Friday, December 16, 2011

Regenesis: Uncanny X-Men & Magneto

It's been a while since my last review, hasn't it? Well, such is life, and no longer having school nor work means I have to spend my spare time looking for employment, which gives me far less time for any writing. Still, it's good to find the time to unwind and do a little reviewing, so I've got a few things in store. There'll be a movie review coming soon, and another newspaper comic, but I thought I'd take a look at the other side of the X-Men schism first.

So without further ado, I give you the first two issues of the new "Uncanny X-Men," along with the first issue of "Magneto: Not a Hero."

In Uncanny X-Men, we see the members of the team who didn't split off with Wolverine. For those who did, you'll want to see my earlier review of "Wolverine and the X-Men." So while Logan got Professor X and the academy, Cyclops seems to be heading in a more Magneto-like path. He's fighting for the survival of mutants, his homeland is an island made from Magneto's old meteor space base, and Magneto is one of his team's big hitters. (Of course, Magneto hasn't been a villain for quite a while, even if earlier issues still have him struggling to gain the trust of both humans and his fellow mutant, so don't think this is Cyclops' fall from grace.)

So with the lines clearly drawn, we now meet the X-Men team we'll be seeing the most of - Scott's "Extinction Team," consisting of himself, Emma, Storm, Magneto, Namor, Danger, Magik, Hope, and Colossus, who recently gained the Juggernaut's powers on top of his own (and if someone could point me to where and when that happened, it would be most appreciated). If you looked at that roster and thought, "Weren't 90% of these guys villains for at least some part of their career?" then you wouldn't be the only one, since it's lampshaded quite nicely.

Then we get to the plot, mostly consisting showing us what the mutants left on Utopia do for most of their days. That is, until one of San Francisco's landmarks, the Dreaming Celestial, begins to react.

As someone who lives in California and has been to San Francisco quite often, I can attest that while there's no such monument, it would be quite awesome. The team's location means they pass a lot of landmarks that I recognize, which is a real treat - this must be how New Yorkers feel about every other superhero team.

Given that we see Mr. Sinister in the first few pages, it's no surprise who's behind it. What may be more of a shock is how well he pulls off his plan, with an ending that reminds me of the Master from Doctor Who. (You'll know what I'm talking about when you reach it.) The first chapter ends with a good enough cliffhanger, at least enough to keep me interested through the next chapter.

In chapter two, we see the extent of Sinister's plan, which I believe finally elevates him to Magnificent Bastard status. He remains smug and calm, even admitting to his own fatal flaw of being an egomaniac, but in a very Ozymandias-esque fashion, only when it seems too late to change anything.

This chapter raises the stakes of the oncoming danger, while containing mostly exposition and some fight scenes. It continues to slowly but steadily lead Cyclops' team down the path that Magneto once took, with Hope casually making use of a sniper rifle and Colossus/Juggernaut getting some blood on his hands as well (quite literally). It kept me interested and entertained, although not quite as much as Wolverine and the X-Men.

Kieron Gillen does a fine job writing this comic, with excellent dialogue and a good grasp on the characters. The story moves along at a fine pace, neither rushing nor taking too long with the establishing moments and exposition. Yet because of the roster they're working with, I can't find myself to care quite as much as with Wolverine and the X-Men. Magneto and Storm are enough to keep me intrigued, while I'm on the fence with Colossus, but just those aren't quite enough to really get me invested in them.

The art is clear and well-drawn, I have no complaints to make there. It's much cleaner than Wolverine and the X-Men, so art-wise I have to give Uncanny X-Men the edge. In all other aspects, though, Wolverine wins out by varying degrees. While I'll keep reading this for a while, I'm going to stick with Team Wolverine for my X-Men of choice.

And on the sidelines, we have this four-part miniseries about Magneto. Now, I like Magneto as much as the next guy. Once I finish Gambit, he's next on my X-Men cosplay list. Maybe I can relate to him a bit more because he, like my grandfather, survived the Holocaust, or maybe I just like well-developed villains. Whatever the reason, I decided to check this out.

This is more or less a story about Magneto seeking to convince those around him that he's truly switched to the side of good, made more difficult by the fact that someone is going around committing crimes while disguised as him. While doing so, he gets into a bit of a pissing contest with Iron Man, who he more or less humiliates by lifting every metallic object - cars, tanks, little metal curtain hangers, you name it - without even changing his expression. So yes, that was kind of awesome.

We also hear some of the less intelligent anti-Mutant rhetoric. Allow me to sum it up for you: "Mutants want equal rights. This is America, and I love America. So spit in a mutant's face!" Kind of a leap in logic there, but hey, racists aren't known for making intelligent arguments.

After a few short scenes reaffirming that he's still feared by those around him, we take a little journey into Magneto's mind. It mostly involves not seeing people's faces and those he knows dressed like himself. There's a good deal of symbolism there, as with any trip inside someone's head, but not all of it is entirely effective.

As for the ending of this chapter, I'm a little underwhelmed, but it involves a character I'm not entirely familiar with. This is one of those things where you have to dive back into continuity quite a ways to get what's going on, so it can be a real hit-or-miss experience, depending on your familiarity with the comics. As such, I was a little underwhelmed by this issue, but it's only four chapters, so I see no harm in seeing it through to the end.

Thanks for sticking with me through these reviews, I'll try to get to my next ones soon. Until then, this has been whatever I read.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Newspaper Comics: Rex Morgan

There are a few newspaper comics I've been wanting to review for a while. Some of them are comics I love for their clever writing, great characters, and brief but compelling storylines.

This is not one of them.

Rex Morgan (I think it was once "Rex Morgan, M.D." but he spends so little time doing actual medical stuff that they dropped it) is a serial comic. That's a nice way of saying its stories go on forever and it doesn't have to be funny. Each day, it adds another two panels (three if we're lucky) and maybe three lines of dialogue to its continuing story. This results in a pace so slow that it can take a year to cover maybe three stories. During college, I could return home to visit my family, pick up the newspaper, and read the comic, only to come back months later and find the exact same goddamn story, with perhaps one or two steps made towards getting anywhere.

Basically, it's really slow and boring.

The comic features the titular Rex Morgan, who's some kind of Doctor. That explains why he can spend most of his time on boating trips, or camping, or taking some teenage kid on a boating trip. Sometimes we see him and a patient, which basically boils down to him saying "You need to do something differently. Good luck with that, pal." (Although there was the five months where their secretary won the lottery, they had to sort out a ton of family drama with that, then spend the rest of the time hiring a new secretary.)

There's also his wife, I think she's named after some kind of month. It's not like she ever does anything of importance, so you can ignore her without missing much. They have a daughter, whose name I also can't remember, because her job is to stand around acting cute and innocent while devoid of all the flaws and annoyances actual children have. So I'm going to call her Mary Sue. Oh, and a dog, who is by far the most compelling character, because the reader sympathizes with the poor creature for being bought and named solely because Mary Sue liked a series of books about a dog she named it after, then forced to live with these assholes. Plus, the dog doesn't talk, sparing us from the bad dialogue that permeates the rest of the comic.

In the current storyline, most of the drama revolves around the new secretary and her daughter. She's the typical, stereotypical, rebellious, fatherless teenage daughter, who is really a good girl deep down but is surrounded by bad influences. You know the type; they were supposed to have died out in the 80's, but still exist in the minds of people who are out of touch with reality.

The bad influence in this case is her boyfriend, Lonny "Spider" Webb. Oh, Spider Web, how clever.
Anyways, this guy is another cliche relic. Spiked mohawk, leather jacket, douchebag to everyone, the whole shebang. Clearly the author hasn't seen a single actual teenager in decades, since anyone looking and acting like that would be laughed at for being such a ridiculous asshole.

Where was I? Something about the plot... she goes to a party, he drugs her, and some teenage kid who hangs out with Rex on a fishing trip is getting all worried about her because who the hell cares? This was about a week ago. Only in yesterday's comic are the drugs starting to take effect, and what did it consist of? The girl says she's feeling weird, and another girl takes her upstairs to sleep it off while saying, "Yeah, you got drugged, I probably should have warned you about that, or even not come in the first place, but I'm hanging around these teenage rapists because I'm a goddamn moron." Meanwhile, Rex and his teenage buddy are still fishing and talking about whether or not they should do something.

Took a while to explain, didn't it? That's because this storyline has been going on for months. And in all those months, not a single fuck was given. Nor in any of the stories before this one, and this is not the first time they've dealt with teenagers drinking, doing drugs, being generally stupid, etcetera. It's pretty clear that the guy behind this has a complete distrust of today's youth, without actually knowing what they're even like. Do some freaking research, man.

As for the characters, they're either cliche cardboard cutouts or idealized nice guys. There's no moral ambiguity - you're either a good person who cares for the well-being of others above yourself, or you're a lowly, dirty scumbag who will screw over your own family. No middle ground.

If you're going to try to have dramatic stories with meaningful characters, at least do it right!

This comic is not meant to be funny, so I can't fault it for failing at that, in spite of being in the newspaper funnies section every day. What I can fault it for, though, is being poorly-written, taking forever to get anywhere, having lousy characters, and generally being boring.

This review was mostly a rant about how stupid Rex Morgan is, as you might have noticed. I could probably say more if it was compelling enough to make me care about anything, but it wasn't. Next time, I'll cover a newspaper comic I actually like.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wolverine and the X-Men #1

First of all, no, this is not a comic adaptation of the great (but sadly underrated) cartoon "Wolverine and the X-Men," in spite of the same name. Even though both deal with Wolverine in a position of leadership and authority he admits he's not suited for, that's about as far as the similarities go.  This comic is an entity in its own right, and a surprisingly good one.

Following the events of "Schism," the X-Men are split into two. You know how Civil War split the Marvel Universe right down the middle? This isn't like that, so don't start thinking about Civil War, even though it did divide the X-Men and all associated mutants apart. So we have Team Cyclops and Team Wolverine, and feel free to make your own jokes about the Twilight "teams" at this point, because that joke's old now. This comic covers Wolverine, and his attempt to make a new school for mutants, the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.

Now, I was a little skeptical of this comic at first, but I decided to pick it up anyways. I'm glad I did. The art, I admit, I'm not too fond of, at least not the way they draw people. Now, it's certainly not the worst art in an X-Men comic I've seen (that distinction goes to Kaare Andrews for "Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis," for its depiction of Emma Frost alone), but it's an acquired taste. However, I began appreciating it more as soon as I saw the two-page spread of Wolverine's school. Its design is very original, but only vaguely hinted at up until the reveal. I won't try to describe it, lest I spoil the surprise, but it certainly beats any of the schools I've gone to.

The first issue covers the two headmasters, Logan and Kitty Pryde, as they try desperately to have the new school pass inspections from a super cynical pair of inspectors. Suffice to say, Murphy's Law ensues. In doing so, we get to see the various students, classes, and faculty; this is as much a tour for the new readers as it is for the inspectors. It also lays on a nice dosage of well-hidden foreshadowing, which may or may not include the running gag of exploding toilets.

This is where we get to the best part of the comic: the characters. Each snapshot shows us the various students and teachers throughout their day, and the writing does a fine job at showing us their personalities and how the new school works. Some personal favorites are when Logan activates the Danger Room inside the boys' bathroom to punish a pair of bullies, and the one panel of Quire locked in detention and complaining to himself, with the words "I'm a political prisoner" scrawled across the ground. Beast's scene is equally great, and seeing Husk trying to get her class to sit down and shut up is a treat as well.

Now, Wolverine is not exactly the type to be a teacher, and he knows it. That's why he's got the rest of his staff to help him. A glance over the list of characters shows that some of my favorites will be in this comic. Gambit, Rogue, Iceman, Armor, and even Toad have a place in these comics, and I look forward to seeing how each of them contribute.

I think we can safely say that everything going wrong in this comic means everything goes right for the reader. You'll feel Wolverine's struggle as he tries to stop everything he's built from crashing around him, providing a new level of humanity for the character. There's no concern when you see him in battle, knowing he's a badass with a healing factor, but dealing with bureaucracy and responsibility? That's a whole new playing field for him, and it shows in the most entertaining way.

I don't know how Cyclops is doing with the half he got in the divorce, but going by this comic, I'm all for Team Wolverine. I wasn't expecting to follow this comic when I picked it up, but I think it just changed my mind.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oldie review: Dragonball Evolution

I've been a bit under the weather and short on time lately, so I haven't had the chance to finish reading anything worth reviewing as of late. Instead, I'm going to post a review I wrote a while ago for another site. I know, the movie is old and there's no point to hating on it anymore, but I'm posting it anyways. Ignore the fact that it doesn't involve reading anything, I said I'd do the occasional movie review.

I posted this review on Yahoo, and it remains the most helpful review of the movie, with 142 out of 151 people finding it useful. (And I believe those nine people are all members of the cast, trying to run damage control.) So here we are, my old review of the movie "Dragonball Evolution."

Original post:

I admit, I was one of those fans of Dragonball that was skeptical of the movie from the beginning. Even then, I tried to be hopeful, but every new piece of evidence kept providing more and more proof as to why it would bomb. So, I finally went and saw the movie for myself, and can now list several reasons why it was bad.

I say this not only because it was a bad adaptation, but as a movie itself, it was very poor. So I'll talk about the movie as a movie by its own rights, not just as an adaptation of a cherished series. So putting aside the fact that they butchered all the characters, ignoring the way they changed the story, disregarding the way they couldn't even pronounce "Gohan" correctly, and paying no heed to all the other ways in which the movie ruined the story, let's take a look at what makes it a poor movie in its own right.

- Poor cinematography. After an opening blurb about how Piccolo and his disciple, Oozaru, nearly wiped out the world, we open to a shot of... a bead of sweat falling off Goku's nose. Because all the best movies begin with a close-up of a character's nose, right? And it doesn't get much better. For the fight sequences, it seems they're often trying to copy such movies as "The Matrix," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and "300" with certain shots and editing. It doesn't work. Sometimes I could barely even tell what was going on, but I should probably count my blessings for that.

- Poor acting. And how! Chow Yun-Fat and James Marsters were the only two who could come close to acting, and even then, the script was so poor even they couldn't do it justice. Justin Chatwin spent most of the movie talking in some sort of depressed monotone, Emmy Rossum sounded like she just woke up and was pissed about it, and don't even get me started on Joon Park and his surfer dude Yamcha. It makes me feel ill just thinking about it.

- Plot holes, plot holes, plot holes. Okay, so Piccolo escaped from being sealed. How exactly did he do that? We don't even see it happen, he's just suddenly free and has a giant floating fortress thing, with a shape-shifting follower whose name we're never given (even if she's listed as Mai) and whose story we don't know. Why's she following Piccolo? She just is, okay?
Goku gets picked on at school for being "different," but we're not entirely sure why, he just is. So he promised his grandfather he wouldn't fight... only as soon as gramps bites the dust, he not only goes off on his adventure but has no qualms with fighting an old man whose house he broke into.
When they're fighting Piccolo's goons, Master Roshi throws one of them into the lava, and it bursts into flames. Okay. But then Goku starts tossing them in in order to use them as stepping stones across said lava, and nothing happens to them. So was the first one just wearing combustible clothes or something?
Later, as Goku starts fighting Piccolo, Piccolo suddenly not only knows his name, but says that he came to Earth on a meteor, is Oozaru, and he can boss him around. Again, ignoring the changes from the original, how does Piccolo know this? He just does. Then Goku can transform back... because he wants to, I guess. Of course, the opening narration says that Oozaru fled after Piccolo was sealed, so that doesn't explain a thing about him becoming a child and arriving on a meteor. Speaking of Oozaru, Goku spends a good deal of the movie wondering how he's going to beat said giant monkey... forget Piccolo and his world-destroying business, I want to know how they're going to defeat the guy he bosses around.

- No explanations given. This goes hand-in-hand with the plot holes. A lot of things just... happen, and we're supposed to not ask questions. There's willing suspension of disbelief, and then there's telling us to shut up and stop wondering about such insignificant things as "reasons" and "logic."

- Lousy special effects. Remember the days of claymation in live-action movies, where it looked cheesy but you could forgive it because they didn't have any better special effects? Those days are over, they have no excuses any more. A few things they pull off almost right, but for the most part, it looked very cheesy.

- Poor dialogue. Pretty much everything that comes out of Yamcha's mouth. Plus everything that comes out of Bulma's mouth. Oh, and everything that Goku says. Not to mention Chi-Chi. "Just because my name is Chi-Chi doesn't mean I'm stupid." Umm... what does your name have to do with anything? He just asked if you knew about ki. I can understand if you have a complex about your name and the fact that people think you're stupid, but that doesn't relate to anything in any way at all.

- The fight sequences weren't that great either. For a fighting series, that's kind of important. At the very end, Goku's powering up a Kamehameha, and Piccolo's gathering a huge freaking ball of energy that looks like it can blow up Namek, and the two throw their attacks. I start thinking, "okay, good, they're going to have a classic match of energy attacks. One starts pushing the other back, then Goku gives it one last burst of strength and pushes the attacks into Piccolo." Nope. He leaps into it as he throws the Kamehameha. I repeat. He leaps ahead while throwing his attack. Then he just flies right through the explosion into Piccolo, never mind the fact that the force of the two attacks hitting SHOULD have thrown him back, or at least slowed him down. So the movie not only fails at fighting forever, but also physics.

- Oh, and apparently they couldn't remember if they were making a movie of Dragonball or Avatar, because about halfway through the story, Master Roshi starts talking about the three elements (apparently Earth no longer counts) and calls the Kamehameha an Airbending technique. I know, I said I'd disregard the ways in which it differs from Dragonball, but it still pissed me off.

So go ahead and say what you will about my review, this is my honest opinion of the movie. I'm not hating on the movie because it's different from Dragonball. I'm hating on the movie because it's a bad movie, plain and simple.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Focused Fandom Review

I first met Steven Savage at the convention Kin-Yoobi Con, where I attended his panel on turning one's hobbies into a career. Now, I have a chance to review his new book about a similar topic: "Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers." Fear not, though, for I'm an impartial reviewer, and will give both credit and criticism where it's due.

This book is designed to help cosplayers and costumers (he's sure to differentiate between the two, although the advice is applicable to both) use the skills and passions they've developed through their hobbies to help with their careers. I know I'm not the only unemployed cosplayer trying to figure out if I have any marketable skills, and it turns out that all of us actually do.

The book is divided into three parts. The first (and I believe longest) section lists all the skills and advantages, or "edges," as he describes them, that cosplayers have. Not only that, but it explains how a cosplayer can use those to his/her advantage in the work world, while applying for jobs, or anything else needed to build a career. Not everything in those lists will apply to everyone, naturally, but with all the skills he points out, there's bound to be something that you (yes, I mean you specifically. The person sitting in front of a computer screen and reading this, that means you) can relate to and use. Personally, I found that the parts about building confidence, connecting with people, and creativity resonated with me the most, while the section about budgeting is important for everyone, regardless of career or hobby.

Each of the edges listed only takes up a few pages, so they go by quickly, yet it delves into decent detail. There are useful notes and steps for the interested reader to take to make the most of their skills, providing plenty of useful information without becoming dense. Reading through the lists, I began to realize that there are so many more skills I can gain from cosplay that I haven't even considered; it made me want to expand my horizons within my own hobby, and pointed out skills I didn't even realize I had gained.

Following that, the book lists several careers that one can use their cosplaying/costuming abilities in, or that one might want to consider pursuing because of their hobby. I know several people who are already working jobs where their cosplay experience comes in handy, while several more are pursuing careers that they can use for cosplay. Even I, an aspiring writer, can practice my craft by writing skits and reporting on conventions for California Conventions Blog (an affiliate of this blog). The section on writing and publishing I'll certainly be re-reading throughout my job hunt. As an added bonus, each section has the URLs to several websites and resources for the cosplaying job hunter.

Lastly, there's a section devoted to what one must do while pursuing a career. Much of the advice is applicable to more than just cosplay and costuming careers, such as networking and education, and that which isn't can easily be adjusted for non-cosplayers.

So, how does this book rate? It's a useful guide and tool for cosplayers and costumers who are trying to find a job, although the advice isn't universally applicable. The quotes and notes from fellow cosplayers sprinkled throughout are a nice touch, especially when I come across a quote from someone I know or have seen at conventions.

It's not so naive as to believe there are no difficulties to reaching many of the careers it lists, as it acknowledges that getting a job can be a difficult trial, but reiterates the advantages that we've gained from our hobbies. There's even instructions for an efficient job hunt and making the best of this book, as well as lists of several resources.

This may have been fixed by the time you pick up a copy, but I did notice the occasional typo or missing comma. At a little under 200 pages, it's not particularly bulky, and it's a quick read, but in a good way. Rather than sound like a list of things one must do, it read like I was receiving advice from someone who knows not only the difficulty of finding work, but how to put one's hobbies and geeky skills to use.

"Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers" is for a specific audience, so it's not something everyone can pick up and flip through. If you're part of the targeted crowd, though - if you're a cosplayer, someone who makes costumes, or anyone involved in the cosplay scene, and you're trying to find a job you can enjoy - it's certainly worth reading. I already feel more confident about my job search, and if you're like me, it will probably help you too.

If you're interested in this book, you can purchase it online at:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Flabby Superheroes?" Screw you, Men's Fitness

This isn't exactly a review, but it is about an article which I read, so it's relevant. That's my excuse, at least, but whatever gives me a chance to rant.

So, who here has read the "article" by Men's Fitness titled "NY Comic Con: Flabby Versions of Your Favorite Superheroes?" I did, and I'm pissed off. If you want a link to the article, as well as a place to read what other people are saying about it and where to post your own comments to them, you can see their link on Facebook here: But in case you'd rather not read it and rage, let me give you a summary:

That article posts pictures of cosplayers who they deem looking "close to death" for being too fat, or even too thin, along with little captions mocking them. That's all. It doesn't give any tips for getting into better shape, or showing any muscular cosplayers, it just exists solely to mock the out-of-shape ones.

So where do I begin? How about: What the fuck? Who does this Jordan Burchette think he is, mocking these people? Where does he get the nerve or the right to criticize people who worked hard on their costumes and want to enjoy a weekend among fellow geeks?

Fellow nerds, we are used to being mocked. We've all been insulted by the jocks, or given odd looks for our hobbies. But conventions are a place to meet with fellow people who share our interests, not to be bashed and insulted by a fitness magazine.

Oh, and if you'll look at the photos, I'm willing to bet he didn't even ask many of the cosplayers for permission to take their pictures. Batman is looking away from the camera, the Spartan is just walking by (his face isn't even in the frame), and Cloak and Dagger have their backs turned to him. As anyone who cosplays or photographs cosplayers knows, you don't just snap someone's photo as they're walking by. You ask for permission so they have time to strike a pose and prepare their props; taking candid pictures to mock is beyond rude.

And just to make things a little bit worse, they then accuse us, the people they attack and mock, of not having a sense of humor. Where's the joke? I don't get it. That's not being funny, that's pointing at people you disapprove of and telling us to laugh at them. Well I'm not laughing, Mr. Burchette.

I'm a cosplayer. I try to stay in shape, especially for costumes with open-shirts, but I know it's not easy. I have friends in the cosplay community who are in amazing shape, and others who aren't. Many of them from all categories work hard to get in shape for their costumes, and I still respect those who are fine with how they are for the great work they do on their costumes. Cosplay is a hobby, it's something we do for fun, no matter what sort of condition we're in. I, for one, respect cosplayers no matter of their condition for having the courage to go out in the amazing costumes they've made.

I've also seen some really motivational stories of cosplayers who began working out like mad to get that perfect body type for their costume. Why not report on them? That would be so much better for a Fitness magazine. They could recount their stories, give tips and advice, and encourage other people to work out more. Simply bashing, mocking, and insulting cosplayers who are not in shape doesn't encourage anyone to improve, it's simply bullying, plain and simple. This Burchette guy is no better than the bullies we've had to deal with at high school, and I'd expect so much better from a supposedly respected publication.

In short, if the rest of this was tl;dr, here's what I'm trying to get at: these cosplayers are 1000x better people than whoever wrote this article will ever be. Men's Fitness, you have lost all credibility and failed completely.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

DC's New 52 (Part 3)

Alright, time for the third and final installment of my review of the DC reboot. Today we'll be looking at a range of other comics released this past month, some new and some old. So without further ado, let's see what we've got.
Wonder Woman

One thing I've liked about Wonder Woman was the integration of Greek mythology. She is an Amazon, after all, so it's no surprise when she encounters Ares, Hermes, or even Zeus. Knowing a little about Greek myths can usually add another layer of enjoyment to these comics, such as when Apollo picks some young ladies to be his new oracles.

Now, Wonder Woman herself doesn't appear until about half way through the first chapter. Up until then we see Apollo, some lady in a peacock dress killing a horse, and someone who looks like a cross between a WW1 soldier and the Na'vi from Avatar (Hermes) warning this girl in her underwear (named Zola) about assassins. It isn't until two centaur burst into her house and a magical key teleports her away that we finally see Wonder Woman, and it dawns on my as I type this how very strange comics can be sometimes.

Wonder Woman is naked in bed when we first see her, as fanservice seems to be amped up for many of the new comics (but more on that later). It's not a sexual kind of nudity, though, just something that happens to be necessary before she puts on her armor and goes to kick some centaur ass. And when it comes to fighting, Wonder Woman is no slouch. She blocks arrows with her wristbands (she's used to it, having blocked plenty of bullets with them), literally disarms her enemies, and puts her golden lasso to good use. Action-wise, the scene is swift but sweet.

Story-wise, though, there's not much to say yet. I will say that the ending comes as no surprise to those familiar with their Greek myths, and there's a nice amount of foreshadowing provided by the oracles, but nothing particularly impressive. Perhaps it'll get better as it goes along, but I'm not sure if I'm going to stick around to find out.

Can we stop with the jokes about Aquaman's powers being lame now? Superfriends was ages ago, and Aquaman has earned his badass cred repeatedly by now. This is a man who can take on Cthulhu-level abominations and win, a man who essentially controls 70% of the Earth's surface. Aquaman is a badass.

Yet it seems the citizens in Aquaman's comic book don't think the same way. Bank robbers in an armored car think they can run him down (they're wrong), policemen think he's useless without fish (they're wrong) and express shame at being upstaged by him, and some guy interviewing him thinks he's a laughing stock (boy is he ever wrong). Aquaman shows them just how awesome he can be, while also providing time to look into his own life, such as the lessons his father taught him, and his relationship with his wife, Mera.

There's also an amusing scene where Aquaman walks into a seafood restaurant, orders fish and chips, and explains to the shocked diners how commanding sea life does not equal talking to fish.

Geoff Johns does an outstanding job writing this comic. He works in the common misunderstandings about Aquaman and disproves them quickly, while keeping the story at a fine pace, beginning and ending with a threat slowly building. All the characters had clear voices and personalities, even the waitress at the restaurant, but especially Aquaman.

I wasn't sure if I'd bother following this series when I first heard about it, but issue 1 may have changed my mind. I'm becoming a fan of Aquaman now, and I can't wait to see the sea king cut loose.
The Flash

I like the Flash. I really do, he's an amusing character with a lot of potential in his powers. Just with super-speed alone he's managed to travel through time, learn anything at super speeds, build houses, disassemble vehicles, and run around the world to punch someone clear into the atmosphere. Yet in spite of that, this comic just seems to be missing something.

We have the basics. The Flash being fast and awesome, while his secret identity, Barry Allen, investigates crime scenes. In this case, the dead criminal they find is an old friend of his. There's also this technology called a "genome re-coder," which will certainly be important later on. A few nice twists are thrown our way, which I won't spoil, and the story is solid.

Yet despite that, I can't seem to really enjoy this comic. It's not bad, it just lacks that certain extra punch to stand out above the other new releases. People who are big fans of the Flash will read and enjoy it, but it fails to draw new readers in.

Also, there's the fact that Barry and Iris are no longer married. Given that Flash is the one who corrected the destroyed timestream in Flashpoint, you'd think he'd be kicking himself for screwing that up, or maybe that's his punishment for forgetting to fix Clark and Lois. This begs the question of the fate of the rest of the Flash family, though; is the Kid Flash we saw in Teen Titans Wally West, or Bart Allen, Barry's grandson from the future? Given what happened in "Kid Flash Lost," though, my bet is on Wally. For now.
Static Shock

My first encounter with Static Shock was through his cartoon on WB many years ago. When I learned that he later joined the Teen Titans, I gave it a look to see how it was. His run with them ended when he was de-powered, but it looks like he's got it back by the start of his solo run.

Here we see Static in the middle of action, now working in New York instead of Dakota. His control of electricity has improved from flying manhole covers and shooting electric blasts - now he's manipulating magnetic forces, forming plasma cables, and generally making the best of his electric abilities. The ways they manage to put his powers to use are impressive and clever, as it's clear the writers did their research and came up with a variety of uses for electricity.

We see the group who will be Static's enemies this time around, an organization of brightly-colored metahumans with flying motorbikes. Some are smart and some are strong, but all should make for interesting foes.

The colors are vibrant, with the blue and yellow of Static's uniform and electricity as well as the multitude of colors his enemies wear. The artist occasionally seems to have trouble drawing eyes, but it's pretty clean apart from that. The story does a good job showcasing Static's "wake up, go to school, save the day, go to my part-time job, save the day again" lifestyle and his family, and keeps things interesting while moving at a nice pace. I'd recommend Static Shock to anyone willing to take a chance.
Swamp Thing

Ah yes, Swamp Thing. Brightest Day disappointed me when nearly the entire story lead up to simply bringing him into the DC universe, but now I'm starting to see why.

Alec Holland, the Swamp Thing, doesn't want to be Swamp Thing. He wasn't before, mind you; Swamp Thing just thought it was him, but now he truly is, and wants nothing to do with the Green, or the Parliament of Trees, or any of that nonsense. When natural disasters strike, even Superman tries to call him in, but our hero is quite reluctant.

Yet in his reluctance, so much is said. We see what he has to struggle with, having been brought back to life and given the memories that weren't his but thought they were. He talks a lot about plants, yes, but it's all quite interesting, and written well enough to keep us interested. The various disasters happening between events certainly keeps things interesting as well, and it ends with quite the interesting scene.

There's a lot of history behind Swamp Thing, but you can jump into this with minimal research. I'm sure knowing the full history would help, but they spell out the important stuff in such a way that it doesn't seem forced. Scott Snyder does a fine job with the writing, and Yanick Paquette's art suits the tone of the comic perfectly. Definitely worth a look.
Animal Man

Animal Man/Buddy Baker was another hero I really got to know by reading 52. I've been trying to go back and read his previous runs, but I've had little luck in finding them. But with a new Animal Man comic coming out, I was eager to give it a look.

Sadly, this comic is not for me. It's darker than I'd prefer, with Animal Man bleeding from his eyes and nightmarish scenes even when he's not in the middle of a nightmare. And worst of all, we learn that the family's dogs, T.C. and Skipper, have already passed away. Now that's just sad.

Still, I will give it credit where credit is due. The characters are strong and consistent, and I still like Buddy, even if I don't like this story, and it's still a well-crafted one. The artwork is rather pastel-like and pale, giving it an odd sort of appearance, although it shifts during the nightmare sequence to some impressive designs.

I wish I could give Animal Man a recommendation. I really do, I was looking forward to this. If you want to try it anyways, then by all means, go ahead, it might work better for you than it did for me. I'm not going to say it's a bad comic, but it's just not for me.
Green Arrow

This is certainly a different Oliver Queen than we're used to seeing. He no longer has the Robin Hood-styled beard, and I doubt he was ever mayor of Star City at his age. In fact, everything about him is more like his Smallville incarnation. He's younger, very technologically-inclined, and has the same rich playboy persona as fellow money-powered heroes, but with a more active hand in Queen Industries.

This does cause a lot of questions about continuity. When did he train any of his sidekicks? What about his marriage to Black Canary? I'd like to brush it off with this taking place in the past, but given the level of technology in this comic and the fact that the antagonists post their crimes on YouTube, that's not likely to be the case.

Putting all that aside, however, we have a very sound comic. We see Green Arrow fighting crime and working as Oliver Queen, we've got a decent cast of supporting characters, and a nicely-paced story. His enemies aren't the biggest or most threatening villains, but it's a good start for a younger Green Arrow, and an interesting take on what motivates crime as well as the glamorization of the criminal lifestyle.

I'm not sure what to think of this Green Arrow yet, I'll have to wait and see how it ties into his continuity. Until then, I'll be wary, but open.
Resurrection Man

I've never read Resurrection Man until now, but I was interested in him. I'd heard about how he was once killed repeatedly by the Joker until he resurrected with the powers Joker needed him for, and I thought the idea of constantly dying and reviving with new powers was interesting. When he made a cameo in Brightest Day, I had an amusing conversation with my friend, who was more familiar with him. "Resurrection Man? I thought he died in Infinite Crisis." "Apparently he got better. Go figure."

So here we see Resurrection Man, coming back from the dead yet again. He does that a lot. It seems to be a side-effect of his powers, along with this mysterious compulsion that directs him with each revival. He's not the only one being directed, though, as apparently his soul is "overdue," and his constant resurrections have made it a valuable commodity in the afterlife. Both angels and demons are seeking it, it seems, but he doesn't want to give it up any time soon.

This is a clever take on the idea of Resurrection Man, and a look at what it means to constantly revive. The deaths that come with it means that he brings death wherever he goes, often times taking innocent lives with him. It's a dark comic, in a very good way, but I have to admit to taking a bit of enjoyment in seeing all the ways he'll die and all the new powers he'll come back with.

I'm not sure how long Resurrection Man will run for, but I'm definitely interested in this story. I recommend it.
Blue Beetle

Jaime Reyes, the third Blue Beetle. There's a lot of backstory behind the Beetle, but you don't need it to enjoy this comic. It opens right in the middle of the action, where we see what a Scarab at full power can do. Entire civilizations are wrecked by a single Scarab-controlled being, as he joins this alien army called The Reach. Once a Green Lantern shoots down a Scarab in our space sector, though, that's the last we see of it for quite a while.

Now we get to know Jaime, the protagonist. He's not a hero yet, though, just a regular kid from El Paso. It shows us his friends, his school bullies, his family, and gives each of them a distinct voice and personality. Yet there's no lack of superhuman action, either, as we see metahumans hunting down the Scarab itself. Jaime doesn't just find it in the middle of the road this time, he gets his beetle right in the middle of the action. We have yet to see what it can do, but it ends with a great transformation and full page shot of the new Blue Beetle armor.

However, it is rather similar to the previous Blue Beetle comic, especially with La Dama as what seems to be the primary antagonist this early on, as well as The Reach and their conflict with the Green Lantern Corps. It's not entirely the same, though, and there are enough differences to make it enjoyable even if you've read the first one. This is another comic I give a high recommendation to.
Red Hood and the Outlaws

Okay, I haven't read this one, save for the few pages everyone's read. So I'll keep my complaints short. My problem isn't that Starfire is sexualized, it's that she's now nothing but a sexual character. What purpose does she serve other than to strike provocative poses, screw her male companions, and give the male readers something to fap to? What happened to her personality, her character, all that wonderful development she's had over the years? She was in touch with her emotions, but a powerful, inspiring character who valued friendship above all else. (And I'm not just talking about the Teen Titans cartoon version.)

Instead we have her claiming to not know who Dick Grayson is, or even any of her Titan comrades from the past. It completely erases all of her development and destroys her as a character. It strips away everything that made her a great character, and instead left what the writer assumes to be a male fantasy.

Now, there have already been attempts to cover up for that, after the huge fan outcry. "Oh, she was just lying about not knowing anyone. Jason was wrong when he said she forgets people." Too little, too late, I'm afraid. It'll take a lot more work than that to correct this mistake. Besides, what reason would there be for that? They might fix this later on, or at least try to, but they're not doing a very good job so far. That's all I really have to say about this comic, since I can't review what I haven't read.
And there you have it, my review of the DC reboot. There are a lot of comics I haven't read, so those you'll just have to find yourself. For what I did read, though, I hope you've enjoyed my reviews. Until next time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

DC's New 52 (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of my review of the DC comics reboot. Today we'll be looking at the Batman family of comics and the Green Lanterns. You already read my introduction to the reboot, so let's skip the small talk and dive right in.
Detective Comics

With Action Comics getting a reboot, it only makes sense that Detective Comics, from which DC gets its name, would be getting the same. In spite of having "Batman" all over the cover, this comic seems more about the Joker. Sure, it's from Batman's POV, and most of the action follows him, but behind everything there is one source of all the action, and that's everyone's favorite clown.

Now, the best heroes have the best villains. They are defined by the enemies they face, and the threats presented to them. It's by overcoming their worst enemies that we can cheer for the heroes as we watch them struggle. Few comics have the same hero/villain dynamic as Batman and the Joker do. For that reason, I'm not complaining. This comic shows us Batman at his best: he's a detective, a martial artist, a ninja, although not much of a social guy. Yet we also see the Joker for who he is: a madman with a strange sense of humor, yet a hidden brilliance in his insanity.

We see another day in the eternal struggle, the immovable rock versus the unstoppable force. But it ends with something unexpected, setting up for future developments and a change of face for the comic, as it may be.

This is a good, solid point for Batman. It shows the characters as they are at their core, but also has a nice setup for future events. Definitely worth a read for any Batman fan.

That's right, there's not only Detective Comics, but Batman comics. But while the previous was more about Batman and the Joker, this one is more about Bruce Wayne and the bat-family. It's even more about Gotham City, but one could easily say that Batman is Gotham.

We see Batman and his rogues gallery, with a few redesigns to the characters. Some I think are pretty good, like Professor Pyg's mask looking less cheesy, although I don't approve of the Riddler having a shaved head and question mark tattoos, especially given his development over recent years. It starts off with some great action, accompanied with a narration that shows both how doomed Gotham City is and the hope within it.

What's best about this comic, though, is how it shows the relationships that Batman and Bruce Wayne have with everyone. Not only Batman and his enemies, but Bruce and his former sidekicks, his current sidekick and son, and even Alfred, his loyal butler. In fact, a personal favorite moment was the simple but telling moment where Alfred's security access was marked as "highest." That means not only higher than Dick, Tim, or Damian, but higher than even Bruce's.

We also see how Batman manages to balance his lives as the rich multi-millionaire playboy and as the dark knight, as well as his detective skills at work. As with Detective Comics, it ends by setting up a bigger mystery, one that may involve the entire Bat-family.

So if you prefer the Batman and Joker dynamic, Detective Comics is what you want. But if you prefer seeing Batman's more human side, and how his life is connected to those he's trained and touched, those he's fought, and the city he lives in, go with Batman #1.
Batman and Robin

That's right, we're not even close to done with Batman. Next up we have Batman and Robin, where we look at Batman's relationship with his son, Damian Wayne. Before now, the Batman and Robin comics had Dick Grayson taking over the mantle of the bat with Damian as Robin, but now we're back to Bruce.

Previous comics have shown us that Bruce and his son do not work well together, but Dick managed to reach Damian, slowly but steadily, and the two became a great team together. With Dick back as Nightwing in his own run, we have the father-son team together again, and not working quite as well as the previous pair. They acknowledge that fact, however, and it seems the comics will involve Bruce learning to trust his son as much as they will Damian learning to work with his father.

Another key aspect of the comic is Bruce's memories of his parents, and how their death shaped his life. He's trying to put their death behind him, and focus more on how they lived their lives. Of course, that's interrupted by an action sequence resulting in some impressive property damage, and the dysfunction of the family team comes to light again. It also begins and ends with an assault on the worldwide Batman Inc., setting up the plot for the future comics.

This comic is also well-written, so if you like Damian, go with this one. You know my thoughts about the other two Batman comics, the decision is yours.
Batman: The Dark Knight

Okay, another one? I'm beginning to get a little tired of the Batman comics now. The last three were great, but this one just seems unnecessary, and is the weakest of the four. There is nothing in this one we haven't seen already, save for someone from Gotham Internal Affairs looking into Bruce's connection to Batman.

As with the other, we have Batman juggling his crime fighting and life as Bruce Wayne, we have a bunch of inmates at Arkham Asylum rioting (because I guess that's all there is to do at Akham), and we have an ongoing narration about a superstitious cowardly lot. That's not necessarily bad, but the other comics did it so much better.

And then we have the way it ends. I'm just going to spoil it now: Two-Face (Harvey Dent) is the cause of the riot, and he is hulked out. Maybe he took some of Bane's venom juice, I don't know, but his hand is literally bigger than his head. And he's demanding to be called "One-Face" now, in spite of the fact that his face is still horribly scarred on one side. Also, don't most people have one face anyways? There's really nothing special about that.

So there you have it. Batman: The Dark Knight is superfluous and unnecessary, failing to stand out compared to the other three (superior) Batman titles. Now that Batman is out of the way, let's check out the ladies of the Bat-family.

Didn't Didio say that Barbara Gordon was never going to get the use of her legs back? I'm pretty sure he did, but I guess he forgot, since guess who's walking again.

Now, I liked Barbara as Batgirl. She was very good; an effective crimfighter, and an interesting character. But when she got crippled and became Oracle, that's where she became an inspiration. She could no longer kick criminals in the face, but she had computer skills, and put them to use. She founded the Birds of Prey, and was basically the go-to tech girl for the DC universe. She didn't let her handicap stop her from doing everything she could in the fight against crime. Hell, she even declined opportunities to regain the use of her legs from super-technology until it became readily available. What a trooper!

I'm not the first person to say that, and I doubt I'll be the last. Others have said it more eloquently than I as well, but I stand by my words. So here's where it gets frustrating.

"A miracle happened." That's the only explanation we get for her regaining her legs. We don't even see her regaining the use of her legs, we're just told, "A miracle happened, she can walk again." Yeah, that cop-out is all we get.

Now let's give the comic the benefit of the doubt. Okay, a miracle happened, and she can walk again. How long has she been in a wheelchair? Her legs haven't been used in years, it would take a lot of working out to get them back in shape, and then to become strong enough to run across rooftops and kick bad guys in the face would be virtually impossible.

It also gives her a new weakness: she's afraid of guns. Since the Joker shot her in the spine, pointing a gun at Batgirl will cause her to freeze up. While I can understand the reasoning behind that, I think a hero who fights criminals on a daily basis should probably not be afraid of the most common weapon of choice for criminals. That's like Superman going to a planet where everyone is armed with a kryptonite sword.

If they really wanted Barbara back, here's what I'd suggest: keep her as Oracle in the wheelchair, fighting crime that way, while flashing back to her days as Batgirl, showing us adventures that were previously unshown.

As for Stephanie Brown, the previous Batgirl, she's nowhere to be seen. There were some leaked images of future Batman comics with her having a cameo, though, so at least she's not gone for good. The Batgirl before her, Cassandra Cain, is currently working in Hong Kong as Black Bat, a member of Batman Inc. No offense, Babs, but I'd rather be reading about either of them than see you mess up after getting back in the game too soon.

Batwoman: she's a Jewish, lesbian, ex-military crimefighter, and that is awesome. Batwoman was introduced in 52 (which you should definitely read, if you haven't already), and as anyone who's read it can tell you, she kicks all sorts of ass.

The story is a darker, more mysterious kind of comic, with less action and more investigation, but still a fair deal of that. She's even working with a former Teen Titan on the case, connecting her to the larger DC universe (although given the current shape of the Teen Titans, I have no idea how that works). The artwork is whispy and fluid, like a watercolor painting, and giving the entire comic a more dream-like, ethereal appearance. I need to go back and read Batwoman's previous runs to really have more to say about it, but if you're a fan, then you'll most likely enjoy this.
Green Lantern

I'm not sure it's even necessary for me to review the Green Lantern comics, since they pick up right where they left off after War of the Green Lanterns (which was epic, by the way, and a must-read for any GL fan). We have Hal back on Earth, without his ring, trying to adapt back to the civilian life he left behind and the identity he nearly abandoned. Meanwhile, Sinestro is stuck with a Green Lantern Ring he doesn't want, unable to remove it from his finger and return to his own Sinestro Corps. The rest of the GLC isn't too glad to have him back either, given the amount of blood on his hands, most of which came from their comrades.

It's a little sad to see Hal in such bad shape after all that he's been through, especially the way he continues to screw things up with Carol Ferris. Still, it's a rough patch we know he'll overcome eventually, and half the fun is seeing how he'll do that. I'm a fan of Hal Jordan (I even plan to cosplay as him), so I'm eager to see what happens from here.

As for Sinestro, the question of why the ring chose him and refuses to let go remains lingering on everyone's minds, his most of all. The other Lanterns hope to kill him, his home planet of Korugar is being terrorized by his own Sinestro Corps, and he can't even return to them as he is. Sinestro was always an interesting villain, a man who believes he can bring order to the universe by fear, and was always the greatest Lantern. He's equally intriguing, and I plan to continue reading these comics for a while to come.
Green Lantern Corps

As with the rest of the Green Lantern comics, this one isn't affected content-wise by the reboot. However, we do see some new Lanterns leap into action with the team, and a threat to the Corps that's wiped out several Green Lanterns. It's also interesting to see Guy and John trying to find work back on Earth, yet their lack of a secret identity makes them a risk to hire. While Hal, who protected his secret identity, lost touch with his civilian life, the two who never wore masks are trying to avoid that same problem. Of course, they're called back into action soon enough.

That's all I can really say for that, so I apologize for the shortness of this review, but if you liked the GLC up until now, you'll enjoy this one as well.
Green Lantern: New Guardians

What can be said about Kyle Rayner? He was brought in to defeat Hal when he went mad as Parallax, he was granted the power of Ion, had it taken away, had several girlfriends die (one of which came back), and temporarily died during Blackest Night. Yet in spite of all he's done, there's always been those fans who just think he doesn't stand out, or those who didn't accept him as a replacement for Hal. Of course, Kyle has proved his mettle, and earned quite a few fans in the process. His artistic ability makes him one of the more creative Lanterns when it comes to his constructs, and his character has been well-developed.

In this comic, we see Kyle back on Earth, saving people as a hero should, but always being "that other Green Lantern." He's not Hal, the first GL (not counting Alan Scott, who wasn't a member of the Corps), he's not John, the only African-American Lantern, and he's not Guy Gardner, 'nuff said there. He's just "that other Green Lantern." Clearly it's beginning to bug him.

Yet across the cosmos, plot is happening, with rings from other Lanterns across the universe are decommissioning and flying off, leaving their owners to die. Where do these rings all go? To Kyle Rayner, of course, each one claiming he has the proper emotion to wield them. The members from the other Corps, however, want the rings back, and show up to fight for them at the very end.

Personally, I think Kyle's the perfect choice for the other rings to seek out, for whatever reason may be compelling them. He's the most human of all the Green Lantern earthlings. Hal is fearless, John is disciplined, Guy is hotheaded, but Kyle was just a struggling artist when he was chosen. He knows fear, and hope, and love, and greed, and anger, and compassion, and willpower so much more than the others, who specialize in one emotion. It is his humanity and grasp of all the emotions that make him the right choice for the rings to fly to.

But why are they doing that in the first place? What will the members of these various corps do to get them back, if they can at all? Those are the questions this comic leaves us with. And I'd like to find out, so I plan to keep reading.
Red Lanterns

Who among us can honestly say they don't know rage and hatred? It's an easy trap to fall into, but it's a sensation that we can relate to. That's why the Red Lantern Corp is so appealing. It's easy to be consumed by rage, but to the point where it becomes your entire being? To burn those who cause that rage, it might be worth it, or at least it was to these Lanterns.

Despite being on the end of the emotional spectrum, located with all the other negative emotions, the Red Lanterns aren't necessarily "evil." They're just really, really mad. Somebody hurt them, and now that pain defines them. If they let go of the rage, they let go of life. So while I was interested in a Red Lantern comic, I was worried that it would consist almost entirely of "I ARE ANGRY! BURN BURN BURN! RAAAR!!!" Fortunately, it did not.

Here we see Atrocitus, the leader of the Red Lanterns, as his anger begins to fade. He's had the revenge he longed for, so what is there in life for him now? Of course, he does have a hair-trigger temper, so being angry isn't a problem for him. We also see the other Red Lanterns, such as Bleez (you might remember her from Emerald Warrior), and the angry little kitty, Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern of Earth. But the comic also jumps to Earth now and then, where we see the mugging and murder of an old man, and the effect it has on his family.

Revenge, naturally, is a big part of this comic. What happens after the revenging is done? When is it justified? What sort of anger will the need for revenge drive one to? Yet it also shows us the Red Lantern Corps as a whole, their thirst for conflict, and the growing divide between Atrocitus and his team.

If you've enjoyed what you've seen of the Red Lanterns so far, then give this comic a look and see if it's your thing. It's not for everyone, but there will be those who enjoy it.
Alright, I'm almost done. Just a handful of various comics left to review, so stay tuned for part 3.

Monday, October 10, 2011

DC's new 52 (part 1)

For my first review, I thought I'd look at a collection of comics. Actually, it was when I posted quick opinions about these that I first thought, "maybe I should start blogging." By now, all of the comics in the DC relaunch are out, including a few #2 issues. I'll only be looking at the first issue of the ones I've read, though, some more in-depth than others.

So, after the events of Flashpoint, the DC universe was rebooted... sort of. Most things that have happened are still canon, just not all the details... or something like that. All the Crisis events still happened, Blackest Night still happened, 52 still happened, just not exactly in the way they did before. At least, that's the impression I'm getting.

Some comics have picked up right where they left off, such as Green Lantern and Batman, which means everything that happened up until now (the war of light, Batman Inc., that sort of thing) still happened just as they were. Others have taken us back to the heroe's earlier days, such as the Superman family of comics. We see Superboy as he's created, Supergirl as she crashes to Earth, and Superman both in his early days (in Action Comics) and later on (in Superman), but still not quite as they were. For example, Clark Kent is not yet married to Lois Lane, or even dating her, which leads me to assume that either these comics are still in the past, or the later events requiring their relationship take place in the future. We also get to see the formation of several teams, particularly the Justice League and variations thereof, and the Teen Titans. The reboot also serves to integrate new comics that DC acquired into their universe, but I haven't read any of those, so I probably won't touch on them.

You probably already know that, though. In fact, I'm probably a bit late to be reviewing these, but I still want to. So let's start off with the team-ups and Superman family of comics:
Justice League

Here we have the flagship title of the relaunch. The Justice League in its earliest days, as it was founded by the heroes we all know. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. Yes, Cyborg is no longer a member of the Teen Titans... I have no idea if he ever was now. Instead, he's a bona fide Justice League member, or will be, at least. However, for all the heroes we see on the cover, issue #1 only covers Batman and Green Lantern, with Superman appearing at the end. Okay, so we see Cyborg around before he becomes, well, all cybernetic, but the main focus of this comic is GL and Bats. Of course, they get to show off their skills, with Green Lantern throwing his constructs all around town, and Batman being quick enough to snatch the ring off Hal's finger, so it's not as though they're unimpressive, but it would be nice to see more.

We see in this issue that the world does not yet particularly like its superheroes. By that I mean: they have a shoot-on-sight order, or at least the impulse to do so. Of course, since this is before Final Crisis, Darkseid is still around, and it looks like he's the big bad they'll be facing first. For now, though, they're too busy fighting each other, as per the glorious comic book tradition.

As for the story itself, it's not off to the fastest start, but Geoff Johns tends to be good at setting up great stories. For a number one issue, it's not the most impressive, but I intend to look back on the entire first arc as a whole when it's completed, so more on that whenever that is. The artwork is fine, with nice attention to details, but sometimes a little too much shadow lines for my tastes; they make it look more sketch-like to me. So it's nothing mind-blowingly impressive, but good enough to take a look.
Justice League International

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the comic I've been waiting for. I'm going to tell you now, I am a huge fan of Booster Gold. I love how he appears to be this showboating glory-hound, but underneath it all he's got the heart of a hero. In his most recent run, he has to save time and space without letting anyone know - the total antithesis of the incompetent showoff he once was and has to pretend to still be. (But more on that when I review his comics.) So when I finished Justice League: Generation Lost and saw that the JLI was reforming, then later learned he'd be their leader, I was eager to see how it went. Let me tell you, this comic does not disappoint.

In spite of everything that happened in Generation Lost, this does not tie in directly to that. Like the other Justice League comic, this is the early days of the league, as it's founded by the U.N. We still have most of the cast of Generation Lost, though. Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red, and Batman are there, but no Captain Atom, Blue Beetle (too busy with their own books) or Power Girl. There's also Vixen, Zhifu Fang - August General in Iron, Guy Gardner, and Godiva joining the ranks, and each brings something new to the team in their powers and personalities.

As with the other Justice League title, the general public does not seem to welcome the heroes. Or in this case, they're protesting government ownership of the Hall of Justice. I'm guessing heroes vs society is going to be an ongoing theme in this reboot.

Now let me say this: the character dynamic in this book is wonderful. We have Guy Gardner being, well, himself, and his objections to Booster Gold leading the team, while Batman adds himself to the roster and approves of his leadership (being one of the only people to know Booster's true nature). We have Rocket Red and Zhifu constantly bickering about Russian technology vs Chinese technology, and Godiva being both snarky and flirtatious, depending on who she's talking to. The issue ends with the team leaping into action, as well as a larger threat appearing at the end.

This is how a Justice League comic should be done. We've got the team, we've got their well-defined characters meshing, clashing, and contrasting, and we have a chance to show them in action while still presenting a major danger for the next chapter. The artwork is clear and colorful, the writing is great, and the character roster is fantastic. This is the comic that gets my top recommendation.
Justice League Dark

This is a comic that intrigued me, because the roster is so much different from any other JL titles. I think the only member who's had any League experience is Zatanna, although I could be wrong. We also have John Constantine, whose supernatural expertise should make this an interesting read, as well as Deadman, dead again but with much more development after the events of Brightest Day.

This comic mostly lays the groundwork for events to come. We see a threat made of magic that the Justice League can't defeat on its own, and we have characters with supernatural or magical abilities who will soon be called to action. It's setting up a mystery, while the final page shows us an ominous future. It's not exactly short on action, but the team isn't together yet, so it's mostly snapshots of the various characters who will be forming it as they're pulled together.

So this is a promising title, but not for everyone. I'm going to see where it goes, though, since it's certainly intriguing.
Teen Titans

As with Justice League, this comic shows us the formation of the team. Well, the meeting of a few members who will form the team. We have Kid Flash screwing things up with his impulsiveness (and I'm not sure if it's Wally West or Bart Allen), which leads to Red Robin (Tim Drake) seeking down other teenaged heroes, presumably to stop them from being so stupid, but also to protect them from an organization hunting down and gathering superpowered teenagers. This organization, N.O.W.H.E.R.E., is related to the Superboy comic as well, especially when they tie in at the end.

So far, the comic has introduced Red Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl (who objects to the name), closing with one page of Superboy, just like how Justice League ended with a page of Superman. But we also see brief cameos of Static Shock, Raven, Starfire, Miss Martian, and some pink guy who (going by the cover) will join the Titans. The cover also shows some half-spider lady and a girl made out of dust. I have no idea who they are, but feel free to inform me in the comments. No Beast Boy in sight, and Cyborg is too busy with the JL to be a Titan again.

So how was Teen Titans? It wasn't bad, but not too impressive either. I have no idea where in the previous continuity this can fit, if it's even meant to at all. It sets up an interesting villain, and shows off the abilities of the heroes it shows, but it's just missing something to really impress me. So far, I'm underwhelmed. (Insert Young Justice joke about being "whelmed" here.)
Birds of Prey

I'm going to be honest, although I heard wonderful things about Gail Simone's run on Birds of Prey, I didn't read it. I know, I should be ashamed. But I decided to check out this new issue by Duane Swierczynski (I am so glad this is a written review, so I don't have to pronounce that last name), to see how it was.

So there's no Oracle leading this flock of Birds, but Babs does make a cameo. Looks like she's too busy being Batgirl again to sit in front of a computer again. Instead, we see Black Canary and Starling, with the promise of Katana to join in later. It's certainly action-packed, but lacks the character dynamic that draws me in to other comics. Maybe Birds of Prey just isn't my thing, since it failed to catch my attention, in spite of the fast pace and intrigue it tries to set up. Or maybe I'm just sore about Oracle, but more on that later.
Action Comics

I can now say I own a copy of Action Comics #1. Not THE Action Comics #1, but an Action Comics #1, which is worth... about $3.99, same as all the other new comics.

This comic shows Superman in his early days, before he had the tights - oh, sorry, armor. He wears Kryptonian armor instead of tights now. Anyways, before he had the armor, and instead ran around in a t-shirt and pants with a cape. At least that'll make it easier on cosplayers.

It's a callback to the earlier versions of Superman. Here his powers aren't fully developed. He's still bulletproof, but he can't fly (he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, though), and isn't quite as powerful as a locomotive yet. He actually spends as much time fighting corruption as he does any sort of villain. In fact, the comic opens with him threatening a corrupt businessman on the edge of a building. It's interesting to see Superman going back to his roots, but as a friend of mine has said, the way he's doing it is more Batman's style than Superman's, and it's as though Grant Morrison has written Batman for so long that it's affecting how he writes other comics.

We still see Lex Luthor, in all his cruel brilliance, as well as Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and General Lane. Clark Kent isn't a writer for the Daily Planet yet, though, instead working for some unnamed "rival newspaper."

I'm honestly not too sure what to make of this one. I'm torn between enjoying the callback to his roots and the knowledge that the world doesn't work like it did when he acted like that. It's a decent read, though, and possibly worth a purchase just for future bragging rights.

This is more like the Superman we know and love. He flies in, he fights a villain, he saves the day. Yet this comic also mixes up the status quo, bringing in new scenes and changing around character dynamic. Clark and Lois aren't together yet, which means we'll have to deal with the Clark-Lois-Superman love triangle... with some Jonathan Carroll guy thrown in to the mix, for whatever reason.

The villain in this comic is a little underwhelming, but it seems to be setting up for something interesting. No Lex this time around, but we've got plenty of him in Action Comics. This comic manages to do quite a lot in as many pages as all the others, making good use of the spaces they've got, at the occasional risk of becoming too dense. The artwork is fine, nothing I can see worth complaining about. All in all, it was a fine comic, although not one I'm likely to follow.

Ah yes, Supergirl. There have been quite a few Supergirls over time. There was the original Supergirl, who was killed and erased from existence during Crisis on Infinite Earths, but her alternate-universe version remained as Power Girl. Then there was Matrix!Supergirl, and Linda Danvers, and a fake Supergirl who was Superman's daughter from a future that never actually happened and stopped existing... comics are weird like that, okay? The most recent Supergirl was introduced in the Superman/Batman comics, Kara Zor-El, who was sent to Earth when Kandor was stolen and bottled up by Brainiac. This is also her... sort of.

As with the other comics, it reintroduces Supergirl as she first crashes to Earth, and immediately gets attacked by an armored team that wants to bring her in for being super-powered. She immediately beats the crap out of them, while wondering where she was and if she was still dreaming. Any attempts at communication are affected by the fact that she can't speak English. Good thing Superman can speak Kryptonian.

That's about it, really. Not too much happens, we just get to see Supergirl as she discovers her powers (which are the same as Superman's, naturally), and gets confused. Okay, so there's a little about her confusion, and a nice scene where her super-hearing kicks in and we hear bits of dialogue from other new comics, plus it does a nice job of showing her disorientation upon landing. If you're a fan of Supergirl, you might like it, but there's also the chance you'll dislike it for changing her character, it's hard to say. Browse through it first before deciding if you want to buy it.

This version of Superboy seems to be drawing less from the original comic book version of Superboy, and more from the Young Justice version. It's mostly from his POV, showing us him learning as he's being grown in the laboratory, with a few shifts to help build the world around him.

This comic is set up from the beginning to tie into the new Teen Titans comic, with N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and a few of the same characters. It also has a cameo from Rose Wilson (she's got both her eyes so far), and a few hints dropped about where his human DNA comes from. Spoiler: it's most likely Lex Luthor, just like in the previous comics.

I was interested by this one, but not quite enough to buy it. I might flip through issue 2 and see where it goes, since it has potential, although right now it seems to be struggling to find a right balance for the character that will satisfy the fans of the original Superboy and the Young Justice version.
Okay, that covers those. Next I'll give my opinions on the Bat-family series of comics and the other various comics. I hope you've enjoyed my reviews up until now, stick around for more.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Welcome to "Whatever I Read," where I talk about and review just that: whatever I've just finished reading, and whatever I may choose to read. Whether it's novels, comics, manga, or the back of a cereal box, if I have an opinion about it, you'll be the first to know.

Mind you, the comics and manga will be more frequent than full-length books, since they take less time to read. The cereal boxes will be the least frequent. Sometimes I'll delve into movies or TV shows, but I'll be sure to discuss the quality of the writing in those.

I suppose I should start by introducing myself. I'm a recent college graduate with a B.A. in Literature and no job. So that makes me the perfect choice for critiquing things on the internet, right? Well, even if not, I can't be any worse than some of the blogs out there, right?
... Okay, moving on before I dig myself in too deep.

I usually tend to write about something as soon as I'm done reading it, but I'm open to suggestions. If it's something I've already read, I can write a review about it, but if I haven't, I'll add it to my to-do list. (And don't ask me to review any of the Twilight books. The series sucks, we all know it, and you don't need another person explaining why.)

As you can see, the blog is still under construction, so hopefully it'll look better soon. Until then, enjoy!