Thursday, March 27, 2008

Issue #13: Comics for the Week of 3/26/08

Friday, March 28, 2008 is payday, so it's comic book week, and I also pick up what was on my pull list from last week as well.

Comics for the week of March 19, 2008:

Invincible #49 (Image)

Comics for the week of March 26, 2008:

All-Star Superman #10 (DC)
Dan Dare #5 (of 7) (Virgin)
Legion of Super-Heroes #40 (DC)

I have to say that this was a great week for the comics I read. For one thing, any week that All-Star Superman is published is a good week. And now I present my reviews in the order I read them, saving the best for last.

Dan Dare #5 (of 7) (Virgin) * * * * *
With the rescue of the colonists completed in the previous issue, Dan Dare seems to have finished introducing the characters and getting started digging into the story, especially this issue. We find Dan Dare's British "stiff upper lip" attitude isn't starch, it's granite. He shows an ability to pick junior officers who have leadership potential, and recognize senior officers who have anything but. That is a great scene between Dare and Lt. Christian. Dare shows his own leadership ability, and isn't afraid on stepping on any senior officer's toes, when they don't match his standard. After being put back on their heels, the Space Fleet begins to get back on it's feet. Next issue promises to be a real barn burner.

Legion of Super-Heroes #40 (DC) * * * *
It's becoming apparent that Jim Shooter hasn't lost anything as a comic book writer, especially on the title that began his career as a 13 or 14 year-old. After seeming overwhelmed as Legion leader, Lightning Lad seems to begin to find his bearings as a leader, although he's not perfect. The Legion find that something is suspicious in the aftermath of the battle with the violent aliens that began his run. And Princess Projectra's tragic storyline doesn't get any happier. The intrigue that permeated the best Legion stories of the best is apparent in this issue, and I'm becoming more confident about Shooter's stint on the title. I think long-time Legion fans will enjoy it.

Invincible #49 (Image) * * * * *
Last issue seemed a lot of set up for the big 50th issue coming next month, although it was still an interesting story. Well, this issue really sets up the big 5-0 coming up! Invincible gets a real eye-opener about his boss, Cecil Stedman, especially at the end. Kirkman wasn't kidding when he said things won't be the same after the 50th issue. This one ends in a real cliff-hanger. I can't really describe any plot points without spoiling anything, so go out and buy it!

All-Star Superman #10 (DC) * * * * *
This title is one I always save for last, along with Invincible or Powers. This issue really returns to the plot that began in the first issue and was put on the back burner for a while after issue #3. Superman spends his time trying to tie up some loose ends, and figure out how to accomplish some super feats he has promised to do. This issue reminded me of several silver age stories from my youth in the '60's all rolled into one, yet bringing original twists to the story. My previos favorite issues involved Superwoman and Funeral In Smallville, but this one is my favorite of all of them. Pick up the trade All-Star Superman, vol. I, collecting issues 1-6, and get the rest from the back issue boxes of your comic book store.

All-Star Superman is my featured topic this week on Superman Fan Podcast, which can be found at www.supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com. Send e-mail about the podcast to supermanfanpodcast@gmail.com.

Send e-mail about My Pull List to mypulllist@gmail.com. I look forward to reading what's on your pull list.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Issue #12: Comics for the Week of 3/19/08 Let's Kill All of the Super Heroes and Let God Sort Them Out!

This week I only have one title on my pull list:
Invincible #49 (Image)

Since this is a week between paychecks I will have to wait until next week to read this anxiously awaited title.

Let's Kill All of the Super Heroes and Let God Sort Them Out!

Last week while I was glancing though Superman #674 I happened to notice a full page DC house ad for Batman that I missed when I first read the issue. When I first read a comic book I flip through and ignore the ad pages so that I can get to the next page of story. (I don't mind ads in comics. Working in the newspaper industry, I'm well aware how advertising in comic books help keep the cover price down.) At the top of the Alex Ross painting of Batman, with his cape spread and his body below the bat symbol on his chest in shadow, was a blood red strip with the words Batman R.I.P. over it, and a bat symbol with blood dripping on it.
My first thought was, "Oh, good grief. Not again!" But then I thought, well, if Bruce Wayne / Batman was killed off and resurrected by one of Ras Al Ghul's Lazarus pits, that would make a good story. Batman has been brainwashed and physically broken, so this is all that's left.
But I also thought how often comic book companies kill, and unkill, super heroes. This particular plot device long ago lost its punch as a "new" plot twist to juice up a title.
Also, with current story lines and mini-series, super heroes have been dragged through the mud. If super heroes were a reality it would be a great time to be a super villain. Some super heroes brainwash others or war against each other. With super heroes like these, who needs villains.
I don't mind these plots individually, but taken together, it seems a trend to tearr down super heroes to sell stories, with no end in sight. It wouldn't seem so bad if there was an end in sight, where heroes work through their differences to build themselves back up again.
Super heroes are a little like baseball. You can't kill it, no matter how hard the industry tries.
With characters that have such a long and rich history such as Batman, is there nothing left for writers and editors to bring to the character, except to kill him off and put someone else in the costume? Are editors not finding writers anymore who have an original, fresh angle to bring to the character?
I still believe that no matter how old a comic book character is, or how many stories have been told, there is always something new that can be brought to the character. It's just a matter of editors finding the writers and artists who can bring fresh blood to comic book heroes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Issue #11: Comics for the Week of March 12, 2008

Friday, March 14 was payday, so I picked up the titles on my pull list, on my way to work, from Bad Apple Comics (www.bacomics.com). This stack included my titles that came in last week.

Comic books for the Week of March 5, 2008:

Secret Invasion Saga #1 (Marvel)
Invincible Presents Atom Eve #2 (of 2) (Image)
Echo #1 (Abstract Studios)
Justice League: The New Frontier Special (DC)
Powers #28 (Icon)

Comic books for the Week of March 12, 2008:

Fantastic Four #555 (Marvel)
Superman #674 (DC)

Coimic books for the Week of March 5, 2008:

Secret Invasion Saga #1 (Marvel) * * *
This was a free comic that Sydney at my comic shop put in my file. It contains a history of the skrulls, from the early issues of the Fantastic Four up to the beginning of this latest "event" mini-series from Marvel. I particularly enjoyed some of the Kirby art from the 1960's. It was an interesting issue, but it doesn't interest me enough to pick up; not because it doesn't look good, but because after Infinite Crisis, Civil War, 52 and Countdown, I'm burnt out with "event" series for a while.

Invincible Presents Atom Eve #2 (of 2) (Image) * * * *
This issue concludes the origin story of Atom Eve, her family and her early dealings with the secret government super-hero agency now headed by Cecil Steadman. It's a good issue. The art is more even than the early pages of issue #1, and the story has a bittersweet ending, but I like the art of Invincible a little better. Atom Eve shows herself as a dangerous foe in this issue, moreso than even in the pages of Invincible. I would recommend this 2-part story to anyone who enjoys reading Invincible and would enjoy learning about the back story of one of the minor characters.

Echo #1 (Abstract Studios)* * * * *
This first issue of the new independent series by Terry Moore was one I eagerly awaited. I came in late to Strangers In Paradise, around issue 75, so I only caught about the last fifteen issues. That was enough to make me want to pick up the trade paperbacks. Echo #1 opens with a secret test in the desert of a woman flying a high-tech suit and jet pack. There is a mysterious explosion in the sky over another woman who is photographing some desert flora. She is hit by a hail of weird, mysterious pellets that don't bounce. They just stick to anything they hit, including her skin. We learn her name is Julie, but that's about it. It is enough to hook me for issue #2. Terry Moore seems to have created a series that, instead of following in the footsteps of Strangers in Paradise, is completely different but no less interesting. It looks like another hit for Terry Moore.

Powers #28 (Icon) * * * * *
My only complaint about Powers is that it doesn't come out quickly enough. Even if it was monthly, issues could not come out fast enough. Powers is one of my favorite comic books, and I am in the middle of re-reading the entire series, beginning with the original Image issues. This latest issue opens with Calista, the current Retro Girl, volunteering to go undercover for police to find the mysterious "powers" killing the city's teens. Christian vehemently objects, for reasons you'll have to read the trade paperbacks of this title to find out. I don't want to spoil anything about this series for anyone who has not read Powers. We also see the descent of Christian's former partner, Det. Deena Pilgrim, who has been "infected" with super powers by a super criminal. One thing that makes Powers so good is that writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming are not afraid to put any of their characters into the most impossible and risky situations they can think of. They definitely don't hold back. This title is for mature readers, and is definitely not for younger comic book fans. Otherwise I highly recommend Powers. It goes beyond super powers and is as much a noir crime comic as it is a superhero book.

Comic books for the week of March 12, 2008:

Fantastic Four #555 (Marvel) * * * * *
This is the second issue of Mark Millar's and Brian Hitch's run on the FF, and this issue is no letdown. They continue the separate storylines with each member, Reed visiting the Nu-Earth project run by an ex-flame and her husband, and Johnny Storm beginning his stint as the lead singer of a rock band on a reality tv show, and a run-in with a super villain that has a romantic ending. We learn the reason for the construction of Nu-Earth, and something goes wrong. Millar-Hitch is one of the comic creator teams I look out for when I learn they are working on new projects. Millar always tells an interesting story, and Hitch has a very photo-realistic style that continues the lineage of Curt Swan and Neal Adams. This run looks to be one that will rank with the best of the Fantastic Four, including the great Lee-Kirby stories from the 1960's. Don't miss picking up these issues.

Superman #674 (DC) * * * * *
Note: If you're wondering what Lois and Clark's address is in Metropolis, you'll find out on the second page. I won't tell you here, you'll have to check out this issue. We find out that one of Superman's powers is doing extreme home make-overs. We also fing out a little more about Mon-El's world Daxam, and this issue begins a storyline where Superman has to deal with Daxamites. Superman and Action Comics are redefining Superman continuity with his relationship with Mon-El and the Legion of Super-Heroes from the 31st century. Since I am also a big Legion fan, this is one reason I am enjoying Superman comics right now.

I also do a weekly podcast: Superman Fan Podcast, which can be found at www.supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com. Expanded show notes can be found at www.supermanfanpodcast.blogspot.com. Send e-mail about this podcast to: supermanfanpodcast@gmail.com.

To send e-mail about My Pull List, write to: mypulllist@gmail.com
I look forward to reading about what's on your pull list.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Issue #10: My Pull List for the Week of 3/5/08 - The New Frontier

This week is between paychecks, so I will have to wait until next week to pick up my comics for this week and write about on this blog.

My Pull List for the Week of 3/5/08:

JLA New Frontier Special (DC)

Atom Eve #2 (of 2) (Image)

Powers #28 (Icon)

Even before I saw that the New Frontier Special would be published this week I had decided to review the recently released DVD of the Warner Premier animated movie Justice League: The New Frontier. * * * * *
This is the second Warner Premier DVD I have purchased. The first was Superman: Doomsday. While it lacked the depth of the Doomsday story in the original comic book story, taking it for what it is, and not comparing it to the story in Superman comics, I would give it * * * 1/2. The story is greatly streamlined from the comic book story, and some elements have been changed entirely. We do discover a little bit about what Doomsday was and where he (it?) came from, and Luthor plays a more central role in the movie than he did in the comic book story.
The New Frontier is an animated movie adaption of the Darwyn Cooke trade paperback, which came out in two volumes in 2004 and 2005. Sadly, I have to admit that I did not pick up the books when they were originally published, although I liked Darwyn Cooke's art style from the first moment I saw it. The trade paperbacks and the DVD tell the story of DC super heroes in the 1950's, when the silver age began with the revival and revisions of the Flash and Green Lantern. The characters are put in the historical context of that decade, from the situation in Indochina (now Vietnam) to the Red Scare and McCarthyism. The origins of Green Lanter and Martian Manhunter are also explored. We see a threat to the world that requires the combined efforts of the DC heroes, and are introduced to some now minor characters from DC history, like the Challengers of the Unknown. Some characters are introduced before they don their super hero identity, like Ray Palmer (The Atom).
I made sure to purchase the two-disc edition, which I always look out for when I want to buy a DVD. The extra features are as interesting as the movie itself. I don't know if I am the only one who is like this, but when I watch a DVD, I always watch the extra features before I watch the movie. This DVD includes two separate commentaries, one by Darwyn Cooke himself and the other by the animation producers, haeded by Bruce Timm. Cooke discusses some of the problems of adapting his mini-series to a movie, both in the commentary itself and in a disc 2 feature about the original comic book. While he enjoys the adaption overall, Cooke politely voices his opinion when he sees something that he wished the animators had handled a few minor points differently. The 2-disc version also has a feature of the history of the Justice League comic book, and another feature on the Legion of Doom with interviews with various comic book creators.
I look forward to reading The New Frontier Special and Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier trade paperbacks, in two volumes. Of the two DVD's I would have to say New Frontier is better than Superman: Doomsday. It has a more complex story and I like the animation better. The animators did a fantastic job adapting Cooke's artistic style to the screen. It almost looks like the characters are taken straight from the page to the screen.
Be sure to pick up your copy of Justice League: the New Frontier DVD.

Check out my podcast at http://www.supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com/, and send e-mail about it to: supermanfanpodcast@gmail.com.

Send e-mail about my pull list to: mypulllist@gmail.com, and I look forward to reading about your pull list.

Issue #9: My Pull List for the Week of 2/27/08

This is another catch up week as I review my pull list for the weeks of February 20 and 27.



My pull list for the week of 2/20/08:



Invincible #48 (Image)

The Umbrella Academy #6 (of 6)



My pull list for the week of 2/27/08:



Nexus #100 (Rude Dude Productions)

Dan Dare #4 (Virgin)

Legion of Super-Heroes #39 (DC)

Project Superpowers #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Justice Society of America #13 (DC)

Action Comics #862 (DC)



My pull list for the week of 2/20/08:



Invincible #48 (Image) * * * *



Robert Kirkman, the writer of Invincible, is quickly approaching issue #50, and the action is picking up as the title approaches that milestone. I'm looking forward to the story in that issue, as Kirkman promises a big story involving Invincible confronting Cecil Stedman, his boss. Issue #48 has a scene where Cecil visits Invincible's mom, discussing the emerging super powers of Invincible's half-brother, Oliver. The way Kirkman writes, he usually has a page or two dedicated to a scene that develops a story point that will emerge as a major plot point in a future issue. This first scene has that feeling to it, and it promises to be a very interesting story in an upcoming issue. Dr. Seismic escapes from the super secret prison overseen by Stedman, and sends his minions agains every super hero in the Image universe. It draws the attention of Invincible, and the issue ends in a cliff-hanger.

I gave this issue four (*)'s instead of the usual five for Invincible. The last half of the issue is a super battle, and it was interesting, but it didn't grab my as much as the early scenes of character development.



The Umbrella Academy #6 (of 6) (Dark Horse) * * * *



This issue concludes the first mini-series of this title. The big battle that was set up during the first five issues takes place in this issue. It was definitely not a disappointment, but I didn't find the battle itself as interesting as the character development of the first five issues. The ending, however, was up to par with the other five issues, and it brought to a conclusion the story that began this series. Later in the year, Dark Horse will publish a second mini-series, and will come out with a trade paperback of this first mini-series which will include the Free Comic Book Day issue that I missed. I'll look out for that, if I can't find a copy of that free issue in the back issue bin at Bad Apple Comics (http://www.bacomics.com/).



My pull list for the week of 2/27/08:



Nexus #100 (Rude Dude Productions)

Dan Dare #4 (Virgin)

Legion of Super-Heroes #39 (DC)

Justice Society of America #13 (DC)

Action Comics #862 (DC)



Nexus #100 (Rude Dude Productions) * * * *



This landmark issue of Nexus was too tempting to pass up. I've always enjoyed Steve Rude's retro art style, especiall on the World's Finest three-issue miniseries from the 1990's. I've heard of Nexus, but have only read a few issues. It is an over-sized issue containing two stories and a text article detailing the history of the character of Nexus. The first story continues the plot of unrest on Ylum, and Nexus helping take care of his newborn child. The second story is a hilarious story about a page in Washington, D. C. in the year 2480. It contains two caricatures of politicians, a lecherous senator resembling Sen. Ted Kennedy, and another senator resembling Sen. Hillary Clinton.

I've picked up the recent issues, which have been published by Rude Dude, bringing the character of Nexus back onto comic book racks. I always enjoy a dcience fiction comic book. But because of my tight comic book budget I'll have to drop it. I still read another si-fi title, Dan Dare, which I will review next.



Dan Dare #4 (Virgin) * * * * *



In this issue, the plot that the Prime Minister is involved in, as well as the fates of Dan Dare and Digby and the Marines on the colony world. At the end of the issue we see, for the first time in this Virgin Comics series, something not not work out in Dare's favor.

This title continues to hold my interest. I guess my enjoyment of military si-fi, especially the Honor Harrington novels by David Weber, is showing. Each issue wraps up the story from the previous issue, introduces a new part of the story, and sets up for the next issue very nicely. Every time I finish an issue I can't wait until next month for the next issue. I recommend this title to anyone.


Legion of Super-Heroes #39 (DC) * * * *

Princess Projectra continues to deal with the consequences of being a princess without a planet, a mysterious figure is on the "bridge" at Legion HQ, the Legion team on Neptune's moon wrap up their mission, and another Legion team is involved in an interesting case of pest control in New Beijing on Earth.

Jim Shooter's return to the Legion is starting to get more interesting. At first I wasn't sure if it would, or if it would start to get a little boring. It's becoming more than just Legion battles in each issue. There are some intrigues in the plot that promise some great issues in the near future.

Project Superpowers #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) * * * * *

Issue #1 opens with a scene that reminded me, intended or not, of the trade paperback Watchmen, even containing a mention of a "Dr. Moore". We are introduced to two more public domain golden age superheroes, Black Terror and Dynamic Man. The Green Lama and Fighting Yank, introduced in issue #0, continue their quest for the magical urn. We are also shown how one of the heroes has changed, in a shocking way, in this moderm world.

This title continues to get better, and issue #0 was fantastic. The Alex Ross covers don't hurt either. If anyone is interested in comic book history, pick up this title, as well as the Image and Marvel titles that are doing the same thing: bringing back golden age heroes that have fallen into obscurity. I'm not picking up the other two, only because of budgetary reasons, but I'll keep getting this title from Dynamite. It certainly is.

Justice Society of America #13 (DC) * * * * *

Another title with a great Alex Ross cover. The Kingdom Come superman teams up with "our" Superman, and in an Alex Ross painted flashback, we see the Kingdom Come Superman discover the murder victims at the Daily Planet, including Lois Lane, at the hands of the Joker. And the JSA begin their search for Gog.

This Kingdom Come prequel story is getting better and better. As long as JSA continues this storyline, I'll be getting this title.

Action Comics #862 (DC) * * * * *

Part five of six of the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes story is even better than the previous four. With each successive issue I say the same thing. I have no doubt that issue #863, the sixth and final chapter of this story, promises to be the best of all of them. We discover Brainiac 5's involvement with the Legion/Justice League plot really was, and the best part of the issue, the re-introduction of the Legion of Substitute-Heroes. Also, we discover the real reason for the Legion "tryouts", and why the present members of the Justice League in the 31st century were rejected as Legion candidates. The means by which Earth's Sun has been converted into a red star is revealed. The U. P. is about to invade Earth, and a powerless Superman shows the real source of his "power" by taking the fight with Earth Man "outside".

This Legion story is my second favorite story of current Superman comics, after All-Star Superman. Geoff John's script and Gary Frank and Jon Sibal's art are fantastic. If you can't find back issues of this story, be sure to pick up the trade paperback whenever it is published.

Check out my podcast: Superman Fan Podcast, at www.supermanfanpodcast.com, and send e-mail about the podcast to: supermanfanpodcast@gmail.com.

To send e-mail about my pull list, write to: mypulllist@gmail.com, and I look forward to reading about your pull list.

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