Friday, February 3, 2017

More Comics I Read Thanks to Holiday Sales & Comixology Unlimited! 💪💥

The Omega Man:  This was one of the more unusual comics to come out of DC's brief Convergence era.  There is a superhero in it but it's not really a superhero comic.  It's more of a space opera really.  The Green White Lantern Kyle Rayner travels to the Vega system to try to negotiate a peace between "the Citadel" and terrorists freedom fighters known as the Omega Man.  But the Omega Men kidnap him and seemingly kill him on video.  But of course that's an illusion.  Instead they show him the horrors of the Citadel so he'll aid their scheme to save the Vega system.  The first few issues are confusing but by the midpoint most of it is sorted out.  Still, that's probably why the series was nearly canceled before it could even get to 12 issues.  You could compare this to Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy but this is much darker and less goofy.  A couple of the characters actually die along the way.  The epilogue is kind of a bummer.  It's like Terry Pratchett wrote in Night Watch:  The reason they call them revolutions is because they go around and around. (4/5)

Superman Lois & Clark:  Another comic to spin out of Convergence was this series about the pre-New 52 Superman and Lois Lane.  Thanks to Convergence they end up on the New 52 Earth, where they live in hiding because there's already a Superman and Lois Lane, albeit not married.  This other Lois and Clark also have a son named Jon.  Like the maligned Superman Returns, the boy starts to show abilities like his father's when under duress.  Most of the plot involves the nefarious "Intergang" trying to hunt down Lois, who's writing an expose on them under the dumb pseudonym "Author X" which really just brings more attention to her than if she wrote under a somewhat normal name like Richard Bachmann or Robert Galbraith or Eric Filler.  Meanwhile some aliens are trying to find an infinity stone (or something like that) Hank Henshaw brought back from Jupiter and Superman is brought into the conflict.  There are 8 issues and then it just ends with really little resolution to these plots.  I suppose some of that might have been wrapped up after Rebirth when this Superman became "the" Superman since the other one "died" or some damned thing. (3.5/5)

Marvels:  This comic tells the history of Marvel Comics from the point of view of a photographer named Phil who in 1939 first takes pictures of the original Human Torch and then Namor the Sub-Mariner when they famously battle.  Then there's Captain America (and even Superman hidden in a couple of panels) and other "Golden Age" heroes before it jumps to the '60s when the more familiar Marvel characters--Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, the X-Men, Spider-Man, etc.--start to appear and the public's changing reaction first from hero worship and then cynicism and derision.  It's a great story and Alex Ross's painted artwork is gorgeous.  There's probably  more you can get out of it if you're a more avid comics reader, but I got most of it I think. (4/5) (Fun Fact:  Writer Kurt Buciek and artist Alex Ross did the street-level thing in Astro City, which was published by a branch of DC Comics though not part of the official DC universe.)

Amazing Spider-Man, Worldwide Volume 3:  This focuses on Spidey and Iron Man having their own little civil war that's interrupted when "the Regent" begins abducting pretty much all the other superheroes (and lots of villains too) so he can borrow their powers and be the only game in town.  With the help of Mary Jane Watson (who's working for Tony Stark at this point) they have to work together to take Regent down.  It's OK but it feels like it was just marking time until the next big event, which is the "Clone Conspiracy" that maybe I'll buy in a year or so if it goes on sale. (2.5/5)

Last year Comixology--a division of Amazon now--unveiled their own version of Kindle Unlimited, where you could borrow as many comics as you want for $5.99/month.  I decided to give it a try.  You get a month free so it didn't cost me anything right away.  The problem is the same as with Kindle Unlimited:  the selection is limited.  The Big 2 comics publishers (Marvel & DC) don't participate so you can't borrow Superman or Spider-Man comics.  And even other series they don't usually have the full series.  So you can get Walking Dead comics (the first two volumes) or Spawn comics (also the first two volumes.)  They did have some Transformers comics from IDW, though of course not entire series, but I did pick up what I could.

Transformers: Monstrosity:  In this prequel story, the evil Megatron is banished to the planet of junk while Optimus Prime tries to unite the Autobots.  While Megatron battles Junkions and Sharkticons, his replacement Scorponok blows a big chunk out of the Transformer homeworld of Cybertron and unleashes the giant robot dinosaur Trypticon.  All the intricate plotting lands flat in the last issue as Trypticon is stopped thanks to a bad case of indigestion. (3/5)

Transformers:  Primacy:  By contrast, this sequel to Monstrosity has the battle royales that were missing:  Metroplex vs. Trypticon, Optimus Prime vs. Megatron, the Dinobots vs. everyone!  There's a lot of action and a little less plotting, which for Transformers comics might be for the best. (3/5) (Fun Fact:  Primacy, Monstrosity, and the previous Autocracy were all co-written by Flint Dille, one of the writers of the original Transformers cartoon series and 1986 film.)

Transformers:  Days of Deception:  In some ways this new Transformers comics series really ripped off my fanfic novel Xenophobia from the late 90s.  In that the Autobots have won the war and humans have retaken the Earth because they don't trust the Autobot "liberators" anymore.  And Optimus Prime quits leading the Autobots.  So in this series the Autobots have won the war and humans have retaken the Earth because they don't trust the Autobots.  And Optimus Prime has quit leading the Autobots.  Hurm...should I sue?  Anyway like all of the Transformers ones it's fun but not essential reading. (2.5/5)

The other Transformers fanfics I wrote were a series called The Skyfire Adventures.  The first one was based on a patch I made for the Doom video game where you could play as the Maximal Skyfire (a bald eagle who looked like the Autobot Jetfire).  The story I wrote for it was that Skyfire was beamed to a planet that was populated by Doom creatures.  On the planet he found an Autobot shuttle that crashed there long ago.  Stories after that were kind of like ST: Voyager as they try to return home to Cybertron.  My favorite part was a trilogy where they find a planet of ancient Transformers.  Then the planet transforms into a giant killer robot.  This also unveiled a new wrinkle, where instead of just the Autobot Matrix of Leadership there were like a dozen Matrices, sort of like the Lord of the Rings.  Each Matrix would have different properties and stuff.  The other cool thing I did was Skyfire could alternate between his Maximal bald eagle and his Autobot Veritech fighter.  Another alternated between the Decepticon Shockwave and the Predacon Scarecrow who of course turned into a crow, so he had sort of a multiple-personality thing.

Why do I mention this?  Because the Transformers:  More Than Meets the Eye series is a total rip-off of this!  OK, not really.  But there's a ship full of Transformers who are out in space to search for the "Knights of Cybertron" and "Cyberutopia."  There are even a lot of the same Autobots on board like Skids, Perceptor, and Grapple.  Sadly not Skyfire/Jetfire.  I read the first five volumes of the series and overall it's a lot of fun.  Until the last volume there weren't really a lot of multi-part stories so it wasn't like the Big 2 comics where you have one arc lead into another arc lead into another arc.  There were some interesting stories like where the crew goes on shore leave and scout the place out with human doppelgangers.  A couple of them accidentally use female ones too.  Another they go to a planet with a plague and have to stop it, which pits Autobot medic Ratchet against an old friend.  So it's like Transformers with a Star Trek vibe.  The last volume is a continuous arc about when they actually find the gate to "Cyberutopia" on a lost moon--except there's a lot of crazy bad guys running the place. What I like about these versus the crappy Bay movies is they just focus on the Transformers and give them actual personalities and backstories instead of just using racist stereotypes.  I wish Comixology had more of the issues available to borrow.  (4/5)

Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers:  The Wreckers are like the Autobot version of Navy SEALs or Army Green Berets.  In this mini-series, they're sent to liberate a prison planet that has been taken over by the maniacal Decepticon Overlord.  It's kind of like The Dirty Dozen or Rogue One in that it's largely a suicide mission.  Many characters die.  Still, it's a good mix of action, humor, and tragedy. (4/5)

Spawn #10:  For licensing reasons this wasn't included in the collected volume I previously read.  The issue has Spawn in some kind of prison for superheroes.  There are a couple of panels where we see hands for Batman, Spider-Man, the Hulk, etc.  Superman is shown a few times--though his face is always obscured.  Anyway, the whole issue was kind of a neener-neener to the old creators (who were depicted as being imprisoned with hoods over their heads) who "sold" their creations.  What this fails to take into account is a lot of those old superhero creators actually got screwed out of their royalties because most of them were young and poor and didn't know any better when they signed a contract that gave their rights to the publisher.  It was only from these experiences (and the legal battles waged later by these creators or their estates) that modern creators like Todd MacFarlane could own their creations.  So the whole tone of the issue (which itself is pointless to the overall series) is pretty ignorant. (1/5)

Armor Hunters:  I borrowed this from Comixology by accident.  I guess it was a big crossover of various Valiant Comics titles back in 2014.  The main focus is X-O Manowar where some Visigoth from the 5th Century was abducted by aliens, stole some advanced armor, and came back to modern Earth.  Now some aliens have come to Earth to take the armor and kill anyone who gets in their way.  So the Visigoth and some other Valiant heroes band together Avengers-style to take them on.  It was OK but since I hadn't read any of the previous comics and this didn't include any of the spin-off issues in other series, I didn't really know much of what was going on. (2.5/5)

The Fall of GI JOE, Vol 1:  Much like the movies, GI JOE comics just aren't as good as Transformers.  In this case they're trying to do a grittier, more real world GI JOE comic.  The evil COBRA has seemingly gone straight and is brokering peace in Eastern Europe while Congress is trying to disband GI JOE, who they think isn't needed anymore.  It's pretty slow and boring, without any of the action of the old TV series or even the Marvel comics.  There's also none of the humor of the Transformers series that help to make those a more fun read. (2/5)

The Fall of GI JOE, Vol 2:  I figured I might as well borrow the conclusion to this.  Not that it was any more exciting or interesting.  Five issues and nothing much really happens except a separatist leader in Eastern Europe gets wounded and COBRA gets egg on their face for it.  Meh. (2/5)

Snake Eyes, Agent of COBRA:  For whatever reason GI JOE's silent ninja Snake Eyes joins COBRA to rescue the evil Destro and then he looks for Cobra Commander's son Billy, who's in Thailand.  The problem is that Snake Eyes doesn't talk so that it's not like a silent movie the action is filtered through other people who can talk.  The downside of that is it makes Snake Eyes more of a secondary character even though his name is in the title. That keeps it from being all that great.  (2.5/5)

GI JOE, Volume 1:  This was IDW's first take on GI JOE from what I gather.  It's written by original Marvel GI JOE comics writer Larry Hama and even picks up the numbering from the Marvel series.  Basically a team of JOEs infiltrates COBRA's lair to steal some information and in the process Snake Eyes is captured and brainwashed.  This was at least more fun than that Fall of GI JOE series, more in line with the TV show from the 80s. (2.5/5)

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