Archive for the ‘First Impressions’ Category

A Review of The Multiversity #1 – Justice League vs. The Avengers (Sorta…)

TITLE: The Multiversity #1
AUTHOR: Grant Morrison
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: August 20, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Grant Morrison tends to lose me when he goes cosmic. In my ever-so-humble opinion, he tends to talk over his readers’ heads with the complexity of his stories. That’s why I prefer his Batman stuff to stories like Final Crisis, or even his work on JLA. But this far, he’s got my interest with The Multiversity, possibly because it harkens back to Crisis on Infinite Earths, which will satisfy some of us that have been longing for the pre-New 52 DCU.

Oh, and there’s also a publicity stunt involving a bunch of analog Marvel characters. Yay…?

The Multiversity sees Nix Uotan, the last of the Monitors (a group of cosmic watchmen, basically) and his chimp sidekick Stubs lured to Earth 7, which has been laid to waste by demonic entities called the Gentry. He saves a hero named Thunderer (a Thor analog), who then returns to a big Death Star looking watchtower base to summon heroes from all 52 worlds in the multiverse. Among them are the Superman of Earth 23 (who is also the president of the United States), Captain Carrot, and an analog for Savage Dragon. Together they must find a way to save the multiverse from Nix Uotan, as he fights against the influence of the Gentry.

The core concept of The Multiversity is, of course, awesome. We get a good look at the New 52 DC multiverse while spending time with characters we’ve either never seen before, or in the case of Earth 23 Superman and Captain Carrot, don’t see very often. We also get some fan service for longtime readers, what with Nix Uotan being the “multiversal monitor,” plus a computerized simulation of Harbinger (again, see Crisis).

Oddly enough, the issue solicitation also makes note of Earth Prime, another old school DC concept. Earth Prime is the world where we, the readers, live. In older stories, writers have used Earth Prime for meta purposes, most notably with our old friend Superboy Prime. The comic book we’re reading seems to know it’s being viewed on Earth Prime, and as such is pleading with the reader to stop reading! Similarly, The Multiversity reintroduces the notion that one Earth’s reality is another’s fiction. For instance, Superman’s adventures on Earth 23 are by Red Racer (the book’s resident comic book reader) on Earth 36. So if you know what you’re looking at, you can essentially look in on other worlds.

You’ll also meet Aquawoman of Earth 11, which I’m guessing was the inverted gender Earth that Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness showed us way back in 2005′s Superman/Batman #23 and #24. We also see a pint-sized Wonder Woman and Steel, presumably from the “Li’l Leaguers” story done in Superman/Batman #51 and #52. Gypsy is also in one of the group shots. Whether she’s the Gypsy we met in the Vibe ongoing series remains to be seen. All these different characters are a lot to take in, but having them all together makes for a hell of a visual. Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Nei Ruffino do an awesome job with the art.

But while it’s cool to see the reintroduction of some older multiverse concepts, starting off with a bunch of Marvel analogs turned me off. While this is by no means a new trick, the way DC and Grant Morrison featured it so prominently in the first issue of a story that’s been anticipated for five years is…disappointing. They even make a point to allude to all the Marvel movies. Okay, we get it. Marvel exists. And oh, look! Some of these analogs are getting beat up! How cute. But this little stunt isn’t edgy or cool. If anything, it makes DC look even more like the definitive number two publisher, because they feel the need to jab their competition in a big book like this. Really? That’s the best they can do for the first issue of a story that has practically limitless possibilities?

Still, The Multiversity, which will continue as a series of standalones before bookending with issue #2, is undeniably packed with potential and intrigue. But thus far we haven’t gotten much in terms of substance. It’s a pretty book, but Morrison spent much of this issue explaining things. Who people are, what the multiverse is, what the Gentry wants, etc. Once we get into these one-shots, Grant will have more time to stretch out and do some storytelling. But I’m hoping against hope that he keeps things as simple and straightforward as he can. Let’s be creative, but let’s also not get lost in what Captain Carrot himself refers to as “cartoon science.”

Front page image from wired.com. Image 1 from bamsmackpow.com. Image 2 from comixology.com. 

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like 
Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

Share

A New Suicide Squad #1 Review – New Game, New Line Up

TITLE: New Suicide Squad #1
AUTHOR: Sean Ryan
PENCILLER:
Jeremy Roberts.
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
PRICE:
$2.99
RELEASED:
July 9, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In theory, this New Suicide Squad relaunch is a welcome one. DC has swapped out the likes of Captain Boomerang, King Shark, and James Gordon Jr. for characters with a bit more of that edgy, cool factor: Black Manta, Deathstroke, and James Gordon Jr. Sadly, there’s an awkward element to this book that negates a lot that coolness.

Government official Vic Sage (a character who was The Question in the pre-New 52 DC Universe) has been put in charge of the Suicide Squad. He recruits Deathstroke, Black Manta and Joker’s Daughter to the line up, an opts to keep Deadshot and Harley Quinn. Amanda Waller sticks around because she “generally knows the ins and outs of how all this works.” Our team’s first mission takes them to Russia to destroy a top secret base. But of course, they’re the Suicide Squad. And things go…well, how they usually go.

The Vic Sage character is clearly meant to be somewhat aloof and in over his head, at least on the surface. He seems largely concerned with the team’s look and marketability, and doesn’t seem to have much in-depth knowledge about them individually. In the opening scene he calls them “this clown girl,” and “the marksman with the red eye thing.” I also particularly enjoyed this line about Black Manta: “He does have a cool look. Plus, he’s got the word black in his name. That never hurts.” He’s got a humorous ineptitude about him that might be interesting when placed next to the ultra-serious Waller.

But what I have a problem with in that opening scene is how the secretary of state talks. It lacks a certain gravity, and thus he comes off a bit like the J.K. Simmons character in Burn After Reading. Also, and granted this is an odd point, but why is there nothing on his desk? For instance, in the panels above it looks like he just moved in. Who is this guy?

The scene where our five team members meet isn’t exactly inspiring either. The art itself isn’t bad, thought Deathstroke is wearing  football pads on his shoulders, and Harley Quinn still looks like a clown stripper. Again it comes down to the dialogue. We’ve got annoying expository name-dropping (“Deathstroke. Can we just get to the business at hand?” “Of course, Manta. I just needed to get everyone’s attention.”), combined with Deathstroke sounding like a dumb jock with a gun. When Harley and Joker’s Daughter get into it over the latter wearing Joker’s face, Slade shoves a gun in Harley’s mouth and delivers the awe-inspiring line: “Shut. Up. Or someone will be wearing your face, Harley Quinn.” By God, what a master of manipulation and intimidation…

Also, Amanda Waller is still skinny. Amanda Waller should not be skinny. Put her on a steady diet of Five Guys, then gimmie a call.

All this being said, New Suicide Squad does have some interesting potential as far as infighting is concerned.. Putting Harley Quinn and Joker’s Daughter together obviously creates an inherent rivalry right off the bat, and injects the series with plenty of “Joker appeal.” This issue also drops a pretty blatant teaser for Deathstroke vs Deadshot, in what could be a fight to determine the world’s greatest assassin. Black Manta also makes for a hell of a wild card. He can certainly shake things up at any time. Suicide Squad vs. Aquaman, perhaps?

New Suicide Squad has, for the moment, piqued my interest. Compared to the old series, there’s a bit more to sink your teeth into right off the bat. But unless Ryan and Roberts sharpen up their execution, as far as I’m concerned this book’ll be on track for the morgue.

Front page image and image 1 from howtolovecomics.blogspot.com. Image 2 from zonanegativa.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like 
Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

Share

A Grayson #1 Review – “Dick” Jokes, Guns, and The Midnighter

TITLE: Grayson #1
AUTHOR: Tim Seeley, Tom King
PENCILLER: Mikel Janin. Cover by Andrew Robinson.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: July 9, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Though this issue just hit the stands this week, Grayson has, for my money, had problems for months…

First and foremost, the series tag line: “You think you know Nightwing…You don’t know Dick.” That’s literally the worst promotional line I’ve ever read for anything, ever. His name is Dick. Dick is also a phallic euphemism. So let’s go ahead and use the same stupid, third grade quality pun we heard in that timeless cinematic classic, Batman and Robin. That’ll hook the fans! To me, that line borders on disrespecting the Dick Grayson character, who by the way, is one of the founding heroes of the DC Universe. Having made his debut in 1939, he predates Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and most of the other pillars of the company’s mythos. “You don’t know Dick.” What a joke.

Secondly, while putting Dick Grayson in this super spy role does indeed have some interesting storytelling potential, exactly how much desire was there from a fan’s perspective to have him removed from the Nightwing role? Nightwing possesses that oh-so-important cool factor that many of DC’s heroes are (arguably) lacking. At the tail end of his career as Robin, he stood up to Batman and opted to become his own man, with his own set of principles. That being said, he still loved Bruce like a father, and would chip in and help when he needed to. Then in the ’90s he got that awesome black costume with the blue “V” stripe, he got his own city to protect, his own series, and he was off to the races. He also had plenty of sex appeal for female readers. Dick was a ripped, athletic superhero with a dark and tragic origin who you could also take home to mom. Mind you, some of his appeal has been watered down since the New 52 reboot. But it was still a fact: Nightwing rules. Yes, this spy stuff has potential. But why fix what isn’t broken?

Thirdly, the cover. Dick Grayson with a gun. No. BIG no. Granted, Tim Seeley has said they’re going to dive into the issue of Dick having to use a gun on the job, which is fine. But still, no. There were plenty of other directions they could have gone in. And even if they had to use the gun, this cover still sucks. I like the use of color, but what does Dick’s face say? Nothing. It’s essentially a blank expression. His body also looks too slim and lanky for my taste. Oddly enough, somewhere along the line his hair got changed. In the original solicitation (shown left), his hair was short, and bit more militaristic looking. Now it’s longer, and more reminiscent of his Nightwing look. I’ll give them this much: That was a positive change.

And so, with all that working against it, we open Grayson #1 and find…something that’s really not so bad.

After the events of Forever Evil, Dick Grayson/Nightwing is thought to be dead. In reality, he’s been dispatched by Batman to be a mole in the top secret espionage organization known as Spyral (see Batman Incorporated). Now, guided by the mysterious Mr. Minos, Grayson and his new partner Helena Bertinelli must save the life of a Russian man carrying a bioweapon inside his body. And in this first issue, Dick crosses paths with none other than The Midnighter of The Authority fame.

Our first page is somewhat akin to what we saw when we opened All Star Superman #1. Four panels, each with sentence fragments to fill us in on Dick’s backstory. It’s not nearly as epic as it could have been, because we’re stuck with the crappy New 52 Robin and Nightwing costumes. But Seeley and Janin got most of the exposition out of the way early, so I give them credit for that.

Dick starts out the issue in a blonde wig, which is pretty damn surreal. But once he takes it off and the action kicks in, it becomes apparent that this is in fact the Dick Grayson we know and love. As a longtime Nightwing fan, that was a big relief. Seeley and King have changed the character’s M.O., but they’ve kept his personality intact. What’s more, Seeley writes a better Dick Grayson than I’ve seen in awhile. Maybe the best since the New 52 began.

The Midnighter’s appearance in this issue came as a surprise, though not an unwelcome one. It serves as an interesting reminder that there are other black ops heroes out there whose interests could collide with Spyral’s (Checkmate also gets name-dropped in this issue). The motion effects do a lot to accentuate the fight, and add a certain flow to the proceedings. There’s also some pretty good dialouge in there…

Midnighter: “Disciplined, but not averse to improvisation. You fight like jazz.”

Dick: “…you talk an awful lot for the grim and gritty type.

We also get a little more time with the New 52 incarnation of Helena Bertinelli (not to be confused with Huntress, who is from Earth 2). Now an African American agent of Spyral, she’s apparently attracted to her new partner. But Dick isn’t keen to let her get too close, as he’s a mole in the Spyral organization. That’s obviously an interesting dynamic, and of course, plays up Dick’s status as the company’s resident male sex symbol. So the pieces are in place for some interesting storytelling there.

In the end, Grayson #1 is flawed. But it’s not nearly as flawed as it could have been. Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, and everybody involved with this series has turned it into a potential hot commodity. But let’s make sure we underscore potential. It’s only one issue, folks. There are a lot of places we can go from here.

Front page image/interior image from scifibloggers.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition. 

Share

A WWE Superstars #1 Review – Another Wacky Gimmick

TITLE: WWE Superstars #1
AUTHORS: Mick Foley, Shane Riches
PENCILLER: Alitha Martinez
PUBLISHER: Super Genuis
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: December 11, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Comic books and pro wrestling. There are few things I love writing about more. So when the two worlds intersect, you’d think I’d be on cloud nine. Sadly, that has never been the case.

The fact is, comic books and wrestling don’t mix. On paper, that doesn’t make much sense. They both tend to feature colorful characters, dramatic storylines, and of course, a good amount of action. So why don’t pro wrestling characters translate well on to comic book pages?

I have a theory: At its best, professional wrestling allows us to suspend our disbelief, and however briefly, buy into the action in the ring. Deep down, we want to believe it’s real, no matter how obvious the performance art aspect of it is. Taking the wrestlers and putting them in comic book stories not only takes them out of their arena (no pun intended), but it brings front and center the fantasy element we all know is there, but try not to notice while we’re watching. There’s also a certain contrived element to taking wrestling characters out of their native environment. We’re used to seeing them in the ring. So when you place them in a story that takes place elsewhere, there’s an inherent awkwardness there.

Also, remember that Ultimate Warrior comic from the ’90s? That’s enough of a reason right there, folks.

But alas, here we are with WWE Superstars #1, from Super Genius, an imprint of Papercutz designed for mature readers. The story, “Money in the Bank,” takes place in Titan City, where according to a brief synopsis, “everyone’s hiding secrets and there’s no one to trust.” We open the book with John Cena, an ex-cop who’s been in prison for a year after being framed for stealing a briefcase containing $10 million. Said briefcase has yet to be found. When Cena is released, his first task is to prove his innocence. Unfortunately, the villainous D.A. candidate Randy Orton is keeping tabs on his old enemy. But someone also seems to have it out for Orton, namely Daniel Bryan, a loose cannon who’s been vandalizing his property. As all this is happening, CM Punk is on a crusade to root out corruption in the city. But that won’t be easy, to say the very least.

That sound like a lot? Well stay with me, we’re not done yet. This book crams as many WWE wrestlers as possible into 20 pages. Almost every time you turn a page, you see a new character. The Undertaker, AJ Lee, the Big Show, the Shield, the Wyatt Family, and Christian are just some of the wrestlers crammed into this issue, seemingly just for the sake of getting us to say: “Hey! That person exists in real life!” If this title were meant for a younger audience, I could cut Foley and Riches a bit more slack for this move. But as this is meant for older fans, I’d have focused more on building a compelling story around our three core characters, John Cena, Randy Orton, and CM Punk. “Money in the Bank” is only slated to run four issues, after all. Assuming the writers were obligated to squeeze as many wrestlers into the story as possible, I’d have spread those first appearances out so things in this issue didn’t seem so forced. Although based on the cover, we may not even be finished with character introductions yet. Boy, I sure as hell can’t wait to see Fandango make his comic book debut…

I’m also a bit confused as to how much pro wrestling plays into this world. On page 2, our dueling D.A. candidates Orton and Alberto Del Rio take part in a press conference being held in a wrestling ring. A short time later, we see Orton working out in said wrestling ring. In an accompanying character bios section, John Cena is also listed as “Ex-cop and former World Champion.” So… is everyone in this city a pro wrestler? Is Titan City kind of like Arkham City, where you had to be a supervillain or a criminal to get in? Or are we just throwing wrestling imagery in there because this is a WWE comic book?

Our artist Alitha Martinez does a fair job. Her renderings are hit or miss, depending on the page. For instance, that first image of John Cena behind bars is fantastic. But as the issue progresses, he starts to look more and more like a generic cartoon action hero (although many wrestling fans would argue that’s who the real-life Cena is). Her CM Punk is pretty solid, but she misses the mark on Randy Orton, AJ Lee, and Ryback. She’s in the right ballpark with the Undertaker, but doesn’t quite nail him. On the plus side, she does a good job with the various finishing moves that are worked into the story, i.e. Cena’s Attitude Adjustment, Orton’s RKO, etc.

At the end of the day, WWE Superstars is a wrestling comic book, and it’s essentially on par with almost every wrestling comic book I’ve ever read. As you may have noticed, the first line in this issue is a John Cena “You can’t see me.” I’d say that’s a pretty good quality indicator right there.

Images from wwe.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like 
Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition     

Share

First Impressions: Trinity War at DC Comics

TITLE: Justice League #22
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 10, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

At this point, Trinity War makes a lot of sense. It’s been almost two years since they rebooted the continuity, and we’ve had awhile to get to know this new world, and these “new” characters. So now it’s time for us to do some serious world-building. This Trinity War event comic seems custom made for that, as we’ve got all of DC’s big guns, and then some, present and accounted for.

Shortly after the events of Justice League #21, Shazam travels overseas to Kahndaq, to scatter Black Adam’s ashes across the desert. But as far as Americans are concerned, Kahndaq is strictly a no-fly zone. By throwing caution to the wind, young Billy Batson is putting a lot of people, not to mention himself, in danger. The Justice League flies in to pull him out. But Amanda Waller and the Justice League of America are looking to pick a fight and prove how unstable Superman and the others are. And based on the chaos that ensues, they may have succeeded. Meanwhile, what role will the so-called Trinity of Sin, Pandora, Phantom Stranger and the Question, play in all of this?

I like that Shazam is taking center stage here. DC has been trying to breathe new life into this character for years now, and perhaps establish him as a the Justice League-caliber hero he deserves to be.  Having him be the spark (no pun intended) for the biggest event comic DC has done in quite some time, in a rebooted continuity no less, is very refreshing. He’s also in good hands with Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. Having him fly into Kahndaq without regard for the consequences is consistent with what Johns established in the various Justice League back ups. The expression Reis draws on his face after he knocks Superman for a loop is also very well done. I’m waiting for a Shazam ongoing series. Hopefully we can get one sometime in the near future.

Unfortunately, our old buddy douchebag Superman returns in this issue. The big “war” is partially caused by a misunderstanding in which Wonder Woman is attacked. Big Blue then jumps to her defense, in a “Get your hands off my girl!” type moment, where his powers somehow malfunction and he goes too far. I get what’s supposed to be happening there, but as we’ve seen many times before since the reboot, it just makes Superman come off like a jock throwing his weight around. I wasn’t crazy about his entrance into the scene with Shazam either, but given the circumstances that was a bit more understandable.

Amanda Waller is supposed to be a bad guy, right? Or at the very least, one of those good guys who acts like a bad guy? Because I’ve gotta tell ya, picking a fight with the most powerful superhumans on the planet, and intentionally causing an international incident seems pretty damn irresponsible. And THIS is the woman in charge of the JLA?

 There are a couple of cringe-worthy lines in here, but for the most part we’ve got a decent set up for Trinity War. I’m a little iffy on where they’re going with this whole “Pandora is responsible for all the evil in the world” thing. But it’s obviously very early. Let’s see where we are in a couple of weeks.

Front page image from nerdist.com. Interior image from author’s collection.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like 
Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.   

Share

First Impressions: Dexter #1

TITLE: Dexter #1
AUTHOR: Jeff Lindsay
PENCILLER: Dalibor Talajic
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 3, 2013

(Need to catch up with Dexter? Check out Dexter is Delicious and Double Dexter.)

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well, I hope you Dexter fans are liking what you see here. Because after the Showtime series wraps this season, this, for better or worse, is the Dexter Morgan we’ll be stuck with. But in all fairness, he was here first…

Marvel’s new Dexter miniseries takes place in the original continuity established by Jeff Lindsay’s novels, which of course inspired the TV show. The character’s life isn’t quite so topsy turvy in this world. He’s still “living the dream” with his wife Rita, her kids Astor and Cody, and their young daughter Judy. But in this first issue, Dex gets thrown for a loop when Rita drags him to his own high school reunion. Once there, he runs into a would-be victim from his teen years. As it turns out, his reappearance in Dexter’s life may not be a coincidence…

The world of Dexter has always lent itself to the comic book format. It’s always had the potential to fit fairly easily into the vein of some of the crime comics written by guys like Ed Brubaker, Brian Azzarello, etc. In that sense, it’s really exciting to see the idea come to fruition.

As somebody who’s read the novels, it’s interesting to actually see what this world’s Dexter and Rita look like outside of the mind’s eye. When you read the books, you can’t help but hear Michael C. Hall’s voice, see his face, etc. Dalibor Talajic’s Dexter looks younger than he should be, and I think a lot of that has to do with his hair. It’s a little too cutesy for my taste. It actually reminds me of Rider Strong’s hair on Boy Meets World. Maybe it’s a Miami thing. In contrast, Talajic’s Rita looks a bit more like the character should look, in my opinion. Julie Benz was always gorgeous on the TV show. But Rita was created as a run-down character, trampled on by the world. As such she’s so out of touch with things that she can be Dexter’s wife, and somehow not catch on to him being a serial killer. The way Talajic portrays her here makes more sense in terms of her being Dexter’s wife.

The issue’s portrayal of the “dark passenger,” i.e. the presence in Dexter’s mind which almost personifies his urge to kill, is done well. Talajic draws it like a series of living, creeping shadows which surface whenever his predatory instincts are activated. The panels where they surround him, or a person who threatens him, look very nice.

Not surprisingly, Dexter #1 definitely feels very much consistent with the universe from the books. Considering we haven’t had a new book from Jeff Lindsay in a couple of years, it’s nice to revisit this world. If this miniseries is even half as intriguing as Lindsay’s books, it’ll be worth a read.

Front page image from digitalspy.com. Interior image from author’s collection.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like 
Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.    

Share

First Impressions: Batman/Superman #1

TITLE: Batman/Superman #1
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLER: Jae Lee
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 26, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In a company that likes to toss around the term “all star,” Jae Lee is a true all star. His dark, gothic style is usually fantastic, and it’s seemingly tailor-made for a character like Batman. But is Lee the right guy to put on a Batman/Superman book? I had my doubts, and I still do. But there is some good stuff here…even thought some of it’s rather confusing.

This issue shows us the first one-on-one meeting of Superman and Batman, first in civilian form, then in costume. To Greg Pak’s credit, his character work is awesome. His opening scene is particularly strong. Clark Kent travels to Gotham City to investigate the murder of some employees at Wayne Enterprises. He stumbles across a boy seemingly being beat up by some bullies, as Bruce Wayne (in a familiar disguise from Batman: Year One) looks on. He gets in Bruce’s face for not interfering on the boy’s behalf. But it seems the would-be victim was simply luring his opponents into a trap. From the get-go, this issue captures the source of Superman and Batman’s constant conflict, and the reason these two characters work so well together despite their differences. It’s Clark’s hopeful idealism paired with Bruce’s cynical reality. Then we go into a beautifully formatted two-page spread, which shows us what the two characters have in common: The quality of people who raised them. It’s a fantastic start.

But from there, things get weird. Batman uses some weird robots to try and wrangle Catwoman, who’s being controlled by a new villain called the Trickster (through she hasn’t been referred to by that name in-story yet). Then Superman flies in and the whole thing goes to hell. From there…I’m not sure what happens. Suddenly they seem to know eachother (Batman calls him “Clark”), and Batman is wearing a slightly different outfit. And then we get an appearance by someone we definitely weren’t expecting.

At this point, it seems a lot of this is supposed to be a mystery. But the whens and the wheres of this issue are confusing. In Justice League: Origin, which was written by two of the company’s co-publishers, mind you, we know that most of the League is meeting one another for the first time. And yet, this issue indicates that Superman and Batman met during Clark’s early years as a hero, when he was still wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And YET…later on in the issue Batman calls him by his civilian name and asks: “What’s with the jeans?” What page are we on? Are we in some kind of weird time warp thing? We need to clear this up pretty fast. As in, tell me what this is by next issue, or I might be gone…

As I mentioned, I’m not completely sold on Jae Lee’s suitability for a book which prominently features Superman. His Clark Kent looks good, I’ll give him that. I also appreciate that his Superman doesn’t look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model, or a competition bodybuilder (I’m looking at you Kenneth Rocafort). But for instance, there are a few panels (shown above), where he draws a young Clark Kent in Smallville. I think this is supposed to be your typical contrast of sunny Smallville and shadowy Gotham. But Lee’s shadowy style, combined with June Chung’s color choices, give it a much too dreary look. He’s got the right idea, but it doesn’t really fit the way he does things. It can be argued the same is true when we get to red cape time. But it’s tough to say so definitively, as midway through red cape time, Ben Oliver takes over. Yeah, there’s a little tidbit they left out of the marketing campaign…

For longtime comic book readers, it’s tough to even talk about this issue without thinking about the old Superman/Batman series, specifically the stuff Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness did with the first several issues (the story which would eventually be collected in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. The first issue of their run was published almost 10 years ago. That issue also had a writer with a great understanding of both characters’ voices, and an artist whose style might have gone a little too far in one direction for a lot of peoples’ tastes. While Lee likes drawing skinny pale people, McGuinness likes drawing big muscular balloon people. But Superman/Batman #1 is 10 times what Batman/Superman #1 is. It had great pacing and flow, played up the dynamic between our main characters in a way that was both insightful and fun, and it put them against Lex Luthor, a bad guy we all love to hate.

But while that issue was built upon more than 15 years of story continuity, the New 52 initiative is less than two years old. In Batman/Superman #1 all the iconic Superman and Batman stuff is there, but certain specifics in terms of backstory are still being established. Heck after we close this first issue we’re not even sure where we are on the timeline. Superman/Batman #1 kept things pretty simple, which definitely helps when it comes to first issues.

Hopefully Pak and Lee (and whoever else is pencilling…) will fill in some blanks next issue. Until then, Batman/Superman #1 is in the “undecided” category for me. That’s a shame, as for a longtime DC Comics fan like me, this series should be a no-brainer.

Front page image from xombiedirge.com. Images 1 and 2 from comicvine.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like 
Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.    

Share

First Impressions: Wolverine #1

TITLE: Wolverine #1
AUTHOR: Paul Cornell
PENCILLER: Alan Davis
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: March 13, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Pfft. Who says who can’t leave Wolverine alone with your kids?

The man called Logan is a bit in over his head when we open the first issue of this new ongoing series. A father has inexplicably gained possession of an otherworldly weapon that can disintegrate flesh. His son Alex can only look on terrified and dumbfounded as he leaves a trail of skeletons in his wake at a shopping mall. But our unlikely villain is ill equipped to combat Wolverine’s healing powers. Logan will soon be on the hunt for, of all people, Alex. The boy may hold the key to this bizarre killing spree…

Newer readers might be a bit put off by the Logan we see in this issue. The Logan we see here isn’t the angry, bloodthirsty beast fans are more accustomed to seeing. What we have here is the professional, the experienced hero. We see him working to calm Alex down and get him to safety, then luring the villain into a false sense of security, then taking action, then going through the debriefing process. He actually acts a lot like an off duty cop with mutant powers. During the debriefing they even have those styrofoam coffee cups we’ve seen Commissioner Gordon drink a million times.

Personally, I think putting Wolverine on the hunt for a child opens up some interesting possibilities, and offers us a bit of a departure from the norm. It’s not necessarily hard to find angry, stabby Wolverine if that’s what you’re looking for. He’s carving up humans and dinosaurs in the pages of Savage Wolverine and Wolverine MAX, not to mention all the X-Men and Avengers books. A story like this is a nice reminder that the character has more depth than casual fans sometimes realize. The man does run a school, after all.

Still, Alan Davis’ art does inject a bit more savagery into things than Paul Cornell’s script might have suggested. Obviously we’ve got Logan’s body literally falling apart on him. We’ve also got quite a bit of skeletons to look at in this issue. From Logan literally crawling out of a pile of bones, to the numerous skeletal remains that surround our villain as he admits he’s going to kill his own son. At one point we’ve also got naked, fuzzy, cave man looking Wolverine.

So although this issue may not necessarily satisfy a lot of blood lust, we can’t say it’s without Wolverine-ish elements. And I think the more predatory elements are coming, given our story is called “Hunting Season.” The premise of Logan hunting a child has the potential to give us an interesting juxtaposition of the man and the beast. Wolverine is in good hands with Cornell and Davis. And at the very least, we don’t have to worry about Shanna the She-Devil stealing Wolvie’s spotlight again. I mean hot damn, I’m STILL not over that one.

Front page image from newsarama.com.
Follow 
Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like 
Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.     

Share

First Impressions: SEX #1

TITLE: SEX #1
AUTHOR: Joe Casey
PENCILLER: Piotr Kowalski
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: March 6, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In an attempt to make this review as readable as possible, I’ve saved all my SEX puns for the end. So you’ll want to skip to the end for that sort of thing.

Simon Cooke was once the Armored Savior, superhero and guardian of Saturn City. But those days are over, and our former hero now heads up the Cooke Company. Or at least he does in name, as his colleagues have been waiting for him to step up and take a more active role in the company, particularly now that he’s back in Saturn City. But as we’ll extensively see in this issue, Simon has certain vices distracting him…

Understandably, the title of this book alone made some people uneasy (Apple actually banned it from its app store). And those folks aren’t going to be any calmer once they get to the second half of this issue. Casey and Kowalski give us some full on sexcapades between partially clothed, voluptuous women in masks and leather, while our main character watches. Well…what were you expecting, prudes?

Obviously this book isn’t going to be for everyone. But c’mon, it’s 2013. There’s room for this kind of material on the shelves. You can certainly argue about the objectification of women. But switch everybody’s gender in this issue, and I’d tell you the same thing. As far as I’m concerned, a long as it’s done well a book has the right to be as edgy or risque as it wants to be. It’s simply a matter of not picking up a book that doesn’t appeal to you. Sound fair?

The star of this issue is colorist Brad Simpson, who makes so much of Piotr Kowalski’s work pop. This is especially true once we see Saturn City’s night life. The club is a beautiful display of every neon color on the spectrum. Then we contrast that with the dull, faded shades of Simon’s memories, which are intercut with the sex scene. It’s beautiful art, even if the scene itself offends you. Kowalski’s rendering of “the old man” is also a gorgeous piece of what must have been painstakingly detailed work.

In terms of story, SEX might keave a little bit to be desired, depending on how much you usually like from your debut issues. But it’s a good start, and there’s a decent amount of intrigue surrounding Simon. I’m interested to see how the story expands. And, you know…what kind of sexy stuff we get next time.

So all in all, I’d say SEX was good. I enjoyed SEX. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was certainly more colorful than a lot of other experiences I’ve had recently. Would I give it another whirl? Absolutely.

Front page image from bloody-disgusting.com. Interior image from comicbookmovie.com.
Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.     

Share

First Impressions: Justice League of America #1

TITLE: Justice League of America #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: David Finch
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 20, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Years ago, before the New 52 obviously, DC tried something in the same ballpark as this new Justice League of America title. That effort culminated in a story called Justice League: Cry For Justice, a story with abhorrent dialogue, and a story that derailed Green Arrow and Red Arrow/Arsenal until DC hit the reset button in 2011. While JLA has no real connections to Cry For Justice, to an extent it’s awkward seeing the company try something like this again. But maybe that’s just me…

JLA sees skinny Amanda Waller recruit Steve Trevor to lead a new superhero team that has America’s best interests in mind. It’s the whole “if the League ever went rogue…” bit, with Superman and Wonder Woman’s recently blossomed romance as an extra incentive. Our roster consists of Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Green Lantern Simon Baz, Catwoman, Stargirl, Katana and Vibe. We close the issue with the mention of a familiar team of villains.

Truth be told, the novelty of David Finch’s artwork has largely worn off on me. His work on the New 52 version of Batman: The Dark Knight soured me on him quite a bit. Many of his scenes incorporate way too much black for my tastes. We can’t blame this on an inker or a colorist, as Finch handles all the art himself. Take the scene in Amanda Waller’s office. The shadows are all jet black. There’s a giant pool of darkness behind Waller’s desk, and both she and Trevor’s faces are shrouded in partial darkness, despite being in what is presumably a room with fluorescent lights. This effect is passable in Batman’s world because of the inherent “darkness” there. But it just seems like a style error here. Laying too much black on characters like Martian Manhunter and Hawkman robs them of some of the majesty that makes them worthy of a Justice League book. Lesser characters like Stargirl and Vibe suffer, too.

All Finch’s male heroes, including Steve Trevor, are giant body builders with really awkward bulging veins. And sadly, just like every other artist to work on her in recent memory, he oversexualizes Catwoman, plunging her neckline far below her breasts. Something about the way her body is positioned on the cover bothers me too. Stargirl and Katana make it out fairly unscathed in that sense, but this is only the first issue. I’m sure Finch will have a lot of fun with Stargirl.

On the plus side, Finch gives Stargirl braces. That’s adorable.

This issue does a nice job setting up our premise and giving us snapshots of almost everyone on the team. We don’t see Simon Baz, but we hear enough about him. Early on, Johns does a nice job establishing the merit for a team like this, ensuring we don’t see it as the product of paranoia. Or at the very least, we get the sense the paranoia is justified. From a writing standpoint, Waller, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter and Catwoman come out looking fairly strong. Trevor does too for the most part, though he has an Empire Strikes Back reference that lands with a hard thud. Johns portrays Stargirl as something of a superhero pop star. She’s got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is deemed “the answer to Lindsay Lohan.” I’m interested to see where he takes this new version of the character he created back in the ’90s.

Despite my distaste for David Finch’s art, I’ll stick around for a few issues. The concept as me intrigued for now. Plus, clearly JLA is going to be an important read as we head into Trinity War, DC’s next big event comic. It doesn’t look like we’ve got something of Cry For Justice proportions right now. So I’ll be back.

Front page image from dccomics.com. Image 1 from batman-news.com. Image 2 from ifanboy.com.
Follow 
Primary Ignition on Twitter at @PrimaryIgnition.
Like 
Primary Ignition on Facebook at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.     

Share
Return top