Batman/Superman #1-2

batman-superman-2

I know I’ve been kind of harsh on some of the New 52 stuff that DC has been putting out, but I was pleasantly surprised after I read Batman/Superman #1-2. But then again, anything that combines Jae Lee’s art with a Greg Pak script will be great.

This series starts out with the two meeting for the first time, shortly after Clark Kent is investigating Bruce Wayne for an article he is writing. After a costumed encounter, they realize each other’s extracurricular activities and there is a lot of fun super hero battling. This newly found friendship/alliance has them take on the mysterious shape-shifting Trickster and eventually sends them to Earth 2 where they encounter alternate versions of themselves!

It is a bit of a complicated read, with all the shape-shifting and multiple versions of the same characters, but it’s definitely worth sticking with. Pak is a great writer and I’m sure it will all make sense at the end. And for Lee’s art, it’s just awesome.

So I give this a thumbs up. It was a pleasant surprise that I wasn’t necessarily planning to check out.

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Alpha Flight #1-6

Alpha Flight had a brief reintroduction during the Feat Itself storyline. Canada’s favorite (and only)  team comes back, this time in what can only be described as a super powered political thriller.

The Unity Party has come to power in the Canadian government and has Alpha Flight in their sites. The city of Vancouver was heavily damaged by the Fear-powered Attuma, and the super hero team has been blamed for failing to protect the city. Alpha Flight is on the run from the government. This kind of reminds me a lot like the Civil War storyline, except this time it’s across Canada.

It’s revealed that the Unity Party is secretly led by none other than longtime nemesis Master of the World (who simultaneously has the coolest and lamest name of any super villain ever). He’s dispatched a squadron of old Alpha Flight villains out to take them out.

While this is going on, the team is having their own personal difficulties to overcome. The Vindicator has begrudgingly teamed up to hunt her former teammates in exchange for regaining custody of her daughter. Northstar’s boyfriend Kyle has been taken prisoner by the Unity Party and is undergoing some sort of mental reprogramming that all non-Unity Party members are being forced into. And to make matters worse, Northstar’s sister Aurora is having a relapse with her split personality disorders. As a light Alpha Flight reader, even I know that isn’t good.

At least the team had the good sense to put out a call to Wolverine for some help and assistance in liberating Canada. What makes this

This was written by the team of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, both of whom I’ve been a big fan of. I really liked that this wasn’t heavy on prior Alpha Flights history. I’ll admit, I was never that big of a fan. But I was able to pick up what had happened in previous volumes. Dale Eaglesham’s art was great as usual, and I’m sure him being a Canadian made the depictions of the cities more accurate. Fun stuff; you should check it out.

Planet Hulk Movie: Great Space Epic With 99% Less Bruce Banner

There are two complaints that film snobs always have:

  1. The source material was infinitely better.
  2. Direct to video films always suck.
Lionsgate and Marvel refute these claims in the 2010 direct to video release Planet Hulk, which adapts Greg Pak’s epic story of Hulk’s new life on the planet Sakaar.
The plot is fairly simple and you don’t need any current comics knowledge go follow. Hulk has been launched into space by the other heroes, as they’ve had it with him not being able to control his anger and being a huge problem (I would’ve said major pain, but I wanted this post to be free of any Damon Wayans references). Unfortunately for Hulk, instead of taking him to the happy planet where he could spend the rest of his life, he landed on the war-torn, wasteland of a rock called Sakaar.
Hulk gets imprisoned by the planet’s evil dictator the Red King and forced to fight in an arena, something straight out of Gladiator. By leading his new group of warbound gladiators in a rebellion, he finds himself fulfilling the an old Sakaaran prophecy of a “worldbreaker” coming to unify the population and start a new golden age.
There is more to the story, but I think I’m going to save that for a piece on the original comics. I will say that this is a very straight up adaptation of Pak’s story, save for Beta Ray Bill being substituting for Silver Surfer as a captive in the Red King’s coliseum. It turns out that this wasn’t as much of an editorial decision as a legal one, as the Surfer’s animation rights were held by someone else.
Throughout the film, there’s a bunch of cameo appearances by Marvel’s cosmic characters in the coliseum, including Gamora, Adam Warlock and Star-Lord. It was a nice nod to super fans.
I really enjoyed Planet Hulk. The visuals were great, and the animation was smooth. This is definitely recommended. Get it from your Red Box or local library today.

Looking for something to read at the beach?

I was asked to put together some recommended comics that are suitable for an adult audience.  Here is a list I put together, including four based on recent superhero movies and four that have nothing to do with super heroes.

If you went to the movie theater this summer, chances are you’ve seen that Hollywood has been making movies based on comic books! Comic books (or their more sophisticated cousin the graphic novel) are not just for kids. In fact, most comic books are written for adults! Not only that, but story wise there is much more to comics then just super heroes!

Here are some great books that were the basis for some of this summer’s biggest movies, as well as some of the most popular graphic novels on the shelves!

Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers
written by Rob Rodi
art by Esad Ribic

This cautionary tale shows family dynamics of the godlike brothers Loki and Thor from this summer’s blockbuster. Showing their lives infancy to adulthood, Loki is constantly reminded of his inferiority in comparison to his brother Thor, as well as not being able cope with the utter disdain his father Odin has for him. These strained relationships show give a glimpse on how a lifetime of sadness and self-doubt created a rift between the brothers.

We3
written by Grant Morrison
art by Frank Quitely

After three beloved pets are abducted and forced to become military weapons, all they want to do is return to their human families. When they find out they are going to be “decomissioned” (destroyed), they set out on a perilous journey to survive. Morrison created three extremely sympathetic characters, that remind you of your childhood pets. The book may have limited dialogue, but Quitely’s innovative page design and stunning artwork will fully capture your imagination.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow
written by Dennis O’Neil
art by Neal Adams

Green Lantern made his movie screen debut this summer, but this story from 1970 is his most compelling adventure. With his more socially conscious friend Green Arrow at his side, the typically space faring but somewhat naive Green Lantern goes on a cross-country journey of self exploration through Vietnam War-era America. Along the way, the pair encounter racism and bigotry, drug abuse, sexism and discrimination, and corruption; all subjects not typically shown in comics at that point.

Pride of Baghdad
written by Brian K. Vaughan
art by Niko Henrichon

Based on a true story, this graphic novel shows the life of four lions trying to survive their escape from a war-torn Baghdad Zoo in the early 2000. Much to the chagrin of the other animals, Zill feels that his pride can only survive by leaving the gutted zoo.  By humanizing all of the zoo animals, a story is an examination of the role off family and the cost of freedom.

FablesFables
written Bill Willingham
with various artists
Did you ever wonder what it would be like if your favorite fairy tale characters were real? Willingham explores this topic in the Fables series. The fairy tale characters you grow up with live amongst in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, dealing with real world situations like the nasty divorce of Snow White and Prince Charming due to his infidelity, the now human Big Bad Wolf trying to redeem himself for the transgressions of his youth, and even the strained father-and-son relationship of Gepetto and Pinocchio. Each part of the series is different in subject matter, falling into genres like crime, mystery, romance and even political suspense.

Magneto: Testament
written by Greg Pak
art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

As seen in  X-Men: First Class, the superhuman Magneto is a Holocaust survivor and this book tells the story of how he–then a teenager named Max Eisenhardt–loses his family and barely survives. All elements of super heroics are stripped from the character, leaving a compelling narrative. The art is moody and dark, creating a sense of drama and sorrow. The book also features a powerful short story by comics legends Neal Adams and Joe Kubert, chronicling the life of Auschwitz prisoner Dina Babbitt, whose artistic talents were exploited by Josef Mengele in exchange for him guaranteeing her and her mother’s safety.

Captain America
by Ed Brubaker
art by Steve Epting

This ongoing series chronicles the most recent adventures of Captain America, from the return of his long assumed dead sidekick, to him facing and overcoming his own mortality. Filled with espionage and mystery, as well as dealing with themes of personal loss and adapting to an ever-changing world, Brubaker creates an intriguing take on one of America’s most iconic characters.

The Walking Dead
by Robert Kirkman
art by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard

Zombies have taken the spot of vampires as America’s favorite supernatural creature. This series is less about monsters and horror, as it revolves around small town sheriff Rick Grimes and the community he protects, trying to find a way to survive in a post apocalyptic world. This has been adapted to a popular television series on AMC.

These and other great comics can be found at your friendly neighborhood comic book shop. Don’t know where you can find one? Go here or call 1-888-COMIC-BOOK. If you can’t find one, try your local library or one of the fine book retailers in your town or online.