Future’s End: Booster Gold

01_372123_0_PressurePointI think I’ve said it before, but anything that involves Dan Jurgens writing/drawing Booster Gold is a must-have for me. Future’s End: Booster Gold falls into that category.

In this one-shot, Booster Gold is being forced to jump through time and the Multiverse, jumping from the “Gotham by Gaslight” era, to the end of the New 52’s Justice League International series where he witnesses himself disappearing from the time stream, to even the world where the Carlton characters are still around. He even winds up fighting the tiger-people from Kamandi’s future in a perfect homage to Jack Kirby.

As this is going on, there is another Booster Gold being tortured by robots under the control of Brainiac who hope to learn the secrets of time travel. Eventually the two Boosters meet up (along with his sister Michelle) and one of the Boosters winds up being willing to explain the concept of the Vanishing Point to Brainiac to save their sister. A lot of that stuff I really didn’t understand, since I’ve been avoiding the Future’s End story line.

But hey, all I wanted was some more Jurgens doing Booster Gold, and that was what this issue was all about. Plus it came with a cool lenticular cover so I have nothing to complain about.

Justice League International #7-12: Booster Has A Breakdown

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We are back! I finally got around to looking at the last six issues of Justice League International. This was the second series from the New 52 that I was really excited about that happened to get cancelled. So what happens to the Booster Gold lead group on their final mission?

This final story arc starts with a bang, as the group gets attacked during a public event by a new villain named Breakdown. This guy–along with his squad of villains–wants the world to descend into chaos and anarchy, and what better way to start that campaign by taking out one of the premier super groups while the world watches. There are countless casualties; Rocket Red and some of the JLI’s support staffers were killed. Ice, Fire and Vixen have all been seriously injured.

The rest is a pretty by the numbers super hero story. Booster recruits some new members to the team, including OMAC and Batwing (well, more so Batman brought him to the fold since they’re besties). JLI has to put aside all their fears and what has just happened to them in order to save the world, which they do. The final issue ties up all the loose ends of the series, with the team on the verge of disbandment until Batman is able to secure them a new headquarters and financial support from Bruce Wayne. It’s also stressed that they feel they have to carry on so Rocket Red will not have died in vain. 

The biggest problem that I had with this–and one of my biggest complaints about the whole New 52–is that for some reason, it seems really hard to take any of the villains seriously. They’re all new, for the most part, and seem really generic. Not to mention, not all that threatening. Breakdown’s crew just seemed lacking and it was hard to believe that they were really that much of a threat.

That said, the ending was really weird, especially since it was the last issue of the series. It sets up a pretty firm new status quo and that the story would be continuing as opposed to stopping cold. I don’t think you can blame Dan Jurgens writing for that; perhaps he wasn’t told that the twelfth issue would be the last. 

I still think that Justice League International still has a lot of life in it as a concept, as the lesser super hero team in the DC Universe. I hope that we get to see the members of the team make more appearances in stories to come. 

Superman #7-8: Superman vs. Helspont

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Aliens Attack!

As much as Rob Liefeld and the rest of the Image Comics gang made a mark on my comics reading during the early 1990s, but so did Superman. Between my brother and I, we had every issue of the four Superman monthly series till right around the Death of Superman era. So needless to say, a comic book story having Superman face off against Helspont would get my attention, but with art by Dan Jurgens (who was THE Superman artist during that period but in my mind) this was definitely something I had to check out.

The story is two-fold. Superman has to deal with being abducted and harassed by Helspont. This evil Daemomite seems to have been elevated to big time player in the New 52, between this and all of his exposure in other books.

Helspont is trying to appeal to Superman in attempt to join forces; having the last Kryptonian on his side would make his plans for domination much easier.The villain also brings the point up that eventually mankind will betray him, as they fear his power and the threat of his rule. And this leads to a moral debate between the two, with Superman turning down the offer as he loves the people of Earth. I guess it shows that for all the differences between the past and the modern DC universe, Superman is still the same, costume changes be damned. The humanity that Ma and Pa Kent taught him really shaped his values. Superman’s life is destined to walk among the humans, helping them when he has to because he’s the only person who can help them.

As Superman is fighting for his freedom, there are some subplots going on with Clark Kent’s coworker friends at the Daily Planet. He was supposed to pick up Lois Lane’s sister Lucy at the airport, but the whole Helspont ordeal had him preoccupied. At the same time, Jimmy Olsen is moving into Clark’s apartment on a temporary basis, as his place is filled with bedbugs.

What you had in these two issues was a Superman that I was really familiar with. Jurgens knows how to draw and write a Superman comic book. So does his co-writer Keith Giffen, as he certainly knows how to write compelling super heroes outside of their costumes; see his JLI/E/A stuff for example. The result is a Superman that is still very new, but completely familiar at the same time.

Justice League and Cheerios Go Perfect Together

Cereal and comic books go together like, well, cereal and Saturday morning cartoons! General Mills teamed up with DC Comics to make a series of special tiny comics for the prize at the bottom of the cereal box this past fall/winter featuring the Justice League!

One of my coworkers thought enough to share the copy of Justice League: Sinister Imitation that came in her Golden Grahams. So how was this delicious comic? Well, for starters, it features a cover by Dan Jurgens which is always a good thing.

The story pits the Justice League against the evil Toy Man and his villainous doppelgangers. It is a short, simple super hero story suitable for all ages. As a promotional item, this succeeds as it introduces the primary heroes in the DC line without being cheesy.

That said, there was one thing that I questioned. This came out well into the New 52 relaunch, yet the characters all had their traditional costumes. I guess they didn’t want to turn off or confuse new readers. Either way, still a nice promotional effort.

Booster Gold #5

One of the most powerful super hero comics I’ve read over the last few Booster Gold #5. Our time travelling hero goes back in time to the events of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, and no matter what Booster tries he can’t save Batgirl. So why is this a great story?

It’s because this is the moment where Booster Gold becomes a serious hero. He won’t accept failure and keeps going back in time to the moment where the Joker fires a crippling bullet through Batgirl’s spine. Ultimately Booster finds out that this event has to happen and that it’s an important part of the history of the universe. He must accept that there is nothing that he can do to fix this.

If you’ve read The Killing Joke, you know that the Joker taking pictures of the original event is an important part of the original story. A later issue of Booster Gold makes reference to his attempt to change history, as Batman (who has possession of the photos) reveals that he knows that Booster attempted to save Batgirl. Batman finally respects Booster.

Unfortunately, the events of Flashpoint and the New 52 rendered this all irrelevant, but its one hell of a story.

Justice League International #5

Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti’s Justice League International #5 finishes their first story arc without a bang, and I mean that in a literal sense since the JLI was able to put aside their individual pettiness and stopped alien invader Perraxus from destroying the Earth.

Along the way there’s lots of arguing, in fighting and a whole lot of self doubting on the part of Godiva, but they survive. The book ends with a panel showing the JLI surviving on a television monitor, with someone saying that they’ll have to go to their fallback plan on killing the heroes.

What I do like about this book is Jurgens’ take on the characters. None of them are impressed or in awe of Batman, which is an overdone cliché in a lot of super hero team comics. They treat him just like any other hero. I also like the relationship between Booster Gold and Guy Gardner; Guy is always antagonizing Booster (who isn’t as inept as the original JLI).If I could change the book, I would probably make the team a little smaller just to allow more characterization and depth. At time it seems like Fire and Vixen are just there. Anyway, this first arc was pretty solid and I wonder where they’re taking this “kill the JLI” subplot.

Green Arrow #5

Green Arrow as a series confuses me. Oliver Quinn is one of the coolest characters in the DC pantheon. That said, this book could be better.

Arrow is still fighting the team of Midas and Blood Rose around his Q-Core office building. This issue its the gloopy gloppy Midas, who we really don’t know much more about. Apparently he is some sort of evil version of Swamp Thing. Ollie seemingly kills him, shoving an arrow through his head. They also introduced a new addition to Ollie’s professional life, as he now has to report to a fetching young woman named Adrien who has the power to override his corporate decisions. The book ends with Blood Rose having him in checkmate, with a gun drawn at his head.

I think what disappoints me about this book is that the story is not engaging. The reader doesn’t feel attached to Green Arrow, his villains aren’t very compelling, and the whole “hostile takeover of your business because your preoccupied with super hero stuff” has been done so many times.

Well let’s think about the positives. Dan Jurgens’ art is always great. And Ann Nocenti is taking over the writing on this book, which I’m excited for. Green Arrow has the potential to be a really good book; it just needs to get back on track. I would say this series is on the ropes.

Green Arrow #4

It’s hard out there for a pimp Quinn. Green Arrow #4 is the first post-JT Krul issue of the series, and JLI mastermind Keith Giffen is manning the writer’s chair. It’s a quick read; Blood Rose, the evil assassin woman from the last issue, is out to kill Ollie.

She’s teamed up with some local gangs–who were surgically implanted with incendiary devices–not with any success, and takes it upon herself to assassinate him. Ollie survives and we still don’t know what’s going on.

As a first issue, Giffen succeeds in getting the readers attention. A lot happens, but everything makes sense. And again, Dan Jurgens’ art is still awesome. Can’t wait for next month!

Green Arrow #3

One of the best things about not being busy during the holidays is that I finally have a chance to catch up on my reading. Green Arrow #3 finishes writer JT Krul’s arc on the newly revamped emerald archer. Green Arrow is in a final showdown with Rush, the webcam obsessed metahuman who wants to kill our hero so everyone can watch on the internet.

Obviously Green Arrow defeats (and then saves) Rush. He does it in enough time to get back to lead a shareholder meeting. I’ve been enjoying how balance has been a big theme in this series, with Ollie trying to balance his professional/business life with his super hero hobby.

As always, Dan Jurgens’ art is great and Krul is doing a great job with his scripts. I’m kind of torn about him leaving the series after issue #6, since I think he’s just hitting his groove. Oh well, that’s the comics business…

Detective Comics Annual #3

This was the issue that sold me on the annual format in comics. I’m a very big fan of single issue, self-contained story. With the extra pages that an annual has, the creative team has more space (and time) to develop the story. Detective Comics Annual #3 pits the Dark Knight against a ninja clan.

The story, written by longtime Batman writer Archie Goodwin, is pretty straight forward with Batman battling the Japanese mafia in Gotham City, which leads him to Japan where he faces his former mentor Tsunetomo in one of those “hey I’m going to die so kill me honorably”  battles. It’s a bit more complex than that, but the story works.

The art is by Dan Jurgens, who based on my past posts you can see I’m a super fan. He’s backed up by Dick Giordano on inks, so combine that with Goodwin’s script and this feels like the story could have definitely came out in the early 1980s, which is a good thing. Jurgens and Giordano did a brilliant action sequence about halfway through the book, with Batman hiding in a snow drift, only to appear taking on a few ninjas.

I would also like to take some time to talk about the cover of this book. It’s a painting of Batman crouched in some zen garden with two warriors in the background? Do you know who did it?

I’ll give you some hints…he went on to become one of the biggest names in comics, not for his painting but for his pencils and later his writing. I’m talking about Marvel’s chief creative officer Joe Quesada! A decade after this came out, he became the editor in chief over at Marvel!

Justice League International #2

Maybe I was a little hard in the last post, but Dan Jurgens’ other “New 52″ book Justice League International has been great. The second issue has the JLI deployed to Peru to fight a giant alien robot.

Unfortunately for them, this is a super tough robot.

Not only that, but this team is really dysfunctional. Jurgens has a lot of characterization crammed throughout this issue. Lets bullet point these developments:

  • Rocket Red and August General in Iron constantly bicker about who’s country (Russia and China, respectively) is better. General also has an odd dialogue style, as he talks in proverbs.
  • Guy Gardner only gets interested in being part of the team once Ice gets hurt. Apparently Guy has a super crush on her, so that’s one element of pre-New 52 DC that sticks.
  • Booster Gold is trying his damnedest to be a good leader, and Godiva undermines him unintentionally by flirting with him constantly.
That said, they fail in their first mission, and now there are a few more of these monster robots around the globe. It’s up to Batman to be the straight person to this cast of characters, and its nice to see that he has a certain level of respect to Booster. I think that Jurgens is continuing the theme of Booster maturing and living up to his potential that he explored in the last Booster Gold series.

 

 

 

Green Arrow #2

How did this issue of the new Green Arrow series compare to the last one? Well, to quote Matt Sharp of Weezer when Al Delvecchio asked how the fish sandwich was, “Not so good, Al.”

This second issue has Green Arrow still fighting the game of celebrity obsessed super villains from the last issue. They really don’t get much characterization for their leader Rush. Anyway, there plot is to show how evil they are by beating up (or killing, they’re not picky) Ollie on a YouTube like website. When he’s not wearing his quiver, our hero is feuding with some of Quinn Industries’ higher ups who are mad that he’s not as involved with the company as he should be.

Green Arrow #2 was a bit of a yawner, so there’s not much to go into. JT Krul’s take on the character and his new world works in theory, but this story just isn’t connecting. Maybe its cause the villains are pretty flat. I just don’t know.

On the art side, Dan Jurgens and George Perez are fine. I’m digging the art, so at least there’s that. The one thing that kind of freaks me out is the way they do Ollie’s face. He doesn’t have his trademark goatee, which is fine. But they draw him with stubble–only where the goatee would be! Make up your mind, either have him clean-shaven or not!

Basically, the less that’s said about this book is better. I’m not digging Krul’s writing that much. Does anyone recommend anything of his?

An Addendum To Yesterday’s Post

Oh. I forgot to mention my favorite thing about the issue.

GREEN ARROW SAID “THIS AIN’T NO DISCO.”

Wow.

That right there made this a must buy issue. Those four words are a favorite phrase of my girlfriend and I, lifted from the classic Talking Heads song “Life During Wartime” and recycled in that Sheryl Crow song “All I Wanna Do.” Whatever happened to her?

Getting back to Green Arrow, I’ve read way too many comments calling for JT Krul’s head for this line of dialogue. And to that, I say your all crazy. You have to realize the context.

In this scene, he’s burst his way into some club (which probably serves overpriced but third rate mixed drinks) fighting some super powered villains. If you were in the crowd, you would be a little nervous.

So Green Arrow thought on the fly and decided to say something funny (albeit dated) to break the tension. It’s a lot like that episode of Family Guy where Peter is trying to use the “I’ll have what she’s having” catchphrase. The only difference is this actually worked

And to those who complained that its stupid to say something that literal, there’s something wrong with you. Green Arrow is somewhere in the 25-30 age bracket, so he’s never been to a disco. And he’s referencing the Talking Heads, which makes him cool in my book.

Anyway, here’s some fun “ain’t no disco” music to get you through your Saturday.

Green Arrow #1

This is a big week for DC fans and me, as you get the second of my New 52 reviews! A longtime coworker reader was able to hook me up with a copy of Green Arrow #1 which introduces us to the revamped emerald archer.

Where the classic Oliver Quinn represented the mid school super heroes (with someone, say Wildcat or Alan Scott being old school, and Kyle Rayner and Wally West being new school), the new version is much younger. Gone is his Robin Hood look, and replaced with a more modern super hero film inspired look.

Oliver is the young CEO of Quinn Industries, and he’s much more interested in his top secret Q-Core division which he uses to fund his super hero exploits, much like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne do. He is aided by two of his Q-Core developers Naomi and Jax, who respectively serve him in a Barbara Gordon/Oracle information gathering and Microchip (Punisher’s weapon maker) capacity. Quinn is also now based in Seattle, as it seems that his previous home in Star City seems to not have translated itself in the new status quo.

This first issue was a lot of introduction and exposition, like how he’s more concerned about his vigilante project instead of his company and setting up its first story arc with him fighting a gang of super villains who look straight out of an early 1990s image comic. The art on the book is can’t miss, with Dan Jurgens on the pencils and George Perez on the inks. To me, it seemed like a weird team up. I think they should have gone with a more traditional Jurgens inker, like Brett Breeding or Josef Rubinstein.

Script wise, JT Krul’s story is just kind of average. It’s certainly not as intense as the last book of his I read, which is a good thing. But it felt like it was just trudging along. This reminded me a lot of the 1980s Blue Beetle series, which was about a rich guy blowing off his corporate responsibilities to play hero. It should be interesting to see what direction this book takes after issue #3, as Krul is leaving the title.

As a Ollie fan since he returned in the early 2000s, I do miss his extended family of characters, like Black Canary, Arsenal, his son Connor and even Mia. But in this new incarnation they’re completely missing. Naomi and Jax have some big shoes to fill in being his supporting cast.

So will be getting the next issue? Definitely. As we all know, I’m a super Dan Jurgens fan, so that’s enough of a reason for me to continue. And I do like the re-imagined Green Arrow, so this will be added to my pull list.

Now if some one could finally get me that copy of Hawk and Dove

Justice League International #1

I finally found it! Justice League International #1 was found at a Barnes and Noble in Holyoke, Massachusetts on the way back from my friend Margot of White Hot Oven fame’s awesome wedding. So Sunday was a double treat for me–I went to a great wedding and got a chance to pick up the relaunch of one of my favorite comic book concepts. So how did Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti do?

The new JLI is founded by the United Nations to be their own multi-national super hero team. It seems that in the New DC, people are much more skeptical of super powered types like in the Marvel Universe. Lead by the popularity seeking Booster Gold, the new JLI is made up of some of the usual suspects like Guy Gardner (who resents taking orders from Booster), Fire and Ice, and the current Rocket Red. The new additions are Vixen (a perpetually underused character in the DC pantheon), Godiva (a forgotten super heroine with magic hair who flirts with Booster continually) and August General in Iron, a Chinese super hero from the Great Ten.

The book is a lot of exposition, as to why the heroes were picked for the team and how they interact. Batman, well because he’s Batman, has to be part of the team. He joins up independently, as the UN doesn’t want him in due to his secret identity. The book ends with the team setting off on their first mission.

Lopresti’s art is fine, and Jurgens does a good job of getting across all the different personalities. I like that he’s writing Booster to be a stronger character/leader type, as he did in Booster’s recently ended solo book. Overall, I would give this a B+, as it was very good and definitely peaked my interest for the next issue.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#1 Justice League International

We’ve done it. We’ve gotten to one of my–if not the favorite–things in comics, the Justice League International. So how did a group of B and C list super heroes capture my heart?

Writers Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis gave this motley crew such great personalities. Just look at some of them. Booster Gold was a greedy, scheming George Costanza type, but had the looks and self confidence to make it work. His best friend Blue Beetle was always cracking jokes, but secretly had low seelf esteem in regards to his appearance.
Fire was a Brazillian sex pot and her best friend Ice was a bit socially conservative.
Guy Gardner was the prototypical dumb jock and was stuck with an idiot would-be sidekick in G’nort. Power Girl and Black Canary were super feminists. Elongated Man and his wife Sue were the obnoxious cute couple. Maxwell Lord was like Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny, but more of a tool. And these were just the primary characters.

The best part of this book was how they were able to intertwine the JLI’s personal lives and problems equally with the crime fighting and world saving stories. The book may have been silly at times, but you would always be more interested in what was going on between the characters then what diabolical scheme they were stopping.

You remember the time that Booster and Beetle tried to open a vacation resort on the living island Kooey Koeey Kooey. You remember Guy’s awkward first date with Ice. Or when Batman finally had enough and punched Guy out. Just fun stuff.

I thin that’s why many readers, and myself personally, had such a hard time with the whole mid 2000s DC, where it seemed that JLI characters were being killed left and right. Sue Dibny’s death was the plot device in Identity Crisis (and later on Elongated Man got killed off). Maxwell Lord turned uber-villain and murdered Blue Beetle. Rocket Red bit the dust in OMAC Project. Saying the last decade was rough is an understatement. It sucks seeing your favorite characters getting knocked off left and right.

But I’m really excited for the fall, with a new book featuring JLI coming after Flashpoint. It’s written by Dan Jurgens, who not only worked on JLI back in the day but also created Booster Gold. I can’t wait!

30 Things I Like About Comics—#11 The Kents

Superman is torn between his Kryptonian and Human parents during Zero Hour. Taken from the cover of Superman #93 by Dan Jurgens and Josef Rubenstein

In a nutshell, everyone knows that Superman crash landed onto Earth and was adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who shaped him into the big blue boy scout and the world greatest hero. But do you know what happened to the Kents?

Originally, they died shortly after Clark graduated high school and took off to Metropolis. In John Byrne’s reboot of Superman after Crisis, he brought the Kents and made them a fixture in Superman’s life.

Byrne and later the 1990s Superman writers (led by Dan Jurgens) showed how important the relationship between the parents and the son was. No matter what the situation was–fighting off Darkseid, his love life with Lois, job stresses–Clark always knew he had his parents there for him. The would do anything for their son.

The other great thing was that Ma and Pa Kent are what link Superman to his humanity. Even though he’s pretty much a god amongst insects, he still seeks their guidance and approval. On the flip side, his parents love him unconditionally, and they are just as happy and proud of him whether he saved the universe or just saved 15% by switching to Geico.

Everything was fine until the “Brainiac” story arc, where Superman saves the world, yet fails to save his father, who passes away from a heart attack during stress of Superman preventing a missile from destroying the Kent home.

I have mixed feeling about this. I understand that the death of a beloved character like Jonathan Kent is powerful, especially when it’s viewed through Clark’s eyes. But I really think it didn’t need to happen. Too many super heroes are loners and have no family, like Batman and Punisher and Wolverine…and the list goes on.

What made Superman was his parents. Clark loves them, and they were proud of him. And that’s the way Superman should always be.