Comic Thoughts: Superman Earth One

Superman: Earth One
Superman: Earth One

If you had cornered the 12-year-old me and asked him if he liked Superman, he would have likely responded with a derisive laugh.  For what it is worth back then I certainly enjoyed the spectacle of the Death of Superman and the following Reign of the Supermen, but I never would ever in a million years would ever have called myself a Superman fan.  Cut forward 15 years, and enter New Krypton.  Suddenly I was sold.  All of a sudden I’m buying not one Super title but three, religiously following the exploits of Supes and his family as the sudden appearance of Kandor, rescued from its bottle city, opened up a fascinating new element in the Superman mythos.  While that arc ended with War of the Supermen, and I’m still on board for J. Michael Straczynski’s “Grounded” arc happening in Superman.  However, “Grounded” is a far cry from sci-fi tinged action of New Krypton and War of the Supermen so, just I was starting to miss the big action of the last few years of Superman titles the JMS penned graphic novel Superman: Earth One was released last week.

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DC’s New Weekly: Trinity

While Final Crisis‘ first issue was a bit disappointing the appearance of DC’s new weekly series Trinity was a welcome surprise.  Out of the gate it is already better than both 52 and the abysmal Countdown to Final Crisis.  The title refers to DC’s big three: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  It also plays with the religious like mythology that surrounds and ties together those three characters.  It isn’t a perfect series by any means but a solid creative team of Mark Bagely (Ultimate Spider-man) and Kurt Busiek(too many to name) keep the series from the sprawl and sporadic narrative that made 52 drag and ruined Countdown.  Like both of the previously weeklies it is tied strongly with the history and unified mythology of the DC Universe.  New DC fans might not like that but I imagine comic fans of all types will find something to like in the series.

To aid the newbie to DC, one not quite familiar with the lesser known faces of the DCU, one of the writers over at Newsarama is doing an annotation feature to exaplain/point out interesting facts about the characters and events in the story.  Check out the series for a fun read and stop by the annotation entries for the first three issues:

Annotations for Trinity issue #1

Annotations for Trinity issue #2

Annotations for Trinity issue #3

Week’s Best Double Shot 1/30 and 2/6

Last week’s top three (note: the newest Cap was sold out, though I’m sure it would have made this list, if you’re not reading Brubaker’s Cap then you, frankly, are a frickin’ idiot):

Avengers: The Initiative #9, Slott and Caselli
The rampage of the “perfect” human MVP clone (calling himself KIA) armed with a deadly alien weapon continues. Casualties occur left and right and some of the characters we have come to like bite the big one plus…a skrull! The appearance of Trauma counseling Cloud 9 makes me wonder if any of this is really happening, but next months confrontation between The Gauntlet (also bearing alien weapon) and KIA looks to be pretty badass. A great book taking a look at the new heroes of the Initiative being manipulated by the corrupt bureaucracy. Slott rocks, as usual, though his humor is toned down quite a bit here. Caselli does a fine job on the art; his inking (it’s NOT tracing) in particular lends a  gloomy air to the hardcore proceedings. A top shelf title that should be on everyone’s pull list.
Green Lantern #27, Johns and McKone
The Alpha Lanterns are revealed and it’s bad news.   A powered up internal police force to watch over the other police (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?) they just seem like an all around bad idea on the Guardian’s part. It was great to see John Stewart acknowledged for being that badass that he is and I was proud to see that, being an earth native, he knows how to ask questions before jumping into something. The Sinestro Corps War was prelude to something much larger and I’m excited to see what that is. Things are changing in the cosmic world of DC and it’ll be a fun ride; especially with Johns at the helm.
Countdown to Adventure #6 of 8, Beechen/Gray and Goldman/Ferreira
One of the 2 countdown related titles I’ve been reading; mainly because of the interesting cast. I find the Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man team an exciting trio and I’ve had fun viewing their interactions. The Starfire/Animal Man tension has been good and Adam Strange has been showing he can still kick ass; though it a little disappointing the that it has taken 6 issue to get all three back together again. This issue was interesting in that it focused attention on the significant others of both Animal Man and Adam Strange; both playing a large role in saving their husbands from certain doom. I don’t see any ties to Countdown, which is good, and this title would be a fun read without being tied to that cluster-f.  I do like the Forerunner backup, she is actually an interesting character and you can’t help but hope that her quest for revenge, against both the Monitors and Monarch, succeeds. Worth a look if you’re into the sci-fi space opera comics that both of the Big Two have been putting out.

Week’s Best, 2/6:

JSA #12, Johns/Ross and Eaglesham/Jose
This title is still getting its legs after that “Lightning Saga” garbage but things are looking better. More legacies show up (ncluding the return of Jakeem Thunder) one of which (in addition to the shadow of the villain) further ties into “Kingdom Come.” Things are looking bad for the DCU if that is the direction they’re heading. This title was a little late (last issue was in December) but we get two this month so things are improving. I’m really starting to like the new members and, despite the legacy throwback feel to many of them, all seem like they’re going to be a helluva lot of fun to read.
Annihilation: Conquest #4, Adnet/Lanning, Raney
If you can look past Adam Strange’s Madman/Captain Marvel knockoff costume you’ll find a good book, not as a good as Annihilation, but a good book. Things still look bleak for the captured, and now tortured, Starlord and his stranded crew as Mantis does her best to shelter Peter’s mind and learns of Ultron’s plans. Meanwhile Ronan, Wraith and others cook up a plan to attack the Phalanx on Hala, and it isn’t what you might think. Things are heating up but I still don’t see a way to beat the Phalanx (but I do see the potential of last minute, hail mary, save by Richard Ryder aka Nova down the line). Also can we get a Groot/Rocket Raccoon mini? Please?  That “I am Groot!” line was pitch perfect deadpan humor.
Uncanny X-Men #495, Brubaker and Choi
Have I mentioned that Brubaker rocks? This is a nice quiet issue that some fans might balk at (especially after the madcap pace of Messiah Complex) but that I found pretty enjoyable. It explores the Emma/Scott relationship in some detail, particularly from Emma’s perspective and, you know what, I buy it. It’s a bit romantic, a bit sappy, but it works within the context of the Marvel U and I like it. There is one attempted humorous line that falls a bit flat to my ear but other than that the writing is top shelf. The Iron Man/Cyclops confrontation in particular was worthwhile and Cyke raised some valid points and I’m glad to see him finally maturing (in Messiah Complex and here) into the leader he is supposed to be. I’m not too sure of the ending lead-in to the next big conflict but I’m willing to run with it as Brubaker and company continue to explore the concept of an X-Men without Xavier.

The Pull List- 1/17/2008

Hopefully I’ll make this a regular feature. You’ll see this post is in three sections: the first is my complete pull list of comics I bought this week, after that you’ll see my top three picks this week, and last some brief commentary on everything else. Enjoy, and let me know what you think…

The Pull List

  • Angel: After the Fall #3
  • The Sword #4
  • Birds of Prey #114
  • JLA #7
  • Robin #170
  • Shadowpact #21
  • Cable/Deadpool #49
  • Incredible Hercules #113
  • New Exiles #1
  • New X-Men #46
  • WWH Aftersmash Warbound #2

Best of the Best

Angel: After the Fall #3, IDW, Lynch/Urru
Angel and crew are in Hell. They’re not happy, there is much fighting…and a dragon.
Similar to Dark Horse’s ongoing Buffy Season 8 spin-off this comic takes place immediately after the series finale of Angel. I missed issue #1 but apparently we’re all in hell now and chaos reigns supreme. I’m not a big fan of the art here, Urru’s penciling appears a bit sloppy to me and the color palette feels a bit muddy. The story is top-notch though and Lynch manages to nail the tone of the series especially well maintaining the dark humor of the show quite well. If you liked the show you’ll like the book. Unfortunately finding issue #1, in reprint even, might be a bit of bitch.
The Sword #4, Image, Luna/Luna
Dara’s on the run from law and look for revenge. Meanwhile the people that killed her family let out a collective “D’oh!”
If you haven’t heard of the Luna brothers shame on you. A talented duo that previously brought you the Sex and the City meets Superheroes comic Ultra and the zombie meets cheescake series Girls comes this absolute gem of a comic about a girl and a magical sword. Despite the clean line work of Jonathon Luna he doesn’t shy away from visceral violence, though compared to last issue things are relatively tame, and conveys emotions via facial expressions with near perfection. While Jonathon’s command over the action is good I admit his style has a bit of a static feel to it (like seeing a cell of a cartoon) and the soft color palette, while pleasing to the eye doesn’t help in that regard (it does make the more vivid colors, say blood for example, all the more shocking). Joshua, handling the writing, does a phenomenal job at doling out tidbits of plot, hinting at a larger, mysterious back-story, while at the same time keeping fans sated via the action at hand. All in all a superb comic that anyone tired of spandex could, and certainly should, pick up and enjoy.
New X-Men #46, Marvel, Yost & Kyle/Ramos
The not-so-merry mutants continue their fight against all odds for the first mutant birth since M-day. Blood is spilled and tensions builds
The penultimate issue of the Messiah Complex crossover speeds things towards their, hopefully, epic conclusion and ramps the action up to an absolute frantic pace. A pace that is perfectly suited to the down and dirty style of artist Ramos. The uniformity of voice throughout the entire crossover is fairly impressive given that each of the X-books has its own creative team and the writing duo of Yost/Kyle once again do a deft job handling the sprawling ensemble of multigenerational X-men/villains. I do wish, at least a little, that the book focused a bit more on the title team (the younger X-Men) as they’re a crew I’ve come to quite like but I can’t complain as everything we do have here hearkens back to the glory days of the X-teams. If you’re not reading this crossover you’re an idiot. ‘Nuff said.

The Other Stuff

Birds of Prey #114:
This book has been struggling since Simone left, I’ll give it one or two more issue before it gets dropped. I do love Black Alice though.
JLA #7:
This book just can’t seem to hit its stride. I’ll keep plugging away at it but my prospects of really liking this book are fast dwindling. Black Lightning was pretty badass in the beginning though, and it had some fantastic cover art.
Robin #170
Is it sad that I like this better than the Batman books? I think Tim Drake is an interesting character and the father/son aspect of Batman/Robin books (now made legal in Wayne’s adoption of Drake) is
interesting if not played on enough. Solid book, not spectacular, but solid.
Shadowpact #21:
Come on, Detective Chimp! Looking at dating websites for furries! Seriously! No Blue Devil in this one though and I hope they’re going somewhere with the Nightshade/Ragman stuff, but again a solid comic about an weird team full of interesting characters.
Cable/Deadpool #49
Deadpool doesn’t just break the 4th wall he smashes it to pieces then grinds the rubble into fine dust. Still though it had me laughing out loud a few times and I really like his supporting cast, Bob the Hydra agent is perhaps the best comic foil in comic book history.
Incredible Hercules #113:
No that’s not a typo. This is good book but a strange amalgamation of leftover WWH plots details and the Marvel version of greek mythology. I like the violent sibling rivalry between Ares and Herc. Solid writing with some humorous quips.
New Exiles #1:
They restarted the series for this? Sorry, no #2 for me.
WWH Aftersmash Warbound #2
Another solid WWH spin-off. The loveable Warbound up to their crazy antics again being all monstery and badassy and whatnot. This is above all a redemption story about monsters trying to be heroes. If you liked Planet Hulk and World War Hulk you’ll like this title.