Day 2: Worst One-Shot

Yesterday showed how great One-Shot comics can be. Today I wanna highlight books that are the opposite. It’s not easy to tell a complete, satisfying story in one comic but when it’s done well it makes for some of the best comics I’ve read. On the other hand, some people fail at this and it can be for many reasons. Each comic listed here fails for a different reason because of how broad the category is.

Runner Up #1 Flashpoint: The Canterbury Cricket #1 by Mike Carlin and Rags MoralesUntitledFlashpoint is a decent comic event that had an extremely high number of tie-ins for some reason. While some of the books are good and some aren’t this one, the Canterbury Cricket stands out like a sore thumb for how awful and unnecessary it is. Rags Morales is a good artist and while I’ve never heard of Mike Carlin it looks like he’s been in the industry for a long time. So I don’t know how they came together to drop this awful book. The main character is unlikable and his origin story about getting power from touching a cricket while in a church is ridiculously bad. The character is barely relevant to the event this ties into and this comic is a waste of time. Its only saving graces and why it’s not higher is that the Ambush Bugs are a good idea in the book and that it’s a short comic in an alternate universe so it doesn’t really matter.

Runner-Up #2 Newsboy Legion/Boy Commandos Special by Howard ChaykinUntitledIn 2017, DC published a series of One-Shot comics to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of the King of Comics, Jack Kirby. The six comics are mostly good except for two of them, the Darkseid special (which almost hit the list) and this one The Newsboy Legion/Boy Commandos. I knew nothing about these characters going into this comic and I still don’t know anything about them. The two teams in this comic look the same and their dialogue is so thick in this “Street talk” that I could barely understand it. The art is dark and muddy and the setting of WW2 didn’t interest me. Now, to be honest, I dropped the book about 10 pages in because I couldn’t stand reading it which is why I can’t in good faith put it as the winner, but it’s an awful book regardless.

Winner – Superman: Distant Fires by Howard Chaykin and Gil KaneYes, Howard Chaykin took a runner-up and the winner place somehow. I don’t know much about him and his books but he just happened to write two of the worst one-shot comics I’ve read. Superman: Distant Fires is an Elseworlds comic about Superman during the apocalypse. Somehow the event took his superpowers away so now he struggles against the world. That’s a good concept and if this book continued down that path I probably would have really enjoyed this. Superman runs into Wonder Woman and she takes him back to a small village of other heroes who survived.Here, Chaykin takes the story down a different path and makes some awful choices while doing so. Superman starts dating Diana and this makes Billy Batson, aka Shazam or Captain Marvel, jealous. Billy is supposed to be one of the purest characters at DC but Chaykin’s take has him as a jealous, angry, murderer. This characterization alone is one of the big black marks on the comic. From here the book makes less and less sense as powers start returning for no good reason and the planet explodes. The ending is the worst moment though, as Superman sends his own child away to another planet while remarking that he could come with him, but decided not to because he’s “It’s meant to be this way.” Absolutely ridiculous and the only reason this book isn’t the worst ever is its high-quality art by Gil Kane.

New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made In China

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New Super-Man is a comic series released in 2016 that is currently ongoing and will be renamed soon so I thought it was a good time to jump into the series and see how it is.

Our series begins by introducing us to our protagonist, Kong Kenan, a Shangai teenager who is currently bullying some kid named Luo Lixin. The two are attacked by Blue Condor, a supervillain from a group called the Freedom Fighters. Kenan throws a can at Condor and that scares him off. Kenan is quickly scouted out by a secret organization called the Ministry of Self-Reliance who imbue him with energy from the dead New 52 Superman. This gives Kenan the power of Superman for a brief moment until Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man of China arrive and take him down. Kenan’s powers are shorted out now and it’s bad timing as the Freedom Fighters of China start attacking people to try and take down the Ministry.

Coming into a new series like this there’s a lot that has to be done to build up interest in the reader. Fortunately, New Super-Man does this very well. There’s a lot going on in the background of this series as a lot of characters and groups are introduced. It handles this well by not continuously hinting at stuff but by just letting the story play out. Next volume we learn the histories of both Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman but here they’re just fun characters and that’s what we see first. We get a similar idea with Kenan as we see who he is and how he acts before we learn why. At first Kenan isn’t very likeable as he bullies this kid and Bat-Man for being overweight and is just rude mostly. Soon though he relaxes on these as he becomes friends with Bat-Man and Lixin.

Any good aspect of this series is the nice world building aspect of it. This story is set in China so it’s a lot more visually interesting than usual just because of the setting. All the new heroes and villains have nice visual designs. The Folding Paper Man stands out among the villains for having a weird power and using it in clever ways. The art overall is very good as there’s quite a bit of action and it’s all dynamic and bright. There’s a lot of interesting plot twists and there’s just something about the story that feels familiar in a good way. I highly recommend New Super-Man and I can’t wait to continue reading the series.

Writer: Gene Luen Yang

Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic

Rating: Vintage

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Hyperion: Daddy Issues Review

I’m back here for the second part of this DC and Marvel counterpart review. Gonna cap things off now with Hyperion, Marvel’s Superman (well the most blatant one.)

Like Nighthawk, Hyperion ended up in the main Marvel universe but decided to become a truck driver to explore America. At one stop he is approached by a girl named Doll who is on the run from some evil carnies. Hyperion fights them back and now they’re on a road trip style adventure to stop this carnival. Also, Hyperion’s murder of Namor doesn’t go unnoticed so a battle with Iron Man occurs.

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Alright like Nighthawk this book was cancelled at issue six and while it wasn’t as bad as Nighthawk it still wasn’t very good. There are positives though so I wanna mention those at least. The art was pretty good, it’s bright and clean and gives this road trip story an indie feel. It works well when there are horror elements to the story like the Carnies powers and designs. Hyperion, aka Mark, while having the Superman knockoff origin story and abilities, has a little bit of personality. He is more grizzled and knowledgeable and is just a pretty cool character in his own way. The new character for the story, Doll, is an alright contrasting character to him. She’s got a generic overexcited, tomboy personality but it’s not annoying like most characters like this.

Now for the negative side of things. First, the villains were weak. They were just weird carnies and only one was a threat to Hyperion in battle and he gets taken out first. After that they’re just a bunch of hillbillies fighting a Superman so obviously there’s no tension. Iron Man is another villain in the story technically and he was just annoying. He’s written to try and be witty and snarky and he just doesn’t shut up. I think this was done so you’d want Hyperion to beat him up, which he does really easily.

I’m pretty mixed on this book but I do think the pros do outweigh the cons in the end, so I can’t call this rubbish. If you like the character or want a road trip comic I’d recommend it but for anyone else I’d just borrow it, which is what I did.

Writer:Chuck Wendig

Artist: Nik Virella

Rating: Borrow From A Mate

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Nighthawk: Hate Makes Hate Review

Nighthawk, a member of the Squadron Supreme, is somehow transported to the mainstream Marvel universe and ends up in Chicago. Of course Chicago is in the middle of racial tension as a police officer is currently on trial for the shooting of an unarmed black teenager. There is also a string of murders as white people who have somehow caused problems for black people are being killed off. Nighthawk straps on his Yeezys and teams up with a woman named Tilda to fight some white supremacists and take down the serial killer.

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So after reviewing those two comics starring DC’s flagship character’s, Superman and Batman, I just happened to read two Marvel comics about their counterparts, Hyperion and Nighthawk. Hyperion will be the next review but I wanted to talk about Nighthawk first.

Nighthawk really isn’t good. This series was cancelled at issue six so this is the only volume and I can understand why. None of the characters are interesting, the plot is so boilerplate and uninteresting, the murder mystery is one of the worst I’ve seen, and the art has one very big problem.

First off, Nighthawk himself isn’t well written here. He has flashbacks to his parents telling him to control his rage but it never has any resolution, he just ignores them really. Him going too far and struggling to control it could be interesting but it’s just not handled well, especially because he murders so many people right at the beginning. The other characters include his assistant, his Alfred, Tilda who is so obnoxious. She just goes on and on about how she used to be this great supervillain and that she fought Captain America once. She’s like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite, just living in the past. Me not knowing who she even was before this comic makes her bragging all the more annoying. Also in this book are just cliche cops who all act like rookies or are just corrupt and rich, racist white guys.

Secondly, the story is weak. The murderer, The Revelator, is just killing bad white people who have done things to black people. He doesn’t really have a personality and all of his motivations are told by other characters. The worst thing would have to be how it teases this mystery about who the Revelator is but you never get the answer. Nighthawk goes to research the guy but then it becomes a message about how the murderer could just be anyone who feels oppressed.  The secondary story about this rich evil white guy selling guns is terrible too. He has the most cliche motivation, money.

My last point is going to be on the art. It’s fairly decent and I liked the covers for this series. However, their is an odd coloring decision I have to address. For whatever reason blood is colored pink for the most part. It takes any seriousness out of the gory fight scenes. Even worse though is the final issue, where in a very important scene a character has brown blood just smeared all over him. It just looks ridiculous and removes all impact from the scene.

Overall Nighthawk was a bad and sloppy comic. Nothing came together and this comic was canned really quickly and will be forgotten just as quickly.

Writer: David F. Walker

Artist: Ramon Villalobos

Rating: Rubbish

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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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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