Thursday, July 28, 2016

Reading Comics 196 "DC Rebirth Week Eight, Divinity II, Moon Knight"

Covered this edition: Detective Comics #937, Divinity II #4, The Flash #3, Moon Knight #4, Nightwing #1, Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth #1, Action Comics #960, Titans #1, and Wonder Woman #3.

Detective Comics #937 (DC)
Batman escapes from the custody of the bad guys this issue, which features the return of Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong (I remember him fondly from the pages of '90s Robin), who is a little criminal genius in the making.  As this is the bulk of the issue, it's a slam dunk of a sequence.

Divinity II #4 (Valiant)
The final issue of this particular story in the saga (an ad promises Divinity III this December, as does some quick foreshadowing) is a remarkable conclusion to Abram Adams' war with Myshka in which he's able to connect with his fellow cosmonaut-turned-god on a strangely human level.  Matt Kindst's work with Divinity remains some of the best stuff being published today.

The Flash #3 (DC)
I can't even begin to describe how happy I continue to be about this relaunch.  I haven't been (with all due apologies to Geoff Johns) been this interested in a Flash comic since Mark Waid's prime.  The cleverness just doesn't stop.  One would think Central City being flooded with new speedsters would diminish the role of Barry Allen as a significant figure, other than as budding mentor (can you say Max Mercury?), but then his new sidekick August Heart says something brilliant like, "Do you know how fast you were going?" 

Moon Knight #4 (Marvel)
Jeff Lemire continues to knock this one out of the park.  (If chosen carefully, the things you enjoy shouldn't be so difficult to enjoy.)  I decided to catch up with this weeks-old issue, and damn if this isn't one of my favorite comics in recent years.  It's really that good.

Nightwing #1 (DC)
This is a strong follow-up to the Rebirth one-shot, in which Nightwing repositions himself as a mole in the Parliament of Owls and then meets Raptor, the latest dude who thinks Dick Grayson can't hack it on his own.

Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth #1 (DC)
This is Scott Lobdell's restating of the Jason Todd biography, although this time he makes the point that Jason is uniquely suited to appear like he's the compromised Batman, which is interesting.  I know Frank Miller probably has conniptions every time a comic book suggests Boy Wonders aren't destined to become lunatics, but I don't have a problem with it.

Action Comics #960 (DC)
Wonder Woman enters the fight, but other than getting some readers up to date about Doomsday's origins, nothing much significant happens this issue.

Titans #1 (DC)
This fairly Wally West-centric issue also features Linda Park.  Hey, I can't argue with that.  Dan Abnett lets other Titans in on the act, notably Lilith, who's one of the more obscure members of this family, before shockingly revealing that Abra Kadabra is claiming responsibility for Wally's disappearance.

Wonder Woman #3 (DC)
Greg Rucka does a pretty powerful study of Cheetah, one of Wonder Woman's most famous foes, who probably comes off better in this one issue than she has in all her other collective appearances combined.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Reading Comics 195 "DC Rebirth Week Seven, 18 Days, Letter 44, Tokyo Ghost"

Featured this edition: Grant Morrison's 18 Days #12, Batgirl & the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1, Batman #3, Green Lanterns #3, The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1, Justice League #1, Letter 44 #26, Superman #3, and Tokyo Ghost #8.

Grant Morrison's 18 Days #12 (Graphic India)
Morrison's Avatarex #1 shipped last week, and hopefully I'll be seeing a copy in a couple weeks.  Although I lost track of reading Graphic India's vision of his Indian superwar epic a while ago, I always thought it was well worth reading, and so I checked in again for this issue, which details Bhima's further experiences, from his great familial devotion to a momentum moment for him in the fighting.  This project's being executed with pitch-perfect precision.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1 (DC)
The Birds of Prey was conceived during the '90s, and has been maintained in some fashion ever since.  It's a girls-only team (still unique in comics, but not with Ghostbusters).  This issue features Batgirl Barbara Gordon's biography at the forefront, but also gives nods to Black Canary's DCYou band exploits and Helena Bertinelli's Grayson spy work, and how the team only reluctantly gets back together.  It was a good introduction.

Batman #3 (DC)
Tom King's Dark Knight continues, as we learn the secret origin of the superpowered heroes who have lately been lending him a hand: Hank and Claire Clover.  Hank was saved by Batman years ago, when he was a kid.  King cleverly stages this origin so that the unsuspecting reader might think he's seeing Bruce Wayne's fateful Crime Alley nightmare all over again, but then the story continues and we find out what's really going on.  As always, King is in full command of the psychological beats, including those provided by villains Hugo Strange (always, ah, somewhat strangely overlooked in Batman lore) and Psycho Pirate. 

Green Lanterns #3 (DC)
Simon Baz spends more time in the spotlight this issue, including a killer sequence with Red Lantern soldier Bleez, who is the latest recipient of Baz's ability to unlock his power ring's most surprising abilities, ones rarely experienced by other bearers.  He'll need all the help he can get, because partner Jessica Cruz has just been overtaken by the rage seed...

The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1 (DC)
John Constantine is that unique DC character, in that he's a genuine antihero, which unlike his Marvel counterparts (say, the Punisher) doesn't mean that he goes around shooting people, but that he makes unorthodox moral decisions, possibly because of his ties to Hell (hence, the returning traditional name to his adventures).  Since his return to DC proper (after being a headlining Vertigo act since the brand's creation two decades ago) during Brightest Day five years ago, fans have been skeptical that Constantine can properly function in the relatively sanitized DC superhero landscape (for comparison, imagine if Neil Gaiman had had to make Sandman permanently co-exist with the likes of Dr. Destiny and Martian Manhunter, both of whom made early appearances in the series, but who seem hard to reconcile with Gaiman's later creative pursuits).  I've never really been a Constantine reader, so I welcomed this chance to have a look.  For what it's worth, I do think, at least in this issue of this iteration, he works perfectly well.  It's like the Demon Etrigan (who had a Garth Ennis-penned series in the '90s, that gave birth to one of Ennis's signature creations, Hitman), but without the Demon as the lead, if that makes any sense.

Justice League #1 (DC)
The first issue of the series, like its New 52 Geoff Johns predecessor, has Wonder Woman on the brain, which I love.  Tony Daniel on art (he helped launch Superman/Wonder Woman, which is all kinds of natural for this latest Daniel project) is as always a thing of beauty.  I love how the whole issue is about mobilizing the team. 

Letter 44 #26 (Oni)
I'd previously sampled this Charles Soule series, but didn't really get the hang of what's going on in it, so I'm glad that I've finally read another issue.  This is a story about the end of the world, and all the odd decisions people are going to make if the involved players include aliens, U.S. presidents, a team of scientists, and messianic collaborators.  Actually, I came out of this issue being very impressed.  But then, I was already a fan of Soule, so I'm doubly glad I can now say I like Letter 44, too.

Superman #3 (DC)
Having witnessed the thunderbolt that was Jorge Jimenez's work in the early issues of Earth 2: Society, I'm so happy to be seeing more of his art, in this Tomasi/Gleason series and in the forthcoming Super-Sons, which in some ways this issue helps set up, as we see Jon Kent light up for the first time.  The sequence of events that provoke this (a new vision of the Eradicator that offers some fascinating new wrinkles to established character mythology; Krypto) is breathtaking in ways I hoped this series would be.

Tokyo Ghost #8 (Image)
Rick Remender has joined Mark Millar in the select group of modern writers who have been able to establish a viable brand around their names, and a large net of titles to populate it.  This Remender project envisions a dystopic future directly culled from our own, in which addiction to digital content has literally sucked the life out of everyone, leaving the population susceptible to corrupting influences.  Fortunately, there's a hero in the eponymous Ghost capable of stepping in to stem the tide.  This issue turned out to be a perfect one to sample, involving the Ghost's tragic baskstory, and the man she's tried valiantly through the years to protect, despite increasing odds against her.  But the reason I wanted a look was because of the Sean Gordon Murphy art.  I've been a fan of Murphy's since Joe the Barbarian, his seminal work with Grant Morrison, as well as his personal creative vision, Punk Rock Jesus.  He's also collaborated with Scott Snyder (The Wake) in recent years, as well as Millar (Chrononauts).  I never get tired of his art.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reading Comics 194 "DC Rebirth Week Six, Earth 2, Millarworld Annual, The Vision, Old Man Logan"

Covered this edition: Detective Comics #936, Earth 2: Society #14, The Flash #2, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1, Millarworld Annual 2016, Nightwing: Rebirth #1, Action Comics #959, New Super-Man #1, The Vision #9, Old Man Logan #8, and Wonder Woman #2.

Gosh, so I kind of got all the DC Rebirth releases this week...

Detective Comics #936 (DC)
This isn't the first Detective Comics issue of the Rebirth era, but I was curious to read an issue because the spotlight was on Batwoman, Kate Kane, a character that's fascinated me since her debut in 52.  As one of the more high profile openly homosexual characters in comics, Batwoman has had a certain level of prominence over the years, although since she was created by Greg Rucka and had J.H. Williams III as her artist for a number of years, she was allowed a great deal of creative freedom, too, up to and...excluding, infamously, a wedding in her New 52 series.  The writer of Detective Comics is James Tynion IV, whom I've somewhat unfairly judged over the years due to his association with Scott Snyder, whom I've sometimes found difficult to appreciate.  But Tynion is a pretty good writer, and as this issue is a pretty good Batwoman story, I may have to once and for resolve to consider Tynion positively going forward. 

Earth 2: Society #14 (DC)
I'm not sure how much Dan Abnett is commenting on the creative reputation of the series he inherited several issues ago or if it's just coincidence, but there's much ado about the broken nature of the new society this alternate world of heroes represents.  Still, there's a strong focus on Dick Grayson's Batman, which hasn't really happened since Convergence, and that was good to see, as was the return of his son.  Which, all told, Dick himself is far less pleased about, given the unfortunate circumstances...I still think Earth 2, under its various creative directors, has been one of the shining successes of the New 52 era.

The Flash #2 (DC)
Barry Allen begins training his friend and colleague August Heart, who has just acquired access to the Speed Force, and that's fun in and of itself, their contrasting stances on what they should do with it, when the series takes a page from the unrelated TV show and has STAR Labs become the source of trouble, revealing who's behind the freak lightning storms, and what they're after.  It's such a good feeling, knowing I love reading The Flash again...

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1 (DC)
Maybe it was because I never intended to read it full-time, but Robert Venditti's Green Lantern eventually lost its status as a worthy creative follow-up to the work of Geoff Johns, in my estimation, and once it fell, it plummeted.  Funny enough, Venditti explains his thought process in this issue, and it has great relevance in the policing controversies spread across newspapers seemingly every day for the past few years.  I have no idea where Venditti started the idea, but it begins to make more sense, seeing it all laid out, and where he has Hal Jordan continue to go with it.  So I'm glad I can finally say I get his take.  It's not Johns (but few could be).  And I'm okay with that.

Millarworld Annual 2016 (Image)
Putting all the cards on the table, the international competition for this thing that sought submissions from new creators was something I entered last year, basing my entry on Starlight, which you can look elsewhere to see how much I enjoyed.  I've been a member of the Millarworld message boards ever since, and so was able to keep tabs on when this would be released.  Obviously I had something of a vested interest in it.  The writer I got to know the best from the boards, perhaps somewhat naturally, was Deniz Camp, whose Starlight effort did win.  I can admire Camp, because he too admires Grant Morrison.  But the standout entry in the annual, for me, very easily, was Cliff Bumgardner's American Jesus script (just as amazingly illustrated by Steve Beach), which took a moment out of time from Mark Millar's original comic (originally titled Fallen) and explored the consequences of saving a dog's life, which was to inadvertently have the effect of stopping death from occurring, during those moments, around the whole world.  It gave me chills to read.  It was like reading Stephen King, or at any rate, a first-fate professional.  Kudos, Cliff!

Nightwing: Rebirth #1 (DC)
This was exactly the connecting story fans of Dick Grayson could have hoped for, as Dick's adventures with Spyral aren't just unceremoniously dumped, but incorporated into his greater adventures, as he realizes he probably really does have to become Nightwing again, an identity Tim Seeley (Dick Grayson's amazing co-writer, along with the incomparable Tom King, but more on him a little later) explains, as been explained many times before but still comes out fresh, because for the duration of the New 52 it was kind of ignored, as having been inspired by Superman and not Batman, as might be easy to assume.  There's also some good Parliament of Owls stuff in the issue, proving that maybe that whole story really should have been Dick's all along...

Action Comics #959 (DC)
The Rebirth era Doomsday saga continues, with parallels popping up all over the places, plus a few new wrinkles, like Superman being forced to concede that the New 52 Lex Luthor may not actually be an exact match for the one he used to know.  Otherwise, the reader will just have to continue waiting to see just where the new wrinkles are really headed...

New Super-Man #1 (DC)
I loved, loved, loved Tony Bedard's The Great Ten, which was about a group of Chinese superheroes.  Each issue told each member's story.  It was a true overlooked masterpiece.  Fortunately, someone realized China is perhaps a hotter topic today than when Great Ten was published only a handful of years ago.  And even more fortunately, a writer of Gene Luan Yang's quality is around to explore the landscape all over again.  Yang's Superman wasn't everyone's cup of tea, perhaps unfortunately coinciding with the "Truth" arc that wasn't really what anyone wanted to read in the Man of Steel's adventures.  His New Super-Man features as unlikely a protagonist as you'll find.  When first seen he appears to be a jerk!  (Bonus points to the Silver Age for being relevant again.)  But his personality is entirely in keeping with Chinese society, which is an extreme example of what we experience in the States (and you thought it was bad here!), with income disparity resulting in social dynamics that will probably surprise readers.  Yang's origin continues along so that his Chinese Superman ends up kind of being a DC Captain America, with his powers literally being infused into him (and making Chinese Superman to be something of the Rebirth Superboy).  I applaud DC and Yang for coming up with this, and I hope enough readers are culturally curious enough to keep it going a while.

The Vision #9 (Marvel)
For me, there was no question that Tom King's greatest superhero work of the past year was The Omega Men, to the point where I was willing to sell his Vision short (heh).  Yet, as of this issue, which details how Runaways character Victor Mancha went from uncle to murderer, explaining all over again how rich a creative source King's war experience really is, I'm completely sold on it.  So clearly King had room for two masterworks, in a very short time.  Here's hoping he has many more.

Old Man Logan #8 (Marvel)
This spin-off of Mark Millar's original story, generated in the wake of Secret Wars and I'm not sure how related to a similar Brian Michael Bendis mini-series during that event, was something I was slow to give much credit to (there I go again), because I just didn't see the point.  But if comic book logic counts for anything, then something like this makes its own kind of sense.  And it can't possibly hurt to have Jeff Lemire writing.  This is the story of Wolverine, decades older, whose whole life and world crumbled in the wake of a catastrophic supervillain victory (think Final Crisis or  Forever Evil, but more permanent), and he was left virtually alone to pick up the pieces.  Somehow he was transported to the present.  This issue, Lemire helpfully spells out the whole thing, and helps Logan come to a kind of peace with his situation.  He's been in constant dread that he's going to have to experience the fall all over again.  Curiously, the time-displaced Jean Grey, from Bendis's (it figures, right?) All-New X-Men, is the one who helps him.  This is Jean at the start of her career.  She hadn't even met Logan yet, when she was pulled from the past.  And all over again, the value of Jean Grey is exhibited.  Great issue.

Wonder Woman #2 (DC)
Greg Rucka's origin of Wonder Woman begins.  Suddenly, there are a million Wonder Woman origin stories going on.  There's Legend of Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman: Earth One, the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, the upcoming Wonder Woman: The True Amazon...  Yet, for all that, it is worth visiting and revisiting.  Every creator has a fresh perspective, and with Wonder Woman, finally getting her creative due, it's more relevant than ever before.  This is a character who's always been touted as one of DC's most important characters, but she's never been near as popular as Superman or Batman, and as such her origin isn't as well-known.  As more fans come to check out what she's all about, it presents, obviously, a rich opportunity to explore, right from the beginning of the story.  Rucka's vision is pretty focused, as the Amazonian princess Diana is alone interested in a world she never knew, as she's the first of her kind to be born since they were sealed off from Man's World.  He assumes you already know, or don't care, about the particulars of her birth (although the alternating arc in this twice-monthly series does feature exactly that), and just runs from there.  The in-house ads talk about each series of the Rebirth era featuring a new epic that starts now, and as far as I can tell, that's exactly what DC has been delivering.  Azzarello set such a high mark in the New 52 with Wonder Woman.  Rucka seems intent to, and capable of, surpassing it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Quarter Bin 86 "The Lightning Round"

The title of this feature is not literal.  It's a back issues spotlight.  Most of the comics from this particular were definitely not bought for a quarter.

This has been a summer of awareness that I probably won't be buying too many comics in the near future, for the foreseeable future, and so I've kind of made a mockery of how I've been intending to slow down my purchases.  I know, it's easy to hide how many comics I've read in group reviews like this, but the truth is, it's been a lot, and now that I'm nearing the end, I thought I might take a deliberate look at the back issues, and find some interesting stuff I wanted to have a look at.  This time, they'll be grouped between creators or titles, because I've tried to be an advocate of reading comics for the sake of the artistic value, admittedly from the writer side of the equation, most of the time, getting a sense of what a creator, or a series, has done as a statement in the medium, and not just reading for the sake of reading superheroes, or comics, in general.  And I managed to once again find some good stuff...

Animal Man #26 (DC)
The Invisibles (third series) #9 (Vertigo)
Spotlight: Grant Morrison
It should come as no surprise that Grant Morrison factored into this search, as he's been a longtime favorite, and favorite topic, of mine.  Animal Man #26 is the final issue of his run in that series, and features the classic scene where Buddy Baker literally has a conversation with Morrison himself, which I'd previously read in the Deus Ex Machina trade collection.  Morrison wonders if he's maybe indulged himself a little too much, but the whole concept of fictional worlds being utterly under the control of their writers, and the writer's perspective on it, is a fascinating topic in and of itself, including how Morrison approached Animal Man as a whole, and what he thought he'd accomplished.  Buddy's experience in the issue, for me, comes off like a precursor to The Truman Show, the Jim Carrey movie where he realizes he's the subject of a TV show.  If you want, it might even be an analogy for the surveillance age, in which we're all paranoid about being watched.  (Who watches dull people?)  The Invisibles, meanwhile, is the Morrison opus I've never even come close to reading in full, much less fully comprehending what it was all about.  Morrison, and his fans, liked to claim in later years that The Matrix kind of shamelessly ripped off of it, but after The Invisibles #9, I'm not sure I'd make that claim.  It seems more like Matt Kindt's recent Mind MGMT, in which a subset of humanity has a hard time coming to grips with its own past.  In a way, this whole thing was Morrison's statement on the lasting effects of the '70s generation, the one most influenced by the '60s counterculture revolution, who absorbed alternative culture as the culture, and has been trying to reconcile it with the mainstream ever since.  This is where anyone who wants to figure out Grant Morrison should really investigate.  JLA/WildCATs, meanwhile, comes so early in Morrison's then-recent JLA launch that it still features Electric Superman.  Unlike a lot of crossovers between companies, this prestige format one-shot has something other than novelty on the brain.  It's like Morrison's initial attempt at a mainstream event story, with a villain who unites the teams (this is the most clear statement of who the members of the WildCATs are I've ever read, by the way) in an intricately-conceived story, filled with what would become Morrison's trademark language for concepts that go well beyond the average, the language, in other words, that he developed to convey his vision of superhero comics (there's a reason why he gave the title of his nonfiction commentary Supergods).  It's also fitting that the story begins with Wally West, as he was one of the characters, in the pages of The Flash, where Morrison spent some of his formative time writing mainstream superheroes.  Needless to say, these were all well worth reading.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis (DC)
Spotlight: Geoff Johns
Although he co-writes this comic with Greg Rucka and Judd Winnick (Johns and Rucka would later be part of the impressive 52 writing team together), I prefer to think of Countdown as the start of Geoff Johns' ascension to the top of the DC writing order.  As its title suggests, it leads directly to Infinite Crisis, Johns' event follow-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Somewhat inexplicably, Johns had written an event book at the beginning of his DC career (Day of Judgment, which somewhat prophetically was ultimately a Hal Jordan story), but by the time of Countdown, his stock had risen sufficiently to ensure that he would no longer be lost in the shuffle, or feel he might need to look elsewhere for some love (by which I allude to his short stint writing for Marvel in the early millennium).  What he achieves with Countdown is the complete mastery of DC continuity, as he was helping it become, that he'd later demonstrate in Flashpoint and DC Universe Rebirth, among others.  There are those who are unhappy about Johns' rise, saying that he's a shameless fanboy who regresses continuity more than builds it.  To them I say, Green Lantern.  No one in comics has ever built continuity like that, no single person on any single property, as extensively as that, as comprehensively, as productively.  Go ahead and challenge me if you like, but it's true.  There was groundwork laid for some of it, but he completely exploded the whole concept, in the best way possible.  What Countdown does is provide a coda for Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis, which became the modern benchmark for making event stories count for something.  In detailing Ted Kord's tragic investigation, Johns and his co-writers transform Blue Beetle, who had become a fairly worthless character in the years after losing Justice League membership, into one of the most heroic figures in DC lore, in much the way Meltzer made it practically impossible to ever again (excluding 52, obviously) tell a good Elongated Man story.  Ted Kord, Ralph Dibney...these were characters who were never DC icons, whose stories ended so perfectly it continues to seem impossible to use them productively again.  Ted showed up in Johns' Justice League, but he's now serving as a mentor to his replacement, Jaime Reyes.  Where Alan Moore has tried desperately to seal off Watchmen because he didn't think there was anything left to tell about that story, and fans generally agree (except Geoff Johns), the fates of Ted and Ralph are examples of effecting that in-continuity.  Some future edition of Identity Crisis should actually include Countdown, and if Infinite Crisis somehow hasn't to this point, it definitely should.  It's required reading for DC fans.

Daredevil: Dark Nights #1, 3 (Marvel)
Spotlight: Lee Weeks
I read the first issue previously in a digital edition, and I raved about it as an answer to the long-standing Miller Narrative, garnering the rare outside comment (meaning, someone other than Pat Dilloway) in response.  Lee Weeks, who has been delighting me in Superman stories with Dan Jurgens, turned out to be one of those artists who can also write exceptionally well.  The psychology he brings to the table is considerable, establishing what it is that keeps Matt Murdock grounded without having to tear the floor out from under him (the Miller Narrative), as a more human superhero than we tend to see.  This despite the fairly meaningless superpowers he gained in his origin story.  Daredevil ends up as a human Superman, if that makes any sense, who can hear far beyond the ordinary range and wants desperately to help out, even when it tests the limits of his endurance.  When Spider-Man does that (there's a famous moment in which he hefts a heavy weight of crumbling infrastructure fans like to remember), it just comes off as his writers struggling to underline his underdog status.  I never understood why Spider-Man had to be an underdog, too, when Peter Parker already filled that bill.  With Matt Murdock, he's a lawyer who champions the underdogs when he's not Daredevil, who is one of the few disabled superheroes (quick, name another!), and so there's a real sense that he's just a guy trying to do the right thing, despite all other extenuating circumstances.  Weeks is the first time I've found someone who truly understands that. 

Green Lantern: Mosaic #16, 17 (DC)
Spotlight: Green Lantern: Mosaic
When I read the first issue of this series some twenty-five years ago, I was instantly thunderstruck by its maverick vision.  Recently I think I've settled on characterizing it as the mainstream DC version of the then-emerging Vertigo psyche, providing a truly alternative approach to storytelling, and bucking expectations with abandon.  As a Green Lantern series, it remains completely unique to this day, and also totally unappreciated.  So I always enjoy dipping my toes into my still-incomplete enjoyment of the complete experience (there is but one more issue after #17 remaining for the run).  The letters columns seem to have been a battleground in attempting to define what exactly Mosaic was.  Mosaic #16 features two fascinating letters discussing whether or not John Stewart adequately represents black Americans.  On the one hand is Dr. Shabbaz, who advocates the African perspective, and on the other Thad Damien Pendleton, who insists that who he is shouldn't be defined by the color of his skin.  Both are valid in their own way, and that they are united in reading a comic book about a guy with a magical ring trying to keep disparate colonies united, despite all opposition, seems quite frankly to be unbelievable.  And yet, in recent years whenever Marvel has placed a new minority in a familiar role, letter writers have chimed in with similar sentiments.  They want, above all, to be represented, to be heard.  That's the message of Mosaic in a nutshell.  John Stewart, to that point, was the black Green Lantern, or the Green Lantern haunted by his failure to save a whole planet in Cosmic Odyssey (these two versions appear in the Justice League cartoons), but within the pages of Mosaic he takes up a whole new crusade, one uniquely his own, and perhaps he uniquely was capable of undertaking.  DC always understood that legacy meant an opportunity to build rather than merely change, something Marvel has been having a hard time understanding recently.  Fans look at the New 52, at DC Rebirth, and even Crisis on Infinite Earths and say DC was just screwing with them.  But this is what DC has been doing since the Silver Age, since Hal Jordan became Green Lantern, since Barry Allen became the Flash.  Well, John Stewart starred in Green Lantern: Mosaic, and that's something Marvel can never touch, either.  These aren't simple stories, and Mosaic may have been one of the most complicated ones ever.  I say again, it deserves to be recognized.  DC has been reprinting a lot of old material lately.  Make Green Lantern: Mosaic a part of that, please.

Green Lantern Movie Prequel - Abin Sur (DC)
Green Lantern Movie Prequel - Hal Jordan (DC)
Green Lantern Movie Prequel - Sinestro (DC)
Green Lantern Movie Prequel - Tomar-Re (DC)
Spotlight: Green Lantern (2011)
The Green Lantern movie became one of the infamous superhero busts at the box office, a victim in part of the emerging Avengers surge that has been dominating audiences ever since.  Plenty of people have said that it's because the movie just wasn't any good, but I've never understood that.  I mean, I do tend to like a lot of movies that other people don't.  It's not because I'm a contrarian.  It's not because I'd wanted a Green Lantern movie for years, and in that respect might be said to have liked it simply because it finally existed.  I liked the movie.  I loved the movie.  It completely worked for me.  Maybe because I was primed to understand its logic?  Well, that can't necessarily be it, because I'm sure there are plenty of Green Lantern fans who didn't like it.  I don't know.  The hate kind of drowned out everything else.  These prequel comics generously lay out the whole concept, especially what it means to be a Green Lantern, kind of like what it would have been like to be a marshal in the Old West.  What throws a lot of people, I think, is the concept that Green Lantern is that rare superhero who isn't singular, but plural.  The four Green Lanterns featured in these one-shots (there's also one for Kilowog).  A lot of times, tie-in prequel comics are worthless.  They're shameless cash-in efforts with little attention afforded to quality.  Because these feature four (okay, five) different versions of a Green Lantern, all of whom have a significant role in the movie and a different perspective, I think it was impossible to get anything less than decent results.  But they also represent what a pitiful opinion of humans Green Lanterns had before Hal Jordan, and I think that's part of what made the movie such a hard sell, too.  We tend to be pretty egotistical.  Even in Star Trek, humans are the glue that holds everything together.  Superheroes inevitably define Earth as the center of the universe, too.  Green Lantern has always been different.  Hal Jordan is a tough sell, too, because inevitably the question becomes, what makes him so special, other than the ring?  Well, as with any Green Lantern, the ability to overcome great fear.  The movie makes him almost tough to like, a tough sell even to the audience as a worthy bearer of a power ring.  But his perseverance, and his willingness to question authority, make him unique.  These are qualities that can be easily lost in the shuffle, when he's presented as a member of the Justice League, for instance.  But in the comics, Hal has long been defined by his inability to work within the system, even leaving the Green Lantern Corps (that's how Guy Gardner and John Stewart became Green Lantern) when he felt he could no longer put up with it.  I don't know.  The concept fascinates me.  The movie fascinates me.  And I'm glad they got these comics right, too.

Legion of Super-Heroes #53 (DC)
Spotlight: Stuart Immonen, Tom McGraw
When I was digging around for another Stuart Immonen LSH issue to read, I tried really hard not to double-up on the one I'd read last time.  Turns out, I goofed.  It didn't help that the cover had new resonance for me, having just read the Valor issue where Glorith had also appeared.  This is the awesome little recap issue where the team finally defeats her, or she defeats herself, whatever the case may be.  I just love how Tom McGraw pulls together years of continuity to spell it all out.  Now, plenty of readers hate exposition, telling rather than showing, but if it's done right, it's as good as any other kind of storytelling.  This was definitely done right.  McGraw and Immonen, as I explained before, relate the recap below the main action, so that as you're reading the issue, both unfold at the same time.  I find it highly likely that Immonen kept this in mind when he was telling his later Superman stories, which tended to buck creative tradition on occasion.  It's a truly great issue, and I can't for the life of me figure out why the Legion was so hard-up to find vocal fans during this time.

Superior #1 (Icon)
Superman Adventures #22 (DC)
Spotlight: Mark Millar
Mark Millar clearly has Superman on the brain.  One of his most-recent projects, Huck, was his response to Man of Steel, presenting a Superman who might convincingly be said to hail from a simple small-town life (similar to Tom De Haven's vision from It's Superman!).  Somewhat similarly, Superior was Millar's response to the malaise that greeted Superman Returns.  It's also, somewhat amusingly, his recoupling of Captain Marvel as a Superman figure, when a disabled boy gets the chance to be Superior (for all intents and purposes, Superman).  One of Millar's signature stories is Superman: Red Son, which imagines what would have happened if the rocket had landed in Soviet Russia instead of rural Kansas.  Some of his early solo comics work was in Superman Adventures, based on the animated series, said to be some really good Superman material, regardless of continuity (again).  I hadn't previously read either Superior or his Superman Adventures work, and so I figured I'd give it a look.  Incidentally, Millar has been mulling a new project for the Big Two, and has narrowed down his choices to something for Marvel, or Superman.  Guess which one he'll choose?

The Adventures of Superman #596 (DC)
Spotlight: 9/11
This was the comic that arrived in stores the day after 9/11, featuring a close-up of Superman busting his Clark Kent dress shirt open...revealing a black-lit version of his familiar S-shield.  It was the aftermath of the "Our Worlds at War" arc, the defining story of that Superman era, but it coincided with the real world in ways conspiracy theorists still like to speculate about.  I'd never read it.  One of the most famous comics of the new millennium, and finally, it ended up being really easy to buy, cheap, and worth every penny.  The story concerns Superman deciding it wasn't his place to clean up after the effects of the devastating alien war he'd just fought.  President Luthor (yes, it's that era, too) tries to claim otherwise, but some ordinary people back up Superman's stance, saying it gives them point of pride to do what Superman does, chip in with the task of living in this world, regardless of what happens.  It reads like an acknowledgment that even if Superman did exist, we wouldn't, and shouldn't, rely totally on him.  There's always the debate that since Superman seems so powerful, not only does he seem invulnerable to most threats, but can solve every problem.  That just isn't the case.  Whatever else this era accomplished, it was good for defining Superman's limits (previously, it had also told a story, "King of the World," where he tries to be Superman 24/7, which proves untenable).  This was a time when DC was attempting to redefine Superman's relevance.  Post-9/11, it might have looked like he suddenly became the most irrelevant fictional character around.  And yet, because of a quirk of fate, he was already giving the world the very statement it sought. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reading Comics 193 "A skip week can be so dangerous..."

Covered this edition: Dark Knight III #5, Blood Feud #1, Steve Rogers: Captain America #2, The Rocketeer at War #4, We Are Robin #12, X-O Manowar Annual #1, and Heavy Metal #280.

Now, the whole point of this edition is that it comes from last week, which was a skip week for DC Rebirth, which meant there were no Rebirth titles published.  I shouldn't even have gone to the comic shop, right?  Well, I did go, and ended up finding stuff anyway...

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #5 (DC)
Admittedly, I haven't made a great effort reading the complete story, but it's always been worth checking in.  It's interesting, this issue, as Batman has been cast as a target the Kryptonians who are running amok (they escaped from the Bottle City of Kandor) trying to be gods consider him an element that needs to be eliminated in order to complete their conquest.  Batman, whether in Miller or Azzarello's voice, describes fear as his greatest ally.  "Fear is why I don't kill.  There is so much that I'm afraid of -- that we all are -- While you?  Just look at you, all -- Fearless.  You Don't stand a chance."  That reads like classic Dark Knight.  The depiction of other characters is excellent, too.  The Flash observes about Superman, "I know you were raised as a human, but every time you say, 'Oh my god,' I want to hand you a mirror."  In that particular sequence, Barry, whose feet have been crushed earlier, has been immobilized, but now he's using his speed to keep up with the Information Superhighway (remember that term?).  Who has ever thought of the Flash that way?  We see Aquaman riding majestically on a giant sea creature (I know there are plenty of people who will never lose the impression of him as a joke, but images like this are made to show us he's anything but).  But the greatest line of the issue belongs, again, to Batman: "I've never wielded an angry mob as a weapon before."  The issues ends as Batman realizes he really can't engage in the fight physically.  But it's okay, because Superman is fighting at his side again.  This really does feel like a necessary closing chapter in the Dark Knight saga.

Blood Feud #1 (Oni)
I got this one (the issue was actually released last October) because artist Drew Moss frequents the comic shop I've been going to, and I actually saw him drawing pages for this series (his editor was calling him to complain about how long it was taking).  I figured I owed Drew at least one issue.  (He just recently scored a new assignment: Jay Faerber's Copperhead, which I've sampled as part of my comiXology adventures, and I can vouch for as a result.)  The writer of Blood Feud is Cullen Bunn.  Having read this, I think I can finally contextualize Bunn for myself: he's another Scott Snyder.  Snyder first rose to prominence with American Vampire, which Blood Feud resembles in several ways, such as tone, and the presence of, well, vampires.  I've never read Bunn's Sixth Gun, the series he made his name on, but his mainstream work has always struck me as unwieldy, as if it were an ill-fit.  And maybe that's exactly what it is for him.  Not everyone is meant to write superheroes. 

Steve Rogers: Captain America #2 (Marvel)
The all-important follow-up to Steve Rogers, Agent of Hydra unexpectedly spells out exactly what's going on, and I can see where people who had no idea what was going on before last issue might not have seen this coming, because even I didn't, because it just seems too simple: it's that Cosmic Cube running around as a little girl, and Red Skull (of course Red Skull).  The issue reads better than the last one, possibly because it's so heavily centered on exposition (I'm not a reader bothered by that sort of thing) and as such the more cartoony elements of characterization are kept to a minimum (although, somewhat unfortunately, the Cosmic Cube girl suffers from it).  It's just unfortunate that this big idea was conceived, as can so easily be resolved, because the bad buy's plans always fall apart, which makes it all the more perverse to have Red Skull declaring that this time he's finally prevailed.  Yeah, right.  I'm not convinced that Nick Spencer is a much better writer than Ed Brubaker (I eventually soured on that run, although conversely acknowledge that it's probably Captain America's best-ever), but at least he gets right to the point.  Brubaker had a whole arc before he got around to explaining the Winter Soldier.  Points for speed, Spencer.

The Rocketeer at War #4 (IDW)
As an Atomic Robo fan, reading this sort of thing is kind of old hat at this point, but the Rocketeer is one of those superheroes that stands out from the pack of everyone outside the Big Two.  He even had his own movie in the '90s!  Although he's a thoroughly retro character, set in the era of WWII, Rocketeer actually dates only to 1982.  His helmet evokes Robo, but it also looks like Iron Man.  This is the character you've been looking for if Iron Man's actual comics have left you disappointed after all those movie appearances, because until recently Marvel never thought to duplicate that.  Marc Guggenheim, a screenwriter who dabbles in comics, and whom I discovered in this medium from his Resurrection, published at Oni, is the writer for this story, which centers as much on heroics as Rocketeer's effects on the ladies.  There's also a prose story, and in IDW's listings for other recent published works, Mark Russell's Apocrypha Now, a follow-up to his God is Disappointed in You.  I became a big fan of Russell from his Prez over at DC.  I will read this stuff eventually.

We Are Robin #12 (DC)
Catching up with this final issue, the group disbands after one last adventure involving a rogue member who's been convinced to participate in burglarizing Bruce Wayne, who's seen a faceless enemy of the people.  Alfred comes to the rescue, and Duke Thomas ends his days as a quasi Boy Wonder.  Some interesting observations to close out the series.

X-O Manowar Annual #1 (Valiant)
Speaking of finally figuring out Cullen Bunn, I think I finally figured out why Robert Venditti was tapped to replace Geoff Johns as the writer of Green Lantern in the New 52, because what Johns did for that franchise, Venditti did for X-O Manowar, and Valiant in general, establishing a bold new vision on which to hang further adventures across a variety of concepts.  It's just, I don't think Venditti was at all prepared to do it all over again.  Hey, not everyone is, especially when he's never left X-O, where he contends with alien armor being sported by a Visigoth who ended up as a superhero on Earth but is seen as a villain by the aliens he got it from.  The full scope of the concept is on display in this annual.  I'm glad I finally had a real look at Venditti's work.  As much as I've gotten into Valiant in the last few years, I never did get around to X-O, because I was disappointed with what I saw in X-O's early issues, and underwhelmed by Venditti's later Green Lantern work.  That's why it's always worth giving something additional chances.

Heavy Metal #280
Kind of the American version of 2000AD, this is a longstanding mature readers comics anthology magazine.  The reason I finally read an issue is because the new editor is Grant Morrison, who is also a contributor.  His story "Beachhead" is an ironic commentary on the relentlessness of military campaigns (aliens come to Earth when life is still at the bacterial phase, and the commander isn't satisfied with that as a reason to rethink his strategy).  The rest of the material is certainly interesting, in a variety of ways.  The one that strikes my fancy the most is the first installment of Mozchops' "Salsa Invertebraxa," which features some sweet poetry.  Besides that, there's Morrison's introduction, in which I have to face, all over again, the full brunt of his personality, which is always more complicated than I sometimes give him credit for.  The idealized version of Morrison, like how anyone imagines their idols, is someone much like themselves.  But Grant Morrison really is pretty wild, although he's not as gonzo as he can sometimes seem, if that makes any sense.  He's someone who's earned the confidence to voice his thoughts exactly as he thinks them, is all, and maybe isn't afraid to cater to the audience he's currently addressing, such as Heavy Metal readers...This feels like an ideal format for someone like Morrison, who's interested in the full possibilities of his chosen creative medium, with few restrictions when the story calls for it.  Not every story here is for mature readers, but none of it is particularly mainstream, without going the full underground that you might otherwise expect from material of that nature.  At any rate, I found myself capable of reading pretty much the whole thing without too much skimming, which is more than I can say for a lot of anthologies.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Reading Comics 192 "DC Rebirth Week Five, Astro City"

Covered this edition: Astro City #35, Batman #2, Green Lanterns #2, Justice League: Rebirth #1, and Superman #2.

Astro City #35 (Vertigo)
Kurt Busiek's pocket superhero universe, which literally resides entirely within the boundaries of Astro City, has long been fascinating.  It's one of those self-contained concepts that could easily satiate a given reader's interest in superhero comics, whether they're jaded older readers, or younger ones who aren't particularly interested in tracking down multiple titles to try and catch up with something they've just discovered.  The series has been around, in one incarnation or another, for twenty years, and was clearly inspired by Busiek's interest in following up on his Marvels success, where he was able to look at the full portrait of a given superhero landscape and provide nuanced insight into it.  His Astro City work rotates from character to character.  This particular issues features Jack-in-the-Box, a costumed vigilante with an outlandish gimmick but who Busiek otherwise presents pretty straightforwardly, getting at the heart of the character's human struggles, which in this case mean the legacy the grandson of the original Jack feels increasingly as a burden he can never live up to, with his father and uncle having carried it on but a reckless decision in his youth cost him his chance to do the same.  Jack-in-the-Box joins the league of black superheroes who sport all-covering masks, so that you wouldn't know his race otherwise, but the comic spends probably more time with the mask off of any given Jack than necessarily caring about his costumed exploits, treating that as more a McGuffin than anything.  There's a letters column page featuring the letter of the month (a rarity in a DC title of any extraction these days), and also a preview of Paul Dini's Dark Night: A True Batman Story, which details his experiences recovering from a mugging, and that's part of the reason I bought this comic, because I've seen plenty of hype for the graphic novel, but none of the interior.  But it's always worth checking in with Astro City.

Batman #2 (DC)
Tom King's era continues as Batman introduces Jim Gordon to Gotham and Gotham Girl, the superpowered new heroes who are eager to lend a hand in the ongoing war on crime.  It's Batman's sense of mortality that permeates the issue, however, the lingering aftereffects of his near-sacrifice in trying to prevent a fatal plane crash last issue.  It's King's grasp of character that strikes this material as fresh.  At one point Alfred explains to Duke Thomas how a young Bruce Wayne became disenchanted when Alfred made a prudent judgment call.  For someone like Bruce, there's no such thing as prudence.  He doesn't have the patience for something like that.  The current Bruce abandons a lady mid-dance when he spots the Bat-signal in the sky, and the woman is positively baffled.  You can imagine how it plays out just by the way it's depicted: Bruce doesn't want to attend function; he reluctantly agrees, puts on his best game face; is positively overjoyed when he gets to go back to work.  For him, it doesn't even matter what other people are expecting.  That's Batman in a nutshell.  He lives by his own rules.  It's great when a writer like King comes along and knows the psychology that well.  For those looking for something a little easier to digest, there's the young hero Gotham discovering for himself Batman's classic disappearing act, or Gordon wondering how on earth a mask doesn't become uncomfortable in this line of work (casually sidestepping Scott Snyder's depiction of Commissioner Batman)...

Green Lanterns #2 (DC)
Sam Humphries keeps hitting all the right notes.  His depictions of Simon Baz and especially Jessica Cruz as novice Lanterns is the perfect way to explain all over again what the Green Lantern concept is all about, and how it can be a little hard to comprehend.  Jessica is so neurotic that Simon's confidence makes him seem like a veteran, even though it's just his different personality that's creating the effect, because he's just as lost as she is.  Returning the Red Lanterns to the role of the villain is also a good move.  Readers don't particularly need to know that in their late ongoing series, they became sympathetic heroes.  The idea of them existing to help people cope with powerlessness further underscores Jessica's feelings of inadequacy.  Just good stuff, and very, very good to see for a reader who hasn't had a lot of Green Lantern he found worth reading lately.

Justice League: Rebirth #1 (DC)
The Bryan Hitch era, as the headlining act of the franchise, begins as he brings the "new" Superman back into the fold, showcasing what a significant difference Superman makes both by his absence and presence.  That's something few writers have done, for whatever reason, but Hitch dives right at it, not so much at the cost of every other member, all DC icons in their own right, but in the role of leadership, which Superman embodies not so much because he takes charge but because he's capable of identifying what needs to be done, by example.  The whole issue makes the case for the team in general, as necessary guardians in the turbulent reality DC presents.  It does its job.

Superman #2 (DC)
I can't say too often how brilliant I think it was for DC to let Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason recontextualize their Batman & Robin work in the Rebirth era.  This was a dynamite team working in the shadow of Scott Snyder's work.  If readers sometimes wondered why Tomasi and Gleason were putting their previous charges into outsize adventures not typically associated with them in the modern era, it's completely justified with their new ones.  The young Jonathan has found an intriguing accomplice in Kathy, the figurative girl next door (insofar as adjacent farms can call have such things).  She's like his Lana Lang, knowing his secret and not being interested in anything else but the boy he otherwise is.  She and her grandfather lug Jon back home after he falls from a tree, which gives him a concussion.  His parents are necessarily alarmed, especially Clark.  It's a little odd seeing Lois as anything but a reporter (she writes fiction now; I don't know if it was a slip-up, but she gets a piece of mail under her given name, and it's not addressed, even though the family has been living under assumed names since emerging from Convergence into this reality).  Anyway, the big news occurs at the end of the issue, in which the Eradicator makes his New 52/Rebirth debut (coincidentally, I've just finished reading some of his original appearances).  But I love this series so much, already.  Seeing father and son, in the early pages, engaged in a rescue operation, and then disarming a monster, is everything Tomasi and Gleason couldn't do before, and everything I'd hoped they'd do in Superman.  For me, with just work like this, and King's Batman, and Humphries' Green Lanterns, the Rebirth era has already proven its worth, to a remarkable degree.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Quarter Bin 85 "Millar's Trouble, 9/11, Waid's Valor, Vibe, Wasteland"

This finale in the series of impressions from an actual quarter bin still does not indicate that the title of this feature should be taken literally every time.  It's a back issues feature.

Trouble #1 (Marvel Epic)
From September 2003.
From the period where Marvel was trying really hard to be sexy (which included the one time I intensely disliked Geoff Johns) comes this last stab at romance comics, although technically it was a soft revamp of Spider-Man's origins, featuring the young Ben and May as well as Peter Parker's mostly-dead parents, Richard and Mary (that's one of the big differences, right there, between Marvel & DC; DC would never in a million years let the parents of their icons be so easily neglected, regardless of the circumstances).  The writer is Mark Millar, who at this point was still establishing what would become a distinctive brand, partly because he would literally name his group of comics Millarworld.  The photo covers employed for this mini-series were part of the concept, but Marvel likely had no idea they were a few years too early for the intended teenage market to care, because those readers were still weaning themselves off Harry Potter and looking for the next big franchises for their age group (Twilight, Hunger Games, etc.).  Although ironically, that market wouldn't particularly settle for straight romance, either, so Trouble was kind of always doomed.  Apparently Millar angered Spider-Man fans by fudging the relationships between Peter's different sets of parental figures, although I seriously have no idea how it could possibly matter...

Tuesday #1 (KRP)
From October 2002.
Perhaps no other creative medium fixated on 9/11 as much as comics, which is strange, because they're usually identified with superheroes, whose obvious absence from the real world on that morning led to how the disaster played out.  From the coincidental aftermath of the Our Worlds at War arc and Superman's subsequent adoption of a black shield of mourning a day after the events (Adventures of Superman #596) to the graphic novel Can't Get No by Rick Veitch, plus the tribute books put together to help raise funds for the families of the victims, there was no shortage of comic book response.  Tuesday is a first-person account by Henrik Rehr, in which he details the agonies of evacuation and forced separation from his family.  I vividly remember my mother's panic in trying to track down the members of my family, even though none of us were near New York, or scheduled to be flying that day, so I can only imagine what it was like to actually be there as it was unfolding.  That's why comics like this are important.  Rehr adopts a style similar to the late Harvey Pekar to give his account (there's a second issue to conclude it).  I can only say it's an incredibly humbling thing to read something like this.  We've been so caught up in fanciful conspiracy theories and debates about what Bush decided to do in response that sometimes it can seem we somehow completely forgot that 9/11 actually happened, that real people were involved.  We tend to fixate on so many things we lose sight of what's really important.  Comics can help bring the focus back, in unexpected ways, like finding this issue in a quarter bin...

Valor #14, 18 (DC)
From December 1993, April 1994.
This was one of the titles I sampled back in the '90s, knowing only vaguely its significance to the Legion of Super-Heroes.  In later years I became more familiar with the legacy of Mon-El, who was created to replace Superboy in Legion lore.  Always a kind of hapless figure, this guy was a Daxamite, who were kind of like Kryptonians, but not.  By the time Mark Waid signed on to write a few issues, in the wake of his early success writing The Flash, this version of the character was having trouble connecting with readers, and so Waid very deliberately set about streamlining the mythos, which was later completed by Kurt Busiek as the series wound down in the run-up to Zero Hour (I think the last issue was the first one I read, but that was twenty years ago, now, so I don't remember how it concluded).  Waid brought with him artist Colleen Doran, who had previously worked on Sandman and A Distant Soil, among other projects.  Her style was a tad unwieldy for something like Valor, which needed something, well, like Stuart Immonen's clean work.  Immonen, who was just beginning his mainstream career on Legion, started doing covers for Valor, starting this issue.  The difference in approach between Immonen and Doran is striking.  Whereas readers in the letters column complained about a meandering and overall pointlessness to the proceedings under the prior regime, Waid's approach, as with Wally West, was character-centric, a style that was to become increasingly popular, to the point where stories extended into regular arcs that defined the character as much as their future, as featured in Starman or Saga.  Immonen gives the covers the iconic status they need.  Doran gives the character a throwaway look, although similar to Chris Sprouse, whose early career was spent in the pages of Legion, or Jeffrey Moy, but without the charm.  Sprouse and Moy employed a style similar to the late Mike Wieringo.  With apologies to Doran, I think even she'll agree that this was never the direction she intended her art to go.

Vibe #7 (DC)
From October 2013.
Launched in conjunction with Justice League of America that year (and like Katana, saddled with that whole name added to the title), the revamp of former Justice League Detroit joke Vibe was one of the New 52's creative triumphs.  Sterling Gates had taken over from series co- and initial co-writer Geoff Johns starting with the third issue, and as such is responsible for shepherding the further reveal of Cisco Ramon's new mythology, including the revelation that his brother, whom he thought was dead, not only survived but became his archenemy Rupture...Anyway, you don't have to take my word for it, because Cisco later became a breakout star in The Flash TV series as one of Barry's closest allies, by the end of the first season discovering the powers his comic book counterpart had been playing with for his ten-issue run.  Well, now the comics have another chance to help him stand out in his home medium.  Hopefully it won't take too long to happen.

Wasteland #42 (Oni)
From December 2012.
My love for this series is well-documented.  At this point I've read the complete run, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to read one of the later issues in its original format, in which Abi stumbles across a town where the reader will know, as the story subtly points out, the narrator of the prose pieces that ran throughout most of the series had already been.  It's a nice confluence, and once again, I'm motivated to read the whole thing again.  Fans of Game of Thrones would probably find much to like about Wasteland.  I realized that the more I looked into Game itself.  Considering the unmistakable impression that at least HBO was motivated to greenlight the series so viewers could see the human element of Lord of the Rings play out with fewer distractions, I don't think it's much of a leap to suggest Wasteland could appeal to those looking for that evasive element from Game, the wider implications of all the drama.  Because Wasteland absolutely nails that, and has all the power struggle intrigue, too.