Monday, 23 April 2018

Review: Action Comics #1000

Last week was a huge day in Superman history as Action Comics #1000 came out, complete with 10 different variant covers and 10 different stories. One of those was ''The Truth', the first installment by Brian Michael Bendis in his time running the Superman mythos.

I have to say that I loved the issue. Not every story resonated with me. But they all encapsulated who Superman is. I won't review all of them but each vignette leaned into the idea of Superman being a source of truth and justice, a good man trying to help, an inspiration to people everywhere, and beloved. This was my Superman.

Now this won't work for everyone, I'm sure. Some might think it was hokey. Others boring. Others yet unoriginal. But anniversary issues like this ... and this is the biggest anniversary issue of them all so far ... are supposed to be about looking back at the big concepts. And for me, I wanted it to honor all the mythology that came before it.

To put it in other terms, I'm a baseball fan and my favorite baseball movie is The Natural, an almost supernatural story about redemption. That's level is what this issue was. Not Bull Durham or Major League.

I also admit that I splurged and got a bunch of covers. I ordered the limited Artgerm and Tyler Kirkham variants. And at the store I bought the Dan Jurgens, Steve Rude, and Mike Allred covers. 

My favorite is probably the Allred one because he snuck so much Silver Age sweetness onto the cover, including some excellent Supergirl moments.

The plan here will be to look closely at the Bendis story and then touch upon some of the others, so be warned. Spoilers ahead.

The Bendis story starts on the Metropolis skyline as something flies through buildings, including Lexcorp. We then focus in on two women working in a diner when a battered Superman, the projectile which careened through the city,  comes tumbling through the front wall. 

A couple of things about this opening shot. First off, having Superman crash through the Luthor building is a nice little symbolism that there is a new, tougher archenemy in town. One who doesn't even care about Lex's building. And then seeing Metropolis through the eyes of these day workers was a nice way to give us the citizens' perspective of living with Superman. 

A huge scarred villain lands to try and finish off Superman but he runs into Supergirl.

Okay, this made me very happy. The first punch in Bendis' run is thrown by Kara. And this is Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 level anger on Kara (kudos to @FraktallnverTer for pointing out the similarities on Twitter) as she bashes this guy with a series of rabbit punches. If we were worried Kara was going to be forgotten, we learned she won't be.

Unfortunately, she seems outmatched.

Superman ends up staggering into the fight and after some quips, the two throwdown. But even Superman seems overpowered by this monster. The Kirby Krackle is crackling everywhere.

At last we get a name ... Rogol Zaar. 

And he claims that he is on Earth to cleanse it of the Kryptonian plague. Superman is first on the hit list. Supergirl will be next. 

Okay, we get it in just a couple of pages. This is a Doomsday level threat with a planetary racial grudge.

But then we get the last page which made me pause.

Zaar says that he is the one who blew up Krypton. And then he buries his spear, Batman V Superman style, right through Superman's chest.

I don't know why we need to rethink Krypton's origins or why it blew up. Can't the origin just stand on its own merits. The planet was unstable. Jor-El couldn't convince people to recognize the danger. Kal is rocketed away. It works. heck, Morrison boiled it down to eight words.

I don't know if I like creators feeling they need to add a new wrinkle, tell the story behind the story, or change things radically. Will Bendis make this work? Who knows. But already we are heading down a rocky path.

Still, no denying the presence of Supergirl here. Let's not look past that.

Okay, onto my favorite stories. 

Dan Jurgens wrote and drew 'From the City that has Everything' in which Lois has to cajole and convince Superman to attend a Superman day in Metropolis and get some accolades. She even thought ahead to have the JLA run interference on threats so he had no excuse.

I love how awkward Superman is in being thanked. This isn't why he does it. And I loved that it isn't just the citizens of Metropolis but also the hero community which thanks him. 

Great story.

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason do a wonderful story titled 'Never Ending Battle) where Superman is cast through Hypertime by Vandal Savage. As a result, the team gets to give us a page from all the Superman eras from the earliest days to the mullet days of the 90s to The Dark Knight Returns and even Kingdom Come. But in all those timelines, his desire for justice ... and his love for his family and his desire to get home to them ... keeps him on task to ultimately defeat the bad guy. 

Great retrospective told in splash pages.

Geoff Johns and Richard Donner along with Olivier Coipel give us 'The Car'. 

In a nice little story, we get to see what happened to Butch, the masher from Action Comics #1

As he waits for his destroyed car to be assessed, Superman shows up with a life lesson. Butch's youth wasn't a happy one. Now the time has come for Butch to decide who he is going to be. Will he be the bully? Or will he be a friend?

I don't know if I ever gave a second thought to what ever happened to Butch. That is a great call back.

'Actionland!' was brought to us by Paul Dini, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (praised be his name), and Kevin Nowlan.

In a futuristic amusement park, kids are on a Superman roller coaster ride which is telling the life story of Superman. They get to the end of the Man of Steel's career when he was defeated by Mr. Mxyzptlk. At first I thought Dini was referencing Moore's 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel' but in the end it is something more fun. And there is a nice comment about how Superman stories are limitless. Not one can ever be 'the story'. 

Hmmm ... maybe it is a reference to Moore's story in the end.

Love this one. The art is just gorgeous.

And then, of all people, Brad Metzler (of Identity Crisis fame) with John Cassaday gives us 'Faster Than a Speeding Bullet' in which we learn that Superman is as inspired by us as we are of him. 

It all works.

There are other stories in here, including the 'new' Curt Swan art that are other interesting takes on Superman and his legend.

In case you didn't get it, I loved this issue. I don't know where Bendis is bringing us. I am bummed that the current creative teams are getting axed. But for now, this book reminded me of where we have been and why I love Superman. That is about as big a compliment I can give a book.

Overall grade: A for anniversary

Number 2071: “There is only one rule in war...kill!”

Although fighting ended in 1953 between forces of China, siding with North Korea, and United Nations troops, including the United States, the war has never officially ended. And while the shooting was going on, American war comics gave their comic book version of the conflict. There were commies and good guys, and we were the good guys.

This is a good example of a bloody war tale from that era, written by Hank Chapman for Atlas Comics’ Battle #10 (1952). The “Butcher” makes his own rules for war, as he claims. The captured American troops wish to be treated in accord with the rules of war. “Rules of war” always seemed an oxymoron to me. When I was in the U.S. Army in the mid-sixties our drill sergeants told us what the rules were to them: kill the enemy and let him die for his country.* The past few years have seen saber-rattling coming from that part of the world. and more belligerent and bellicose talk from ours. In real life things just don’t wrap up in seven pages like “The Butcher of Yingkow!”

I like Paul Reinman’s artwork for this tale. Reinman, who died in 1988, was a journeyman who spent many years drawing comics. It looks like he put more into this job than I have usually seen from him.

*For the record, I served as an orderly room clerk in an artillery unit in Germany. I went where they sent me. The only shooting I did was on a rifle range.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Review: Superman Vol. 5: Hopes and Fears (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)


#Cartoon of the day. Enjoy the #fun and have a smile on your face!!! Look younger and feel younger :)


If you say the magic word, SALMA's
covering will drop away as if, magic.
I'll give you all a clue to start you off - the
word isn't "SHAZAM!"

Sofa King

#Cartoon of the day. Enjoy the #fun and have a smile on your face!!! Look younger and feel younger :)

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Action Comics #1000

   The Man of Steel hit an impressive milestone this week, as he reached the 80th Anniversary since his first appearance in Action Comics #1 - and the title hit its 1000th issue at the same time!

   (And yes, I know there are disputes about the numbering system DC used - but what the heck, I'm going with it.)

   For such a prestigious event, you would expect a huge, raucous, extravaganza. Instead, they give us a more gentle tale, dedicated to honoring the legend. (But it is huge.)

   Which is fine - but I think I'd have preferred the epic.

   It's an issue loaded with talented artists, including some classics like Curt Swan (though the omission of John Byrne is surprising).

   Most of the focus is on the final story written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Jim Lee. It promises some shocking changes to Superman's legacy, but only delivers a small one (at least so far).

   It's a solid issue, and certainly Superman deserves our love and admiration. He stands at the peak of the comic universe - and he's also the strong foundation the entire industry was built on.

   May Superman continue to live and thrive!

Grade: A-



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