JSA #54

jsa-thanksgivingI’ll admit; I bought JSA #54 because it had this awesome Carlos Pacheco cover. I mean, really, what’s there to not like about the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America getting down for a Thanksgiving party.

I mean, I will give you that it does seem a little odd how Superman and Power Girl are posed respectively as the mother and father as this group. Especially when you remember that they are cousins. But there’s something Norman Rockwell-esque about this cover that just gets me.

The story itself is a one off written by Geoff Johns, and it’s a fun quick read. It’s a very light one at that, pretty much having all of these super heroes getting together for an afternoon of holiday fun.

You can check it out on Comixology; it’s a cute one.

Advertisements

Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench

aquaman-v1-the-trench

I think I’m the only person in the world who finds Geoff Johns’ writing to be very hit or miss. I know I’m not the only person in the world who thinks that Aquaman can be pretty lame as a character. That said, when I picked up Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench I had really low expectations. What I wound up reading was a really fun story pitting Aquaman against an army of aquatic subterranean creatures.

The main story featured in this collection is from Aquaman #1-4, with the cannibalistic deep-sea dwellers called the Trench invading the surface world. It’s up to Aquaman and his wife Mera to stop this invasion. Think of Night Of The Living Dead meets The Abyss, except with a lot more humor worked in. Eventually it’s revealed that the reason that the Trench are invading the surface world is that they are facing extinction and trying to stop it, but at the expense of the surface world. Eventually Aquaman saves mankind (and probably the rest of the residents of the ocean as well) by trapping the Trench. And along the way he rescues a Golden Retriever who winds up being named Aquadog.

The other two stories in this collection feature Aquaman stranded in a desert and a story that tells more about Mera’s origin as an Atlantean assassin. These are perfectly acceptable, but the main story line is what makes the collection. It’s certainly sold me on the series; I have the next two volumes waiting for me at the library.

 

John Romita Jr’s Superman May Be The Coolest Thing Ever

john romita jr superman

Superman just became awesome again.

I will admit that I’ve grown away from Superman as a character. At one point he was definitely one of my favorites; I loved the whole Dan Jurgens/1990s era of the character when they were putting out four tightly knit Superbooks a month. But over the years, I wound up losing interest, especially all of the undoing of the John Byrne post-Crisis aspects and replacing them with a more Geoff Johns/Richard Donner theme.

The Superman in the New 52 books has peaked my interest on and off, mostly due to Jurgens’ involvement on the title. Fast forward to the recent announcement that there was going to be a new Superman series with Geoff Johns at the helm and I wasn’t that excited. But with them announcing that John Romita Jr. would be drawing Supes with Klaus Janson on the inking side, suddenly this is something I want to read.

This is the first DC work that JRjr has done and having it be on one of their–if not the–highest profile characters certainly is exciting. Color me optimistic.

Justice League: Volume 1: Origin

Justice League of America in 2011 by Jim Lee

Remember when Jim Lee took was at the helm of Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” era? The first six issues of Justice League felt just like that, except this time Geoff Johns is writing and plotting alongside.

Justice League: Volume 1 tells the story of how the Justice League assembled joined together for the very first time. It’s five years in the past with the heroes still fairly new at their super hero career. Unfortunately, they wind up fighting. Pretty much the first two issues are some sort of fight between Green Lantern, Superman and Batman, as they fight what turns out to be the Parademons from Apokolips.

It’s up to those three–plus Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash (who is super pals with Green Lantern since its the Barry Allen version) and the newly debuting Cyborg to team up to stop Darkseid from destroying the planet. This is a lot more serious than the original Justice League of America, who formed fighting what was essentially an enormous alien starfish.

The story is really formulaic; it ends with them saving the planet and everyone vowing to be there to protect the planet. Unfortunately for them, the public doesn’t really trust the super powered beings running around (much like in the Marvel Universe) and there is going to be a secret government agency following them.

Although the plot was very formulaic, it accomplished everything it needed to. The story reminded me a lot of Independence Day. Jim Lee’s art looks great as always. It was decent. If you are looking for something revolutionary and groundbreaking, this book isn’t for you. But if your looking for regular super hero adventures, this does the trick.

Green Lantern #0

It’s not that I stay away from the big event/publicized comics because I’m an elitist or anything. Unfortunately, a lot of these don’t involve characters that I’m really into or books. So being that I’m not that big of a fan of Geoff Johns or that big into the Green Lanterns anymore, why did I purchase Green Lantern #0?

Well, as much as I try not to, I like being part of the in-crowd and no what’s going on. And this is being pushed like a big deal, I didn’t want to be left out. That, and I’ve really been enjoying Doug Mahnke’s art of late.

What I liked about this is how different Simon Baz’s back story is. He’s grown up as a Muslim during an unfortunately Islamaphobic time period. As an adult, his life is pretty crappy; he’s laid off from the auto industry. Then one night, things get crazy. While on what is a pretty regular heist, he gets framed as a terrorist, driving around in a cargo van filled with explosives. And making matters, worse a Green Lantern ring has selected him to be the new host. Baz does what anyone in a comic book would do in that situation; run for his life. What he doesn’t realize is that the United States military and intelligence communities are after him, as well as the Justice League.

This isn’t the most original plot (low-level criminal is framed for doing something much worse and is on the run to prove themselves innocent and later become a hero) but it’s really well executed. Other than his costume, the only thing I’m bothered by is why he carries a handgun, but as the panel above shows, his Green Lantern ring might not be that powerful and he felt he needed some extra protection.

Avengers: Red Zone

Geoff Johns is known for being one of the driving forces at DC comics for the last ten years. It is hard to imagine him working at Marvel, but he did during the earlier part of the last decade. He did some decent stuff on the Avengers book, like the Red Zone storyline.

This story pits the Avengers against one of the biggest fears of the early 2000s: biological warfare. A weapons depot under Mount Rushmore has been compromised, leaking the uber-deadly Red Zone. The team splinters off, dealing with various parts of the outbreak.

Eventually it is revealed that the whole outbreak was a plot between a rogue member of the Department of Defense and the Red Skull as an attempt to blame Wakanda for the attack, thus setting up a United States/Wakanda war. While the team is trying to prevent this international incident they also have to find the Red Skull, because the only cure to Red Zone is based on his blood. How crazy is that?

Along the way, Iron Man and Black Panther have to put aside their suspicious of each other’s motives in order to stop the outbreak. This leads up to a touching scene at the end where they acknowledge their respect of each other.

On the whole, Red Zone is a fun story. It’s very bombastic and cinematic, reminding me a lot of the Dustin Hoffman movie Outbreak, except the Avengers don’t have to deal with any toxic monkeys.

Art on this book was from Olivier Coipel, right before he blew up with House of M. The covers during this story arch were done by JG Jones, with the six of them blending together to tell a larger story. I didn’t know that until Jones explained that to me at a comic book show!

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.

Green Lantern: Brightest Day

Green Lantern! Other Lanterns! Oh my.

Green Lantern: Brightest Day–with story by Geoff Johns and art by Doug Mahnke–kind of sets the status quo for ringwielding super heroes after the Blackest Knight debachle. The heads of the six families lantern groups team up for a few adventures, mostly them putting a stop to the rogue cosmic entities that power their appropriate emotional spectrum power.

That said, I enjoyed the characters and their concepts more than the story itself. It read like a video game, with repetitive challenges and plot elements. But the characters themselves are interesting. I like Larfleeze, the super greedy Orange Lantern and his obsession with material objects. And Atrocitus was pretty bad ass as the rage guy.

For me, there were really two interesting parts of this collection. Everyone’s favorite space biker/bounty hunter Lobo pays a visit, trying to collect on Atrocitus. Little did the other lanterns who came to Atrocitus’ aid know that this was a scheme to make them like him more (just like playground politics). The one interesting plotline that’s propably never going to return is that Lobo gets a Red Lantern ring.

But the most memorable story was the origin of the Red Lantern cat Dex-Starr whose story of rage is due to the kitty not being able to stop the murder of his owner. Frown. Poor little guy.

So should you read this?

I would say its passable. Althoguh Mahnke’s art is stellar, this book just kind of plodded along and really didn’t do anything for me, save for some Lobo and cat relatd hijinx.

Why I Passed on Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1


 

I stopped by the local comic book store on Wednesday to see if there was a new issue of Namor out this week, which there wasn’t. The store was pretty busy with lots of people excited about Flashpoint and the new Justice League book, both of which I was planning on passing on.

When I went to the counter to make my purchase (an issue of Booster Gold I had skipped), the dude behind the counter seemed to be a little freaked out that I wasn’t interested in the hullabaloo of the new DC.

“Well it’s written by Geoff Johns!”

“I’m not that big of a fan of his.”

He looked at me like I was an alien.

“But everything starts from here!”

“Eh…I think I’ll wait.”

He gave up and finished the transaction. So why don’t I seem to care?

I don’t know. The whole things just turns me off for some reason. I’m a big fan of not changing things for the sakes of changing things. And with a lot of what I read online about it makes me hesitant to jump on board.

Mike Sterling had this to say on Justice League, which didn’t make it sound so hot.:

About the Justice League itself…well, yeah, as our intro to this new DC Universe continuity, it’s a little underwhelming. Superheroes meet, they fight, we get teased with the threat of Darkseid, oh hey there’s Superman, and suddenly “to be continued.” All very by-the-numbers, with nothing to intrigue or inspire the imagination. I mean, it looks okay, with Jim Lee turning in a respectable art job on this issue, even if Superman’s new costume continues to appear unnecessarily rejiggered. And I’m calling “no way” on Batman being able to yank Green Lantern’s ring off his hand without GL noticing. I mean, come on!

Comics Alliance’s Chris Sims is a bit more scathing in his review:

Ha! No, but the short version is that this comic is just flat-out not very good. And the thing is, it should be. A comic book with this much riding on it, this much promotion, the two creators who are meant to be the top guys in the industry working with the genuinely exciting premise of doing a bold new unshackled story of some of the greatest fictional characters ever? There’s no reason it shouldn’t be amazing. And yet, what we have here is, as Curt Franklin put it, a comic that reads like it came with an action figure. It’s not that there aren’t good parts to it, but it’s a C- book at best, and as an introduction to the New DC Universe, that doesn’t cut it.

So will I read this? probably at some point. I do like Jim Lee’s artwork a lot, so that is enough for me to want to look at Justice League. And Flashpoint will have some sort of historic impact, and it might be interesting to look at it and see if it holds up. But these aren’t books that I’m outwardly seeking. These are more of a borrow from the library kind of thing then an add to the collection.

So am I mad at DC? No, not at all. It’s a smart business move. They’re doing an all-in wager on building/rebuilding their audience which is totally respectable. While I might not believe that a whole creative shift was the way to go, I do think them jumping head first into digital distribution is the way to go to advance the medium.

The big test if this brand new vision for DC for me personally comes next week. How convenient is it that the three titles that I’m looking forward to all come out at the same time? Hawk and Dove is mostly for my love of Rob Liefeld books. Justice League International gets a buy the characters in it.

Green Arrow is a more bittersweet purchase for me. I’ve really taken a liking to the character since he came back in the Kevin Smith and Phil Hester series in the early 2000s. His supporting characters are just so dynamic, with Black Canary as his life partner/companion, Arsenal and Connor as the sons he should have spent more time with, and Mia being his redemption. The book is also drawn by Dan Jurgens, who really is one of my favorite–and underrated–artists in comics. Both of these are reasons to get excited. But for now, I’m not sure if this is the Green Arrow for me. It’s kind of like if you’re a big fan of Nightcrawler, but there is so much that is different about the Ultimate version that it does nothing for you.

So who knows how this is all going to pan out. I’ll worry about that later.