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Superman: Dark Knight Over Metropolis (TPB) [Review]

supermandarkknightovermetropolistpbWriters: John Byrne, Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway
Artists: Art Adams, Dick Giordano, Dan Jurgens, “Sludd” Giordano, Brett Breeding, Bob McLeod, Jerry Ordway, Dennis Janke, Kerry Gammill, John Kalisz
Reprints: Action Comics Annual #1, Adventures of Superman #466-467, Action Comics #653-654, Superman #44
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $14.99

The Action Comics annual, while not bad, isn’t at all my favorite Superman/Batman story. It’s certainly an apt inclusion, being one of the earliest team-ups of the characters…I just don’t care for the vampires thing, and given the volume’s title and the “main” story of the volume, I was eager to get to that rather so quickly waded through the Annual.

Adventures of Superman #466 was the first appearance of Hank Henshaw, and a definite “nod” to Marvel‘s Fantastic Four, albeit with a much more tragic outcome. Three men and a woman are exposed to “cosmic radiation” and crash back to Earth, finding themselves changed–one into energy, one into a monstrous construct of shrapnel, rocks, and branches; one fading out of our plane of existence, one being eaten away by radiation that baffles even his intellect. This is a nice “one-shot” sort of issue, introducing the characters and seeing their apparent end all in one go…though Hank Henshaw would eventually return in Reign of the Supermen/The Return of Superman and go on to be a fairly recurring character throughout the 1990s’ Superman books. Though I can’t be certain of its accuracy, I seem to have a fond memory of having read this issue while it was still new, long before ever being referred back to it during Reign of the Supermen.

I can’t really put my finger on why this issue was included here except that it came out about the same time as the others and so perhaps “adds context,” but as a Superman/Batman-themed volume focusing on the characters’ early interactions, I really would have preferred to see Man of Steel #3 (One Night in Gotham City) included here (the issue/story is even referenced by the Action Comics annual!).

Action Comics #653 serves as a nice prologue to the “main event” of the volume, giving us the key point of the Kryptonite ring having been removed from Luthor’s possession, and how it winds up able to make its way to Gotham City.

Finally, we get to the three issues that are the actual Dark Knight over Metropolis story. Here, Batman comes across a radioactive ring that he traces back to Metropolis. Of course, Metropolis “belonging” to Superman, the two cross paths, and have to work together to uncover the source of the ring and deal with a threat from Intergang. At the story’s end, we see that although their methods differ, Superman realizes that he and Batman are truly on the same side with the same ultimate goals, and we get the key scene that would have ramifications for a decade or more in the DC Universe as Superman gives Batman the means to stop him should the need ever arise.

Overall–on all the issues–the story and art work well together. I can definitely tell these are from the late 1980s/early-1990s, though, visually…both stylistically (square, neat panels, virtually no full-splash-pages, no double-page spreads, etc) as well as the coloring…while the paper itself for this volume are not newsprint, some pages I could practically feel the newsprint, and some of the coloration “dots” are visible in panels from the original printing process.

The look and feel of this volume brings back fond memories for me, as–while different artists had different ways of depicting the characters–the whole seems consistent with nothing outlandish or particularly “off,” and I really had no complaints.

The stories as well are a nice blast from the past…and as I read this, I realized I may not actually have read all of these before this iteration, so it’s nice to know absolutely for certain that I’ve now read this story for myself as opposed to simply knowing it by references TO the story.

This is probably one of the most “bare-bones” volumes I’ve noticed as such in awhile…I was surprised to get to the end, and there aren’t even any ad pages or lists of OTHER Superman or Batman volumes that I usually ‘expect’ to see. Additionally, there’s no table of contents, introduction or anything…not terribly surprising since the “specialness” of collected volumes has gone away, though for such a specific story I’d almost expect some “extra” stuff to be included (since this isn’t “just” “the next” volume to contain several issues in a series).

All told, though…it’s quite gratifying that this volume now exists, and it’s well worthwhile for anyone interested in a quality glimpse into “early” Superman/Batman interaction from the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe. This is a standard-size TPB, with the “standard” $14.99 cover price that one would expect for a 6-7 issue volume. In an age of collected volumes increasingly reflecting a greater-than-$3.99-per-issue price, this is a more than fair price point. I already own all of the single issues, and would really consider them to be quarter-bin/50-cent-bin issues, yet I still bought this, and consider it a very worthwhile purchase!

Booster Gold #2 [Review]

Quick Rating: Excellent!
Story Title: 52 Pick-Up, chapter 2: Leggo My Ego

Booster vs. Sinestro…for the fate of Guy Gardner?

boostergold002Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Layouts by: Dan Jurgens
Finishes by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Jurgens & Rapmund
Variant cover by: Art Adams
Booster Gold created by: Dan Jurgens
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue’s mission for Booster? Stop a determined Sinestro from making contact with Guy Gardner. Should he fail, the Sinestro Corps. would come about years sooner than it should, and would lead to Sinestro’s successful conquering of the universe. As Booster attempts to keep the two men from meeting, Rip goes on a field trip, and a figure from Booster’s recent experiential past returns, promising significant trouble.

This is another fine issue of this still-young series. We get a "complete" story in Booster being told what his "mission" is, the context surrounding said mission, and Booster diving in to attend to business, with the conclusion of the mission impacting what’s to come in the next issue, all while several sub-plots (awesome–they still exist!) advance and promise to emerge to the forefront before too terribly long.

As such, it seems that the writing team is in great form here, providing us with an entertaining story, but also laying foundation for the meta-arc that will likely be at least the first TPB…establishing an ongoing story that works in larger form, while making it feel worthwhile to be reading the short-form single issues as they’re released.

The art team is also in great form, providing visuals that convey the story and character emotions in a clear, detailed way without being hyper-detailed nor so realistic one might be tempted to forget that this is, in fact, a comic book.

Blended together, this is another very enjoyable issue that is well worth being picked up. And even if you didn’t nab #1…I would gladly argue that this issue justifies tracking down both issues of this series-so-far to get in on an engaging, enjoyable read!


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

Booster Gold #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Excellent!
Story Title: 52 Pick-Up, chapter 1: Secret Origins

Booster Gold finds that despite saving the multi-verse, Time is still broken, and it’s up to him to save it–in a rather surprising way.

boostergold001Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Layouts by: Dan Jurgens
Finishes by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Dan Jurgens
Variant cover by: Art Adams
Special Thanks to: "Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid…but definitely not Keith Giffen!"
Booster Gold created by: Dan Jurgens
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue rocks! It presses a lotta my fan buttons, and is one of very few issues of late that I put down and probably had some silly grin on my face, having just simply enjoyed it that much.

We pick up with Booster Gold a couple months after the events of 52, as he’s working to make it big again and get a shot at joining the current Justice League…even though none of it’s quite the same without his best buddy Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) around. Unfortunately for the would-be hero, other forces–and people–are at work in the timestream, and Booster finds himself drawn back into facing a crisis that threatens to keep him from his public and rise to genuine fame.
Throughout, we get a number of great character moments and interactions that speak to the potential of coming issues and stories, even as they add to the depth of this very story.

The story here seems really solid to me–and if there was a lack of solidity, it didn’t stand out to me. This issue–and series–builds on the events of 52 and takes up some dangling threads to start tying stuff up in one way or another. Booster is written in such a way that he’s not only true to classic/iconic form, but is also given some actual growth, leaving plenty of room for continuing growth as a character, without ditching or disrespecting the past.

We get a lot of what makes a great first issue for a new title: exposition/flashback to catch the reader up or introduce new readers to the state of affairs; prominent use of the title character; introduction of new and old characters for supporting cast; guest-stars to show what it is that makes this character stand on his own; a plausible story that builds on existing continuity without being bogged down; and several bits of foreshadowing and outright teases of what’s to come, that fit right into the context of the story without feeling forced.

The strength of continuity and the feel of the main character himself certainly must come partly from the fact that Johns was one of Booster’s writers from his last adventure.

Visually, the cover stands out immediately, with a fun, iconic sort of picture–and though I hadn’t realized it when I first noticed it and thought about what a cool image it was–the standard cover is by Dan Jurgens, who has had a certain place in Booster Gold history.

The general artwork in the issue is also very good…it captures the sheer fun-ness and energy of things. It’s not the most hyper-detailed, nor is it overly simplified…it clearly shows who’s doing what where and when, gets across what’s going on, and as a whole does a great job of doing what the art in a comic is supposed to do.

While this issue’s story, and perhaps very existence spring directly from 52, you need not have read that story to understand what’s going on here–and the details from 52 that do matter are recapped in the flow of this issue’s story. Though this looks to have elements drawn from all parts of the DC multiverse, and the ability to touch any and all titles that are part of the main stable of DC books, this issue feels very nicely self-contained, and a decent jumping-in point even if you’re not familiar with the DCU.

Taken as a whole, this issue is one of the single most enjoyable reads I’ve had all year, and I definitely recommend it–especially if you’re a fan of the character, of 52, or of the "new" multiverse.


Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Ultimate Comics X #1 [Review]

His Father’s Son

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Arthur Adams
Colorist: Aspen MLT’s Peter Steigerwald
Digital Inks: Aspen MLT’s Mark Roslan
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comic Craft’s Albert Deschesne
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Assistant Editor: Sana Amanat
Senior Editor: Mark Paniccia
Cover: Art Adams
Published by: Marvel Comics

Okay…so, I can hardly remember the last time I read an Ultimate comic. After reading from issue #3, I let Ultimate Spider-Man go around issue 80 when I gave in on the realization that the stories just weren’t being written for the single-issue format, and I wasn’t enjoying the pacing for the price per issue. I’m pretty sure I gave up on The Ultimates before that due to lateness, and I don’t recall sticking with Ultimates 2 more than a couple issues. All the hype over Ultimatum and the Ultimate Comics relaunch didn’t pull me in. I read Ultimate Iron Man 2 when I scored the hardback for the $6.

I’m not even sure what intrigued me with this issue. The teaser ads? Perhaps in small part–after all, WHAT is there to be done with Wolverine that’s NEW? Would this be something interesting like the Mary Jane and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane series? Would a book about a teenaged Logan in modern high school (thinking “Wolverine” instead of “Sparkly Vampire”) come across well?

So, despite my extreme dislike of the $3.99 cover price, I grabbed the issue–choosing the cover whose image I recognized from the teaser ad. Behind Siege #2 (which was spoiled for me via twitter prior to reading), this was near the top of my stack this week–bypassing Deadpool and even a couple Blackest Night issues.

One of the things that Marvel has done well for many years is “The ‘Previously…’ Page” at the start of their issues. This is a page that is basically prose or just non-story content that serves to get a reader up-to-speed on stuff, contextualizing the story that’s about to begin; it also serves to have the issue’s credits all in one place, so that when this page is omitted, a collected volume flows as one long work, uninterrupted by titles and credits every chapter or so.

Opening this issue, we have a series of images with seven simple sentences that serve to place this story. Context provided–whether as wholly new information, or to catch one up. I’d read The Ultimates, and Ultimate Spider-Man, followed a bit of Ultimate Fantastic Four, and even some of the Ultimate X-Men. The pictures and words tell all I need to know–and the world in this issue is apparently the same as I’d read before, but much changed by Ultimatum. The world exists, but even though I haven’t read in years, I’m not lost.

This issue’s story begins with narration from James Hudson, talking about his son–a son brought to him by an old friend years earlier. That old friend wasn’t able to raise the boy, but knew James and his wife Heather could, and so entrusted them with the child. Now a teenager, and running concurrent with the narration of how the boy came to be Hudson’s son, we see this son discovering what he is, and how his being different changes his life. Kitty Pryde–a name and character I’m somewhat familiar with from both the Ultimate comics and mainstream Marvel continuity–enters, with a classic trapping of such stories: the message from a person to their loved one, recorded shortly before dying. This child–Jimmy Hudson–is confronted with the image of his father, and the reality of who he really is. We also learn the difference in his mutant ability from that of his father.

The story, surprisingly enough as I have really not enjoyed Loeb‘s work for years–is relatively engaging. It’s not perfect, but I remained interested throughout the issue, and that’s quite the achievement in my eyes. As a long-time comic reader familiar with much of the Marvel universe in general throughout much of the last couple decades, names were familiar, but as this is not the mainstream Marvel universe, I had zero problem with the Hudsons being different than the characters I knew before this issue, and rather enjoyed the reference to how James’s codename is come about. There was also something to the realization of who the main character is that is at once obvious and yet not exactly what I expected–and any duplication of a similar character in the main Marvel books works so much better to me here.

The issue reads like an origin issue. We have the introduction of characters who are (presumably) going to be much of a supporting cast. We’re introduced to who assumably is the main character of the book. We learn where he came from, how he is seen by his family and others. We see his discovery of his identity, and what that does to him. We’re left on an ending that both provides actual conclusion to this specific single issue’s story, and yet it is clear this is by no means the end–the issue is not a one-shot.

The art isn’t the greatest I’ve ever seen, but–except for one panel that really put me in mind of Millar‘s Kick-Ass–never really took me out of the story. It’s clear what’s going on throughout the issue, even the effect as we find out Jimmy’s “other” mutant ability. Particularly with no previous issue to go on, Adams’ art actually stakes itself as definitive to me for this character, and does quite a good job of it.

Again–I despise the $3.99 price point, particularly for a mere 22-page issue. As I’d already compromised my principle (avoiding all Marvel $3.99 books) with Siege and Siege: Embedded, I allowed myself a further compromise to pick this up, since it’s a debut issue of a new series, and I was actually somewhat intrigued.

What I got was a very enjoyable issue, that really does what a first issue of any series ought to do…and it stands alone. I won’t be picking up future issues, as I refuse to pay $3.99 as a regular, ongoing price for a “standard” comic.

In and of itself, though, this was a good read, and actually mostly worth its cover price for the experience. While I don’t plan to purchase future single issues…provided the inevitable collected volume is reasonably priced, I expect I’ll have some interest in picking that up to read this story and go from there.

Story: 8/10
Art: 7.5/10
Overall: 8/10

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