Superman Action Comics: Path of Doom (Comic) Review

Superman Action Comics: Path of Doom (Comic) Review

If DC Comics wanted to bring back the past with their Rebirth initiative, they certainly did it with Superman Action Comics: Path of Doom. The comic series spans six issues from Superman Action Comics #957-962. An old threat has returned for Superman – an adversary that cost him is life in 1992.

That menace is none other than Doomsday.

Superman Action Comics: Path of Doom (Comic) Review 3As Path of Doom begins,  a hostage situation is underway. However, it isn’t Superman who flies in to the rescue – it’s his long time arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor. The antagonist has created a pretty cool suit for himself, one that flies, shoots lasers, can regenerate itself, and has Superman’s insignia on its chest. Lex is now the self-proclaimed savior of Metropolis. At the end of DC’s New 52 run, the Superman in that world died.

But with Rebirth, there is another Superman. He’s been a do-gooder in hiding. Yet seeing Lex having his day in the sun as the new Superman of Metropolis is too much for him. He is the older version of Superman, the pre-New 52 Superman – the one who died at the hands of Doomsday and then returned from the dead.

How he’s back, we don’t know. How it all makes sense, this reviewer doesn’t really care. Superman’s back, and that’s all that really matters. Heck, there’s even a Clark Kent, albeit one that doesn’t have any superpowers. Hopefully, though, all will be revealed and we’ll understand how all this confusion came to be.

But again, it’s Superman. It doesn’t really matter if things are in shambles right now.

In Path of Doom, Superman returns with his classic blue and red uniform to confront Lex. But while working out their differences, someone has taken something rather large from aforementioned hostage situation. That is Doomsday and he wants nothing more than to destroy our favourite Kryptonian. Unfortunately for Superman, that means going after his family – his wife Lois Lane and his son.

Superman Action Comics: Path of Doom (Comic) Review 2Writer Dan Jurgens does a wonderful job weaving in this confusing cast of characters (soap operas have nothing on DC Comics right now) and nonstop action. From the first panels until the final splash page of Path of Doom, readers are barraged with a titanic battle – one that brings in not only Luthor into the fray but also Wonder Woman. All are needed for Superman to wage war against Doomsday. The only drawback is the storyline is that it lasts about one issue too long. It is such an action-heavy series that this reader felt some fatigue, needing the pace to slow down in order to not feel sheer exhaustion in the last few issues.

The artwork is shared by three illustrators – Patrick Zircher, Tyler Kirkham and Stephen Segovia. All do a bang-up job, but Zircher’s style resonated most with this reviewer. Their shared vision brings the six issue battle to life, giving those of us reading The Death of Superman comic in 1992 a gift. In that year, Superman and Doomsday only went toe-to-toe in one issue. Here we get to see them pound one another over six issues – a true treat.

In the end, Path of Doom is a guilty pleasure. Being the first story arc for Superman Action Comics Rebirth, it punches its way into fans hearts. There is no subtlety with Path of Doom. It’s all action, all the time. Looks like DC took the title Action Comics quite literally this time.

Luckily, we’re all the better for it.

5 Things You Deserved to See in the Batman V Superman Trailer

5 Things You Deserved to See in the Batman V Superman Trailer

The Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer leaked Thursday night. It felt like decades have gone by since the initial announcement of Batman V Superman at San Diego Comic-con in 2013. They stole the show with just the logo, and the reciting of the most recognizable quote from The Dark Knight Returns book by Frank Miller, and this was the same show that Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron was revealed. No one expected right on the heels of Man of Steel that Batman and Superman would face off for the first time ever on the big screen.

With several outlets reporting it would be showcased in previous Warner Bros. films like the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Jupiter Ascending to the May release of Mad Max being all wrong, fans were starting to wonder when they would see more.

Now with the trailer out there, here’s what we all deserved to see versus what we got.

5) THE AFTERMATH OF METROPOLIS
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Man of Steel left many questioning the son of Krypton’s morality because of the amount of damage inflicted to the city. Although not all the destruction was his fault, the world will blame Superman because he’s the only one they can. It’s possible that in order to look good in the public eye, billionaire Lex Luthor will work with Bruce Wayne to repair the city. In tandem with that, he may start campaigns that explicitly state, “We can’t trust the alien.” How Superman proves himself to not be the destroyer of worlds like his people will be one of the most interesting aspects of the film.

Reality: The trailer starts off with the government debating if the very existence of Superman is a good thing. They’re giving the Man of Steel two options, either bow to the will of the government or be discharged from the planet earth.

4) A TEASE OF THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE LEAGUE

One of the biggest criticisms of this film is how Synder plans to juggle the other members of the league while introducing Batman into the fold. It can be as simple as showing S.T.A.R. Labs or them appearing on security cameras in the Batcave as Batman keeps a watchful eye on what he may perceive as potential threats to the world. Probably planning a contingency plan while he’s at it. Synder is no stranger in planting Easter eggs. Man of Steel was filled with them that suggested Booster Gold and Aquaman exist in the universe.

Reality: The trailer doesn’t focus on any other members of the Justice League besides Superman and Batman. The focus however is on Superman and how the world views him.

3) LEX LUTHOR PORTAYAL
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Everyone wanted Bryan “Heisenberg” Cranston, (Breaking Bad) before it was announced that Jesse Eisenberg would receive the roll of the cunning yet evil mastermind Lex Luthor. It would appear the bald-headed power-hungry billionaire will be the movie’s main antagonist despite whispers of Doomsday making an appearance. He has a lot of resources at his disposal that could spell trouble for Superman. Fans have been skeptical that Eisenberg could intimidate the Man of Tomorrow. This trailer needs to prove otherwise if this movie is going to appease the faithful.

Reality: Lex Luthor makes a debut but you could miss it if you don’t listen carefully.  His one line adds more fuel to flames as people try to figure out what’s the next course of action against the alien.

2) BATMAN AND GOTHAM CITY DEPICTION

Ben Affleck’s interpretation of the Dark Knight is what this movie is riding on. If not done correctly, this whole movie could fall flat. No pressure. The reception they receive from the trailer could very well dissipate all skepticism of Affleck taking the role or it could send it spiralling down into movie hell. First impression is key. Gotham City needs to be as or more gritty than Batman. It needs to be an extension of the character. The rampant crime is a staple for the city. Everyone knows what Metropolis looks like, so Gotham needs to resemble the complete opposite of hope.
BvSinsert4Reality: Snippets of thugs shooting Batman are seen in the trailer but no visible landmarks are shown.

Affleck’s take on the caped crusaders voice isn’t as nearly as raspy as the Christian Bale version. Which is a sigh of relief because Bale’s voice has been stuck in our heads for years that led to an excessive amount of parody videos.

1) SUPERMAN VERSUS BATMAN

It’s the most iconic battle in comics. What the whole world has been waiting for since the superhero genre took over Hollywood, Batman versus Superman. Batman has always done his research to be one step ahead of the opposition. Seeing how he is a veteran, nothing surprises him anymore, until he meets Superman that is. Realizing some being out there that is capable of destroying the entire planet but claims to be its saviour never sits well with the world’s greatest detective, well, at first anyway. Their first encounters with one another has always been interesting to watch because of the differences in their ideologies always clash.

Reality: No fists were thrown in the trailer. For those that seen the SDCC trailer when it leaked, Superman appears in the sky as Batman readies himself for battle. Something similar happens in this trailer, but you hear a bone-chilling line that Batman says before the trailer jump cuts to the logo.
BvSinsert2The trailer displays Superman has all the odds against him; Luthor and Batman all have different strategies to take him down. The voiceovers give you a sense of how the world would react to a god living among us. The combination of what’s presumably the Batman theme in the movie, and the visuals, convey the tone of what you can expect. It’s darker than Man Of Steel, because of The Dark Knight Returns tribute, but in a reverse fashion, with Superman being the threat rather than Batman. Coming out of all this will be a testament to his character. Will truth, justice and the American way prevail? Find out when Batman V Superman hits theatres worldwide Mar. 25, 2016.

On April 20

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, playing in select IMAX theatres, you can witness the trailer of the second movie in the overarching DC Cinematic Universe in crisp quality as well as witness never before seen footage.

Let the hype begin.
Are you excited for Batman V Superman? Let us know the comments below?

Superman Unchained (Hardcover) Review

Superman Unchained (Hardcover) Review

If you’re a fan of comics, then you’ve got to love when an all-star writer/artist pairing comes together. In celebration of good ol’ Superman’s 75

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anniversary, DC pulled one of these creator events together with Superman Unchained. Legendary artist Jim Lee and dark hearted superstar writer Scott Snyder decided to join forces for a big ol’ Superman epic. The resulting book was published slowly (as is the Jim Lee way) and featured more than a few fake outs (as is the Scott Snyder way), but eventually congealed into a Superman blockbuster. Consumed as a single story in trade format, this massive action n’ idea packed tale feels like the great dark Superman blockbuster that everyone was hyped up for Man Of Steel to be. It’s clever and wild and eye-popping and head-spinning and above all else deliriously entertaining. Is it the new definitive Superman tale? Nope, that honor still belongs to Grant Morrison’s beautiful All-Star Superman. But, Superman Unchained is still a wild ride that any comic book fan needs to take and probably the current highlight of Supes’ adventures in the New 52. And I say all that as someone who doesn’t even particularly love Superman.

supermanunchainedinsert1The plot is complex in its misdirects and structure, but Superman is pretty simple character and the book never stretches beyond Supes’ limited parameters. It all starts with satellites plummeting to Earth with only Superman to stop them. Shockingly, he pulls off the feet in a few action packed Jim Lee frames. From there, he learns that a cyber terrorist group named Ascension was responsible and after a fast-talking n’ fact-checking chat with Lois Lane, also learns that while he stopped 8 satellites himself a 9

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was stopped by a mysterious source. It turns out that source was a new villain known as Wraith. He looks like a cross between Doomsday and Darkseid (in a good way) and has a personal backstory for Superman. Turns out that Wraith is another alien who fell to earth and developed powers from our yellow sun. The only difference is that Wraith was brought up by the US government to whom he gave technological secrets and who helped him develop more and deeper powers than Superman. The pair form a reluctant alliance with Wraith teaching Superman alien fighting tips and Superman desperately attempting to teach his morality to Wraith. Eventually the whole Ascension thing turns out to be a ruse for an impending attack from Wraith long-lost alien race. An attack only a sacrificial Superman could stop. Plus Lex Luthor is involved in the whole thing with his new Superman-stomping plot. How could he not be?

As pure spectacle, the book is an absolute blast. As he’s proven time and time again in the pages of Batman, Snyder knows how to whip up a big set piece. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that it was a coincidence that Snyder dreamed up this story alongside his loopy Batman epic Zero Year and the ambitious surreal sci-fi/horror yarn The Wake. There was clearly a year when Snyder’s mind was in massive blockbuster mode, cranking out grandiose storylines that could only exist on a comic book page since Hollywood couldn’t dream of bringing them to reality within even a $300 million budget (well, for now anyways). That’s a good headspace to be in when crafting a Superman story and Jim Lee is a pretty ideal eye-candy collaborator. Lee’s idealized forms and fine attention to detail serves Snyder action scenes well. The glossy book is glorious to behold on a purely visceral level, with each issue assigned a massive explosion of Superman’s powers for Lee to fetishize with his beloved penmanship. There may have been delays getting all of these panels ready for publication, but it was all worth it. This is as grandiose as superhero yarns get and it’s impossible not to flip through the gorgeous images in the book without sporting a big goofy grin on your face.

Given that this will likely be Snyder’s only major crack at a Superman story, the writer takes advantage of the opportunity to play with all of his favorite toys in the Metropolis sandbox. Even though it’s not an “End Of Superman” story, Superman Unchained does offer a similar feel to Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow and Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman. In all three instances the book is the work of a star writer attempting to cram everything that he loves about the Superman mythos into a single shining epic. Snyder’s run isn’t quite up to the standards of those two tales, but given that they are arguably the greatest two Superman stories ever written that’s just fine. He does fill his pages with amusing takes on popular characters and thematic challenges to the nature of Superman. A Wraith-suggested fantasy about Superman seeing all of his friends age and die while he remains a perfected protector is quite poignant as is the entire mirror image of Supes that Snyder created in Wraith. The villain certainly has some limitations and isn’t nearly as fleshed out as you’d hope, but he works for this particular story. There are times when Snyder’s tendency to over complicate his plots and themes rears its ugly head (especially in the tiresome Ascension plot and the rushed climax). But thankfully whenever Snyder is on a roll in this limited series (like Batman’s extended cameo or pretty much every panel featuring Snyder’s delightfully twisted take on Lex Luthor), the result is a giddy rush of ideas and entertainment. As far as bubble gum blockbuster Superman stories go, this is a pretty darn great one.

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The Deluxe Edition release from DC is quite a nice little pick up for fans. The art is well served by the glossy pages and the hardback binding is strong. As an added treat, all of the unique covers used in the series are included in a hefty full page gallery after the main story. Pretty well all of DC’s heavyweight artists contributed alternative covers for the series, with each issue getting an alternate cover for every era of Superman (this was a 75

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anniversary celebrating series after all). Everything from Bruce Timm’s take on Golden Age Supes to some hilarious renditions of the alternative Supermen from the infamous 90s Death Of Superman story arc can be found here and the gorgeous art varies in tone from austerely loving homage to outright parody. The cover gallery is a beautiful little love letter to Superman and a welcome addition to this pretty collection (along with a handful of other extras like pencil drafts and script pages). The only unfortunate misstep was failing to include the multi-page fold out poster that Lee designed for the first issue of Superman Unchained, but that was likely skipped to increase the collectable value of issue 1. DC does love to stoke the fires of the collector’s market, so I suppose that was an inevitable omission. Overall, it’s a damn fine collection for a damn fine Superman story from a damn fine artist/writer team. It’s hard to complain about that. In fact, if you’re a Superman fan you may as well just celebrate this sweet trade’s existence and pick it immediately.

Superman/Batman Vol 1 Comic Review

Superman/Batman Vol 1 Comic Review

With Zack Snyder’s Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice already getting a heavy push through the hype machine two years before release, DC Comics has unsurprisingly decided to reissue the first half of Jeph Loeb’s beloved Superman/Batman run that first hit shelves a full decade ago. It’s easy to see why. Loeb was a master at both characters having penned the Bat-masterpiece The Long Halloween (which Chris Nolan frequently named dropped as the primary influence on his Dark Knight trilogy) and the deeply moving Superman For All Seasons. While both of those books delved deep into the psychology and lasting appeal of their iconic characters, his Superman/Batman run was more of a glorious romp. Fair enough, superhero team-up books aren’t generally known for being the artistic peak of the comic medium. They’re more about pure balls out entertainment and lifelong comic fan Loeb knows a thing or two about delivering that (see Batman: Hush). This book collects the first 13 issues of the series, comprised of two major arcs and a one off issue, and it feels like a buttery comic book movie blockbuster ready to go before cameras. Sadly, the chances of Zack Snyder turning these stories into a glorious blockbuster are about as lightly as him not using a dark color palate or slow motion action in the movie, but at least the stories are now available in a definitive edition.

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The first six-issue arc in the book is by far the best. Titled Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, it’s a glorious action fiesta that pits the two iconic heroes against most of the DC universe. The story takes place during that weird period of DC history when Lex Luthor was the president of the United States. Luthor and his crop of scientists spot a gigantic Kryptonite meteor (leftover from the explosion of Krypton, natch) hurtling towards earth. Since Luthor hates that Superman guy, he puts a massive bounty on Supes’ head for anyone willing to bring the hero to the White House for questioning. Luckily, Batman just happens to be with Superman at the time and decides to help his old buddy out of a jam. They decide to head to Washington to figure out what’s what and have to fight a series of DC villains and heroes along the way.

It’s a simple story that Loeb crafts as an action packed blockbuster. Few writers in the comic book medium write with the same intense narrative drive of Loeb when he’s on his game. Like his Bat-masterpiece Hush, the action for Public Enemies kicks off immediately and doesn’t let up until the final issue. Each panel drives the story forward dramatically and every issue ends with an insane cliffhanger that somehow tops the last. Sure, it’s a bit loopy (Luthor’s kryptonite/venom cocktail pretty silly), but it’s also undeniably an incredibly exciting bit of superhero daring-do filled with just enough characterization, tragedy, and drama to feel like more than empty calories. The best aspect of the run (and this comic book series as a whole) is the way that Loeb frames the story through the dual narration of Batman and Superman. The text boxes are colour-coded for each character, but honestly, you’d never question who is speaking without that visual aid. Loeb understands the fundamental differences and similarities between DC’s two flagship characters with a depth and clarity that few other writers possess. It’s endlessly entertaining and enlightening to read how Loeb relates the two drastically different heroes varying perspectives in every situation flung their way. For fans of the characters, it’s like comic book crack. There’s no high quite like a great Batman/Superman crossover and you can never get enough.

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Public Enemies might be the masterpiece of this trade paperback, but the other seven issues are hardly a waste of time. The single issue narrative plopped in the middle of the collection follows an adventure with Robin and Superboy that offers a similar compare-and-contrast study of their personalities. Neither sidekick is as compelling as their boss, so it’s not as rich of story, but it’s only a single issue, so it gets the job done. The second half of the book might be told once again from Supes and Bats’ perspectives, but it’s actually a backdoor Supergirl origin story from Loeb that reintroduced the character into DC continuity following her death in Crisis On Infinite Earths. A naked Kryptonian falls from the sky following the events of Public Enemies and Superman quickly works out that she is his cousin. From there, Superman becomes an oddly protective father with Batman desperately whispering in his ear about the potential danger. Wonder Woman shows up demanding that the girl head to Themyscira in an amusing twist and it all wraps up in a nasty brawl with Darkseid. Batman takes the role of a conscience in this story, and Loeb uses it as a means to explore Superman’s endlessly optimistic and trusting nature as a weakness. He also manages to revive Supergirl without a whiff of silliness, which is not at all easy for that character. Overall, the second arc is a slight step down from Public Enemies, yet still pure fun from a master comics conductor.

Superman/Batman Vol 1 is as gorgeously printed as we’ve come to expect from a trade paperback and though there aren’t any extras in this repackaging, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Aside from some sketches or Loeb writing yet another essay about loving these characters, there’s not really that much to say. Though this book offers big heaping piles of entertainment, it’s not exactly a deep bit of work. This is bright colorful fun, a collection of masterfully constructed action storytelling written with compassion and understanding for the central iconic characters. Sure, Loeb sprinkles in a little commentary about the perils of government control, but for the most part it’s a crossover romp that offers the same pleasures of Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie. That’s ultimately the appeal of the Superman/Batman relationship, the grittiness of Batman’s world and the mythology of Superman’s world meet in the pulpy middle. A great crossover between the two characters like this or Bruce Timm’s World’s Finest plays as light as a feather even with high drama. It would be nice to live in a world where we could all count on the blockbuster movie that will finally unite the characters on the big screen following a similar path. Sadly, it’s safe to say that with Zack “murderous sad sack Superman” Snyder in charge, that won’t be happening. Let’s just hope that the inevitable reboot comes soon.

 

 

Necessary Evil: Villains Of DC Comics (Movie) Review

Necessary Evil: Villains Of DC Comics (Movie) Review

For any fan of DC Comics, it’s clear that the company has a deep love and affection for the bad guy. Their lineup of villains is deep and impressive, varying from thugs to gods and offering a stark contrast to their collection of super powered heroes. In September, the company even halted production on all of their regular titles for Villains month. One-off issues about everyone from the Riddler to Darkseid offered the bad boys (and girls) of DC a chance to shine without being filtered through the lens of the goody two-shoes guys n’ gals they fight. The month long celebration also launched Geoff Johns’ new all-villains alt universe series Forever Evil, and the company commissioned a documentary about their long history of villainy. Told through the deep, dulcet tones of legendary bad guy specialist Christopher Lee, Necessary Evil: Villains Of DC Comics is an intriguing little overview for fans, but also something that feels curiously insubstantial and out of place as a standalone release on Blu-ray.

The doc is essentially a guide to being bad in the DC universe, delving into the origins, back-stories, and main events surrounding DC villains on all media platforms the company exploits. It’s mostly a collection of talking head interviews, but those talking heads are all of the big boys at DC and a few famous fans. We’re talking a list that includes the likes of Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Paul Dini, Len Wein, Neal Adams, Scott Snyder, Dan Didio, Brian Azzarello, Tony S. Daniel, Peter J. Tomasi, Zack Snyder (shudder), and Guillermo Del Toro. With that many legendary faces for the comic book crowd, it’s clearly a geekgasm of sorts and certainly not one without interest.

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The writers, artists, and famous fans dive into what makes all of the major villains so fascinating. The Joker’s sense of anarchy and peculiar love/hate relationship with Batman. The Riddler’s fixture as a figure who challenges the great detective’s intellect. The way that Lex Luthor and Brainiac offer the ultimate foils to both the earthly and alien sides of Superman. Green Lantern’s time as the Spectre and the duality therein. The dark shadow the godly Darkseid casts over the entire universe. All of the essentials are there in broad strokes and discussed with healthy dollops of insight by those who created the characters, wrote the key stories, or have loved the material from afar. For someone who only occasionally peaks into the world of comics, it’s a wonderful introduction and overview of the universe told in a tight, fast, and visually expressive manner involving clips and artwork from decades of DC lore.

Broad themes of how “heroes are only as strong as their villains” or how villains represent primal fears of their heroes and society at large are also touched upon. It’s all interesting, relevant, and entertaining material. Here’s the problem though; there’s really nothing here that any serious comic book fan isn’t entirely aware of and hasn’t considered on their own. That’s an issue because the market for this doc is entirely the comic book fans that will learn little from the hundred minute celebration of comic book evil. The film is certainly slickly made and entertaining, but ultimately you can’t help but wonder what the point of putting this thing out was beyond self-promotion. The doc was clearly tied directly to villains month and Forever Evil, operating as an advertisement for both blockbuster DC events. The film is also filled with clips from DCU animated features and DC videogames like Injustice and Arkham Asylum/City/Origins. So beyond being a celebration of DC, it’s also a big ad for DC that you have to plop down $20 to experience. If it weren’t for the fact that so much A-list talent was involved and contributing interesting insights, Necessary Evil might even feel like an insulting bit of DC shilling.

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Thankfully, the doc is just interesting enough to avoid that ugly labeling. However, why it was released as a solo documentary is somewhat of a mystery. The DCU animated films have been coming with documentaries like this delving into comic book lore and methodology for years now. Those special features are just as strong and well produced as Necessary Evil and in the case of the excellent Frank Miller doc included on the recent Dark Knight Returns Blu-ray, even better. Necessary Evil should have been a special feature and feels like one (it would have been an ideal doc on a Killing Joke DCU Animation disc for example… hint, hint, DC). Why it got a solo release is a mystery. Perhaps it was just considered to be a necessary part of the Villains Month media onslaught. Perhaps the DC brass produced it as a special feature and then felt it was good enough to deserve a solo release instead. Who knows? Regardless, it’s an interesting little doc for fanboys that’s well worth a look, just not something that demands a Blu-ray purchase. Sure, the transfer is nice, but seeing every pore on Dan Didio’s face is not really worth the $20 investment. Definitely seek it out, but wait till it’s on a streaming service or packaged with another disc. Even if DC had included some episodes from their various animated series highlighting villains, this might have been worthy of investment. Instead, it’s merely a weird curiosity piece given a major release for reasons best known to the folks in the fabled DC offices. Ah well, at least Justice League: War is still on the way and chances are the Necessary Evil sales will be low enough that the thousands of unsold copies end up being packaged with the highly anticipated animated feature.

Superman: Action Comics Volume 1: Superman and the Men of Steel Review

Superman: Action Comics Volume 1: Superman and the Men of Steel Review

When DC Comics first started their New 52 re-launch, one of the most highly hyped books in the line was Action Comics, originally by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales. At that point, it had been a few years since Grant Morrison had written the almost universally-acclaimed All-Star Superman; a timeless Superman tale, which managed to bring a silver-age sensibility to the character in a one-off adventure, set in the now-defunct All-Star line. Hence the expectations were pretty high right from the beginning.

Grant Morrison defied expectations and told a very different kind of Superman story when the first few issues were being published. It was clear that Morrison wanted to go back to basics, in a big way, as he presented a Superman who was a bit more like the original incarnation of the character from the 30s. He was a defender of the 99%, and a bit more of a rabble-rouser. He wore an S on his t-shirt, had an indestructible cape, and wore jeans. It was a departure from the norm, to say the least, and although I was sceptical, I was also intrigued. Unfortunately, Morrison wasn’t able to keep the grounded nature of the storytelling intact before it went way off the deep end, in a very Morrisonian way, but not in a good way.

This particular collection brings together Action Comics #1-#8, including not just the lead stories from each issue, but also the back-ups by Sholly Fisch. The stories start out fairly grounded, with a different slant on the early days of Superman, Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, including Clark working for a different paper and not the Planet, and a look at a Metropolis that isn’t quite the gleaming city it is usually presented as in the DC Universe. Pre-New 52, Metropolis was one of the safest cities in the US, with relatively little corruption and crime, aside from Lex Luthor periodically. However, Morrison’s reimagined take on early Metropolis has corruption running rampant, leading to Clark Kent taking on the guise of Superman, to ruffle feathers, and root out corruption. That part of the storytelling is interesting to see, and a nice change of pace. However, things quickly get quite weird, and that’s when the book really gets away from the reader. Despite going to great lengths to show that Superman is not yet as powerful as we’re used to him being, and that he’s still very much a work in progress, Morrison suddenly thrusts Superman into oddball situations. He is randomly outfitted with his New 52 Kryptonian armour, he can suddenly move much faster than he’s ever moved before, and it feels as if giant leaps have been taken in his characterization and powerset, and yet it all happens instantly, without a great deal of explanation. The first major supervillain that Superman takes on is basically a version of Brainiac, but the story just isn’t well told. For fans who have already read the entire Morrison take on Action Comics, and are rereading the first eight issues as part of this trade, there ARE a lot of elements seeded for future storylines, although they aren’t apparently obvious when you first read them.

The artwork by Rags Morales is a long way from the brilliant artwork he brought to Identity Crisis nearly a decade ago. The characters’ faces aren’t all that distinct or recognizable from panel to panel, page to page, the action is often unclear, it’s just not what I can expect from Morales. The issues by Andy Kubert look great, but are all too often a bit too stiff for my own tastes, and that’s coming from a huge fan of Andy Kubert’s art style.

The first couple of issues have a great premise and some intriguing writing, but it all gets chucked out the window as Morrison continues, and gets stuck in his own crazy ideas. It goes from being a potentially exciting and fascinating look at a version of Superman we don’t usually get to see, to being a little too drenched in Morrison’s off-the-wall eccentricity. It gets in the way of a good story that Morrison had started telling in the first few issues. The artwork is never quite up to the task, especially once the story goes further and further into brutally weird territory.

 

Luthor Review

Luthor Review

Since the beginning of storytelling, we have been given the tale of the hero. The villain has always placed the champion against the odds before they surmount them all, standing victorious over adversity. We’ve always been treated with the hero’s point of view. But how often have we seen it from the villain’s outlook? Enter Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. This creative duo teamed up in 2005 to bring us Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, a five issue mini-series focusing on how Superman’s arch nemesis sees things. Just recently, DC Comics released a hardcover collected edition titled Luthor. This book is a delight for any fan. Lex was always portrayed as a megalomaniac bent on destroying Superman and take over the world. He begs to differ. He believes he’s doing what’s best for mankind’s survival. His hero complex is misconstrued. In Luthor, we follow Lex, who is the only one in Metropolis unimpressed by the Man of Steel. While everyone is gaga over the superhero, Lex sees him as a threat. Here is a man from another planet and no one’s bothered to question that. Bermejo perfectly portrays the hero with fiery red eyes, giving us insight on how Luthor views his enemy: as evil. Writer Azzarello is careful enough not to make Luthor look completely virtuous. Although in his heart of hearts, Lex genuinely believes he is doing what’s best, he doesn’t necessarily follow the right path. The writer does a great job with balancing the good and the bad in the man. A cameo by billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, as well as his alter ego Batman, is a plus. I would suggest this book to anyone interested in seeing Lex Luthor in rare states of caring, compassion, and love. Seems like there’s good in all of us.