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Superman: Secret Origin #2 [Review]

The Boy of Steel

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Assoc. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Covers: Frank w/ Anderson
Publisher: DC Comics

The silver age is apparently back. This issue–while including smaller moments of Clark and his parents, and of Luthor and his own life, as well as some of LUthor’s interaction with Clark (establishing them as acquaintances if not exactly best buds)–primarily focuses on the Legion of Super-Heroes and their first meeting with Clark, and allowing him to tag along “back to the future” with them. While in the future, recently-introduced elements (I believe from Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes) are established as being present from the get-go of things. It’s also pretty easy to fit the original silver age story of the characters’ first meeting between the pages here. The issue’s finale introduces another character whose presence means the current Superman is all the more NOT the character I grew up on.

The story itself isn’t bad–Johns has a great handle on things. However, I’ve bristled for years now at elements being “snuck” back into the Superman mythos that I’ve thought make him too much “super” and not enough “man” and this story really puts aside any sneaking and is quite overt at putting things back into the mythos. At the same time, I imagine that going back to re-read Superman and the Legion will reveal references to what is shown in these pages.

I’ve been curious as to exactly what is and is not official cannon in the Superman books of late, so I’m glad to see his secret-since-Infinite-Crisis origin revealed at last. The execution seems to be working quite well, even if I don’t like the content all that much.

The art team provides fantastic visuals. Even Clark as “Superboy” comes across as pretty realistic–he looks rather awkward in the costume and it’s easy to see that he’s not entirely comfortable in it yet. At this point, Frank is pretty much my favorite Superman artist, and very certainly in the ranks of Dan Jurgens, Jim Lee, and Alex Ross.

Again, while far from enamored at the undoing of so much of the Superman I grew up with from 1989 to present…I can’t deny that in and of itself, the story and art are both of high quality, and taken apart from my preferred continuity, this issue has some of the best Superman work of the last decade.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Blackest Night: Titans #3 [Review]

“When Doves Cry”

Written by: J. J. Krul
Art: Ed Benes
Inks: Scott Williams & Ed Benes
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Rob Clark Jr.
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editors: Eddie Berganza & Brian Cunningham
Cover: Benes, Rob Hunter, & Rod Reis (variant by George Perez)
Publisher: DC Comics

In a way, when you get right down to it, there isn’t a whole lot to describe for this issue. The various Titans continue to deal with their respective Black Lanterns, who are dredging up some very specific and painful emotional reactions from the living heroes. However, as we see the Black Lantern Hawks accosting Dove, we witness an interesting reaction that is likely to play a key role in upcoming chapters of the Blackest Night event.

As a mini-series–as with the Batman and Superman ones that also ended this month–this doesn’t have a very satisfying conclusion, as we’re basically left with a lead-in to these characters joining the bigger party of the event now that their “foundation” and “connection” to the overall story has been established. While the incursion of the Black Lanterns was saved for the actual kickoff of the event with Blackest Night #1, this first wave of minis seem like they would have been better-served as either prologues, or triple-sized one-shots, to launch the respective characters into the event as a whole.

Despite that, as a reader not steeped in Titans knowledge nor invested in the ongoing series, it’s great to have a series that is reasonably accessible to chronicle the characters’ involvement in the event without having to have ongoing plots in the main book competing with the story elements of the event I’m following.

Donna Troy is forced to face her dead husband and child, and must overcome what her eyes tell her to act based on actual knowledge. Beast Boy faces the same challenge with his lost love, and has some self-realization in handling things. Dove (who seems to be the same character I recall being killed in Armageddon 2001 almost 20 years ago) is in a similar predicament as then, but doubled.

The visuals are very well-done, and really accentuate the story itself. The “big moment” of the issue with Dove is something that would not come off the same way with bad visual work. There’s also a bit at the end of the issue that really illustrates the way story and visuals work together in a comic in a way that isn’t possible with the same subtlety in a prose work.

As the final issue of a 3-issue arc, I don’t recommend this issue unless you can snag the first two; but taken with those first two and as its own story tied to Blackest Night, this is well worth your while. I suspect the older Titans fans more familiar with the characters and their history will appreciate things more; but for me, this has exposed me to characters I haven’t had much exposure to in awhile–if at all, and has put down groundwork for me to care about their involvement if they continue to play much of a role in Blackest Night.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Green Lantern #47 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Blackest Night #4 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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