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Comic Review – Superman #1

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A SPOILER warning before we start. If you haven’t read Man of Steel #1-6, which directly lead into this book, you may want to do so. A summary on the first page of this book will spoil it for you otherwise. So will this review. Please bear that in mind and thank you for reading.

***

Superman is feeling uncharacteristically depressed. His wife and son are beyond his reach, taken into space by his father, Jor-El. His only means of communicating with them has been destroyed, along with The Fortress of Solitude and The Bottle City of Kandor. Between that and his cousin, Supergirl, having gone into space in search of information on Rogol Zaar – the madman who apparently also engineered Krypton’s destruction and is now trapped in The Phantom Zone – Superman is feeling more than a little bit sad and lonely.

Clark Kent isn’t one for sitting around feeling sorry for himself, however, and soon he is throwing himself back into his work and building a new Fortress Of Solitude in a new location. Still, he is troubled by something his father said to him  – about how he should be guiding his adopted home world to a better future rather than devoting himself to fighting crime and natural disasters.

It is a sentiment echoed by J’onn J’onzz, The Martian Manhunter, who feels that Earth is approaching the point where it will be ready to enter the galaxy as a power to be reckoned with and that Clark is the person best equipped to guide the way. Thoughts of Superman as a political leader will have to wait, however, as a new crisis threatens the Earth…

Your enjoyment of Superman #1 will ultimately come down to how much you enjoy the writing of Brian Michael Bendis. Personally, I think Bendis is a decent writer, though often overrated and increasingly given toward lapsing into laziness in recent years. That said, there are certain things he does well as a writer and his flaws and talents are both well displayed in Superman #1.

Bendis has a great gift for dialogue and character. Unfortunately, he has also has a tendency to write many characters according to the “types” he enjoys writing. He writes a good snarky genius, but his snarky geniuses all sound like Peter Parker. He writes a good strong woman, but his strong women all sound like Jessica Jones.

It turns out that Bendis writes a good Clark Kent, a good Lois Lane and a good Jonathan Kent. Unfortunately, the best moments of the book – the flashbacks in which Clark thinks on the family he is missing – are all too brief and not the focus of the story. Had Bendis elected to continue the Super-Family stories started by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, this would be a fantastic book.

Sadly, happy families apparently hold little interest for Bendis, who has secluded Clark in order to make him dwell on a question that has been tackled before and tackled far better in earlier stories – Should Superman Run The World?

I think anyone who has played the Injustice series of games can tell you what a tremendously awful idea that is. Ditto anyone who remembers Elliot S! Maggin’s classic Must There Be A Superman? In fact, one of Lex Luthor’s key motivators in the modern age is the fear that Superman will someday try to do that, because that’s what Lex would do if he had that kind of power. It also seems to be the main motivation of new villain Rogol Zaar, who apparently destroyed Krypton over his fears of the Kryptonian people becoming a race of world-conquerors.

It’s possible that Bendis may wind up crafting a fantastic parable out of this conceit, exploring the nature of how power can corrupt even the most noble of men. Unfortunately, all I can think of while reading this book is the ludicrous Superman IV: The Quest For Peace movie, which was also based around showing why Superman shouldn’t involve himself in political matters. And it seems horribly out of character for Martian Manhunter to be pushing Clark to take the lead in preparing humanity to enter a bigger universe – particularly when J’onn is far more qualified to tackle that mission!

Politics and story aside, the artwork for this issue is fantastic and a welcome change after the ever-changing inconsistency of Man of Steel. Ivan Reis and Joe Prado are rightly praised as one of the greatest artistic duos since Miller and Janson. The colors by Alex Sinclair are phenomenal and Josh Reed does a great job keeping the word balloons from obscuring the action, despite some lengthy monologues and dialogues.

It remains to be seen where Brian Michael Bendis is ultimately going with his efforts to revitalize Superman. So far, I’ve seen little to justify the belief that he is attempting anything truly revolutionary. Despite this, Superman #1 is a competently handled first issue that sets the stage for the story to come.

6/10

Superman #1 releases on July 11, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

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Comic Review – Batman #50 & Catwoman #1

Batman #50 Cover

There is no real way to review Catwoman #1 without also discussing Batman #50 and the long awaited wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. The one informs the other, as the cover of Catwoman #1 helpfully informs the reader that they should read Batman #50 before opening it up.

This proves ironic, given that The New York Times spoiled the story of Batman #50 three days before it ever hit the shops! Despite this, I will endeavor to dance around any major spoilers in both books as best I can.

As a tribute to the relationship of Batman and Catwoman and the history of the two characters, Batman #50 is a smashing success, with much of the issue being devoted to Bruce and Selina’s thoughts about one another as we are treated to a historical montage of sorts, illustrated one page at a time, by some of the greatest Batman artists of all time.

As an actual story, however, Batman #50 doesn’t quite work. It’s anticlimactic, to put it mildly. The pageantry far outweighs the actual event. To put it plainly, this book isn’t worth the hype that has been invested in it.

Batman #50 Page 10

Don’t get me wrong. Batman #50 is a beautiful book and there’s some poster-worthy artwork. Even the main story, as illustrated by Mikel Janin looks fantastic. Yet those who have a low tolerance for Tom King’s style of writing, where consistency of character is sacrificed for the sake of the story he wants to tell (as in his recent story where Booster Gold was turned into a complete idiot for the sake of a dark comedy), will not enjoy themselves here.

Ultimately, Batman #50 is a spectacle and nothing more. If you enjoy collectible covers and fine art, it’s well worth picking up. As an actual book, unfortunately, it leaves a lot to be desired.

4/10.


Catwoman #1 CoverThere is a cruel irony that Catwoman #1 should be so closely tied to Batman #50. Much like how Selina Kyle is so much more interesting as a solo act than when she when she is joined at the hip to Bruce Wayne, so too is this book at its best when it is separated from its ties to Batman #50.

Thankfully, those ties are dealt with early on and we are soon thrown into a high-action adventure, where Selina Kyle is suddenly a wanted woman. It seems that some woman in a cat-suit is killing cops and the police are targeting the most obvious suspect, having also somehow learned Selina’s secret identity!

This is apparently the work of a mysterious new enemy named Riana Creel, whose motivations and reasons for holding a grudge against Catwoman are unclear. Raina is a striking character whose presence immediately grips you and it will be interesting to see her developed in the coming issues.

Catwoman #1 Page 20

Joelle Jones spins a wonderful first issue, which, apart from the first few pages, stands strongly on its own terms, much like Catwoman herself. The artwork – also by Jones – is utterly amazing, with Laura Allred’s colors and Josh Reed’s letters providing the perfect finishes. The story flows naturally and smoothly from panel to panel and its hard to imagine any artist who was better born to draw Catwoman in action than Joelle Jones after reading this issue.

The only imperfection in this diamond is its unfortunate need to be placed in the setting of the fool’s gold ring that is Batman #50. Get past the first few pages, however, and you have one heck of a book that should be on everyone’s subscription list.

9/10

Batman #50 and Catwoman #1 releases on July 4, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Detective Comics #983

Detective Comics #983 Cover

Back in The Dark Age of Comics (roughly 1986 to 2000, by most historians’ reckoning), there was a rather odd divide in the DC Comics Universe. If you read only the comics starring Batman, he was portrayed as a lone Dark Knight and was considered an urban legend by most of the people of Gotham City. Read any other DC Comics’ book, however, and Batman was operating openly as part of The Justice League.

This gave way to an argument, which rages to this day, about what vision of Batman is the “proper” one – the lone vigilante who strikes terror into the hearts of criminals or the patriarch of a like-minded “Batman Family” made up of other masked heroes.

This argument lies at the heart of both subplots in Detective Comics #983 – the first issue by new series’ writer Bryan Hill. Half of the issue’s action concerns itself with Batman seeking out Jefferson Pierce (a.k.a. Black Lightning), whom Bruce wants to recruit as the first member of an elite team he is building who can operate “outside” of The Justice League. The other story concerns a new villain, who is targeting Batman’s sidekicks, due to his belief that Batman has become less powerful as he has come to trust more people with aiding him in his mission.

The story with Black Lightning is fairly standard superheroics. One oddity is that the script identifies Black Lighting as operating out of Metropolis, when his most recent reboot for DC Comics Rebirth depicted him as the defender of Cleveland, Ohio. Despite this glitch, Hill has a solid take on the character and writes Jefferson Pierce true to form.

The subplot involving the new villain is more interesting, if only for the metatextual parallels he suggests. The arguments delivered by this unnamed baddie mirror those of Bat-fans who argue that Batman should be a loner and an urban myth and that the DC Rebirth initiative made a mistake by bringing back characters such as the Cassandra Cain Batgirl, The Spoiler, the Helena Bertinelli version of The Huntress and Batwoman or by introducing new characters such as Gotham Girl and The Signal. Indeed, The Signal – a metahuman with light-based precognitive powers whom Batman recruited specifically to protect Gotham City during the day – is the first target of the new villain, along with a young Bat-Fan who became YouTube-famous for talking about how he thinks Batman is inspiring rather than scary.

Gate-keeping fanboy metaphors aside, it’s a brilliant conceit and one that is remarked upon ironically in the artwork, as Batman listens to the villain’s rantings while chasing another criminal down a busy street in full view of dozens of witnesses, all of whom snap pictures with their phones.  This is but one example of the fine detailing that Miguel Mendonca works into the art. His pencils find a perfect partnership with Dianna Egea’s inks and the colors of Adriano Lucas.

It will be interesting to see how this story develops in the coming issues. For now, it is enough to say that if you’re a fan of Batman looking for a good entry point into the comics or a fan of Black Lightning from the new TV series, this is a book you’ll definitely want on your subscription list.

8/10

Detective Comics #983 releases on June 27, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

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Comic Review – Plastic Man #1

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Patrick “Eel” O’Brian was as slippery and slimy as the animal that prompted his underworld nickname. He was a career criminal. A con artist. A petty thief. A cheap thug. The sort of sordid individual whose best effort to clean up and straighten out his life ended with him taking a job as the night manager of a seedy superhero-themed strip club in the worst part of Cole City.

The funny thing is that Eel O’Brian has been reborn. At least, he’s pretty sure that he died. Or at least felt like he was dead. Or maybe he just wished that he was dead after he was exposed to some weird chemical and his former partners in crime tossed him out of the getaway car following a botched robbery .

Whatever happened to him, Eel O’Brian has seen the error of his ways and is ready to bounce back in a big way. He doesn’t remember much about that night, but he distinctly remembers that a security guard died during the robbery that turned Eel into a nigh-invulnerable, shape-shifting super-freak. And Eel is going to track down his former friends and deliver some justice. Somehow.

That was his plan, anyway. Unfortunately Fate, as represented by an agent of the covert organization called Spyral, has bigger plans for Eel O’Brian. Plans that involve a sinister cabal of the most brilliant and evil geniuses in existence and their plot to take over the world. Only one man has the skills and powers needed to infiltrate their organization while remaining beneath their notice… and unfortunately for us all, that man is Eel O’Brian.

I should note something for the benefit of those readers who are parents who are mostly familiar with Plastic Man from his appearances in various cartoons – this is not a kid-friendly comic! This should, perhaps, be obvious, given the fact that the cover features a blood-soaked body. Then again, you never can tell with some people, so let me say again that the general wacky tone of this book is more in line with Deadpool than anything you’ll see on Justice League Action, Batman: The Brave and The Bold or The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show.

This should be no surprise given that this comic is written by Gail Simone, who got her start in mainstream comics writing Deadpool before going on to horrify decent people everywhere with both volumes of the villain-focused series Secret Six. (Fun Fact: Superiors, the strip club Eel O’Brian manages, is a nod to a business frequented by the main characters in Secret Six.) What is surprising, however, is how neatly Simone has updated the classic origins of Plastic Man for the reality of DC Comics Rebirth.

By way of a for instance, Plastic Man was originally recruited as an FBI Agent after acquiring his powers. Given Eel O’Brian’s criminal record and lack of qualifications, that would never happen today. Recruiting him for Spyral, on the other hand, is a brilliant conceit, given their established history of employing vigilantes and other people with questionable backgrounds. This is one fine detail of many that makes Simone’s script a neat nod to Plastic Man’s origins as well as a fun read on its own terms

Sadly, the artwork by Adriana Melo doesn’t quite equal up to the writing. Melo’s pencils are fantastic, but some of her inks are overly thick and give the finished art a weight that seems at odds with the light aesthetic that Plastic Man demands. Yet these inks perfectly suit the more Noir-based scenes detailing Eel O’Brian’s efforts to play detective. Altogether, the art works more often than it doesn’t, even ignoring the many sight gags Melo sneaks into the background, such as Eel wearing a DC Superhero Girls T-shirt. The colors are nicely applied as well.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of Plastic Man and/or dark comedy, you’ll want to pick this one up.

8/10

Plastic Man #1 releases on June 13, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Justice League #1

Justice League #1 Cover In the wake of the invasion by The Dark Multiverse, the destruction of The Source Wall and the coming of The Omega Titans, The Justice League have expanded their ranks. Though a core team still exists, most of The World’s Finest Heroes have been recruited to act in a reserve capacity to face those threats even greater than The League at large.

One of those threats – six teams of genetically altered prehistoric humans, dubbed Neoanderthals – have taken the world by storm, attacking by land, sea and air. Worse yet, some new being – a Totality containing all of the power of The Source Wall – is coming right for Earth. All of this news comes in the face of an announcement by The Green Lanterns that, by their best estimates, the multiverse has less than a year before it collapses completely!

There is only one group that can stop the coming disaster. And it isn’t the Justice League. Not if Lex Luthor has anything to say about it….

“Epic” is the only word that adequately describes Justice League #1. I’m using the word in its classical definition, meaning a long poem detailing a series of heroic exploits. Though the more modern definition referring to something impressive also applies.

Justice League #1 is the capstone of the tale Scott Snyder has been spinning for most of the past year in Dark Nights: Metal and No Justice. It’s too early to say, but based on this first issue we may be treated to the greatest Justice League comic since Grant Morrison’s legendary JLA run from nearly 20 years ago.

It’s hard to put a finger on precisely why Snyder’s story resonates as well as it does, but two noteworthy aspects of the comic are its treatment of Martian Manhunter and the clever ways in which Snyder utilizes classic elements of DC Comics mythology to create something new. For instance, the opening sequence describes the newly-built Hall of Justice and how it has a museum that is open to the public but the portion of the building utilized by The Justice League is telepathically hidden behind a door that is visible only to those people Martian Manhunter allows to see it.

Likewise, we learn that the basic design of The Hall of Justice was inspired by a Martian symbol that J’onn J’onzz found fitting in describing their goals. While not literally translating as “justice”, the symbol refers to an effort to progress beyond the natural laws regarding what is or is not possible and impose a higher standard upon reality. All of this helps to establish the power and influence of a character long associated with The Justice League in the comics, who was largely neglected by The New 52 reboot seven years ago.

The artists treat this grand story with the reverence it deserves. Jim Cheung’s character designs are amazing and the action of the various fight sequences flows naturally from panel to panel. Mark Morales’s inks properly enhance the original pencils without obscuring them. And the colors by Tomeu Morey are brilliant.

If you haven’t been reading Justice League, this is the perfect time to start. Despite building off of all of Scott Snyder’s more recent works, this book is surprisingly friendly to new readers. It is truly epic in every sense of the word.

9/10

Justice League #1 releases on June 6, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Man of Steel #1 Teaser

Comic Review – Man Of Steel #1

 Man of Steel #1 Cover

What can be said about The Man of Steel #1?

Does it dramatically redefine the Superman mythology? No.

Does it seem like it’s about to radically change everything we know about Superman and Krypton? No.

Does it seem like the coming of Brian Michael Bendis to DC Comics was over-hyped? A little bit.

Is it a bad comic? No. Not even close.

Is it a solid Superman story? Yes, it is that. But not much more than that. So far.

Unfortunately, what The Man of Steel #1 delivers is about what I expected based on Brian Michael Bendis’ first Superman story in Action Comics #1000. The parts involving Superman being Superman and doing Super-things are incredibly good and interesting. The parts involving Rogal Zaar – the new villain Bendis created, who has some kind of vendetta against The Kryptonian Race – are not. This leads to an odd paradox, given Bendis’ reputation for writing fantastic character-building scenes, which drives to the heart of the problem most writers seem to have when it comes to handling Superman.

Man of Steel #1 Page 3

Superman is at his worst as a character, to borrow a phrase from Mark Waid in Kingdom Come, when the “Super” is emphasized over the “Man”. Throwing Superman against a never-ending series of seemingly invincible enemies is just boring. This does not mean, however, that Superman is a dull character. His stories are frequently dull, however, because writers can’t think of anything to do with him other than keep throwing more and more powerful villains at him.

The best Superman stories, therefore, are the ones that explore who Clark Kent is as a person and show him having to work around the problems that all the super powers in the world can’t solve. Stories like Miracle Monday, What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and The American Way? and All-Star Superman are fondly remembered because they saw Superman being tested on a moral battlefield. Of course this sort of story is far more difficult to manage, which is why many writers don’t bother.

The grand irony of The Man of Steel #1 is that there are several moments where Bendis absolutely nails the character of Superman and puts his own unique touch on the Superman mythos. There is one moment, for instance, where Superman is listening for trouble on his nightly patrol and overhears a woman singing a song that he vaguely recognizes but can’t remember the name of. The problem is quickly put aside as a crisis arises but it’s a brief moment that shows how very human Superman is at his core. Who hasn’t heard a snippet of a song and briefly had their routine thrown into sharp relief as they tried to remember what it was?

Man of Steel #1 Page 9

Bendis also manages that most difficult of all tricks and writes a Superman who is honestly funny and pokes fun at the villains he faces without being mean. I honestly heard Christopher Reeve’s voice in my head reading some of the dialogue in this issue. Which is why it is so heartbreaking that so much of this issue is devoted to introducing Rogal Zaar instead of seeing Clark Kent spend time with his wife and son.

I’m sad to say that the artwork is about as uneven as the writing. Ivan Reis is a fantastic artist, but Joe Prado seems to be a poor partner for him. Prado’s inks muddy some of Reis’ pencils, leaving some pages looking like watercolors rather than inked artwork in terms of the amount of definition that comes through. The colors by Alex Sinclair are nice and vivid, but the only two pages with an consistent view to them are the final two, which were drawn and inked by Jay Fabok.

In the end, Man of Steel #1 is worth picking up if you’re a fan of Superman or any of the creators involved. So far, it doesn’t seem like this series will be the grand, reality-altering epic that was promised over a month ago. Still, it’s a solid Superman story with some good moments and good artwork.

7/10

The Man of Steel #1 releases on May 30, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Justice League: No Justice #1

Justice League No Justice #1 Cover

It was Earth’s darkest hour. The Collector of Worlds known as Brainiac had come and immediately sought battle with the World’s Finest heroes. The Justice League, The Teen Titans – even The Suicide Squad faced him. They failed and were captured, taken to the deepest reaches of space.

The fact that they had been spared at all stunned them. What shocked them even more was that Brainiac had come not in conquest but with a warning of a cosmic threat that could lay waste to all reality!  It is a menace that operates wholly on logic and thus can only be bested by something never before attempted – unions of hero and villain never before seen in the history of any world in the Multiverse!

The question remains – will the greatest enemies of The Justice League and Teen Titans kill them before this new enemy can? Or will they all find a way to work together even as all reality goes mad around them?

Justice League No Justice Teams

When the concept for Justice League: No Justice was announced, fans were flabbergasted. How can you have a Justice League team with the likes of Lobo, Lex Luthor and Deathstroke? Who thought pairing Beast Boy and Batman was a good idea? What is Starro The Flipping Conqueror doing in this thing?

The reasoning of this became apparent after Dark Nights Metal and the reasoning is that there is no reasoning. Picking up from where that mini-series ended, we learn that space is warping and the laws of magic, science and everything that keeps everything moving are going awry. The Green Lantern Corps are busy trying to hold back something from beyond their universe – hence why Brainiac is taking the lead in organizing a group of heroes to deal with a threat that completely passed by The Lanterns.

The most amazing aspect of the script by Scott Snyder, Joshua Williamson and James Tynion IV is how easily they explain all of this for the benefit of new readers who might not have seen Dark Nights Metal and set up the cast of characters. Despite the heavy focus on exposition, there are also a number of character moments that introduce the more obscure players.

While it’s a safe bet everyone knows Batman and Wonder Woman well enough, there’s a fair chance they might not be familiar with the Damien Wayne version of Robin or the likes of Etrigan The Demon. The best of these scenes involves (of all people) Lex Luthor having a strangely meta conversation with J’onn J’onzz about where everyone’s favorite Martian has been the past few years and how it feels to once again be in the role of holding together a team – a nod to how, until The New 52 reboot, Martian Manhunter was the heart of The Justice League and its most stalwart member.

A big story like this deserves powerful artwork and the art team delivers that. Francis Manapul is one of best creators in the business, as anyone who reads Trinity can tell you. The character designs and modified Brainiac armor for all the characters look fantastic and there’s not one badly drawn panel in the whole issue. The colors chosen by Hi-Fi are all vibrant and eye-catching, helping add to the warped nature of the story by showing the characters in ways that look like them yet not like them at the same time. Superman’s costume, for instance, looks rather odd yet familiar tinged in violet rather than blue.

Bottom Line: If you haven’t been keeping up with DC Comics and need a good entry point to the universe as a whole, this is where to start.

9/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Action Comics #1000

Action Comics #1000 Cover
Let us take it as a basic truth that Action Comics #1000 is a book of some significance.

It is the first of DC Comics’ series to hit the 1000 issues milestone, despite a number of divergences where the book was renumbered during those times when it was thought that starting everything over at #1 would lead to increased sales.

It contains the first published work for DC Comics by Brian Michael Bendis – recently signed to an exclusive contract – whom you might know as the writer who made Spider-Man fun again and created Jessica Jones. (If you don’t know who Brian Michael Bendis is, click the link. You’re welcome!)

It also features multiple collectible covers, for those who enjoy collecting multiple covers.

None of this, however, has anything to do with why I’m writing these words that you’re reading. I’m here to tell you if this $7.99 tome is worth picking up if you have no interest in collectibles or historical significance. I’m here to calm the nerves of those rare few souls who actually still read comics, who want to know one simple thing: Is Action Comics #1000 worth reading?

The answer, in a word, is yes.

Superman Crowd Shot From Action Comics 1000

It would take most of my word limit to list all of the creators involved in the creation of this volume, never mind describing all of their work. Suffice it to say that if you have ever loved any version of Superman, there is something here that will appeal to you.

If you’re a fan of the current Superman series, Dan Jurgens, Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi are given a chance to take a bow and pay tribute to The Man of Steel while closing out their own runs.

Were you a fan of the 1990s’ Superman animated series? There’s a Paul Dini-penned story with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez you’ll get a kick out of.

Are you an old-school Super-fan? There’s a classic Lex Luthor vs. Superman story by Paul Levitz with artwork by Neal Adams that is well-worth checking out, as well as some previously unpublished work by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan.

Supposing you’re a Bat-fan who is too cool to read Superman comics? There’s even something for you, with Batman writers Tom King and Scott Snyder having created comics with artists Clay Mann and Rafael Albuquerque that number among the more thoughtful works in this anthology. And I’m just scratching the surface describing these seven stories. There’s even more than that!

Superman Fights Rogol Zaar in Action Comics 1000

The flip side to this format is that there will almost certainly be something in this book that you won’t enjoy. For me, ironically enough, it’s the story that is supposed to be the book’s main selling point – the final chapter by Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Lee. Lee’s artwork, I’m sad to say, has looked far better and there’s a number of continuity problems with Superman’s wounds changing from panel to panel. The uneven and frequently sloppy inks of Scott Williams don’t help matters.

The biggest disappointment, however, is the story, which largely devotes itself to Superman fighting a new seemingly invincible villain. It also ends with a cliffhanger urging you to read the upcoming Man of Steel mini-series to see what happens next. Unfortunately, the brief sample here offers little reason to read on, with Bendis’ new villain differing from Doomsday in only three respects – he has better fashion sense, he wields an axe and he won’t shut up.

There’s some irony that this book devoted to The Man of Tomorrow does a better job in honoring its past than in encouraging readers to look to the future. As a tribute to the last 80 years of Superman, it’s fantastic. As a preview of what is to come, I fear it’s better at inspiring fear than hope.

7/10

Action Comics #1000 releases on April 18, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Dark Nights: Metal #6

Dark Nights: Metal 6 Cover

It spoils little to reveal that Dark Nights: Metal concludes with the heroes of The DC Comics Multiverse victorious and the literal rising darkness that threatened to destroy all of reality vanquished. As with all good stories, the important part is the journey, not the destination. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia have taken us on one heck of a journey.

On the surface, the idea behind Dark Nights: Metal was insane – crafting the comic book equivalent of a progressive rock album, mixing the aesthetics of Frank Frazetta and King Crimson to create a story that seemed more appropriate to Metal Hurlant (or Heavy Metal Magazine, as it became known in the USA) than DC Comics. Somehow, the creative team made it work and continues to push this idea into the final chapter, as Wonder Woman does battle with the assembled legions of fallen Justice Leagues from alternate realities born of nightmares, given form by a mad god!

Dark Nights: Metal #6 Page 3

When the first issue came out, it was said that Dark Nights: Metal would redefine The DC Comics Multiverse forever. It was assumed that this referred to Scott Snyder’s attempts to codify their Periodic Table, expanding upon the properties of fictional substances such as Nth Metal and Promethium. It was also presumed that this would have something to do with the discovery of The Dark Multiverse – a hereto unknown level of The DC Comics Multiverse where the heroes lost and their worlds fell to chaos and entropy.

Dark Nights: Metal #6 goes far beyond this, however. The finale of this issue sets the stage for the next level of DC Comics Rebirth and indicates that some big changes are on the way. Anyone who is interested in the Rebirth revival in general would do well to pick up this issue, as it appears to lay the groundwork for some of what is to come in the solo books of all the current Justice League members with one notable exception. (Presumably they’re keeping Superman’s future a secret until Action Comics #1000 comes out?)

Unsurprisingly, reference is made to Scott Snyder’s upcoming No Justice series which will reportedly redefine the Justice League in much the same way Snyder’s run on Batman revitalized that series. A reference is also made to the upcoming Sandman Universe Special, which will introduce four new books – The Dreaming, Lucifer, The Books of Magic and House of Whispers – that will reveal the new status quo of Neil Gaimans’ Endless and their place in the new cosmology. There’s also an interesting bit of news regarding Jack Kirby’s New Gods that is sure to lead to big things in the future.

Thankfully, Dark Nights: Metal #6 is a solid work of action and adventure, even ignoring the significance of everything it has established. Those who missed the earlier issues can give thanks that the series has proved popular enough to merit reprints of the earlier issues, so you should be able to pick up the entire series with no problems if you don’t want to wait for the eventual TP collection.

10/10

Dark Knights: Metal #6 releases March 28, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

 

Comic Review – Aquaman #34

Corum Rath had long been a thorn in the side of The Aquaman, Arthur Curry. As leader of The Deluge – a xenophobic terrorist group which resisted Aquaman’s efforts, as King of Atlantis, to establish peaceful relations with the surface world – Rath led an attack on the American city of Boston. He was imprisoned until certain traditionalist elements with the Atlantean Council of Elders grew equally tired of the king’s progressive attitudes and decided to appoint Rath as the new King of Atlantis.

Rath’s first act as King was to seal off Atlantis from the outside world, using an ancient magical artifact known as The Crown of Thorns. He ordered the ancient houses of Atlantis to turn over their own hereditary magical objects and launched a campaign of terror against the so-called “taint-bloods” – those Atlanteans changed by the influence of the ocean, growing to resemble the animals of the deeps.

Despite his orders that the Aquaman be executed before he could leave Atlantis, Arthur Curry has survived and joined with the resistance to Rath’s reign. Now, as the councilors who placed him on the throne begin to question their wisdom in doing so and if Rath might still be an exploitable figurehead while they secure their own positions, Rath ponders his own past and takes steps to secure the future of his reign. 

Given the time it takes for a comic script to become a comic book and how far in advance books are prepared for publication, it seems unlikely that Dan Abnett meant for Aquaman to be the political parable it seems to have become. Certainly history is full of mad kings and despots like Corum Rath, who were driven to extreme measures by paranoia. Still, with a villainous ruler obsessed with destroying the legacy of his predecessor while promising to restore a nation to greatness, it’s hard not to see some obvious parallels to real world events in Aquaman #34.

Thankfully, whatever subtext may be gleaned from this, Abnett’s text is primarily concerned with exploring the background of Corum Rath and tying his background in to another villain – the street mage Kadaver – whom Abnett introduced in previous issues. The character study here is fascinating and while this issue is light on action until the very end, the issue’s cliffhanger conclusion promises big things in the future.

The artwork by Kelley Jones confused me at first. Jones is best known for his work on various horror titles and I found his style an odd fit for Aquaman at first. The first few pages of the issue are a little rough, but the reason for Jones’ inclusion on this series becomes apparent  by the issue’s end. Suffice it to say that fans of H.P. Lovecraft and weird horror will want to check this issue out for Jones’ art alone.

For what my money is worth, Aquaman is one of the most underrated treasures of the DC Rebirth initiative. Aquaman #34, in turn, is a great introductory issue for those looking to dive in to this series.

8/10

Aquaman #34 releases March 21, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.