"Trade Paperback Reviews"
“Green Lantern: Secret Origin” is a storyline from Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern, and spans issues #29-35. The storyline is a retelling of Hal Jordans origins as GL, and in this story his issue is changed to coincide with “Blackest Night“. The storyline has been printed in Soft-cover and Hard-cover trade paperback formats, or you can just pick up the single issues.+Continue Reading
35 years ago on the planet Krypton, the being known as Brainiac abducted the entire capital city of Kandor in his quest for absolute knowledge. Not long after, Krypton was destroyed, leaving only two survivors, Superman and Supergirl. Or so it was believed. After Supergirl confesses her greatest fear, that Brainiac is still out there somewhere, the Man of Steel takes to the stars alone, intent on bringing the monster to justice. However, unknown to Superman, his decision will set off a chain reaction that will alter not only the fate of the Earth, but that of the entire Universe.+Continue Reading
War has broken out among the United Planets of the 31st Century. The Legion of Super-Heroes is broken, its members scattered, while a new group of Human Supremacists calling itself the Justice League has risen to take its place, calling for the expulsion of all Alien influence from Earth culture. And the only person capable of saving this world is the very man whose memory the Justice League has used to destroy it – Superman!+Continue Reading
Batman: The Black Glove is perhaps the most underrated chapter of Grant Morrison’s Batman run. Sandwiched between the Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul and Batman: RIP it can be out-shined and come off as “passable;” but make no mistake, this is one Bat-book you’ll want on your shelf.+Continue Reading
It has been one year since I returned to actively collecting comics. In 2009, I spent a good deal of time and even more money on purchasing single issues as well as trade paperbacks and some hardcover graphic novels. In the new year, I’d like to allocate a certain amount of funds towards the following titles:
X-Men: Magneto Testament
I walked into my local comic book shop one day a few months ago and asked what was new and good; I had some extra cash and needed something new. He suggested the Magneto Testament and even claimed that it made him cry. Though I walked out of the store with something (probably of the DC persuasion) I am compelled to give this a read. I hear it is very moving and a solid story. It deals with the Nazi camps in WWII Germany (think: opening scene of the first X-Men movie in book format.) Even if you are not an X-Men fan necessarily, you could probably read this and enjoy it.
Y: The Last Man – all ten volumes
I read volume one last summer and found it to be an exceptionally fast read; the story was pretty good though and it definitely left me wanting more. It’s daunting, though, to think of buying all ten volumes; I’ll need to spread out these purchases.
Astro City Volume 2: Confessions
A long time ago, when I first began college, I staked out my local comic book shop, because I used to collect them and wanted/needed a hobby for times I wasn’t studying (or drinking, you know.) I randomly picked up the first volume of Astro City, knowing nothing of Kurt Busiek’s writing or Alex Ross’s amazing artwork. I was taken aback by this compilation of superhero stories, the depth of the characters and the range of emotions and ideas thrown into one novel. I have read volume one countless times but never managed to get this second volume.
Logicomix: An Epic Search For Truth
A friend recommended this to me and I was surprised that I had not even heard of it, despite it being a “New York Time #1 Best-Selling Graphic Novel” according to their website. In that vein, they have a quote from the Boston Globe claiming that, “Reading Logicomix is like stumbling upon the best college class you never expected and settling down for enlightenment.” Granted, it’s all about mathematics, which I typically avoid like the plague, but maybe that’s the challenge for me. I want to tackle something that isn’t what I normally read and might push my brain a bit.
Inevitably, there are other things I need to pick up to round out my collection (All-Star Superman volume 2, Final Crisis, etc…) but these are a good jumping off point for myself and possibly you as well!+Continue Reading
The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul as a story is great; Ra’s Al Ghul returns and wants to use the body of Damian Wayne as a host, giving him a fresh start with a new and perfect body, however, the greatness that this could have been was a little lost in this book’s crossover collecting style.+Continue Reading
Batman and Son, the storyline that kick starts Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, collecting Batman #655-658 and #663-666 is everything you would expect from a Grant Morrison; it’s full of action, original characters and stories, compelling twists and cliffhangers, and with just a touch of some sci-fi sprinkled here and there.+Continue Reading
Once thought to be out of continuity Batman: Son of the Demon was thrown back into the mix when Grant Morrison followed up the events in his 4-issue story Batman and Son in 2006; which would kick start his run on Batman. Not everything in Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham’s story carried over, but certainly the title itself is enough to take note of what did and did not stand the test of time, the “Son” being Talia and Bruce’s child and the “Demon” being Ra’s al Ghul. Reading through it again though definitely convinces me more that it was properly considered an Elseworlds story first; and if not for Damien’s predominate role in the Batman universe now, I would suggest it as nothing more than an interesting Batman story.+Continue Reading
Yes, I know, it is a 5 year old storyline, but after all, not only is it a classic, ground-breaking story, but it also set up quite a bit of what’s going on currently in Blackest Night. So here’s the low-down, in this story, Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man, is mysteriously murdered, with little to no evidence as to who the killer is, how they did it, or why. While most of the superhero community is baffled and unable to come up with a proper lead, a league-within-the-league soon reveals that not only do they have a good idea as to who did it, they also have a good idea of what their motivation was. The only problem is, their wrong. Soon, everyone is taken for a spin on the confused and angry ride, and the true killer is revealed, shocking everyone.
The story was originally printed as a 7 issue mini-series, spanning from August of 2004 to February of 2005, and features the writing of Brad Meltzer, the man who also wrote a 12 issue run on Justice League Of America at the beginning of Volume 2, and a 6 issue run on Green Arrow during early Volume 3. The storyline is very dialogue driven, and I couldn’t imagine anyone but Brad being able to bring such a concept to pages. Brad does excellent work at bringing the heroes we usually look at as gods with no flaws down to our level, showing that everyone, even the most powerful of us, make mistakes sometimes, and they do pay for them, in one way or another. This story is so immensely human that even the most hardened comic book reader would have a hard time holding back emotions, and trust me, there’s lots of them.
The storyline was penciled by Rags Morales, inked by Michael Bair, and colored by Alex Sinclair. I must admit, Morales is one of the best artists I’ve seen yet, and it is only proven by the dissection in the back, where Morales and Meltzer discuss how the original script compares to the outcome. The original series covers by Michael Turner are also featured in the book, and I love the cinematography featured on each and every page and cover. I must admit though, every once and a while the expressions on the faces of some characters are seen twice, on different people.
First off, Sue Dibny is murdered while Ralph is out on patrol. Then the funeral takes place and the league-within-the-league, featuring Hawkman, Atom, Black Canary, Zatanna, Green Arrow and Elongated Man go after Dr. Light, who had raped Sue years earlier and had vowed to find her again. Accompanying them is Kyle Rayner and Wally West, who had both noticed that the others hadn’t been sent after a suspect like everyone else, and replace Hal Jordan’s and Barry Allen’s spots in the league-within. It is then that we learn that after Sue was raped by Light, they voted to wipe his memory of the event, and to change his personality also. When they all arrive at Light’s last known hideout, they are surprised to see Dr. Light accompanied by the one and only Deathstroke, who happens to be one of my favorite villains of all time. Deathstroke dominates the fight at first, stabbing Wally with his sword, cutting off Hawkmans wings, punching Zatanna so that she’ll puke and be unable to say any spells, cutting Green Arrows arrows in half, tying and gagging Black Canary, hitting Atom with a simple laser pointer, which has a pretty big effect at sub-atomic size, then trying to win the only fight he is unsure of. He simply squeezes Kyle’s ring hand as hard as he can, breaking his concentration. Then, Arrow simply stabs Slade in his blind eye with an arrow, which makes him REALLY mad and unfocused, opening him up for an all out attack by the rest of the heroes. Then, Arrow says one of my favorite quotes of all time, “Like I always say, the JSA may teach you how to be a hero, and the Titans may teach you to be a family, but the League–Sure, it teaches you how to protect, but from the very start–The League teaches you how to fight.” As the heroes are attacking slade, Dr. Light suddenly remembers the rape and the mind wipe, and ends the fight with a flash of light. Next, Arrow tells Wally about not only mind wiping Light, but also more villains, and then The Atom’s ex-wife, Jean Loring is attacked and left to die hanging from a rope tied to her door. The only suspect is absolutely clueless, proven by Wonder Woman’s magic lasso. After some simple story-telling, Lois Lane is sent a note saying “Lois- I know who your husband is. YOU’RE NEXT.” and the “S” in “husband” is shaped like Superman’s symbol. A group of heroes go after some Suicide Squad members, believing the connection between suspects involves them. Then we’re shown other heroes attacking villains, looking for information, when Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond) is stabbed by Shadow Thief, causing him to explode, while Ray Palmer visits his ex-wife and they kiss. Then Robin is just about to leave his house to go with Batman, after his dad approved of him going, and just after he leaves, Jack Drake (Tim’s dad) receives a note telling him to protect himself, along with a box with a gun inside. Jack contacts Oracle with a JL Communicator, and as Tim and Bruce race back to Tim’s house, Captain Boomerang shows up. Just before Tim get’s there, Boomerang throws a boomerang just as Jack shoots him in the chest, and they both lay there, dying. Tim shows up and runs upstairs, taking off his costume in the process but he’s too late. Jack Drake is dead. That part right there made me cry, and here’s why:
Sorry it’s so small, I couldn’t find a larger image. Either way, its still mesmerizing. Look at the way Tim’s eye is looking directly at you. I get goosebumps every time I look at it. Anyways, next Wally finds out that Light wasn’t the only one they mind wiped that night, they also wiped Bruce, who had been there when they found Light raping Sue, but left to handle something else, but came back because it was Sue, and walked in on Zatanna wiping Light and flipped out, forcing the heroes to wipe Bruce’s mind, or face the destruction of the League. Then, as Doctor Mid-Nite is performing Sue’s autopsy, he finds minuscule footprints on her brain, the cause of her death. Bruce had been investigating on his own, and while Mid-Nite first assumed it was the Atom who killed her, Bruce realizes it wasn’t him, it was Jean, who wanted Ray back, and saw this as the means of making it happen. It was also Jean who sent Jack Drake the gun and hired Captain Boomerang to attack him, hoping Jack would kill him and would be safe, she had also sent Lois the note, and had even staged her own attempted murder, just to get Ray back. Ray admits her to Arkham, and the League is left to continue it’s adventures.+Continue Reading
Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 1
In an attempt to try and broaden my horizons (I don’t read enough Marvel) I picked up two trade paperbacks, one being Fantastic Four Vol. 1, and although a little nervous I ended up picking up one heck of a surprise…
I have a confession; I’ve never liked the Fantastic Four. I’ve always thought the ability to be “stretchy” was a little corny, I never understood the appeal of The Thing, and although Johnny Storm is a pretty awesome guy I’ve always been turned off by “Flame on!” However, upon giving one of comics most famous a fair chance I found myself not reading about corny superpowers or celebrity scientists, I found myself reading a story about a young boy who despite his incredible talents at math and electronics got beat up in school, had only 1 friend who couldn’t relate to his genius level pursuits, and a father who resented his talents, paid him no attention, and makes it obvious he had wanted a different kind of son. And there’s no powers, fame, or Sue Storm yet to compensate and make things ok, just a heartbreaking story of a boy who’s potential almost went to waist. This is one of the first times I’ve been introduced to Dr. Reed Richards without his stretchy celebrity status and I’m just going to man up and admit it, I was wrong. There’s tons of depth here I never knew about and the Fantastic Four are pretty awesome.
Not being a big Fantastic Four reader I’m not entirely sure of all the differences between the original origin and the Ultimate version but beyond just the absolutely awesome Reed Richards story we get a slew of new introductions, the most surprising being Dr. Molekevic, a.k.a. Mole Man, another corny comic book villain that has always turned me off to the 4 but is perfectly given his own place and reinventing. Immediately coming off as a disgusting off-put scientist working for Dr. Storm and his “think tank” for child prodigies. In my first reading I didn’t even notice who it was at first, which made the introduction all the sweeter. Another great element is the inevitable romance between Sue Storm and Richards, and even though you know it’s coming the dialogue between the two, along with the art, makes for some very sweet moments.
The climax of the story is eventually reached and our 4 get their powers; without spoiling it for you I’ll just say that it’s different but great. Each go through their own struggles in how to control their new abilities, Johnny Storm of course enjoying his the most and Grimm the least (even going as far as to attacking Richards). And before fully adjusting to everything New York gets a monstrous surprise from Mole Man and the 3 reluctantly get called into action (I say 3 because at that point they hadn’t found Sue yet). As the action unfolds the 4 meet back up, the bad guy is defeated but lives to see another day, and the story ends with the exciting acceptance of their new life and the line I was waiting for, “We have to find Victor.” As of this writing I’ve not read vol. 2 yet (bought it though) and CAN’T WAIT to see what’s planned for Dr. Doom.
I dreaded reading this because of my stigma for the Fantastic Four, but was quickly blown away by the great mix of story, dialogue, action, and art all put together by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar, and Adam Kubert. I’m not sure how far off from a lot of the original this was and I don’t know what a hardcore Fantastic Four fan would think but I’m glad I went into it with little knowledge, it was refreshing to read something that I didn’t have my own opinions on, or objections to liberties taken by the creators, I just sat back with a cold beer and ended up reading the entire thing in one sitting, then going back and reading the first story line again just to see if I had missed any nuggets (like the kid beating up Richards wearing the Tor hat). The book is full of some great comedy, which is typical of the Fantastic Four I’m told, but not so much where I stopped taking the characters and story seriously. And the elements I had always kind of rolled my eyes at (like the celebrity/public status, corny powers and characters, and sigh inducing one liners) are completely absent. The team on this book made an excellent effort to tell a silver age story with a modern reinventing, and my hats off to a job well done!
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to stoop this low or not but what the heck…this book was fantastic! (sorry) I can’t recommend it enough; it was everything a comic book should be, and for $12.99 it’s more than worth it’s value. If you are like me and don’t care for the Fantastic Four, give it a shot. And if you are a Fantastic Four fan my guess is you’ve read it already, in which case I would love to hear what you thought. To Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and 4 fans everywhere, my apologies for years of neglect, I get it now.+Continue Reading
Paul Dini is no stranger to Batman given his Emmy Award wining work on Batman: the Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and the comics that were tied to the shows but it wasn’t until Detective Comics #821 that he got a chance to take a dip into official Batman continuity. He was given a 6 issue run with some amazing talent like J.H Williams, Jared K. Fletcher, and Don Kramer (just to name a few) and instead of writing a single continual storyline Dini gave us six great separate stories, none of which are worth skipping. The issues were later collected into a trade titled Batman: Detective.
We get a classic murder mystery where a new villain is posing as a socialite to get to Gotham’s finest, The Riddler has turned straight with a new private eye business, Poison Ivy gets attacked by her own creation, Dini brings Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge from the Animated Series into main continuity, and an old Villian returns (who may have inspired another Dini creation, Derek Powers from Batman Beyond), and lastly we get one of the greatest modern Joker stories in one single issue.
It’s refreshing to pick up a book and read some Batman that is dependent upon itself, requiring just casual knowledge of his mythology, and if you were a fan of the animated series than there are little easter eggs delightfully inserted into each issue, like the first appearance of Roxy Rocket into Batman continuity or the bloodthirsty seals in Penguins Iceberg Lounge. Each story has it’s own weight and uses classical Batman themes and character’s to bring you back to what Bruce Wayne is all about, mystery, crime, and costumed freaks.
It’s also worth noting that this is one of the best looking books I’ve read in awhile. I was completely thrown off guard by the J.H. Williams issue and his ability to use red and black contrast so strongly. Marcos Marz’s pencils with John Kalisz coloring (who colors the entire six issue run) bring us a familiar broad shouldered Batman who is drawn with heavy lines, Joe Benitez draws one heck of a Poison Ivy, and Don Kramer delivers one of the creepiest Joker’s ever (it’s those eyes). I’ll be honest, I’ve grown accustomed to Dustin Nguyen’s art and the animated series feel every time I think of Paul Dini but I was completely surprised at the raw art in this book.
On of my favorite things about Paul Dini though is his insistence in including Bruce Wayne, not Batman, into the majority of his story telling. Bruce Wayne is Batman ,with or without the suit, but when he plays the rich playboy at a party or on a date it’s always an interesting story element to see him interact with the other socialites or how well he pulls off his persona, all the time we as the reader being able to read his thoughts, and it’s too bad he isn’t written like that more often, but Dini gives us lots of tuxedo Bruce and reminds us that he is always Batman, he just doesn’t wear the costume sometimes.
The best story is saved for last though, looking for an escape from the bad guys Robin jumps into a car offering a ride just to see that Joker himself is at the wheel. This story is awesome. As I said before, Don Kramer’s pencils created a creepy Joker you won’t soon forget and the tension between Robin and Joker that Dini creates is some of the best in a long time. Robin is tied up, completely helpless and at the mercy of ol’ “Mr. J.”
For $14.99 retail, and even cheaper at places like Amazon.com or DCBS, this should be on every Batman fan’s shelf. During these times with no Bruce Wayne, or if you just need a break of the continual story line stuff, this is a refreshing read that deliverers on every level that a good comic book should. Great art, great stories, classic characters, murder mysteries, moments that will make you laugh…it’s got everything.+Continue Reading