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The ’90s Revisited – Justice League America Annual #6

90s_revisited

justice_league_america_annual_006Maximum Eclipse

Dark Design: Dan Jurgens
Writer: Dan Mishkin
Penciler: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Jose Marza, Jr.
Letterer: Clem Robins
Colorist: Gene D’Angelo
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Cover Date: 1992
Cover Price: $2.50
Published by: DC Comics

This issue opens with an introduction to Eclipso and his plotting (aka "monologuing") before cutting to a bickering Justice League (in 2022, seems this one’s the "Bwa-Ha-Ha!" JL). Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice, Maxima, Bloodwynd…and loosely, apparently, Superman. The group (along with Bruce Gordon) awaits Superman’s arrival on his request, and is joined by Metamorpho. Superman attempts to recruit Wonder Woman, but she turns him down for reasons. Elsewhere, Eclipso takes control of a jewelry store security guard that leads to Wonder Woman deciding she cannot forego helping the League.

The League bickers some more, while Ice and Maxima each have reactions to Wonder Woman’s presence regarding Superman. Maxima and Metamorpho wind up storming off, leaving the rest of the group to deal with things. Maxima is quickly met by the Eclipsed Starman, who hands her a Black Diamond. The angry Leaguer is immediately possessed by Eclipso, and used to go on a super-powered rampage. This splits the League, with Blue Beetle left at HQ to work on a solar device with Gordon and the cooled-off/returned Metamorpho, while the rest set out to deal with the super-powered threat. There’s a prolonged confrontation with the Eclipsed Maxima, while Eclipso seems to show up "in person" at HQ to attempt to kill Beetle. Lots of fighting, Eclipso (via Maxima’s psychic abilities) gets temporary hold of Wonder Woman, while Beetle trashes HQ evading and fighting Eclipso. In the end, Wonder Woman is freed of Eclipso, but the villain maintains control of Maxima…and the League returns ‘home’ to find Blue Beetle missing.

In 2022, I feel like these annuals keep taking me off-guard in their length and density. Any one of these annuals has the "feel" of at least a couple–if not SEVERAL–modern comics’ issues. Broken record that I am, that seems fitting, as each title in the even had a single (annual) issue participating, where present-day these WOULD all be at least 2-3 issue miniseries!

This issue felt at once jam-packed and yet surfacey to me. While very AWARE OF this incarnation of JLA, I’m not nearly as familiar with it as I perhaps ought to be; and this is an issue I definitely had never read before. On the whole, I enjoyed reading through this and getting an action-packed adventure…it’s certainly plenty in one issue to "justify itself" to me.

The writing doesn’t blow me away, but definitely comes off as rather familiar (if not cliché) in the presentation of the characters. This almost feels trope-y to me, with the characters a slight step above caricatures or such. I recall Ice having a crush on Superman, and the Guy/Ice dynamic, but don’t think I’d recalled stuff being so blatant or melodramatic. At the same time, that’s also something to be said for "thought bubbles" still being a part of comics 30 years ago where they’re rarely present these days.

I liked the art overall in this issue, and was rather surprised when I actually took in the credits to write this post–Dave Cockrum. THE Dave Cockrum? I tend to think of him and the X-Men…not so much anything for DC. That’s another thing for being in 2022 and reading these, though: I’m looking back at comics from THIRTY. YEARS. AGO. Of course creators like Cockrum were still around THEN!

The opening scene of Eclipso reads like the start of any particular story to me, which works well here. It’s primarily introduction and context to set the issue up, but has expected vague references to place this as part of a continuing thing. Though we don’t get some definitive conclusion/ending, overall this seems to stand on its own. Having read other "Eclipso Annuals" recently, I have a fuller context here…but this reads more like picking up the start of a story amidst an ongoing series than picking up a middle chapter of some event series.

I can’t speak much to this issue’s place within the main title, but taken alone I’d say if you’re a fan of (or curious about) this era of JLA, this is another issue that’s likely at least worth grabbing from a bargain bin and reading.

I’m "curious" where the story goes from here in terms of the ‘event’ and have some vague recollections from reading other issues back in the ’90s, at least regarding Maxima.

The issue itself ends with a "To Be Continued" directing one to The Demon Annual #1, which was apparently on-sale the same week as this very issue…a change from the apparent "weekly" gaps between Annuals thus far.

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The Terrifics #1 [Review]

terrifics_0001Meet the Terrifics part 1 of 3

Storytellers: Ivan Reis & Jeff Lemire
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Ivan Reis with Marcelo Maiolo
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: April 2018
Cover Price: $2.99

Of the New Age of Heroes line so far, this is the series I’ve been specifically looking forward to, on the idea that if Marvel wasn’t going to publish something like Fantastic Four, at least DC WOULD. And for the line so far, this one feels the most "normal" or "familiar" to me while being something different.

This is another one of those books with the tri-fold cover…but I’ve not been impressed with any of these, outside of the wishful thinking/impotent hope that they’ve meant less variant covers, by providing "alternate cover images" that OTHERWISE would have been presented as their own separate units as variant covers. The single front panel is the actual cover, and nothing overly impressed me of the other images.

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Mr. Terrific–Michael Holt–shows up to confront Simon Stagg. While the two have an apparent history–including Stagg’s having maneuvered Holt’s company out from under him–Holt is here to deal with a particular situation involving access to the Dark Multiverse. What he finds is an old ally in Metamorpho, and in dealing with the breach that Stagg has opened (and tried to plug with Metamorpho), also succeeds in reviving Plastic Man. The trio then finds themself on a planetoid that turns out to be a giant body, where they rescue a Linnya Wazzo, from Bgztl; an alien whose entire race can become intangible…though it’s presently a form she’s stuck in. As the group addresses a homing beacon…they’re confronted by the appearance of Tom Strong.

As a first issue goes, this works pretty well. We’re introduced to the "entire group" in the issue–Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man, and Linnya. We also meet an antagonist in Simon Stagg and have some setup to see that he’s gonna be problematic, as well as the situation that brings everyone together in Stagg’s trying to access the Dark Multiverse. Though we don’t get a LOT of time or motivational reasoning spent on any single character, they all at least do appear in the issue, we have introduction and setup, and a fun cliffhanger: I’m aware of the existence of Tom Strong, and this was rather unexpected, but is a welcome intro/experience that could lead to me seeking out some of the original stuff with the character! The credits/story title of the issue comes on the final page, and I really dig the fact that this is listed as part 1 of 3! Only three issues. Not four, not five, not six-for-the-trade. Three. Which suggests to me that this is written to be enjoyed as single issues as well, and at least on this first issue, it’s done a good job of that to me.

Visually, I also enjoyed this issue. Mr. Terrific, Plastic Man, and Metamorpho all looked quite familiar to me; nothing wonky to their appearances. I’d swear I recognized Stagg’s assistant from somewhere, too! And what little I’ve seen, Tom Strong also looked like he stepped right out of his own series, whenever that had left off. We’ll see how this art team holds up after this first three issue arc…but for this issue at least, I found it quite enjoyable.

It’s been a long time since I last regularly followed any iteration of the Fantastic Four–my two "major stints" with the book being the first couple years of the Heroes Return iteration, and then the Waid/Wieringo run in collected format several years later. While this didn’t feel like any rip-off of the format, I definitely see plenty of room for comparison, with a girl that can go intangible, a guy who stretches, a guy who’s super-smart, a guy that can morph/be an elemental-like figure…not exactly the blood-family and close-friend dynamic, but I see plenty of potential for a family dynamic to come of this…and if these characters as a group wind up out exploring/dealing with the edges of reality, and this Dark Multiverse…then yeah, I can see where it’ll fill a "void" left for readers that like the concept of the Fantastic Four. That I can find a title like this at DC is a welcome thing.

I was pleasantly surprised as well with this issue, to realize it was "only" $2.99. I didn’t pay much attention for its price at the shop–since I was already "sold" on the title and looking forward to it specifically ahead of time, that gave it a one-issue "pass" on price, since I knew it at least did NOT exceed the standard $4.99 of a Marvel #1. coming in at $2.99 as I believe the others have is definitely a strong positive, and makes this well worth supporting on principle alone!

All in all…I recommend checking this book out. It’s a #1, it’s a fresh concept to DC, it’s only $2.99 for the standard cover (with new tri-fold for extra art), and though there’s likely more to "get" or appreciate if you’re "up" on the Metal stuff, it’s an enjoyable issue in itself just knowing THAT Metal has happened and introduced some Dark Multiverse into characters’ knowledge.

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Legends of Tomorrow #1 [Review]

legendsoftomorrow0001Cover Art: Aaron Lopresti with Chris Sotomayor
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: May 2016
Cover Price: $7.99

I hadn’t paid attention to this originally when I saw it solicited…I noticed the “title” and chalked it up as yet another soon-to-be-failed tv-tie-in of near-zero consequence, at least to me and my following the “regular” continuity of DC stuff. I’m not sure if the tv show had premiered yet or was just about to, but I had no interest in yet another digital-first thing seeing print, and thus ignored it. Then recently there was an ad for it that caught my attention, and left me curious. I was a bit put off learning the thing would be $7.99…even for a double-length issue, being frustrated with $3.99 price points, essentially $8 seemed a bit MUCH for just one issue of something I wasn’t overly familiar with. Still, I resolved to wait and see, not swearing to avoid the book but not intending absolutely to buy it, either. When it came out last week, it was a small week for me, so the $8 wasn’t terribly steep…plus the issue’s squarebound with the title on the spine, so it can actually go on a shelf like a mini tpb, and not simply disappear into a box.

While I’d expected a “lead” story and the others to essentially be “backup” features…if I counted correctly, we have 4 20-page stories in this issue, giving the thing excellent “value” for the content, if one is interested in or doesn’t mind what’s included (vs. say, wishing it was Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, or Green Lantern content).

Firestorm – United We Fall part 1
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciller: Eduardo Pansica
Inker: Rob Hunter
Letterer: Corey Breen
Editor: Jessica Chen

I remember checking out Firestorm: The Nuclear Men title at the launch of the New 52, and it didn’t hold me enough to stick with it past a few months. I’ve never been a huge Firestorm fan, but I’d been loosely aware of the character at points–though mostly it was after the introduction of Jason as the new Firestorm and the apparent demise of Ronnie in Identity Crisis that the character was fully on my radar; and then the Deathstorm stuff around Blackest Night. Now there’s been a fair bit on the Flash tv show and Legends of Tomorrow, so this “lead” story was a good enticement for me to buy the issue.

We open on Ronnie and Jason testing their powers, with something going on with them, and then the two split, and we get a glimpse into their personal lives–individually, and at school with a mutual friend. We also have the introduction of a new/old villain, and come to see that there is something up with Jason, and with the Firestorm Matrix in general, which leads to a cliffhanger promising imminent destruction.

In addition to the above preamble, I think another draw to THIS take on Firestorm is that it’s written by the character’s co-creator, Gerry Conway…with the added element that I’ve attended a panel where he spoke several years ago, so there’s that quasi-personal-ish connection for me.

I like that the Jason/Ronnie mix has not been scrapped, and that along with both of them we also still have Professor Stein…indicating, for my limited experience with the character, a certain mix of original/classic and newer character elements and an observance of history for the characters. Yet, this also reads as a first issue, showing us bits of stuff with Firestorm and that it requires two people, and there’s this “matrix” thing that allows them to join AS (a) Firestorm; We’re “introduced to” Ronnie and Jason and see a bit about them–Ronnie’s into sports, Jason’s more into academics; We see a bit of “supporting cast” in Stein as well as the boys’ mutual friend; as well as a bit of rivalry between them. I’m familiar enough to simply enjoy the re-introduction/”confirmation” of stuff I figured I knew, and I’m interested in where this story goes.

I’m not sure if I’ve seen Pansica‘s art before or not…but I had no real expectation going into this. I was not disappointed by the art…it’s good, and worked for the story, avoiding random weirdness that’d put me off or have me wondering at anatomy and such; and I was never left trying to figure out WHAT happened or was going on. It’s a good match for the story itself.

I’m not sure exactly how this would rate for me as a first issue wholly on its own…though I probably would not have bought a Firestorm #1. But this was only the first quarter of the issue purchased…

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