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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Suicide Squad Vol.1 – Kicked In the Teeth

The Suicide Squad, or Task Force X, is a government sponsored team of imprisoned super villains who have been assigned tasks with the incentive of a reduced sentence. The team is managed by Amanda Waller and the team members are always changing, but are usually C- to D- list characters who are expendable. The New 52 incarnation is the fourth published, but the first in the New 52 continuity.

Suicide Squad was one of the books I heard the most about when first getting into comics during the New 52. Jumping into this one I wasn’t expecting much so once I finally got around to reading it I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. The plot is full of interesting twists and cliffhangers and the characters are pretty good. There’s the obviously expendable one’s like Voltaic, Lime, and Light and there are the big name characters like Harley and Deadshot. However, I found myself more interested in the more obscure or new characters like El Diablo, King Shark, Black Spider, and Yo-Yo.

The first issue introduces most of the Squad and later issues keep adding more members. Deadshot is the team’s field leader so a lot of the focus is on him. I’m not a fan of his new design, he looks more Redneck than Spanish to me. He’s characterized as the angry, witty, does the job by the book mercenary. Harley acts like the Joker most of the time, but with just more random humor. I’m not really a fan of her either, so her new origin and costume design don’t bother me that much. The rest of the team are just more interesting, funny, and there is some level of tension with them because they can actually die.

There are two main arcs in this volume: a search for a baby who can cure this zombie outbreak and a Harley Quinn focused arc where she escapes to find Joker. The first plot has a lot going on and moves at a fast pace, but also manages to characterize the Squad pretty well. There are some cameos from characters like Captain Boomerang and Mad Dog and it’s cool to see them. The second arc keeps the theme going of good plot twists and keeps the humor and action going. The Harley focus is alright, I don’t really care about the story but I understand why they do it, she’s the most popular character.

If I have any real complaints it would be some art inconsistencies in Harley’s costume where her cape disappears sometimes at random. I understand because it’s a cluttered costume, but it doesn’t excuse it. I also don’t like Amanda Waller in this book. She just threatens to blow up the Squad all the time and makes their missions harder by not telling them things they need to know.

Other then those two things I quite enjoyed this comic. There’s also a good shot at Marvel and the Avengers by Yo-Yo. Besides Harley’s cape the art is actually real good.

Writer: Adam Glass

Artist: Federico Dallocchio

Rating: Full Price

 

Brightest Day

After the Blackest Night was prevented, twelve superheroes and villains were revived by the power of the white rings. These chosen people have been brought back and given a task by the life entity so they can have their life returned fully. Brightest Day follows seven of the heroes: Deadman, Aquaman, Hawk, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, Hawkman,and Martian Manhunter. This story is told by jumping between five different adventures that the characters are on and they merge together near the end.

Deadman’s plot could be considered the main story because it gets the main focus. After the revivals, all the white rings dissipated except for Deadman’s. This gives him a connection to the life entity, who tells him to find a new champion of the light. During his journey he works with Hawk and Dove and experiences life again after being dead for so long. This is an enjoyable story and it’s really unpredictable so I was always hooked on it. The character dynamic between Hawk, Deadman, and Dove is good too because of their opposing personalities.

The Aquaman story involves Aquaman’s powers starting to revive dead sea animals. Before he can deal with that he is attacked by underwater soldiers from his wife Mera’s homeland. Secrets come out about Mera’s origin and an unknown teenager begins to develop water related powers. All of this ties into the return of Aquaman’s nemesis, Black Manta. This story is quite like a soap opera where ridiculous twists about family and killing pop up. I still enjoy it for what it is and Aquaman is still such a cool character and the fight scenes in his story are really good.

Firestorm’s story involves Jason and Ronnie trying to get along after Ronnie kinda murdered Jason’s girlfriend while he was a Black Lantern. They find out their Firestorm Matrix is corrupted by something dark and that by fighting each other they might explode. This is an alright story, but the two leads aren’t that interesting and it’s mainly their villain who carries the plot.

The Hawk’s story is about them fighting Hath-Set, a priest who is hunting down their previous lives’s bones to create a gate to Hawkworld. This story starts out on the slow side but really picks up towards the end when the true villain is revealed and an unexpected team up happens. The love related dialogue in the beginning hurts it kinda but it all leads to something.

The final story is about the Martian Manhunter and how he is trying to restore life to Mars. He also must face another martian, who is a woman martian who wants to restore their race. There’s also the sudden appearance of a giant star shaped forest in the middle of Star City that somehow connects J’onn to the Earth. This story is very interesting and puts J’onn into situations that make him look like a vulnerable, relatable character who isn’t too strong. He doesn’t just fight his way out of all issues, he uses his mind and this makes the story a smart one.

All across the board the art is fantastic in each issue of the book and the way the stories come together is cool to see, even if after the first one concludes you start to expect the next three stories’ endings. All in all it’s another really good event, where strong plots and characters make a little bit of a scattered format actually work.

Writer: Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi

Artist: Patrick Gleason & Ivan Reis

Rating: Full Price

Juicy Reviews: Smallville Season Eleven- Volume Two: Detective

 I’d like to thank the Vintage Reviewer for allowing me to review on his site once again!

COMIC REVIEW: We are back with “Smallville Season Eleven- Volume Two: Detective,” which is written by Brian Q. Miller (Batgirl [2009], Earthward) and penciled by Chris Cross (Blood Syndicate, Firestorm), Jamal Igle (Arrow Vol. 1, Superboy Vol. 5: Paradox), Kevin West (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Axel Gimenez (Injustice: Gods Among Us, Action Comics). When Bruce Wayne aka Batman gets a lead on where the man who killed his parents is, he is sent to Metropolis for further investigation. His tactics on finding the murderer may be too destructive, however, as Superman intervenes.

This comic series of “Smallville” seems to be in its sophomore slump with this next graphic novel. With a key player such as Batman, you would think that this would make for a great read, but in fact it isn’t that good. Why? For starters, this feels like more of a coincidental, happy-go-lucky meeting of the two titular characters than something grand. Bruce Wayne needs to interrogate someone, Superman won’t let him, things get messy, and then they begin to see that there is a bigger picture to this. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments in this plot that I liked, but overall it was mediocre. Many things felt crammed in for the sake of it, especially the villains. I won’t spoil who shows up, but they were randomly thrown in for no apparent reason. To be honest, this is one of those stories that is a detour of the main arc, that being Lex Luthor’s evil plan. It wasn’t showcased in this novel whatsoever, and Batman and Superman’s conflict felt like a short confrontation to excite fans. The thing is, I wasn’t really excited. I’ve already seen them face off in this year’s “Batman v. Superman” (which was awful, by the way), so I wasn’t clamoring for another deadly meeting.

Still, their chemistry was pretty good, and Miller knows how to make things interesting, even when working with such a hollow plot. Taking a step back and looking at the whole novel, however, I can definitely tell that Miller found trouble in ending this short story, for the first half was better than the second. Moving on, let’s look at the characters. This time around, everyone seems to be shifting into new forms. Not necessarily physical, but how they act. Everyone is learning new things, and new discoveries are to be found in this novel. One thing that has changed in a peculiar way is Lex Luthor. The man is turning into a much different person than in the show. He is a little nicer, jokes around a lot, and constantly talks to himself (technically it’s Tess, but you know what I mean). I don’t know what to think of this new Luthor. I smile at the jokes, but I don’t know if this is how he should act. I will admit that he is the most interesting pawn on this shallow board though. His issues with Tess are well-written and I am eager to see what happens next with him. As for the other characters, no one has moved forward. Sure, things are discovered, but it’s more for the readers sake than the characters in the novel. This plot is essentially one of those filler episodes of a season where the writers take a break from the main story just so they can meet the episode count of their season. Being as how this is a comic series, this shouldn’t happen. Finally, we get to the artwork, which is pretty bland. The art seemed to be my only big problem with the last graphic novel, and those feelings continue with this one. As you can see, I listed four pencilers above, all of whom worked on the art for the individual comics that make up this graphic novel. What half of them share in common, coincidentally, is they aren’t that good. The artwork in this was pretty bad, in different aspects. Chris Cross (nice name) found trouble in organizing his work.

Even though his drawings of characters weren’t too shabby (they had the likeness of the actors, which was good), his boxes that made up the pages were jumbled and confusing to follow, making it hard for me to concentrate on the story. Plus, some of his characters would all of a sudden have the eyes of a cartoon cat, making it hilariously bad. Kevin West had to be the worst, as his characters looked like mannequins most of the time, showing very little in the face. Axel Gimenez was fine, even though his characters didn’t show much likeness to the actors, and Jamal Ingle was actually good in his work, save for Superman at times, who had the neck of a giraffe. This comic series has a hard time picking great artists, and I hope that the next novel improves upon this. In the end, I thought that this novel was rather flat, especially when compared to the first. It was a nice detour to the main story arc, but it wasn’t needed, and they could’ve done a better job at introducing Batman to the universe. Let’s hope the next graphic novel isn’t so much of a throwaway.

FINAL SCORE: 70%= Buy for a Bargain

 

Juicy Reviews Presents: Smallville Season 11 – Volume 1: Guardian

COMIC REVIEW: “Smallville Season Eleven- Volume One: Guardian” is written by Brian Q. Miller (Batgirl [2009], Eartward) and is drawn by Pere Pérez (Savage Tales, Adventure Comics Special). Not long after the battle against Apocalypse that ended season ten, Clark Kent aka Superman is dealt with a new task when Lex Luthor initiates a space-based system used to stop other-worldly threats from attacking earth, known as the Guardian Defense Platform.

I wanted to thank Vintage Bullet for allowing me to review on this site once again. It was on my own accord to do so since I wanted to voice my opinion on the graphic novel series that is “Smallville Season Eleven,” being that my own site, Juicy Reviews, only analyzes films. Anyway, let’s get onto the review. Before I knew about this comic book series, I watched the television show “Smallville.” Although I picked up on the series a year after the show concluded in 2011, I was intrigued by the universe it created, with its many interesting stories and fun cast to watch onscreen. I adored the show, and when I found out that a comic series was published shortly after the TV show’s conclusion, I knew I had to get it. Granted, this is a graphic novel rather than the single comics themselves, but I prefer it this way nonetheless. I didn’t know what to expect out of this graphic novel. I haven’t read many comic books myself, but knowing that a writer from the television series was the head honcho of this comic eased my worries.

Off the bat, I will say that this is a fantastic read. Not only are the characters and their personalities retained, but a fresh story has been formulated as well. Starting this comic felt like “Smallville” was never gone, and it brought me joy to keep up with these characters once again. The dialogue amongst our figures was written so well, and I found myself visualizing the lines as if they were said by the actors who played the actors who played them. If there is one thing to say about this novel, it’s that it doesn’t diminish the characters “Smallville” fans spent ten years with. Their conflicts and story arcs are interwoven masterfully, as there was no weak link out of the bunch. Everyone had their fair share of interesting moments and they all pushed the plot line further. As for the story itself, it was really good. I didn’t know how they would continue Clark’s adventures as Superman, being as how he has already fought many of his main villains in the TV show, but Miller found a way to bring Lex forth and further his struggle with Superman, offering a diabolical plot that I would like to see continue. There are many twists in this story, some small and some big. All of them caught me off guard and made it less predictable. Of course, the novel ends on a cliffhanger in an attempt to get the reader to buy more (which I am), but I find those endings to be great as they keep my grasp on the storyline and leave me begging for more.

If there was anything that I could say badly about this graphic novel, it would be the artwork. Don’t get me wrong, most of it is good. There are just times, however, where it is ugly or cheap. Although the whole graphic novel is drawn by one person, he finds trouble in making characters like Clark Kent look the same throughout. Sometimes he will look like the actor Tom Welling from the show, and others he will look like a creepy man-child. It isn’t too bad to the point where I can’t read the book, but it is notable. In the end, I found this to be a great revamping of the television show as well as a fantastic launching point into the Superman mythos. I can’t wait until I receive to second novel, which includes Batman (that should be interesting).

FINAL SCORE: 93%= Vintage

Superman #1

The marathon is over and with it the first anniversary of Vintage Bullet. It’s been a wild ride with many ups and downs. I’d like to thank everyone who got me here. Special thanks to Harrison over at Juicy Reviews for the plug and the idea. With all that over with, what better way to end this marathon than with the first big superhero, Superman.

Superman #1 tells multiple stories about Superman as he does things like preventing a lynching, stopping an execution, fighting in a war, and joining a football team. When he’s not being Superman we get some pages of Clark Kent, Superman’s secret identity who works at the Daily Star. We also get a 2 page origin story for Superman.

Superman #1 is a book that confuses me in many ways. In terms of an actual story with a plot and characters it is terrible. Superman goes to multiple locations under the cover of reporter Clark Kent, but he is also sent to cover a domestic disturbance. Clark himself is boring, his only characteristic is the false cowardice he shows to cover his identity. Lois Lane is in this and she shows the strong she still is today. No other characters like Jimmy Olsen or any of Superman’s big villains appear.

However, things all begin to change when Superman appears. The character of Superman in this book is drastically different than how he is portrayed now. In this story he can not fly, he doesn’t have his super hearing, x-ray or heat vision, or his super breath. His main powers are his speed, jumping, super strength  and his invulnerability. He uses these powers mostly to intimidate and threaten people when he isn’t beating them up. His personality is more like Batman’s than Superman’s.

A perfect example of his bad behavior would be the football story. In order to break up a thug filled football racket, he decides to take the place of a member of the team they are playing next. One of the players, Burke, happens to look similar to Superman so he decides to take his place on the team. He goes to Burke’s house, drugs him so he’s asleep, and then goes to the game. I’m not gonna spoil the rest but he manages to also get Burke kicked from the team. And objectively the art is terrible. Superman’s cape and symbol sometimes disappear completely and most characters have Captain Marvel squinty eyes.

But despite all of this it has the charm of the Golden Age. Seeing Superman destroy airplanes and end a war makes me understand the character’s appeal back in those days. This book also contains the famous scene from Action Comics #1 where Superman lifts the car. I also like how the book balances multiple different types of stories without being so jumbled. I can’t be too harsh on a book like this, it’s just the time period.

Writer: Jerry Siegel

Artist: Joe Shuster

Rating: Borrow from a Mate