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Bloodshot (1990s) #0 [Review]

Family Blood

Writer/Penciller: Kevin Vanhook
Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Jade Moede
Cover: Joe Quesada, Dick Giordano, John Cebollero
Letterer: Jade Moede
Editor: Jorge Gonzalez
Published by: Valiant
Cover Date: March 1994
Cover Price: $3.50

We open on a flashback to the 1860s, on the man who would be known as the Eternal Warrior as he laments his inability to prevent the Mafia from gaining a foothold in the United States. The story then shifts to 1991, as we meet Angelo Mortalli–the man who has been tasked by the Mob to take down the Eternal Warrior. The two come together, and Mortalli believes he’s killed his target–not realizing the man’s nature. Not long after he’s framed for several murders that turn his family against him, and realizing he wouldn’t last on his own, turns himself in. Unfortunately for Mortalli, he becomes the subject of an experiment, as microscopic robots–nanites–are injected into him. When he’s released by a Geomancer, he has no memory of who he once was, but he’s become an ultimate survivor, proficient in all sorts of weaponry.

As I first read this issue, I wasn’t sure who the narrating character was; but I was pretty sure this was not the Shadow Man, nor Ninjak. As I sat down to write this review, it actually occurred to me this might be the Eternal Warrior–a character I know virtually nothing about, but by that name he sounds immortal and thus it would be reasonable to assume that his longevity lends to narrating this story. Having made that connection, I did a quick bit of research and confirmed it: I assumed correctly.

The story is pretty straightforward, introducing us to the various characters pretty quickly, setting up the situation, and moving us through the main points. We get a little bit of backstory as well as the ongoing insight of the Eternal Warrior’s narrative/knowledge of what happened, and we get to see bits of Mortalli’s life as a part of the mob and what he’s like as a person…which seems a stark contrast to the vigilante he would become as Bloodshot.

The art is pretty good–nothing negative, really, to say about it; it fits the story quite well and conveys what’s going on, making things easy to follow, and the issue as a whole flows quite nicely. I’m unfamiliar with Vanhook‘s art offhand, and it reminds me a bit of Barry Windsor-Smith, and the visual style of the entire art team has a look that–for me–screams “1990s!” This is not a bad thing, just an observation…and something that I think helped my enjoyment of the issue, as it looks and feels like the early/mid-1990s comic that it is.

I’m pretty sure this is the first-ever issue of “classic” Bloodshot that I’ve read–though I bought #1 when it came out, that was the dumb collector in me in the early-1990s, bought for the fancy cover and on the chance it’d be come THE “hot, new book.” I don’t recall buying this issue when it came out, though I’ve acquired several copies through the years out of bargain bins, specifically for the shiny cover and my having a thing for these chromium covers.

As something I don’t believe I’ve ever paid more than fifty cents for (so even with multiple copies, I’ve yet to pay a total of the 1994 cover price), this was an excellent issue. It’s given me the origin of Bloodshot (as expected, assuming going in that this was like the X-O Manowar #0 issue that did the same for that character), which–while it takes the mystery away–will likely inform my reading of the early issues of the series.

I approached this as a one-shot; just a lone single-issue I could read, to “sample” Bloodshot after all these years…but I found myself quickly drawn into the story, and by the end of the issue, I am very interested to get into the series proper and experience this original version of Bloodshot.

This is my first-read issue of Bloodshot (1992) but it’s my fourth Bloodshot comic overall–having already read the first three issues of the 2012 series. I can’t help but wonder how much the two inform each other–how much detail in the new series is actually drawn from the original, and how now reading the originals will affect my enjoyment of the new material.

As back-issue bargain bin comics go, if you can find this in a quarter, fifty-cent, or dollar bin, it’s a solid read and well worth picking up. Just beware it igniting an interest in the character and this series that might lead you to hunting a bunch of other issues to read more.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 9/10

Spawn #200 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com


Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Superman: Secret Origin #4 [Review]

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Covers: Gary Frank, Brad Anderson
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Edior: Matt Idelson

Lex Luthor has a lottery. Each day, he’ll pick one person from the assembled crowd outside his building, and attempt to make their dreams come true, putting his expansive resources to full use. The latest “winner,” Rudy Jones, has already been shown to be a bit of a parasite, leeching off those around him. Thanks to his disgusting disregard for things better left to common sense, he finds himself victim of a chemical spill that transforms him into the being that will become known as The Parasite. Amidst this, Luthor has summoned Lois and Clark to question them about the “flying man” spotted around Metropolis. As The Parasite’s threat escalates, Clark bows out and the “flying man” returns, saving many and yet winding up looking questionable to the city as Luthor hurls accusations at him. When he takes some time for himself atop the Daily Planet building, he finds he’s not alone–young Jimmy Olsen is there, saying goodbye to the city he’s failed to become a part of…not realizing what an important friendship he’s about to enter into with another necomer to the city…and reaps the reward of taking a chance and asking a favor.

There’s something that’s lost by this being an origin tale in years-old continuity where much has already been questioned. We’ve already seen much of the change this origin would essentially set up, losing any real discovery, revelation, or chance to follow a huge, unfolding story. While Byrne‘s Man of Steel significantly altered the details of Superman’s beginnings in the mid 1980s, it was also the opening chapter, the actual foundation, of the official Superman story. This series, while altering the details of Superman’s beginnings yet again, feels like more of a plug-up-the-holes sort of thing than a foundation.

This issue doesn’t feel quite like the earlier issues. We have some origin-like stuff in terms of The Parasite, but there’s not much character development. Parasite’s an unlikable, uninteresting character to me–rather two-dimensional, really–and seems to serve little more here than plot device to give Superman something to fight, to punch…and to be more directly “outed” as existing to the public of Metropolis.

The art by Gary Frank, of course, is stellar…on the whole, I really enjoy his art, and it brings a great look to this series and this issue. My primary gripe is the seemingly obvious use of Christopher Reeve as a “model” for this depiction of Clark/Superman…there are panels–such as on page 7 where Clark suggests to Perry’s question of the man actually flying “Um, up, up and–away”–where the imagery just SCREAMS Christopher Reeve. On the one hand, a fitting tribute, and acknowledgment of the man’s legacy and impact on this character, especially in the eyes of the public in and outside of comics. On the other hand…it seems another sign of Superman being “stuck” and unable to really grow and develop beyond a decades-old image that’s clung to, returned to, after decades of actually growing and developing the character beyond simplistic and hokey stories/concepts.

If I were a new fan of Superman, or at least new to the comics, I suspect I would find this a great, thrilling issue and enjoy it very much. As it is, as a longtime DC reader watching the character I’ve grown up on over the past two decades being phased into something of an amalgamation of every possible version of the character…it’s frustrating and discouraging. Johns is a great writer, and obviously has a knowledge of much that is Superman–from the comics, from tv, from the movies–and I can appreciate that effort’s being put forth to reconcile many versions into one cohesive whole.

Usually for me it’s the story that makes the issue…but in this case, the art’s the primary draw for me. I don’t like where the Superman books are headed, nor the revamping and loss of “my” Superman–but this is at the very least the best-looking Superman book out there these days.

Story: 7/10
Art: 9/10
Overall Enjoyment of the issue: 6/10

Supergirl Annual #1 [Review]

Secret Identities / Second Born: The Secret Origin of Superwoman

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Renato Guedes
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue functions much as I would expect of an annual “special” issue. We have a couple of stories by the main series writer–stories that are directly relevant to current ongoing plots, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to see the regular issues slowed by inclusion of these stories in chunks nor taking a whole issue.

Essentially, we finally get to actually see Supergirl in her new civilian guise of Linda Lang (the introduction of the concept having been interrupted by the start of the whole New Krypton affair last spring). We see that she’s not nearly as experienced as her cousin, but it’s her learning curve and differnces that make the character more interesting–she’s not just some “clone” of her cousin–we see some real depth to her here. While we see development of Supergirl sorting out elements of her own secret ID we also see continuation of the anti-Kryptonian sentiment present in the current DCU.

The second story of the issue gives us a background story/origin of Superwoman, and how it was that Lucy Lane wound up in that role. While it technically “fits,” it’s not a story that I particularly “buy,” and it leaves a sour taste for me much like the “Supermen of America” story did in the 90s taking a character that has no business with Superpowers or such being given them as anything more than a one-off situational thing. Within the already-set bounds of belief-suspension, Lucy Lane having any sort of super-powers (provided by a costume or otherwise) doesn’t fit for me. We also see where the character is being further subjected to fantastical elements that just seem really out of place to this reader.

The art throughout the issue–for both stories–is not bad, nor is it anything spectacular. It holds its own, but I could take it or leave it.

If you’re following events in the main Supergirl book, you’ll want to snag this annual–its stories are certain to play into major plot points in the main book in the coming months. This mostly deals with plot threads prevalent in the main book, so I wouldn’t particularly recommend this issue as a jumping-on point.

Story: 6/10
Art: 6.5/10
Whole: 6/10

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