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The ’90s Revisited: Starman #42

90s_revisited

starman_0042Star Shadows part one: Sun Spots!

Writer: Len Strazewski
Pencillers: John Calimee, Andrew Smith
Inkers: Roy Richardson, Alan Kupperberg
Letterer: Bob Pinaha
Colorist: Tom McCraw
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Cover Date: January 1992
Cover Price: $1.25
Published by: DC Comics

The cover of this issue proclaims "Eclipso casts a shadow of DOOM over STARMAN!" and we see some weird guy lurking as the background casting a shadow over the title logo, while Starman looks on in apparent surprise while someone in a labcoat looks on, also in apparent surprise…and there’s some linework suggesting a machine of some sort. I see Mignola‘s "signature," presumably Mike Mignola–better known for Hellboy and such. Which explains the stylized nature of Eclipso on the cover. I’ve long associated Mignola with Hellboy and forget that he did work for DC!

We open on a full page piece showing a weird face partway between transformation, and someone asking Starman what’s going on…as she pieces together that this guy really IS the hero and that’s why he’s been flaking on her. His powers surge and he has to direct it to not incinerate her. He quickly heads to STAR Labs for Kitty’s help…but after crashing into Kitty’s lab, collapses. When he comes to, hours later, he’s being examined by both her and some other guy…apparently a Bruce Gordon. We get some expositional conversation, a couple of footnotes to recent back issues, and a bit of context of Kitty (she’s also Rampage), Will (a montage of sorts of his origin/career), and then Bruce and his darker half brought out by a black diamond–Eclipso. And apparently it was actually Eclipso that caused Will to get his powers! After deciding they need to get Will into outer space to better get a read on what’s going on WITH his powers, Will gets a moment with Kitty where he reveals his true face and name and they confess their love for each other. Getting into space with Bruce’s spacecraft, they’re hit by something…as they reel from it, we see that it’s Lobo! Meanwhile, Eclipso apparently re-emerges from Bruce.

Just about all I know about Starman is that his "superhero name" is Starman, star of this book; he’s got SOME sort of legacy tie that came into play in the post-Zero Hour James Robinson series; he’s got solar powers, supporting cast member Kitty is Kitty Faulkner/Rampage who had also been in some early post-Man of Steel-era Superman; and whatever I gleaned from Starman #28 that tied in to the Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite story in the Superman books in 1990-ish.

But hey, that’s enough for ME, for jumping in "cold" to a #42!

While Mignola‘s work on the cover is fairly recognizable–once I realized it was his work–I’m not terribly keen on it. My initial impression looking at the cover was some generic artist’s work, some lower-tier art for a lower-tier comic that when you look at modern DC stuff you wouldn’t even realize ever even EXISTED–both the title, and the character. The art throughout the issue’s not bad, but doesn’t blow me away…I’m really not consciously familiar with the artists. Len Strazewski I recognize from Ultraverse comics–namely as a co-creator of Prime!

The writing here isn’t bad…there’s definitely a lot of context/exposition that seems vastly out of place at this point in 2022–THIRTY YEARS after this comic was originally "new"! But for its time, it works; and it gives someone like me stuff to follow along with and to appreciate. I may not be "up" on all the subtleties of the issue, but it gets across key stuff as I learn more about Starman’s background than I could have recited prior to reading the issue; gives us some development with Will and Kitty, introduces us to this Bruce Gordon guy, and a bit about his history with/as Eclipso, while setting us up for later chapters by the end of the issue.

I can honestly say that I was surprised at Lobo’s showing up…he’s not on the cover, not mentioned, and I went into this issue figuring we’d simply have Starman ultimately encountering references to Eclipso if not the villain himself.

My introduction to Eclipso came through the summer/fall of 1992 with several of the DC Annuals that year; but those came after this issue/story…which is part of why I’m reading it now: I assume it’s THE reintroduction of Eclipso to the DC Universe, and that this story presumably sets up the Eclipso: The Darkness Within event/crossover. So I’m curious for the context and such, and look forward to getting into further chapters.

starman_0042_blogtrailer

General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #3 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0003Truth Hurts

Writer: Ivan Cohen
Penciller: June Brigman
Inker: Roy Richardson
Colorist: Jeremy Lawson
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: Dan Panosian
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

I like these semi-yearly promotions, with DC Comics in cereal. However, this has been THE worst one yet, from two prior Justice League sets and last year’s Batman v Superman: it took an absurd 19 or so boxes of cereal for me to get ONE copy of this 3rd issue. (Meanwhile, I have 9 of #4!) And contrary to the first two issues by what I would consider "name creators" that I recognize, this issue is the worst of the three so far. Or perhaps "worst" is a "strong word," but this is the most generic of the three so far, and comes off worse for comparison to the first two issues.

This one focuses on Wonder Woman where the previous two focused on Superman and Batman, respectively. The Justice League arrives at the site of a volcano that’s about to erupt. The team splits up to approach the situation in their own ways to try to minimize destruction. Aquaman winds up unleashing an underground stream, dousing the League. Then everyone turns on each other, apparently selfish and irritable and downright mean. Wonder Woman–Diana–reflects on an incident from her childhood where she was hurt by stuff her friends had said about her and fled to another island, where she faced the wrath of a minotaur. Based on that experience, she applies the lesson to the present and ultimately the group discovers that something in the water had affected them all, and they resolve the conflicts by admitting the truths that were brought to the surface, and are able to deal with the volcano, preventing any loss of life, though there’s plenty of property damage. Finally, Diana proclaims that real friendship can survive any revelation, and the Justice League are the truest friends of all.

Again, this is the most generic of the issues for this promotion, and comes off that way both story-wise and perhaps even moreso, visually. The story reeks of the "very special episode" and such…perhaps I’m also annoyed and more sensitive to it given the number of duplicates of the other issues I amassed just trying to get this one. But I didn’t feel like the other two issues were nearly as "preachy" on the "special message," though I had noticed a "message" to each of those as well.

The art here is ok–not horrible, but far from wonderful. The characters and designs are recognizable but seem a bit inconsistent, and lacking the "big name" or "recognized" creators, this comes off all the more as what it is–a generic freebie from a box of cereal that happens to have "current" versions of costumes with characters that aren’t given room for much depth (a one-off single-issue story with numerous characters and an attempt to "focus" on Wonder Woman).

That I went through the hassle I did, accumulated a year’s worth (or more) of cereal goes to show my personal OCD and such (and marks me as an ideal "target" for this sort of promotion!). Though the numbering of these–#s 1 through 4–makes for a "complete mini-series" of sorts, if you’re NOT interested in having all four, I would not worry about trying to get this issue unless you want the specific focus on Wonder Woman (a focus that is more of a "gets more pages" than being a Wonder Woman STORY).

Ultimately, for a "free" comic from a box of cereal, this isn’t horrible, but is far from wonderful. I found myself recalling the likes of The Untold Legend of the Batman, which I believe had a "cereal edition" in the mid-1980s. Those were reprints of an actual in-continuity story…I think I’d almost rather see something like that (re)-attempted…or at least, I think something like this (offering miniature editions of comics in cereal) would be ripe for promoting some of DC‘s actual #1 issues to try to hook readers.

I certainly would not begin to consider this issue "worth" a standard cover price, and not worth the boxes of cereal I bought to acquire it…though at least the variety and quantity means I’m not going to have to buy cereal again for a long time, as I will actually (eventually) use it all.

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0003_blogtrailer

The ’90s Revisited: Flash #79

flash0079The Once and Future Flash

Story: Mark Waid
Pencils: Greg Larocque
Inks: Roy Richardson
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Gina Going
Assistant Editor: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1993
Cover Price: $2.50

I snagged this issue for 25 cents…the primary reason that it caught my attention was that it felt as thick as an annual…spotting the price, I saw it was priced as one also. Looking at the cover a bit closer, then, I realized it was an issue by Waid, and had the Reverse-Flash on the cover…a dynamic more interesting to me now as a fan of the tv series than any time previous. Plus, it has a nice “old-style” feel to it with the Flash’s speech balloons on the cover getting me curious. “You messed with my memories, threatened my city, and hur tmy friends…now you’re gonna pay!!”

Turns out…this issue seems to cap off the The Return of Barry Allen story that I’ve heard of, but never yet read for myself. So coming in, I’m at a loss of specifics to this story…but still felt like I was able to follow along without much issue, given my prior knowledge of Wally as the Flash, and stuff I’ve read about the character’s development aside of what I’ve actually read OF the character through stories.

Eobard Thawne–Professor Zoom–the Reverse Flash–apparently was posing as Barry Allen. Or rather, for a time he THOUGHT he actually WAS Barry. He stands revealed here, and ready to rumble–as he and Wally collide to fight out who gets to be THE Flash. We learn how Thawne wound up in the position he did, how he came to hate Barry, and so on…this is a younger Thawne, before he ever actually met Barry. Given the history that’s unfolded, he must be returned–alive–to his own time, that events might unfold as they’re known. This puts the entire timeline at risk, meaning that Wally can’t just kill him. In the course of the story we see the damage Thawne has caused, as well as the allies by Wally’s side, and it seems this is “the” issue where Wally fully, truly came into his own, getting out from under Barry’s shadow, etc.

Visually, this was a very solid issue. I read through it pretty quickly, and it wasn’t until I reviewed the first few pages that I really caught on to a nifty element: that we’re seeing Zoom’s fist get closer and closer until he and Wally collide–but interspersed between the fractions of time, we’re given flashbacks and context to bring us up to speed as things then jump to “real time.” On realizing this, it seems extremely cinematic–at least TV-cinematic. And that alone works very well for me. While my mind wants to compare this to the tv series, there are obvious elements that do not sync on a literal panel-to-screen basis…but the tone itself does. Leaving aside the visual differences to the tv show (which came some 20-21 years after this issue was published), the art is quite good and I have no problem with it at all. Given the size of this issue–at least double, if not TRIPLE–there was room for a lot to be packed in, as well as other moments spaced out…which allowed several full or double-page splashes to be VERY effective in a way that seems like a lost art in contemporary comics.

Story-wise, this had plenty of context–it’s from an era when it was NOT “inevitable” for everything to get a collected volume–so even coming in on the final chapter, I picked up readily on the overall “core” story beats related to this issue as I read. There’s plenty of detail, certainly some great moments and such that went over my head or that were in other issues so not even in my realm of awareness–but this felt like a season finale that I jumped in on, and didn’t feel LOST.

The prime drawback to me of reading this issue isolated and now lies in the fact that it illustrates to me–in one issue–just how deserved Waid‘s reputation on the book is and leaves me interested in the rest of the story, as well as more Flash (comics) in general.

I still know very little regarding the other speedsters outside of Jay and Wally…but I appreciate their presence, recognize them by name at least, and enjoy seeing the “Flash family” united, with a great sense of history and development. Though this issue leaves me interested in more Flash comics, it’s an interest tied to this era, to this particular incarnation of the series, emphasis on Wally…as opposed to much from the final several years before and thus far in the New 52.

I enjoyed this on reading it…and in typing the above roughly as stream-of-consciousness, I’m left simply feeling this was a fantastic issue, very well worth my time and money. Consciously knowing it is the end of a larger story, I’m hesitant to recommend this solely as a single issue…but if this one issue is an indicator of the quality of the entire story, I’ll “blindly” recommend that for now, containing this issue.

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