinosaurs and cavemen and pirates and whatnot running amok in New York while Spidey, Thor, and Hawkeye try to stop them.  It would help if you had an understanding of the Marvel universe at that point so you'd know who the fuck Ultron and Kang the Conqueror are.  Like I said it starts out about the kids but then we never even learn their names, so it's pretty lame. 2/5

Planet Hulk:  I described this a little bit a couple weeks ago in a blog entry.  Basically Earth's Mightiest Heroes get sick of the Hulk smashing shit so they get the Hulk lost in space.  He ends up on the planet Sakaar which is ruled by a sadistic king, who's basically the emperor from "Gladiator" only in a cool mech suit.  The Hulk then is Maximus, who rises up from being a gladiator to take on the emperor and in the process uniting all the various factions of the planet.  For the most part I really liked this series because it actually gives the Hulk some emotional definition instead of just growling "Hulk smash!" and beating shit up.  He even gets to fall in love and get lucky with a chick!  But as I said in my blog entry, I didn't like how we spent 12 issues building it up and then 1 issue to tear it all down.  Incidentally the animated movie version you can find on Netflix is pretty good though they have to condense it a bit to fit it into 80 minutes.  The movie doesn't throw away the happy ending either. 4/5

World War Hulk:  The reason we had to throw away the happy ending was to set up this storyline, where the Hulk returns to Earth to take revenge on Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, and Dr. Strange.  What's annoying is this is one of those storylines where you have to buy a bunch of different comics if you want to get the complete story.  There's the 5-issue "World War Hulk" series itself and then another 5 issues or so of "The Incredible Hercules" that features Hercules and some smart kid trying to rally support for the Hulk.  Plus you have a few side issues of the X-Men, Avengers, etc with more details of their battles versus the Hulk.  Even reading it online it gets kind of annoying to juggle all that stuff.  Actually it'd be nice if on the site it could tell you which issue you should read next for a story like this.  (But really this is nothing compared to DC's Blackest Night which has something like 120 issues across the various series to juggle around.)  The actual World War Hulk series is the best if you just want to see the Hulk smashing shit. (3.5/5)

Tomorrow is a review of a couple of books that inspired my Chances Are series!


  1. I've read a tiny bit of For Tomorrow, all of For All Seasons, more than just the first volume of Justice League, almost all of Morrison's JLA (although I'm mostly missing out on the Earth 2 graphic novel), and Flashpoint. Except for the first of these, I'm pretty enthusiastic about all of them.

    I've read most of the first several years worth of Brubaker's Captain America, which is good stuff, but increasingly meandering and without any real direction or handle on Steve Rogers. It shows he was most interested in Bucky (until Bucky became Captain America, in which Brubaker could once again not figure out what to do with Captain America). I read with great interest several years worth of Hercules comics that spun out of World War Hulk. I read a bunch of a completely different Trinity comic. And I'll be reading a different volume of Brian Michael Bendis Avengers tomorrow.

    I'd say you didn't give Loeb and Sale's Superman its fair shake. Although if you want some really good Sale Superman, check out Kryptonite, his collaboration with Darwyn Cooke. Morrison's JLA gets better, especially in Connor's initial arc, and especially the Darkseid arc. They remain some of my favorite Grant Morrison material. Sadly, I don't think Morrison ever did his own creation, Prometheus, justice. But Zauriel is another career highlight for me.

  2. I haven't read a comic book in forty years. I remember sitting beneath the big tree in our front yard and reading them during the hot summer months. I recall admiring the way they were drawn.

  3. The last comic book I read was the two-part eulogy of Batman by Neil Gaiman, and that was years ago. Before that, it was probably the Wolverine Origin thing, and that was more than 10 years ago.

  4. Nice Reviews. I always hung around guys with comics. I collected Spawn for years, till I got married. Now I just do New 52 Batman.(What my wife doesn't know won't hurt me) I did have a brief stint collecting THE TICK but lost most of it in a move.

  5. I watched Planet Hulk a while back and agree with your review. A little hokey, but worth watching. I heard a rumor Marvel Phase 3 is going be based on the graphic novels.



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