Skyman Vol. 1: The Right Stuff

For the first time on Vintage Bullet we’ll be doing a review of a Dark Horse comic.

In this story the original Skyman is seen on television assaulting a black guy in a bar and then calling Obama the “N Word.” The government decides it’s time to replace him with another member of the Skyman training program but they’re all white so they kidnap our main hero, Eric Reid, who was crippled in a jet plane fight. The Skyman suit gives him powers such as superstrength, flight, and the ability to walk again. Reid does what he’s told by his superior, General Abernathy, while being hassled by another army guy named Sharp who hates him for letting his squad die in that jet fight.

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First I have to mention how since this volume is only 4 issues it breezes by quick. It took about half an hour to read and the pacing is really fast. There’s constant leaps in time from the first time he puts on the suit to a 40th time he went out to fight Arabs. Which makes it odd in a later scene where he’s still shouting out loud how awesome it is to be flying, even though it’s the climax. The biggest example is after giving a speech about how he’s better than Sharp because he cares about who lives or dies and then immediately on the next page when Midnight asks if they should check if the villain is alright he says “Screw him” and walks off.

This leads to my biggest problem with the story, a lack of stakes and investment. A lot of that comes from the lack of an interesting cast. Reid bounces around from the gruff hero with a sad backstory to a snarky teenager who just got their powers. Sharp is angry because he got passed over as Skyman and hates Reid because those people that died. He gives Reid a shower beating and it’s an even fight so they just stop in an awkward scene. Captain Midnight is here for a crossover and he’s pretty cool as a Captain America stand-in.

I’m gonna mention my favorite aspect of the whole book is the art. The landscapes are so detailed and the sense of flying you get during those scenes is amazing. I will say this is a pretty run of the mill story but the art brings it back up so much. It’s solid throughout the whole book and nowhere does it falter. Hats off to Manuel Garcia for bringing an alright story into a visual splendor.

Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov

Artist: Manuel Garcia

Rating: Borrow from a Mate

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Superman Vol. 1: What Price Tomorrow? (The New 52)

Now that I’ve covered the critically acclaimed New 52 Batman’s first arc it’s time to check out the opposite, Superman. (Some spoilers ahead for the villain origins)

The story takes place five years after Superman first made himself known to the public. Superman is seen as a hero by some and a villain by others, mainly the government, because he took the law into his own hands to arrest a corrupt businessman when he first started. The Daily Planet is bought out by some rival and upgraded into a multimedia building with Lois in charge of television and digital and Clark is still in print. The real important and almost interesting thing is Superman fighting against some aliens that speak only one word, Krypton.

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Wow at first read I didn’t really have a big opinion on this comic but on reflection this was so awful. I don’t even know where to start with this one. There is not one character I cared about in all of this; not Clark, not Lois, and none of the Daily Planet characters. There’s no one at all to humanize Superman, no one who he talks to or someone that matters to him. His parents are dead, Lois basically doesn’t care about him and Jimmy barely talks to him. There is so much dialogue of the other characters just talking about the business or talking about Superman that gets so repetitive and unnecessary.  In general it’s too wordy where everything in the first fight scene has captions for some reason when I can clearly follow it with just the art.

The villains are three generic villains, who aren’t even visually interesting and their origins are so ridiculous I can’t understand it. This is supposedly because George Pérez was told he had to make the story tie into Grant Morrison’s Action Comics which took place 5 years ago in story. During that story Superman acquired his Kryptonian armor and on that armor there was a symbiotic nanobyte from a planet Brainiac had collected. For some reason, five years later the robot adapted Superman’s powers into itself. Then there are three of the robots and they mind link into Superman’s brain, who was at the new Daily Planet, and then make a clone of him that kills some villains around the city. The real Superman is for some reason in the atmosphere and we never find out how he got there. The clone fights Supergirl until Superman arrives and kills it. It’s such a mess I can’t even understand any of it.

The art is the only good quality in all of this, I can’t think of another thing.

Writer: George Pérez

Artist: Jesús Merino

Rating: Rubbish

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Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52)

Ay Vintage Bullet is back.

After the mysterious death of a John Doe, Batman heads into an investigation where the prime suspects are the Court of Owls, a legend among Gotham about a society that has been running the town for centuries. Batman brushes it off as just a story and his reasons for ignoring such a lead is revealed throughout the book. We also learn a lot about the origins of Gotham, the Wayne Tower, and Bruce’s own family.

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Here’s a really big book I haven’t been able to talk about yet. As a casual fan of the Bat franchise I was never inclined to pick of any of Scott Snyder’s solo series, despite the rave reviews. But now I have read the first volume I can deliver probably the exact opinion that most people have, it’s pretty good.

Snyder writes all the characters very naturally where Bruce, Dick, and Alfred all read like they should. There’s a few new characters but they don’t really have personality except for Lincoln March, who’s a lot like Bruce though. The Talon doesn’t say much but he doesn’t need to, he’s a mostly silent assassin. Old Rogues make an appearance only in the first couple pages of the story but they look and act like they usually do. There’s a cool cameo by Pyg too in the group shot.

One of the key strengths of course in any comic is the art and Manapul’s is amazing. It’s simple but effective in the earlier issues and then goes full on insane in the later issues. Issue five is my favorite of the seven issues included in this collection simply for so many reasons. Seeing Batman at such a low point is amazing and the way he goes through the labyrinth while descending into madness makes for a visually interesting issue. The comic itself actually starts to turn it’s way upside down until the climax.

My complaints are minor and any big problem I’d have is related to this story arc only being half over with the “City of Owls” being covered in the next volume. One scene that felt out of character was in the final issue where, no spoilers, someone gets punched for no real reason except it looked cool. All and all it’s pretty good on it’s own but the next volume will make this story much more complete.

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Francis Manapul

Rating: Full Price

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