Spawn #11

Spawn… he’s a pretty cool dude… kinda metal, if you get me. Here I thought he was the personal brain child of Todd MacFarlane, but I guess old Todd was his very own George Lucas that wanted his close buddies to reap in his creative success. Spawn #11 is a great show of it through the great Frank Miller.

#spoilers

Now even if you don’t know a thing about Spawn, but know a fraction about Frank Miller, you might understand how cool that cover up above really looks, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

I’m reading Spawn via the Origins Collections, remastered volumes of the original comics in a slick new binding, so it only slightly omits the fine crediting on the creative front. I had to backtrack midway through this issue to realize that it was in fact Frank Miller writing the piece.

How is it so obvious?

Basically, Spawn’s home resides in the slums with the bums who hold nothing but care for him, and when two rival gangs threaten the sanctity of it he intetvenes and pits the two against one another to save the day.

Where does Frank Miller leave his handiwork?

All over the gangs.

If you’re familiar with The Dark Knight Returns, this is pretty much two Mutant gangs being thrown at one another in the traditional Miller dialect. If you’re a fan of the latter you’ll enjoy this one more than most Spawn books. It’s pretty self-isolated and over-the-top.

Spawn is a great outlet for the nitty-gritty, weird and heavy metal. If you want a taste tester this issue is a good one, otherwise I’d suggest grabbing volume one as it usually runs cheap.

TL;DR Score: The Mutants would probably have their butts whooped to these guys….

Superman: Doomed

I recently bought some recent Superman arcs from the New 52/Rebirth era that I hadn’t read in full on account of cross-title event syndrome, Doomed being the biggest of the bunch.

#spoilers

At the time I’d only read the portions of this arc in the issues of Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman that I had been collecting, so to finally have the entire story bound together and in the proper order was pretty satisfying. To get straight to it: Doomed is the Superman epic you’re looking for.

On the outside, it seems pretty simple. We get a new take on Superman battling Doomsday to the death, but instead of boy blue dropping dead, he instead gets infected with the remains of his foe and slowly starts transforming into a new “Superdoom.” That alone sounds like enough material to make a book out of, but let’s be real, that concept could get stale real fast. Doomsday as a character can get stale fast, so it works well that he gets removed from this story pretty quickly.

The twist here is that Superman’s infection has been a plot conceived by Brainiac in an attempt to remove Earth’s strongest protector so that he can go about harvesting the minds of Earthlings in order to make a virtual reality of sorts in the name of “peace” (pretty fresh actually).

What the majority of this book turns into actually is a larger than life space epic as the Justice League and Superman’s close allies attempt to repel Brainiac’s invasion while holding off Superdoom. It’s pretty baller. It’s an all- star event that gives me the same sensation as Infinity.

For a new take on Superman vs Doomsday, plus a grand space invasion to boot, this book is fantastic. It’s pique sci-fi. If you missed this one, give it a go.

TL;DR Score: Seriously though, Brainiac’s plan was almost air tight… I think he just #%#% up royally when he threw Doomsday into the mix.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I don’t know why it took me so long to finally read this one, but part of me is glad I waited it out now knowing that there’s two more volumes to dig in to. This is a near perfect crossover that reaches to the depths of my childhood.

#spoilers

Tl;dr – The Turtles, as well as Shredder and the Foot, are swept into the DC Universe by some ploy of Krang’s. Once there, Shredder goes about his usual method of conquest, while for the Turtles they forge a rocky alliance with Batman as it becomes a race against time to send them home before their mutagen DNA breaks down due to cross dimension hopping.

Got it? Good. Yeah, it’s pretty straight forward. Really the book doesn’t care too much for the plot, it’s just a simple catalyst to bring about a series of fan service that’s hard not to love (such as an Arkham Asylum filled with mutated villains). The main chunk of this book consists of Batman interacting with the Turtles, with some action and villain team-ups sprinkled throughout (Batman vs Shredder and Turtles vs Ra’s Al Ghul is quite fantastic).

Side-note: This was one of the few collections I read that didn’t have the singular issues divided with their covers, so it basically reads as one continuous graphic novel. There’s only a couple standout moments that are clearly the cliffhangers, but apart from that it moves along flawlessly.

The real show-grabber is Freddie Williams’ art. It casts some Ramos vibes, but far more refined. It feels a little more grounded, but never loses the flare. Its one of those books to just thumb through and drool.

It certainly leaves me (and I imagine most) wanting more, hence why I said I’m glad to have a couple more volumes in the chamber.

TL;DR Score: It’s such a fast read, but honestly it does not lack in content. I’m stoked for the next one. 😀

Superman: Man of Tomorrow – Power Play

Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe out there! While I’m picking up trades curbside I’m also going with these digital firsts that DC is putting out. We all gotta do our part and support this industry in any way we can so that it’ll thrive. Furthermore, I’ve seen people slam these digital firsts simply because they believe if it isn’t physically printed then it can’t be worth reading. I have to disagree. While I was skeptical to pay the monstrous dollar that these books are priced at, so far I find them to be pretty good.

#spoilers

I’m pretty sure these are new stories, not reprints, but I could be wrong. I haven’t seen anything yet to confirm yes or no, but the main thing here is that this story isn’t clear on its continuity. Either it’s a one off that we’re free to place wherever we want, or it’s post-Rebirth, pre-Superman revealing his identity to the world. However, the way this story is written is quite ambiguous, more specifically, it feels like a somewhat cliche Supes tale thriving on old tropes and dynamics.

I gotta say, it’s pretty awesome. We get to read a Superman story that feels traditional, but has the nice shiny layer of the new age. It’s great!

What else is great? PARASITE. I can always do with more of this guy, and he delivers in this book. He actually takes on a bit of an Electro role here in which he goes completely power hungry and blackouts Metropolis. Superman’s plan to stop Parasite is good, too, in which he takes him to the dark side of the moon where there is absolutely no power for him to feed on.

In the end the main message of the book is quite wholesome and uplifting. Between Superman rallying the masses to care for each other during the blackout and reaching out for Parasite’s medical aid after he’s been defeated, there’s a lot of good vibes emanating from this story that I believe many of us can appreciate. If you have it in you for an old school Superman story with a modern spin, I can’t recommend this one enough.

TL;DR Score: Come on, show Parasite a little looooove!

Blue Beetle: The More Things Change

With the presses temporarily on hold for new comics, I’ve taken the opportunity to grab some material I’ve been meaning to read and haven’t had the funds for. Blue Beetle, specifically Jaime Reyes, is a character that I’ve wanted to read more of since learning a little about him while playing Injustice 2, and I can safely say he met my expectations on page.

#spoilers

Now I know this isn’t the first Jaime Reyes story, so I’m sort of just dropping into the middle of it all, but I like the spin on the teenage superhero this book goes for. Not to say that he’s the first in the history of comic books, but I like that right from the start Jaime has about zero interest in being a super hero and just wants the alien scarab that has bonded with him removed from his body. He has school friends that are in the know of his alter ego, not to mention his parents also. He’s basically the anti-Spider-Man. Everybody close to him knows he’s Blue Beetle, and he hates it. I mean, Spidey kinda hated it to, but then he also embraced it a lot more than Jaime clearly does. Oh, and Ted Kord (the original Blue Beetle) is basically Jaime’s private billionaire financier who gives him a bunch of cool toys and tips and stuff. It’s got a Batman Beyond kind of vibe, but it also feels fresh and unique.

A lot of what happens in this particular volume is mostly character driven, which is nice for a new Blue Beetle reader such as myself. There’s a fair share of action, but what we get mostly is a look at Jaime’s relationship with Kord and his parents and friends, and furthermore the rising conflict over the scarab. The main threat that shows itself towards the end is a big bad green dude who clearly has it out for the scarab, but is allegedly working for an even bigger, faceless baddy (of course). I care less about the plot here and enjoyed the characters a lot more, and I think the creative team does, too which us important.

TL;DR Score: Oh yeah, and Doctor Fate has his hand in this one, too. Always up for more Doctor Fate!

Avengers #66-68, the Return of Ultron

As I continue picking away at the old Avengers run, it starting to get juicier with each passing arc. This one in particular stood out for a number of reasons.

#spoilers

First off, amongst the return of Ultron, an entanglement of betrayal, SHIELD, and other noteworthy moments, this story introduces the Marvel Universe to … ADAMANTIUM! Go figure. I never realized how far back the stuff goes.

The TL;DR of it is Vision, against his will, resurrects Ultron into a newly improved adamantium-endowed version that looks like the top half of an Ultron bot slapped onto a tank. Literally. It turns into an epic battle that results in trapping Ultron with his own holocaust explosion using a vibranium dome shipped express from Wakanda… Seriously. Comics are so cool.

It’s no surprise that Avengers really picked up once characters like Ultron, Vision, Yellowjacket, even Hawkeye-turned-Goliath, started making their way into the stories. I feel like I’m now wading through some landmark stories that have been a longtime waiting. I’m eager to get to the Kree/Skrull war, but that’s a little ways off, so we’ll see how soon I get there. If nothing else, I’m sure there’s plenty good material to read along the way.

TL;DR Score: Seriously, Clint Barton – Hawkeye… he’s the new Goliath. I thought it was gonna be a one-off story, but he’s still rocking it. I kinda like it!

Fairy Tail Vol. 1

It took me a while, but I finally made the leap to manga. I’ve watched a fair share of anime (my wife got me into it, so she really deserves the credit) and after a few years I decided to take a stab at its original written form. However, rather than reading material I’d already watched, I wanted to take on something brand new for me. Fairy Tail is an anime I’ve been interested in watching, so it seemed like a good start.

#spoilers

Fairy Tail is a story about a guild of wizards (same name as the book’s title) where a young, aspiring girl, Lucy, falls in with when she meets Natsu (a fire wizard) and his sidekick Happy (a talking cat who can sprout wings and fly). When she is rescued by the bizarre pair from a slave ship, she then travels to join in with the guild before venturing out to rescue a fellow wizard of Natsu’s when he goes missing. During these adventures we learn of Natsu’s ability to eat fire (and most forms of heat, including melted snow) and turning that into sheer power to fight, as well as Lucy’s collection of keys that summon celestial beings to do her bidding, such as a giant clock or muscle-bound cow.

If any of that sounds odd to you… well, welcome to the realm of manga/anime. If you’ve never given it a shot, I’d say it’s always worth a try, but if you have a particular taste for high fantasy and sci-fi, these types of stories might be up your alley… as long as you can get along with the high octane, sometimes perverted, often intense nature of Japanese media.

As for Fairy Tail, I’m now standing at a crossroads where I can’t decide if I want to continue reading it, or just dive into the anime. It’s a great story and I’ve enjoyed it so far, but I don’t know yet if I love it enough to experience it twice over, because the one thing I can say for manga is that it proves to me how accurate the anime counterparts are. Though I’m sure there are minor tweaks, the way manga is written and displayed seems completely identical to that of anime.

Whatever decision, the book remains a great alternative in material, especially in this day where there’s nothing hitting the shelves.


TL;DR Score: #actualspoiler… Natsu was raised by a dragon named Igneel and is on a quest to find him. If my wife found that out I’m sure I’d just be watching the anime instead of taking the slow approach.

Batman: The Adventures Continue, Chapter One

They’re back!

Paul Dini and Alan Burnett bring back the series that is a cornerstone of most of our childhoods in a new digital-first series. Following the shutdown of most comic retailers in this unprecedented time, to be given this sweet taste of fresh nostalgia is a treasure.

#spoilers

As a digital-first book, it’s actually quite short, and affordable (only 99 cents!). It opens with Batman having a quick bout with Bane before taking on a giant robot menacing Gotham. Cut to Bruce mingling amongst the rich and filthy, including Lex Luthor, where we start to get a rough estimate of when this story takes place (some time after Batman and Superman’s first team-up). Before long we learn that some mischief is afoot when finally Batman comes face-to-face with both the robot and Luthor in a fast-paced cliffhanger.

Like I said, it’s a quickie, and like most digital installments it’ll eventually form a fully fleshed out story, but the short of it (the TL;DR, if you will) is…

TL;DR Score: Batman TAS is BACK! … sort of.

Detective Comics #1021

I love a good Two-Face story. In this (amongst others) there’s an element I’m not overly crazy about, but this issue got my brain turning a little.

#spoilers

The short of it. Two-Face has raised a two-sided cult following, one lead by Vice and the other by Versa (heh, classic), and utilizes them to lay a trap for Batman. Now maybe I don’t know Two-Face that well, but what DC seems to be rolling with lately is the idea that he’s a full on schizo. I was never raised on the idea that Harvey Dent was a schizo, but this book certainly makes him out to be, right down to the fact that Harvey knows that Bruce is Batman, and Two-Face doesn’t. It’s cool in one aspect, because we really get to see Harvey’s anguish vocalized, but on the other it kind of takes away the simple fundamentals (as I see it) from this great villain.

What got me thinking during this issue though is the “cult of Two-Face.” It’s honestly a simple concept, not new to comics, but I feel like in this day and age it’s more relevant than ever. What with the cult following behind Thanos’ quest in Infinity War, in this day and age it seems only ideal that more people, certainly in the fictional world, would flock to follow these icons.

TL;DR Score: Vice and Versa? Really?

Avengers #57

I’m trying to get back on track reading the original Avengers run, what with so much of my time being spent in doors of late. Suffice it to say, I finally made it to the inaugural issue featuring the appearance of Vision.

#spoilers

This is actually one of the faster paced books I’ve read from this era. That comes from a book like The Avengers, considering each issue is capable of branching on amongst so many characters. In one book we get relationship highlights between Jan and Hank, Natasha and Clint, as well as T’Challa doing some soul searching, all tying in together when Vision appears. At first attempting to destroy the heroes, he quickly turns his sights on aiding the Avengers in defeating his creator: Ultron-5. (Yeah, in his early days the Ultron we know and love was known as Ultron-5.) Just when you think there’s not enough going on, the Avengers manage to infiltrate Ultron-5’s lair, allowing Vision to defeat the metal maniac in a climactic battle.

See, these days that amount of storytelling would be at the very least split into two issues. It does come across as only slightly, very slightly, rushed, but it’s incredibly well-executed. Furthermore, as a landmark issue, I feel like this one pulls out all the stops. Some key books out there cost an arm and a leg for something as small as a single panel first reveal (not pointing fingers, bub). With this one you not only get a gorgeous cover and Vision’s first appearance, but also a fully-wrapped story with some great material on the way.

If there’s one power that digital/ collected reading has, it’s that it can give us a showcase of the classics worth seeking out for the collection. This, dear readers, is one of them.

TL;DR Score: Vision is the OG, OP hero we deserve.