So, I’ve decided to approach the comic reviews here at Gay-Nerds a little differently. I hope this new format will let me make updates more often and still give you the information you need to know about the comics I’m reading!
So, this comic wasn’t originally on my pull list but it’s the first issue and I loved the old DCU’s Batman/Superman titles. The characters are both dichotomous and complementary and getting to get inside both of their heads and see them work together is just magic. So I had high hopes AND high standards for this issue. It didn’t not disappoint me. Totally. Maybe. Listen, I’m trying to look at it as is and not compare it to the great works that came before it, it’s just hard. But I can be objective in my descriptions . . .
The first half of the book’s art was beautiful and didn’t belong in a superhero comic. Honestly, that’s a compliment. The artist and colorist, Jae Lee and June Chung respectively, crafted a Gotham City park setting that belongs in Fables. It’s eerie, haunting, and invokes a fairy tale feeling. When we see Metropolis we see a few skyscrapers but the characters are usually back dropped by ruined walls or a dark, cloudy, night sky. The characters also look almost ethereal, pale and delicate looking. There is a scene where Superman breaks through a wall and, while he looks powerful, he also looks graceful and poise. That paired with his pale skin, dar hair, and blue eyes, gives the feeling of a super powerful, animated porcelain figure. It’s not something I would have expected in a superhero comic but I did enjoy it. The second half of the book was drawn and colored by Ben Oliver and Daniel Brown. It was more traditional, it’s composition not as intriguing. I did, however, like the autumn colors used in Smallville, it was attractive and Superman’s blue and Batman’s black popped nicely.
The story is about how Superman and Batman first meet, maybe. This issue might change their first meeting that, I thought, happened in the second issue of Justice League. I’m hoping DC isn’t retconning that already. Now, I say that this may be the story of how they first meet because there’s time travel involved and perhaps even the Batman of Earth 2. It’s setting up for some cool stuff later on, I’m assuming. However, we do get to see some nice banter between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne before they know each other’s alter egos. The inner monologues of each already giving us clues as to how they think and providing a nice foil of each other.
Overall it was an interesting read, I enjoyed the issue. Lee’s art, though it didn’t seem “superhero-y”, was far more enjoyable to Oliver’s. The writing was solid enough. It’s very early to see how Greg Pak will portray these iconic characters, so far we haven’t seen anything that hasn’t been done before. Batman is darker than Superman, Batman is more of a realist, Superman is an idealist, yadda, yadda. That whole she-bang. But it’s a good start. I’m not putting it on my pull list, yet. But I’ll check out issue two and see if it’s worth picking up.
The Bounce #2
The Bounce is a nifty little Image comic (the publishers of Morning Glories, one of my FAVORITE comics ever) about a lovable loser/stoner with superpowers. What’s not to enjoy? The second issue picks up right where the first left off: Our hero, Jasper Jenkins, recently did a person/drug. That is, he inhaled another super who makes people high. However, this isn’t just any high: it apparently takes you to another realm where Jasper sees his dead friend. Or he’s high out of his mind. We’re not really sure but I have a sneaking suspicion that the military men (we see them later one) and their experiments have something to do with how people have been getting their powers. While the story is is the early, early stages of setting up the characters and the dialogue are to die for. Joe Casey has written a hero for, well, me. A lazy, stoner (not that I endorse or use drugs) superhero who fights crime in between bong hits and arguing with his older brother. Did I mention his older brother is the Assistant D.A? The Assistant D.A who is currently trying to track down superheroes/villains? Yeah, it’s drama-tastic. The side plot featuring a general and a military scientist will eventually tie into the overall story but the scientist is a dick who you can’t help but admire. He’s sleazy and slimy and I love him.
The art, credit of David Messina, consists of bold outlines and sharp colors. It has a very, very crisp and clean look to it. The characters all look nice, no one feels repeated, if you know what I mean. He’s consistent with his characters and it’s nice to be able to recognize them right off the bat.
The ending of this comic has Jasper’s roommate catching him in his superhero suit and Jasper catching his roommie in drag. I don’t think this has ever, ever happened in a superhero comic. It’s nice to see a comic taking risks as well as embracing the funny and unusual. Though I’m sure we’ll run into some superhero cliches so far this hasn’t been to “originy”. No “great power, great responsibility” speeches or orphan-talk (Though he may be an orphan, we’re not sure yet). And he’s jobless . . . I’m certain that many young people in our generation can appreciate that.
This comic went on my pull list as soon as I heard about it. Now, so far everything is jumbled and confusing as hell so don’t expect to get it just by reading the first two issues. There’s still back story we haven’t been formed in on and the over-arching plot hasn’t yet come together. However, if you can handle being teased and jerked around then this may be worth it (only $2.99). I’m slightly bemused by what I’m reading but it’s kept me interested enough to see how the first story arc will end, at least.
Justice League #21
This took the Shazam mythos to an entirely new level. A level of awesome that approaches watching-Power-Ranger-as-a-kid type giddiness.
In this issue Shazam takes center stage and we finally see the conclusion of his origin and fight with Black Adam. It’s actiony, it’s magical, and Billy Batson, though he was a bit of a shit in earlier comics (though it was completely understood that he was to be sympathized with), becomes the hero. He gets it. After telling the wizard that no one is completely good and all that matters is that you try to be good, he embodies that ideal. Maybe it was the wisdom of Solomon but Billy has grown up (and down and up and down) a lot since he became magic’s champion and Earth’s Mightiest Mortal.
Gary Frank’s art is alright. He can draw well enough but it wasn’t anything that blows me away. It was good, not spectacular. But his facial expressions are well done. The colors, by Brad Anderson are very well done, I’m particulary fond of the effects he uses on the golden trim of the costumes of the Shazam team.
Geoff Johns has pretty much hit this out of the park. Really. He’s taken Billy from a bratty adolescent with a chip on his shoulder that we grew to love to, well,
Captain Marvel Shazam. From fighting the Seven Deadly Sins to the emotional and horrific origin of Black Adam, I don’t think there was a moment in this entire series-within-a-series I didn’t like. This issue was an epic conclusion. My favorite part, besides the sad/awesome climax of the fight and Billy (not Shazam) being a badass, was Shazam splitting his powers between his foster siblings. That includes the DCnU introduction of Mary Marvel! This was the “Power Rangers” thing I was talking about earlier and it was awesome. I don’t care if it changed canon too much for some people, I enjoyed watching Billy give part of his powers to his siblings and them all using them for good just to spite Black Adam. They even had color-coded costumes!
There’s even a bit of emotion that had me reaching for the tissues when Black Adam attacked a zoo tiger, a childhood friend Billy had since before the death of his parents. True, I had to take two cats to the vet in the last month with life-threatening issues so my emotions regarding the matter biased my feelings on this, but that is what good comics do. They pull on your heartstrings in unexpected places, maybe even places the writers didn’t intend to pull on.
Now we have to look forward to Shazam meeting the Justice League . . .
Justice League Dark # 21
I’ll be honest: I bought this just in preparation of Trinity War. I’ve been a fan of Zatanna and she was pretty much the only magic user from the DCU I knew or cared for but now we have an Justice League dedicated to magical maladies. AndI get to read up for Trinity War! I did read a few issues last year that tied in with I, Vampire (that was a great series) so I wasn’t completely lost. But I’ll give you the basics: Madame Xanadu (magic lady) has a team of magic users and supernatural characters to fight magic enemies that the Justice League can’t handle. The team includes (as of now) Madame Xanadu, John Constantine (the blond, British version), Dead Man, Frankenstein (a former agent of S.H.A.D.E), Swamp Thing, and, in this story arc only, The Flash. Zatanna is set to join the Justice League before Trinity War.
Now, this issue has the JLD facing off against Doctor Destiny who is sporting a deliciously creepy look and is also the hundreds year old son of Madame Xanadu and an unknown father. He’s come back for revenge against his mother but is being manipulated by a clandestine magic-using group who wants to eradicate the JLD. Pretty easy to follow along with. What’s really interesting is seeing Flash interact with magic, he’s a cop/scientist after all, and how he copes with seeing this stuff turn out to be real. There’s also the fact that Frankenstein was saved by him twice and the dialogue between them is fairly humorous.
The writers, Ray Fawkes and Jeff Lemire, plot out a decent story arc that reaches a nice and tight conclusion in this issue. The characters are likable and everything is set up for Trinity War. Not much more than I expected in this read. The ever-changing roster of heroes isn’t ideal to me so I hope they nail down the magic users they want and stick with them. Constantine on any team is funny because he’s such a tool with a heart. I’m only reading this comic in prep for the Trinity War but I can’t say if I’ll read on after for very long. The comic was okay but it didn’t blow me away and I don’t know the characters well enough to fanboy over them.
The art is nice, it’s perfect for this kind of book. Magic and heroes suits Mikel Janin well and his vision of Doctor Destiny is even creepier than the version we saw in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. And the colors? Awesome!!! When it comes to stories about magic you’ve got to set the mood and make the spells look cool. The mood depends on the setting but it’s the tone of the color that can give a scene an ethereal feel. And it’s the effects of the colors that make the spells pop off the page. Jeromy Cox has accomplished this.
One thing that annoyed me: Madame Xanadu takes out Destiny with her fists. She literally give him the old one-two. Why? She’s a magic user. She has magic. Why is she punching people? And in a dress? That can’t be easy to fight in. Maybe it’s a magic dress that makes her a great fighter? I dunno, I just thought that was weird.
Justice League of America #5
The JLA finally face the Secret Society and . . . well, the bad guys get away after a somewhat less than spectacular fight. I’m assuming they have a role to play in Trinity War and being captured wouldn’t be prudent to that.
The team is still in it’s early stages and writer, Geoff Johns, knows how to show it. From a very, very verbal team up to take down a villain (one that the Justice League could without saying a word because they know each other so well) to little arguments now and then. He can write team dynamics and their evolution well. This issue introduces the newest Green Lantern, Simon Baz, to the team as well as shows the new origin of Doctor Light.
The art team, consisting of penciller Brett Booth, inker Norm Rapmund, and colorist Andrew Dalhouse, do a fine job. I’m partial to how powerful Hawkman and Martian Manhunter are drawn. They are intimidating to behold. I also like the visual effects of the powers, Stargirl’s staff, Vibe’s frequencies, Katana’s blade. All were done well, but the light effects of Chronos and Dr. Light were off the chart sparkly. It was a bit overkill but, really, aren’t comics for just that?
Now, the story is basically the team take on the Secret Society and yadda, yadda. Fine. They’re a team with great potential if only Wonder Woman’s ex-flame, Steve Trevor, can train them. Amanda Waller, self proclaimed government boogeyman, is a master manipulator, and the force behind the team’s creation, and whatever she has planned is going to bite her in the ass. She’s still a fun character . . . but I hate, I HATE, that they made her thin. I loved her as a heavier women. She had a more maternal look, more powerful. She’s waif-like, now. I’m sure she’s still intimidating, it’s in the eyes and her expression, but the redesign was not one of my favorite things about the New 52. Luckily, Waller retains her persona of a government agent trying to protect the people from superheros. It’s a trope that has been touched on time and again but I really think Waller is the stand-out character for this type of thing. If ONLY they didn’t change her weight she would be perfect . . .
As I stated earlier I was disappointed with the fight but I have a feeling that the writers are holding back on the action to make Trinity War look all the more impressive. If Trinity War has to depend on the other Justice League titles to tone it down in order to make itself seem more impressive then something is wrong. However, I could be totally off base and they just didn’t have a super cool exciting fight because the Secret Society wasn’t really trying to fight them, just delay them to escape.
Now, one thing I like about this series is that the back issues are focusing on Catwoman’s and Martian Manhunter’s relationship. Like, who thought of that? It’s so out there. These are two people you wouldn’t expect to get along but the whole Martian Mindmeld has gotten them pretty chummy. We also see how Mars was destroyed and how J’onn ended up on Earth (while hunting for the person who destroyed Mars). It’s different than the old origin but it’s needed, I think. It’s a nice change that is still true to the character.
So . . . three Justice League titles down. Next month Pandora, the woman who created the New 52 during the events of Flashpoint, gets her own title that plays as the prelude to the long awaited and much hyped Trinity War. This has been advertised since the beginning of the DCnU. Will it live up to the hype? Will it be stupid and make me hate everything? Will it reboot the universe again? Will it reset back to the pre-52 days? Stay tuned!
Yeah, that’s right. I’ve picked up another Marvel title. This one taking place in the 616 Universe!!!
And they aren’t putting on the water wings to help me understand what’s going on; they threw me straight in the deep end. Now, I was a fan of the X-Men cartoon in the 90’s and have kept slightly abreast with the goings-on of the Marvel world so I’m not totally lost. But a character roster would be appreciated, listing powers and what-not. I spent the first two issues having no idea that Rachel Grey was Rachel Summers from AvX (which was rather awesome, though it made me hate Captain America more than I do now).
So far Jubilee (who may be a vampire? I’m not sure anymore) stole a baby from Europe who was hosting an ancient microbial life form, Arkea, with the power to possess technology and is the twin to another microbial villain known as Sublime. Sublime asks the X-Men for help and Arkea takes over an android in Beast’s lab and turns the Danger Room against the Jean Grey School.
I was able to piece together most of the back story and I have Wikipedia for what I can’t fill in. No biggie there.
The concept of Sublime having a twin who’s returned to Earth after being kicked off thousands of years ago is a cool one. I love that this title is all female heroes. I’m well aware that women and minorities are completely underrepresented in comics so seeing this is actually refreshing. And major bonus points for the costume designs. They are well suited for battle and still look good. No inexplicably skimpy ninja outfits or overly exposed midriffs. The suits they wear are tactical and attractive.
Brian Wood has managed to write a comic with some cool action. That’s the only thing going for it at this point but it is still early in the process but I have seen some stuff that gives me major hope for the future of the series. I also have to look at this not as a beginner’s comic, these characters have been around and been developed for years. There is only so much Wood can do to keep them true to themselves and show development. But each character has a different voice and is bad ass in their own way. I think Wood will end up surprising me.
The art is nice. There’s one scene I want to talk about: Rogue busting through Hank’s walls to take on Arkea. It was a bad ass panel. Like, really. The entire two-page spread was just really cool. Kudos to the art team!
So, there you have it. Some mediocre comics (Justice League Dark, Justice League of America, Batman/Superman, The Bounce) and some good ones (Justice Leauge, X-Men). That wraps up this week’s pull! Let us know what you thought of your pull in the forums!!!