Friday, April 29, 2016

Quarter Bin 73 "Coming back to Snyder's Batman"

Bought cheap.  Title is figurative.  And so on.

Batman #1 (DC)
From 2011.
Sometimes I find myself forming opinions as a reaction to what I consider to be the stupid opinions of others.  Hey, we all do it.  I tend to be accused of it probably more than others, but this is a far more common phenomenon than people think (probably for obvious reasons).  Thankfully, I sometimes catch myself.  I hated how much Scott Snyder's Batman caught on.  As an affirmed Grant Morrison fan, I just wanted to shout, Morrison's Batman hasn't even finished yet!  What's wrong with you?  But I can also acknowledge that Morrison is an extremely divisive writer, and his Batman had already gone through several permutations, and had long since moved on from its most sensational story, "Batman R.I.P."  By this point, he was approaching concluding it with the second volume of Batman Incorporated.  Snyder, meanwhile, had created some positive buzz with his initial Batman work within the pages of Detective Comics.  DC obviously recognized his unique new voice, and gave him the chance to get the widest exposure with the Batman relaunch at the start of the New 52.  And it caught on like wildfire.  In the following years, the company even began touting the first collection of his run, The Court of Owls, as a new classic, a must-read.  I thought that was beyond the pale.  I mean, does popularity really qualify something as a classic?

Well, in some cases, probably.  But that's kind of beside the point.  Snyder's work wasn't just considered good Batman material, it became the gold standard of success in the New 52 era, one that every other title DC published failed, time and time again, to match.  I mean, eventually Harley Quinn caught on in a big way, but for the same reasons Deadpool was a surprise blockbuster earlier this year.  That's just the character of fans at the moment.  Snyder's word, ideally, really does transcend the moment.  There's a reason why.  This first issue subconsciously evokes another moment in which Batman broke out of a slump, 1989's Batman movie, actually, which remained the gold standard of Batman movies until The Dark Knight.  Snyder has Bruce Wayne overhear a conversation Jim Gordon has about an open crime scene, and a fat detective waits on-scene (this time one of the good guys, ol' reliable Harvey Bullock). 

Like I said, it's a subconscious connection, probably one few readers realize even now, but it sets the tone.  Snyder's Batman is a hopeful one, in the manner of what Morrison had sought to accomplish, but perhaps mistakenly associating it with a whole movement.  Batman works best when it's clear he's in control, even when he loses control (as he often does in Snyder's series).  Whether he has partners is beside the point.  It's not about subtracting grim from the equation (it's been observed that Snyder's Batman was basically a horror series), but that Batman himself doesn't have to be grim.

I read this issue again, thanks to another lucky find of bargain packs that seem to be popping up everywhere I go lately, before reading the final issues of Snyder's run, and it's the reason I bought those to begin with.  I mean, I've been reading the run sporadically since the beginning, and sometimes I've really loved it, but I've never really shaken my basic reaction, Of course this isn't as good as they say it is.  There will be a lot of reasons why fans eventually cool on the run, all the things Snyder never quite accomplished but easily could have but for whatever reason never did, and while those points will be valid, they don't take away from the base accomplishment, which was to present a whole era in which Batman's popularity was guided by a single man, who more or less lived up to the occasion.  Sound like faint praise?  It isn't.

Batman Annual #3 (DC)
From February 2015.
Snyder's partner in crime during this time was his protégé, James Tynion IV, with whom I recently read an interview that explained the whole relationship.  I never realized what a lucky bastard Tynion really was.  Because I could sometimes slip in my appreciation of Snyder, you can bet I had less kind thoughts concerning Tynion.  But the truth is, he's put in some good work, such as this issue, part of the "Endgame" arc that saw Snyder's vision of the last battle between Batman and the Joker.  One of the running themes of the arc was the true identity of the Joker, which actually doesn't feature into the issue, but rather his twisted relationship with a reporter who found himself in the unique predicament of asking what the hell is wrong with the Joker, to his face, and theorizing that it's because the Joker is incredibly...lonely.  So the Joker agrees to make the guy his special friend, which seems to be a sincere joke, as it were, on his part, but which absolutely terrorizes his most uncomfortable victim.  The fact that I took the time to actually explain what happens in a comic book should tell you that it was pretty memorable.  So it was good to read, while rediscovering Snyder, Tynion as well, and come to a similar conclusion.

Batman/Superman #13 (DC)
From October 2014.
I could never quite bring myself to read this series, which I originally thought was a sad attempt to recapture the glory of Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman, which later writers in that series, to my mind, amply proved already was all too easy to accomplish (the failure, you understand).  But I knew the series was different, that DC was making a serious attempt.  While certainly a quieter entry than its predecessor in the chronicles of the World's Finest, it attracted some quality talent, like Greg Pak, as part of his overall Superman duties, and Jae Lee, who has consistently produced some of the most gorgeous art in comics.  This issue features the duo with amnesia, and some interesting moments with the likes of Catwoman, Bruce Wayne, and Lois Lane as a result. 

Thus rounding out a pretty good bargain three-pack in what is usually a pretty dicey prospect.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reading Comics 185 "I am being Broot, plus the end of Scott Snyder's Batman and the penultimate Geoff Johns Justice League"

Batman #50, 51 (DC)
These are Scott Snyder's final two issues of the most successful run from the New 52 era.  I've done my fair share of waffling on Snyder's Batman, but in the end I can agree that it was historic, and in a good way.  #50 counts as the end of Jim Gordon's run as Commissioner Batman.  Bruce Wayne, in an earlier issue I haven't read, finally reconciled himself with his Batman destiny again, and aided in the thwarting of Mr. Bloom's plans to deconstruct Gotham (via methods that made him a cross between Christopher Nolan's Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins and Poison Ivy).  Along the way, Snyder brings Duke Thomas, the would-be next Robin who went on to somewhat fill that role in We Are Robin, back into the fold, providing sort-of closer to one of his signature creations (along with the Court of Owls and Harper Row) during the run.  #51 is a better issue, as it directly reflects on the very first issue by bringing back the "Gotham is..." newspaper column feature in the captions, along the way providing a hopeful interpretation of what Batman means to his city.  I think that about sums up what Snyder brought to the character, building on Grant Morrison's earlier Batman Inc. mentality and allowing Batman to be less grim, while still pursuing monumental stories (just about every story was a crossover arc).  This was something that was largely absent from of the New 52, a truly cohesive vision that looked like something new but was also, for those paying attention, something familiar.

(Snyder returns in the DC Rebirth era with All Star Batman.)

Justice League #49 (DC)
Geoff Johns pens the penultimate chapter of "Darkseid War" and his run in this series, his last regular writing assignment for the foreseeable future, and he continues to drop big moments, such as the death of Moebius (the responsible party is hardly someone you would expect), setting up a finale in which all the remaining players must sort out their variously tangled relationships, enemies of so many orders that you kind of might confuse this for the best-ever X-Men story (or the rest of the Marvel universe lately, as has been heavily depicted in its movies, soon to be seen again in Captain America: Civil War).  So that's exactly what Johns has accomplished in this very DC series that has stood as the uncrowned monthly event series I've been describing since the first issue...

Omega Men #11 (DC)
The penultimate issue of Tom King's masterpiece sees war grow more and more entrenched, as the individual remaining members of the team rally the individual worlds of the Vega System to the cause.  This is where we get to see the results of what the rest of the series has accomplished, and my favorite moment comes from Scrapps, the dirtiest player in the game (no, silly, not Ric Flair!).  Scrapps is the girl I will probably have to go back and read to find out if King ever actually explored her background, but she's been the toughest soldier in an army that was packed with all kinds of muscle.  She confronts Broot's father, the pontifex of Changralyn (where Omega be praised), and utters the phrase leading the title of this column, "I am being Broot."  ("Broot" means heretic, by the way.)  It's a great moment, and points to what King, and DC, may have been intending all along with Omega Men, which was to present DC's version of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, which a couple of years ago became a hugely successful movie, famously with the tree creature Groot, whose dialogue nearly exclusively consists of uttering the phrase, "I am Groot."  And as far as I'm concerned, that's exactly what King has accomplished.  DC has always been the thinking man's comic book company.  There are plenty of people who would love to dispute this, but they'd be wrong, and I'm not even just talking superhero comics (no other company has been able to so successfully juggle those and so many other genres like DC).  But even in terms of between DC and Marvel, DC's always been the more philosophical one, whereas Marvel has always tried its hardest to play the superhero game straight (again, you can see that clearly in the movies).  Right now we have a lot of fans who prefer the Marvel method.  When it swings around again (and it will), Omega Men will be waiting to be rediscovered.  And make a better movie...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Quarter Bin 72 "Moon Knight is the connoisseur's Deadpool"

Let's recap.  These comics were not literally bought from a quarter bin.  The title of this column is symbolic.

Moon Knight #7 (Marvel)
From November 2014.
It strikes me that no one is running around trying to get Moon Knight into his own movie.  Well, maybe someone is, after the big success of Deadpool?  Because Moon Knight is basically the connoisseur's Deadpool.  Marvel has been trying for about as long as it has with Deadpool to get Moon Knight to connect.  At first a fairly lame and obvious Batman rip-off, because he was so expendable, Marvel let its creators loose, and for several short-lived series now (including one written by Brian Michael Bendis), Moon Knight has emerged as one of the company's better creative vehicles.  Now more or less a psychotic vigilante, a kind of Marvel version of the Spirit, Moon Knight in this particular series and/or issue is written by Brian Wood, who is well-loved in the comics community but with whom I've continually failed to connect as a reader.  This issue features a more or less straight Spirit adventure for Moon Knight, despite the fact that the tag line in the intro page specifically addresses that he is insane and this is what follows...Well, apparently in this series Marvel has determined that Moon Knight addresses how absurd the concept of vigilantes really is.  But the character still has better overall storytelling potential than the relentlessly one-note Deadpool...

Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel)
From May 2014.
Winter Soldier, a.k.a. Bucky Barnes, is a signature character of Marvel's post-millennial comics, a resurrected, repackaged, repurposed superhero who helped lead the way to the Avengers movies and has otherwise spent a lot of time being written by Ed Brubaker, who envisioned the whole concept.  This issue, however, is written by Rick Remender, with whom I have a better record than Brian Wood.  But Winter Soldier, ironically, barely appears in this issue.  Instead, it's a Nick Fury/S.H.I.E.L.D. Cold War/Nazi Hangover adventure (as are a lot of Marvel stories).  Presumably later issues more directly feature, y'know, the Winter Soldier...

All-New X-Men #27 (Marvel)
From September 2014.
A series that shipped twice-monthly, All-New X-Men wasn't as old as its numbering this issue suggests.  I read the early issues thanks to the pairing of Brian Bendis and Stuart Immomen, who was finally emerging from a long quagmire in which he didn't draw very much like, y'know, Stuart Immonen.  But the Immonen who shows up in this issue is kind of phoning it in, as is Bendis, whose grand vision for his time-lost original X-Men and more contemporary mutants had kind of petered out into a time travel adventure...with future enemies!  I had high hopes for a Bendis X-Men.  Everyone did.  I mean, he nearly single-handedly invented the Avengers as we know them today (also contributing: The Ultimates and Brubaker's Captain America).  In the end, I think it was the overreliance on the increasingly baffling gimmick of the time-lost X-Men.  For one arc, it would have made perfect sense.  But then he just kept it going and going...Which is kind of a Bendis trademark.  And maybe something he really ought to work on...

Wolverine and the X-Men #9 (Marvel)
From November 2014.
This is from the days of "Death of Wolverine," so Marvel was about to kill off its most popular character in order to spite 20th Century Fox.  But these were good days.  This issue features Logan confronting a rogue student (saddled with a terrible name I won't dignify here) who eventually makes it clear that it isn't all X-Men or Brotherhood of Mutants.  There's a third option.  There always is.  So, a pretty good issue. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Reading Comics 184 "Darkseid War, Superman: America Alien, Omega Men, Web-Warriors"

Justice League #47, 48, Special #1 (DC)
Okay, so the word ought to be ought by this point that Justice League #50 will finally give a definitive answer as to who is the Joker.  Because that's going to happen.  So I dove back into Darkseid War.  The original plan was to eventually read the whole thing in trade collection, because this is one of the biggest stories Geoff Johns has ever done (which is saying something), building on just about everything he's done in this series, including Forever Evil, and arguably telling a definitive New Gods tale in the process.  With various members having taken over various New Gods facets in the wake of Darkseid's death, they come to the realization that the Crime Syndicate (as Lex Luthor realized immediately) will probably have to play a role in this, and by the end have actually decided to team up with their doppelgangers.  (It's worth noting that the animated Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is actually pretty good.)  In the Special, Johns gets to write a Jessica Cruz (Power Ring) tale, more or less riffing on what he's already done in the series proper, but still fun for fans of his Green Lantern to see (it's also worth noting that his two creations, Cruz and Simon Baz, finally helm their first ongoing series, thanks to the upcoming Rebirth era, in Green Lanterns).  But more importantly, and also slightly riffing on earlier material, Special also puts the spotlight on Grail, and as such is another essential issue for those who realized that Johns has been using Justice League as his first run with Wonder Woman.  And may he have another...

Omega Men #3 (DC)
And thusly now do I have physical copies for all extant issues of this series.  In this one, Tom King explores Princess Kalista's motivations, which at the time seemed all the more crucial because she had the most immediate relationship with Kyle Rayner, and this was the first time the series delved into a team member's back story, but certainly not the last.  The William James quote?  "The 'sentimental fallacy' is to shed tears over abstract justice and generosity, beauty, etc., and never to know these qualities when you meet them in the street, because the circumstances make them vulgar."  Again, I love these quotes in the series.  Clearly Kalista was used to win Kyle over, because she's a romantic figure, enough to make him begin to care, when the rampant chaos of the Vega System itself was never enough.  I hope comics fans eventually come around and realize how significant King's work in this series really is...

Web-Warriors #5 (Marvel)
I had to read at least one issue of this series, right?  It's a de facto continuation of Mike Costa's work from the Secret Wars Spider-verse mini-series, which is to say, more with all those Spider-Man variations running amok together.  What strikes me, in reading this, is that Costa is completely at home in this chaos. I guess it took a while for me to reconcile this version of his writing with the more sober work I know best, but if it gets him more fans and maybe even regular work, then I can support that.  Maybe not read it regularly myself, but clearly there are readers for this sort of thing, so I can't complain.  Happy for the guy...

Superman: American Alien #2, 4, 5 (DC)
I read the first issue digitally, and I was impressed with this latest variation on Superman's origins.  Every issue spotlights a different period of Clark Kent's formative development.  The second issue, for instance, features Max Landis' take on the period featured in Smallville, the teenage Clark figuring out what to do with his powers.  Each issue features a different artist.  This one has Tommy Lee Edwards, in a style you'd not typically associate with Superman, more like Ed Brubaker's crime comics, say.  The fourth issue features budding journalism, with Clark, and Lois, covering the media coverage of emerging moguls Oliver Queen (post-island), Lex Luthor, and the elusive Bruce Wayne (who was previously featured in the third issue).  This is my favorite issue so far, and not just because of the typically lush Jae Lee art.  Here's a quote from Luthor:

"There's a fatalism that's been going around, and I think it's toxic -- self-fulfilling.  I think fatalism is hip and pragmatism has gotten boring.  I think dark futures are paradoxically easier to see than bright ones.  Everyone talks about the problems of tomorrow, the apocalypse of next week, but whatever happened to the man of tomorrow?  Why are we so convinced there aren't those among us who could maybe solve these problems that seem so insurmountable to the pseudo-intellectuals who pose them? We scared to even talk about a hopeful future, because we're terrified it won't come to light."

Anyway, Landis has some big, brainy thoughts in mind, perfectly in-character, too, and his work speaks to the enduring strength of revisiting familiar stories, no matter how familiar we think they are, or how familiar we think we are with the players.  Young Luthor is always as fascinating as Mature Luthor, and in the hands of someone like Landis, Young Clark is arguably more fascinating than his mature counterpart.  His first encounter with Batman, in this version, inspires him to become Superman.  And so the fifth issue is all about his first, unsure attempt at being a superhero, like the Landis version of Frank Miller's famous Batman: Year One.  And it's fantastic.  The whole Blur thing from Smallville always seemed half-considered to me, a placeholder.  As depicted by Francis Manapul, in arguably his best work to date, the Landis version seems like it always existed.  Well, now it always will...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Quarter Bin 71 "It's not all doom and apocalypse, it just seems so..."

Okay, you got me.  But the point is, I got these comics cheap, and they're older comics, so the chances are fewer people are talking about them right now...

Batman/Superman 3.1: Doomsday (DC)
From November 2013.
This is the newest comic I picked up in my most recent back issue binge.  I've been collecting various Villains Month issues since they were released.  It was a heck of an idea, letting the bad guys have their tales told, and for some of these guys, it was a chance to see what exactly their New 52 context was.  Obviously Doomsday was pretty famous in older continuity as the monster that killed Superman, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice saw his movie debut (considerably more auspicious than, say, Bane's).  This version ties up Supergirl and General Zod into the mythos (the movie features Zod mixed in, too, oddly or not) and doesn't particularly focus on his origins so much as his significance to the Kryptonians people care about, including deeper cuts into the House of El, including a Knight of El and Lara.

The Possessed #3, 4, 5 (Cliffhanger)
From November, December 2003, January 2004.
I last caught an issue of this co-written non-superhero Geoff Johns (#4, actually) in 2013, so I guess I was only two-thirds more lucky this time around (still missing the ending, alas).  It's not hard to see echoes of Johns' superhero work in it (particularly the current Darkseid War), and it's got some pretty heady thoughts in mind.  The only odd part is Liam Sharp's ridiculously sexy women in what's essentially a religious comic.  But I guess someone figured there ought to be something for readers who didn't particularly want to focus on existential matters, too...

The Spectre #11 (DC)
From January 2002.
It's such an interesting thing to remember that Hal Jordan, post-"Emerald Twilight," spent a lot of time away from the superhero gig, but nonetheless managed to remain, if anything, more relevant than ever.  Following Day of Judgment, he played host to DC's Spirit of Vengeance, and even got another ongoing series out of it.  This is always a fun series to visit with.  This issue features the Phantom Stranger, a comic book character infinitely more arcane than Marvel's Doctor Strange and less likely to get a movie out of it, helping Hal figure out his gig, which is considerably more compassionate than Spectre is usually depicted.  That's no doubt thanks to the literary stylings of J.M. DeMatteis, one of the more versatile writers in comics (especially when Keith Giffen infects him).

Action Comics #463 (DC)
From September 1976.
Yeah, this is an oldie, and was not kept in particularly good condition, but it was certainly worth a look, as it directly reflects the bicentennial.  Classic creators Cary Bates and Curt Swan are at the helm as an alien who has a peculiar reaction to Superman's powers sends him back to 1776 to get him out of the way.  A wacky gimmick, sure, but it was fun to read.

Superman #187 (DC)
From December 2002.
This is one of Geoff Johns' early forays with the Man of Steel, smack dab in the middle of a showdown with Manchester Black, who was a key early millennial threat.  As someone dabbling in the waters amidst other writers, it's odd to think now that Johns could be so undersold, as it now seems.

Superman Confidential #10 (DC)
From February 2008.
I loved the Confidential/Classified books from this era, allowing creators to leap into whatever period they wanted to write about without having to make a mini-series out of it.  This one features Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning bringing on the Apokolips, which I figured I'd have a look at, considering, you know, Johns' Darkseid War.  Speaking of which...

Wonder Woman #103 (DC)
From November 1995.
Here's John Byrne bringing the Apokolips to Wonder Woman.  Honestly, once DC figured it out, the New Gods were the best thing to come to its superheroes, always guaranteeing big moments, because these were heroes and villains who were literally visiting, or getting visited, with a story all their own, breaking the usual storytelling cycle.  It seems every effort to feature the New Gods in their own stories is always doomed to fail, but they remain ridiculously reliable, because they're instantly operatic, like a whole alternative to everything fans normally follow, but always existing whether fans care about them or not, ready and waiting for another big moment...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Quarter Bin 70 "McGraw & Immonen's Legion, Kesel & Grummett's Superboy"

This is a back issues feature.  The comics featured were not actually purchased with quarters.  Although technically, I guess they were, just not with the number of them you were thinking...

Legion of Super-Heroes #53 (DC)
From January 1994.
Tom McGraw doesn't get near enough credit for the exceptional contributions he made to Legion lore.  Between Legion of Super-Heroes and Legionnaires, he wrote or co-write some two hundred issues of the 30th century superteam, and I have yet to read a bad one.  In fact, the more I realize that, the more I wonder why I never became a regular reader.  This is one of those good issues, and I picked it up because I didn't realize Stuart Immonen made his name with the Legion (because I naturally assumed he made it with Superman, where I discovered him), and I wanted to see more of his Legion work, naturally.  Turns out it's typically excellent.  McGraw cleverly provides a subplot featuring a history of the Legion by way of their battles with a particular foe, and it, well, fascinating.  The greater story of the issue somewhat eludes me, dropping in from the middle of nowhere, but it seems pretty grandiose, even by the standards with which my memory judges McGraw's Legion.  So now that I've collected all of Immonen's Superman (except one Secret Files) (which is something I did by ordering the rest from the Internet after some fruitful finds in various comic books stores), I may have to start collecting his Legion.  And possibly McGraw's.  Or, you know, DC could finally acknowledge the work both these guys did, and unveil some collections...

Superboy #79 (DC)
From October 2000.
Sometimes I get the itch to see where the creators I loved from the '90s left the runs I loved reading so much.  Some time ago I read Mark Waid's farewell from The Flash (which was slightly disappointing), and now I've finally read Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett's finale in Superboy.  Kesel and Grummett created this version of Superboy during their overall run in the Superman comics, thanks to the whole "Reign of the Supermen" arc (imagine if that ever made it into the movies...!), and had two separate runs in the ongoing series that followed.  As time went on, Kesel indulged more and more of his Jack Kirby fixation, especially in the second run.  This last issue features a Kirby-esque villain, and a Superboy who has a shield (like Captain America, and the Guardian).  The upsetting part of this is that the letters column clearly promises that after a creative team fill-in next issue, Kesel and Grummett would return.  But they never did.  Eventually, Dan DiDio began his DC tenure co-writing Superboy, but the series lasted only another twenty issues before being consolidated into Geoff Johns' Teen Titans in a new direction (famously suggested by Johns' own letter in the pages of Superboy).  Whether Kesel knew it or not already, he provided a farewell statement in the issue all the same, which was great to see.  I'll always be a fan of the Kesel/Grummett Superboy...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Reading Comics 183 "Bloodlines 2016, Empress"

I was in another comics shop recently, and picked up a few things...

Bloodlines #1 (DC)
Watch out!  The '90s are starting to receive the nostalgia treatment.   Are you ready for that?  Among the things I never expected to see resurface was the Bloodlines generation, the new superheroes DC unveiled through its 1993 annuals.  This was the most recent new character initiative undertaken by the company, but most of the superheroes that resulted became hapless victims to the perception that the whole event was a shameless attempt to mooch off the Image Comics momentum then still sweeping the medium.  So a lot of great characters who didn't deserve to be forgotten were.  I'm happy to report that the best of them (sorry, Hitman) is the first one to return.  In this debut issue of the mini-series finally rectifying the gross injustice done Bloodlines, Loose Cannon returns.  This was a kind of Incredible Hulk superhero whose human guise was a guy who got around on crutches.  His early stories were written by none other than Jeph Loeb.  This new version is a teenager in high school, but he remains a blue goliath in his transformed state.  I was both eager and leery about Bloodlines when I first heard of it, dreading that it would be kind of exactly what everyone thought the original version was, something quickly dashed off and without the necessary quality to justify it.  But seeing Eddie Walker as the lead character quickly allayed my concerns, and writer J.T. Krul nailed his new iteration.  Krul is a DC veteran at this point, and this marks his homecoming.  I last wrote about him way back in 2011 in the Brightest Day era of Green Arrow, which was equally surprisingly good stuff.

Empress #1 (Icon)
Mark Millar is constantly generating new ideas for his Millarworld imprint and snagging some of the best artists out there to draw them.  So it was only a matter of time before he went knocking at Stuart Immonen's door.  Actually, this is their second collaboration, as Millar was tasked with the dialogue of Immonen's later Superman issues, so this is kind of full circle for both of them.  The concept is that 65 million years ago a different species of intelligent people ruled Earth, and that the ruler himself is a douche, and so the woman he convinced to give up her life (I mean, completely; he said she couldn't even bring it up) to rule at his side decides she's had enough, so she finally runs away.  This is a full-blown sci-fi epic in a different way from Millar's previous Starlight, a bit more like Saga.  Immonen is coming off Marvel's Star Wars, so anyone who is most familiar with him there will feel right at home.  It's good stuff, and Immonen is once again going for that more minimalist (though appropriately grand) style that I loved so much from his Superman, after years toiling at Marvel with a more hard-edged one that presumably someone thought he should adopt to keep up with expectations.  But clearly his work stands on its own.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Reading Comics 182 "Making a commitment"

Yesterday I went to see Deadpool and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (thought it was entertaining, loved it, respectively) and in between visited Heroes & Villains again.  I wanted to order a copy of Omega Men #3 (the only one missing from my physical collection) and pick up the latest issue, #10.  Then I put in reserves for the two remaining issues, and next week's Wonder Woman: Earth One from Grant Morrison.  Omega Men, as anyone who's been reading this blog since last fall will know, has become my favorite recent comic, certainly favorite since Morrison's Annihilator which concluded early last year (and topped the last two annual QB50 lists).  Things rarely work out this way for me (yet), but ideally I'd like to see Omega Men remembered in the same ranks as Alan Moore's Watchman as a seminal superhero comic.  It's just that good.  It changes everything.  At least DC has rewarded writer Tom King with the plush assignment of Batman in the impending Rebirth era.

I walked away with a few other comics, and so I'll talk about that stuff:

Sam Wilson: Captain America #7 (Marvel)
Billed on the cover as celebrating Cap's 75th anniversary, this supersize issue features a pivotal moment in the "Standoff" crossover arc, for Steve Rogers, and a few extra stories from some acclaimed creators.  The lead features Sam Wilson, who's been Captain America for the past year or so but is also familiar to fans as Falcon, as he enters Maria Hill's misguided supervillain reconstruction town.  He teams up with Bucky, who still responds to the name of Winter Soldier these days.  The writer is Nick Spencer, who made a splash with DC a handful of years ago but has otherwise been making his name with the Image series Morning Glories.  (I'm surprised his name didn't already have a label here, because I was reading him in those early years, including the start of Glories, but I guess that was just before I started this blog.)  Joss Whedon teams with superstar artist John Cassaday for a tale from Cap's WWII past, Tim Sale does a mostly wordless story concerning Cap's oft-overlooked parents, and Greg Rucka features Steve Rogers at the ballet, along with artist Mike Perkins, who worked on Ed Brubaker's Captain America, as well as Marvel's ambitious adaption of Stephen King's The Stand.  Rucka and Perkins easily have the best work in the issue.

Omega Men #10 (DC)
King finally gets to the war the Omega Men have been plotting against the Citadel from the very start, and predictably, there's very little glory to be found, just mere survival.  Kyle Rayner stumbled into the fight of his life, one that has nothing to do with Green Lanterns, and by the end of the issue he walks off into the distance, and his last words in the issue are, "No.  No, I'm...I'm just another Omega Man."  King's quote from William James (always one of my favorite features in this series) says, "Truth happens to an idea.  It becomes true, is made true by events."  It's not until this issue that the Omega Men have truly been allowed to do what they've been promising all along, to be the heroes in a great fight for freedom.  What does it feel like to be a part of that?  Although King has been featuring the secret origins of the team itself, the series has had Kyle at its core since the start.  He doesn't revel in the results they've had so far.  Not having a personal stake, it means something different to him, but it has become personal.  That's King's genius. 

Prez #6 (DC)
This is the final issue of the initial run.  DC's promised to let Prez complete its twelve issue run, just as with Omega Men, but it'll take a little longer.  Ben Caldwell has since started work at Marvel.  I hope he'll be back to finish Prez, because Mark Russell's biting political satire is truly some of the best mainstream work I've seen in years, challenging what I believe, and I still love it.  That's just one of the many things to love about it.  I'm glad to have finally read the issue.

Superman/Batman #1 Special Edition (DC)
This was a freebie released in conjunction with Dawn of Justice, reprinting the debut issue of Jeph Loeb's modern World's Finest series.  Loeb had become one of the most acclaimed writers in comics at the time, and this series continued his trademark psychological insight into superheroes he'd previously brought to works like Batman: The Long Halloween and Superman For All Seasons, plus the more contemporary Hush arc with Jim Lee, in which he helped shape the landscape of DC at that time.  In this issue, President Luthor is still in office, one of the key developments that stretched from the dawn of the millennium to Infinite Crisis, characterization that reflects Lex's role in the later Geoff Johns Justice League and Zack Snyder's Dawn of Justice.  There are far worse free comics out there...