09/18/11

Action Comics #1 Review

ComicsHistory Review: Action Comics #1:  The New 52 Take on Superman as an  Homage to the Original Action Comics

 

Grant Morrison’s “New 52” take on the Man of Steel in this rebooted Action Comics #1 hearkens in many ways back to those glorious days of yesteryear when Superman was literally the newest (and only) tights-wearing superhero on the block.

 

I had read some background info on this new version of Superman, and read an interview Grant Morrison granted (and I cannot recall where that article is on the web; sorry), in which he discussed how he literally wanted to take the Superman character back to his roots in the late 1930s, in the original Action Comics #1 and other issues, in which Superman was more of a crusader against injustice and corruption.  Many of us grew up with either comic book, movie, or television versions of Superman in which he is saving the planet, or facing down nasty aliens, or doomsday monsters.  And that is not what the “original” Man of Steel fought against.  He battled corruption, military dictators, illegal arms manufacturers, and other “real life” villains.  Morrison said he wanted to take this new version of Superman back to those roots.

 

After reading his Action Comics #1 (with very good art by Rags Morales), I can see what he meant.  Having read the original Action Comics #1 story (no, I am not rich enough to own that book—I wish!), I detect the original flavor of the character in both the story and in the art.  This Superman operates outside of the law (just as Batman does in the “New 52” Justice League), and his focus is bringing corrupt officials, mob bosses, and their ilk to justice.  And if he breaks a few laws and defies orders from the police in the process, then so be it.

 

NOTE:  MAJOR SPOILERS LURK BELOW THIS LINE—BEWARE!

 

This Superman has attitude!  He basically heckles the police to shoot at him, knowing that the bullets will just bounce off his tough hide.  Apparently the public and the government don’t really know much about this super-powered vigilante.  He wars blue jeans, thick combat or construction work boots, a rather short red cape, and a short-sleeved Superman “S” t-shirt.  His face, in several close-up panels, is quite young, in his early-to-mid-twenties perhaps. The authorities, aided by an expensive consultant named Luthor (of course), have laid a trap to catch Superman.  In conversation between Luthor and General Lane (yes, you-know-who’s daddy), we learn that Superman had appeared on the scene only six months earlier, his powers are increasing with time, and that at least Luthor believes that Superman in really a non-human, being most likely an alien from another world.  Hmmm…think Luthor may be on to something?

 

Without giving away too much of the story, let’s just say that the end is something of a cliffhanger, and that the reference to a “speeding bullet” comes to mind.

 

In terms of the illustrations, penciller Rags Morales serves up great visual impression of the new Superman and his intensity is clearly evident on the facial close-ups. I especially liked the homage paid to the original Action Comics art as several panels of the new Action Comics depict Superman in poses that look a LOT like what you would see in the old 1938 and 1939 issues of Action Comics. Another way this Action is similar to the original, is that there is no attempt at an origin story.  No memories of the farm in Smallville, or conversations with the ghost of Jor-El.  Just the introduction of a super-vigilante out to clean up a corrupt Metropolis.

 

Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1

This story obviously takes place before the events in Justice League #1, since the costumes worn by Supes are radically different in the two books.  While I originally was not really crazy about the whole reboot of the DC Universe, I must say I like what I have seen so far in these two books.  Next up is a review of Detective Comics #1 in a day or so.  Stay tuned!

09/18/11

Detective Comics #1 Review

ComicsHistory Review:  Detective Comics #1

 

Batman Logo

Batman Logo

DC Comics relaunch of the entire DC universe’s superhero lineup hold the potential for major shakeups in superhero and supervillain histories and personae, but after reading Detective Comics #1, I am pleased to report that the Batman and his insanely murderous arch-nemesis come through the relaunch more or less intact.  At least until the last panel of this book (Ho, Hooo, Heh, Heh, Heee! To quote the Joker),   More on that later…

 

As with the opening of Justice League #1, this story opens with Batman again (still?), hounded by, and being shot at by, the Gotham City Police.  As with many other storylines in Batman’s storied history, he is tracking down the Joker, who is identified in Batman’s thought balloons as having killed over one-hundred and fourteen people over the past six year in various gruesome manners.  I won’t go over the details of the story itself, save to say that it is, in many ways, a typical Batman-chasing-down-the-Joker tale, complete with morbid and dangerous Joker-clues left behind and a trail of dead bodies. 

 

What I will discuss is my disappointment at the seeming familiarity that this story had for me.  With the highly-publicized reboot/relaunch of the DCU, and after reading both new books, Justice League #1 and Action Comics #1, which both featured new twists on old characters and the relationships between them, I expected something different in a Batman solo tale.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story, and the sick-minded Joker is as perfidious as ever in how he can mess with the cops and with Bats.  As with any story in a book called Detective Comics, there are several good mysteries here, involving the Joker, a new menace called the Dollmaker, and the question of who the little girl named Olivia Carr really is and her connection to the other characters.  And, I wonder, was her name chosen writer/artist Tony Salvador Daniel with a hidden purpose?  Is the old Justice League sidekick Snapper Carr going to appear as a relative of this mysterious little girl? And what is the deal with Alfred and the hologram thing?   I look forward to learning the answers to these mysteries.

 

Tony Salvador Daniel is both wrote and drew this story (as well as creating the cover art), and I am very impressed by both his writing and his art.  Batman looks tough, kicks butt, gets fooled, cops get wasted by Joker, and, to top it all off, the end of this story is awesomely gruesome!  Now, I would not expect, nor would I want,” gruesome” in a Superman or Justice League or even a Green Lantern book, but in a Batman tale, considering all of the insane and sick Batman villains running around Gotham, it is rather expected as well as desired.  The ending of Detective Comics #1 is truly cut from a different cloth as it were, from the other “New 52” books I have thus far read and reviewed.

 

Other than the basic similarity to the general Batman genre of DC’s pre-New 52 comics, I really enjoyed this comic, and am looking forward to reading more of the Joker, his apparently new buddy the Dollmaker, and the mysteries presented herein.  Oh, and I want to see more of Batman pummeling Joker.  That was fun.  Till next time…

 

09/18/11

Justice League #1 Review

As a long time comic book fan, I must admit that when I heard about DC Comics’ planned relaunch and reboot of their flagship titles, I was a bit perturbed.  To see such venerable titles as Action Comics, Detective Comics, Superman, and Batman, all with their long-running numbering system and history of continuous publication go by the wayside was a true disturbance of the force, to borrow a metaphor from another franchise.   However, curiosity got the best of me, and I bought the digital version of the new Justice League series last night.  Of the 52 titles DC is relaunching, Justice League #1 is the first to reach publication.

 

As I opened the new comic on my laptop computer, what before my wondering eyes did appear, but the colorful cover art of the new Justice League.  And, it appeared, that these familiar heroes looked slightly different than the old, now discontinued JLA members I recall from my youth (or even from last year).

 

The story is by Geoff Johns, with the illustrations by Jim Lee.  DC brought out their big guns for this relaunch, and they got it right! 

 

NOTE:  Spoilers Ahead:

 

 

In this version of the DC Universe, the heroes we associate with the old Justice League have not yet met, and the public and the government do not consider them to be heroes.  The story opens with Batman being hunted down by the Gotham City police as the Dark Knight is himself hunting down an as yet unknown bad guy.  Such is the level of animosity the authorities have for the Caped Crusader, that when police commander is informed that Batman is pursuing a super powered being, the order is given to “bring them both down.”  Of course, Bats survives the onslaught, but is surprised at the appearance of Green Lantern.  At this point we realize the heroes have not met, because upon their first encounter, Green Lantern blurts out to Batman, “You’re real?” 

Of course, the heroes team up to track down the mysterious bad guy, who Green Lantern is tracking because he is an extraterrestrial.  As Green Lantern explains a bit about himself, Batman seems to have some disbelief in the Lantern’s claim that he is part of a corps of space cops.  While dealing with their elusive alien adversary, they decide to check out another alien they have heard of to see if there is some connection with the bad guy.

 

Using Green Lantern’s ring, this Dysfunctional Duo track down the other alien in question, Superman, who they know is active in Metropolis.  While Batman advises caution in approaching Superman, who seems to be in an area indicative of recent super-powered combat, a fearless, and thus over-confident Green Lantern declares “I’ll handle this,” whereupon he is cannonballed by a blue and red powerhouse.  We then see a Superman with some attitude declaring that “I don’t handle easy.”  The story ends with a ticked-off-looking Superman facing down Batman. 

 

What I like about this new take on these old heroes is that we see the archetypical personalities and traits we know these characters for (speaking of Batman and Green Lantern here), in their most basic form.  Batman is the stolid avenger who seeks out and is comforted by the animosity of society, using it as another cloak to meld into the shadows with and build his fearful mystique.  We see him in detective mode, as he surmises the means by which Green Lantern utilizes his ring (that part is really funny!), and we see Batman as ultimately sneaky and ruthless.  Green Lantern, who the mythos tells us was chosen to wear the ring because he is without fear, is certainly fearless.  And, as a byproduct of that lack of fear which makes him a powerful Lantern, we see that it, along with the incredible power of the ring, makes Green Lantern an arrogant, careless fool who gets “taken” by the other two heroes in their own unique ways in this tale.  GL does not look good in this version the DC Universe.  We do not see enough of Superman in this issue to truly analyze him, other than to get the feeling that he has a tad bit of attitude, and may not like other costumed types in his territory.  I liked the characterizations of Bats and the Lantern in this issue.

 

I only see two real negatives in this new Justice League. One, which I already mentioned, relates to the whole idea of the reboot, at least in terms of ending the original long-running franchises and starting the numbering of the comics back at #1.  The other negative is that the plot line of these costumed heroes being fugitives from the law (as a result of their vigilante work), is stolen (er, I mean “borrowed” from the Marvel Civil War and the Superhero Registration Act of a few years ago).  Been there, done that!

 

Justice League #1

Justice League #1

Overall, and despite the negatives just mentioned, if DC is going to reboot things, then Justice League #1 (2011) is pretty darn good, and worth the read.  Plus, I bet this new League is a setup for the future Justice League Movie.  I hope!  Buy this comic.  It was fun.

03/14/10

Emerald City Comicon 2010 Pictures and Images

Star Wars StormTrooper at Emerald City Comicon

The Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) is the annual comic book convention held in Seattle, Washington every year in March. This year’s comic convention’s featured guests Stan “The Man” Lee, Leonard “Spock” Nimoy and Lou “The Hulk” Ferrigno. The comicon was held this year at the Washington State Convention Center.  Some fun stuff to look at and take pictues of, included Darth Vader and some of his white-armored Storm Troopers, though for a bunch of clones, the stormtroopers sure came in a variety of sizes.  I think they were Faux Troopers, not Storm Troopers! Also seen were a variety of Superheroes and Supervillains, such as Spider-Man and Doctor Doom, though why they were hanging together is beyond me!

Dr. Doom and Spidey

Dr. Doom and Spidey

http://www.historyguy.com/comicshistory/emerald_city_comicon_2010.htm

and

http://www.historyguy.com/comicshistory/emerald_city_comicon_2010_pictures_images.htm

http://www.historyguy.com/comicshistory/emerald_city_comicon_2010.htm

02/17/10

Detective Comics 27 First App. Batman may get record price

Detective Comics # 27: First Appearance of Batman (1939)

Detective Comics # 27: First Appearance of Batman (1939)

A rare original copy of the first Batman comic book, which is owned by a Rochester, NY collector, will break the record for most expensive comic book ever when it is sold at auction later this month.

The Detective Comics #27 from 1939 has already garnered an online bid of $350,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. The record price had been $317,000 for an Action Comics #1, which featured the first appearance of Superman.

The owner is a Rochester man in his 50s who wants to remain anonymous,.

“It’s a part of Americana,” a source close to the seller said of the original Batman comic book, which was bought from another Rochester collector in December.

Lon Allen of Heritage Auctions said the comic is in near-mint condition. Heritage originally estimated the book would sell for $350,000, but Allen expects it to surpass that figure.

“I would not be surprised to see it go for significantly higher,” Allen said. “This really is the Holy Grail. We sold $19 million in comic books last year, and this is the best thing we’ve ever handled.”

The auction concludes Feb. 25. The Heritage Auctions Web site can be accessed at www.ha.com.