Superman #21

Mongul… y’all remember Mongul, right? He’s this buff alien bad@$$ that once screwed with Superman’s mind, amongst other things. These days he’s all about

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pitting would-be contenders for intergalactic peace against one another. Even better? He’s just getting warmed up.

Meanwhile, Lois Lane deals with the overbearing pressure of a world now knowing Superman’s identity and his out of context proclamation of being more or less King of the Earth.

Superman is easily the stronger Supes titled compared to Action Comics. Not only does the story really anchor itself to the development of the big boy scout’s character, but Ivan Reis’ art is just fantastic. I feel like I’ve praised his work before, but honestly there’s so much material that I consume day-to-day that when I come back around to Superman it’s always a treat. The way he captures the big budget action set pieces is beautiful.

I’m still not a big fan of Bendis breaking down the Kent family dynamic, but the whole identity reveal has really added a lot of meat to the Superman mythos and (I hope) will make for an interesting permanent change in the Man of Steel moving forward.

TL;DR Score: Supes vs Mongul, round two, here we go, BABY!!! PLACE YOUR BETS!

Robin 80th Anniversary Special

The world spins on. Of how recent events has taken its effect on the comic book industry I may speak of later, but for now, some fun.

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Like its anniversary predecessors over the past couple years, Robin’s big book is nothing short of delightful. In fact, it might even be a contender for the best.

In chronological order of Robins in the history of DC comics, we go through each incarnation and are given a story analyzing key characteristics based on their stance as Batman’s sidekick, and a character as a whole. The first chunk of the book obviously centers around Dick Grayson, from his tenure as Robin, to his breaking free as Nightwing, and even to his status as a secret agent. Dick’s certainly had the longest history and for most of the general population he’s most recognized as the boy wonder, so it makes sense to flesh him out so fully. We then get mostly snippets of the other Robins, right up until Damian.

There’s a tremendous amount of variety here. It suffers from some minor repetition, but I think that’s to be expected and is a perfect tool in showcasing how much the Robins are alike. This book is also a feast for the eyes. There’s some needed grit in here, but for the most part it’s colorful and bold… much like Robin.

TL;DR Score: Dick will always be my Robin, but I gotta say I’ve really come around to Damian.

Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #1

Y’know, I didn’t realize just how long it had been since I read a solid team-up until this book. Marvel Insider is doing a special for members to read the early Absolute Carnage titles, and honestly I think this one was probably the strongest.

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Miles and Ganke are in town looking for shoes when Scorpion appears wreaking havoc. Miles leaps into action and it becomes a no-holds-barred clash. It honestly harkens back to the glory days of Peter Parker (atta boy, Miles). Suddenly a slew of Carnage’s symbiotic army appear, seeking Mac Gargan’s spine (for those who don’t know, he once bore the mantle of Venom). Seeing no other alternative, in classic team-up fashion, Spidey and Scorpion set aside their issues to even the odds. Its short-lived however as Scorprion back-stabs the web-slinger, leaving him to be taken over by a symbiote.

Short and to the point. I think I read this in under ten minutes? I usually prefer a longer read, but given that this was on point action and fun, it just leaves more time to read it again. It’s a fun one and worth checking out for some classic thrills in the Mighty Marvel fashion!

TL;DR Score: Ganke pulls off the man-bun surprisingly well.

Detective Comics #1017

This was an awesome one-off, and I say that mainly because I wasn’t expecting much going in. Similar to Action Comics I’ve been thinking of giving Detective Comics the boot as well. Lo and behold, this one rejuvenated my desire to carry on.

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My favorite thing about Detective is that more so than the plain Batman book, this one leans more heavily on the mystery aspect, and this one took a different approach that I really liked.

Bruce learns that a teenager from his parent’s orphanage has run away. To find the boy, Bruce turns to his own son to carry out the street level work for the simple fact that Robin might not frighten a runaway the way Batman might. Solid play.

Robin finds the kid and thus he and Batman take him to for aid at a hospital, though not without finding out that the head of Bruce’s orphanage is crooked and selling kids under the table. Unfortunately, the runaway dies while in the hospital…

So Bruce cracks down on the culprit and opens up a new wing to the orphanage in honor of the dead runaway.

It’s a relatively simple mystery story. I really liked Batman’s employment of Robin, and even how much Damian invests himself in it all by the end. As a one-off, this was a pretty good one that I’d gladly revisit.

TL;DR Score: No witty comment here. This book has soul.

Action Comics #1019

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I’m going to say up front that if there’s one problem I presently have with this Doom! arc, it’s that I’m feeling awfully behind on a lot of key plot points. Leviathan has been revealed as a man named Mark Shaw, Lex Luthor is half-Martian somehow, and … that’s about it, I guess, but I haven’t been reading Event Leviathan so that’s probably the big part of the problem. However, this particular book was fun.

The meat of this issue is the Legion of Doom meeting Leviathan in their lair. It’s a character driven book, and we all know how stellar Bendis can be at banter and casual dialogue. Furthermore (as always, an unpopular opinion), I LOVE Romita Jr’s art. I admit, sometimes it’s not on point, but I find his work when stories are engorged with color. So when you have a story about an array of villains basically having a few beers and scheming, JRJR can do no wrong.

Unfortunately if it keeps with the tie-ins I might have to drop this title from my pull, but I’m at least glad to enjoy some sheer comic fun before I do.

TL;DR Score: I can’t be the only one that hears Clancy Brown when I read Lex Luthor, right?

Batman #89

Things are really starting to heat up in Batman right now! … My comics vendor mentioned that this book is already going for higher prices… though I’m not exactly sure why besides the cover…

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Batman’s gauntlet of assassins and at-risk rogues continues on. A lot happens here, and yet not so much, but at the end of the issue what we’re left with is that Batman’s lead rogues years ago made some sort of deal with a new costumed character named the Designer, and that he is likely the one who has hired the assassins to take them out. It’s a whirlwind.

Oh, and there’s a stinger at the end of the book that shows Joker continuing his preparations with a bulletin board tacked with the Bat-Family and all of their secret identities…… Death of the Family Redux? I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling.

It’s a good issue. In general Batman is feeling really good right now. Tynion is handling the fallout from King’s arc smoothly, notably in Lucius Fox’s stepping in for Alfred as “guy in the chair.” Honestly, I hope Fox remains in this role. He’s an ideal fit and he’s so damn charming… not to mention he keeps throwing Batman some wonderful toys.

Honestly, it’s a strong arc to get in on. Either catch up or wait for the paperback, because I’m sure the final result will be spectacular.

TL;DR Score: …. it … it really is an amazing cover. Seriously. I could put that in a frame, and not just because the boosted value.

Venom #4

I’m getting a little caught up on Venom. As with all my great binges, it comes from me taking the title off of my pull just before it got really good. To be honest it was Ryan Stegman’s artwork during Absolute Carnage that really swayed me to returning to the series, and honestly it’s a stellar book, but it’s issue four here that I want to talk about a bit…

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It’s inevitable with comics that once a character reaches a certain point that, depending on the character, the creators feel a need to re-imagine or embellish the roots of the character. Lately Marvel has been really pushing to making a new status quo for Venom, what with the ‘Nam mini-series that reveals that there were symbiotes that predated Spider-Man’s black suit, and other such twists, it really feels like they want to expunge Venom’s history to the point that he might not even have the spider insignia on his chest (kind of like the movie, ahem). Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with that, but this obsession that Venom now needs to be some sort of unique superhero as opposed to the very embodiment of an anti-hero as he always was just seems… cheap? It’s Venom, the original Spidey dopple-ganger. Taking that away from him is like taking the jam out of PB&J sandwiches…

Anyways, rant over, because I do sort of like what transpires in this issue.

Eddie Brock comes face-to-face with the being known as Knull, the all-father of symbiotes. We learn about how he’s this ancient being at war with all things light and good, and symbiotes are basically his own flesh and blood designed to overtake and utilize the universe to his liking. There’s an almost cringy yet prosy moment where Knull actually coins the word “venom” in terms of his own origins, and even the reasoning behind him bearing the same insignia as our own Venom does is somewhat founded. I was a little skeptical while reading it, but I found it pretty good. It’s a story that doesn’t necessarily upset Venom’s story, but maybe even heightens it. I also just came to terms with the fact that (as I alluded before) after thirty some odd years Marvel was bound to dig deeper into the roots of Venom and symbiotes as a whole.

Of all the tweakings and reworks of the past that comics enjoy doing so much, this one gets by pretty well, and I’m actually more and more enthralled with it.

TL;DR Score: However, I’m more enthralled by that gorgeous cover that really harkens to Amazing Spider-Man #347.

Captain Canuck #1 (1975)

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I recently received a few old issues of Captain Canuck as a gift from a friend of mine. Took me a bit, but I’m starting to give them a look.

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I’ve only read the first issue, but I have to say that this is such a treat. As a proud Canadian, it’s fun to read such a richly-Canadian book. This isn’t Marvel’s Alpha Flight or anything like that. This is the humble little company of Comely Comics making a play for the greater market. It’s a little low budget, but it’s got heart.

The story takes place in the then future of the 90s, where Captain Canuck and Blue Fox, two Canadian super soldiers, are sent to the north where to stop an ambiguous terror group from launching nuclear weapons and seizing control of Canada. Along the way they are befriended by a native hunter, Utak, who saves them from a polar bear and escorts them to their quarry with his sled dog team. Upon arriving at the base, Blue Fox double-crosses Captain Canuck and our hero is taken prisoner. Before long, Canuck breaks free and takes on all the bad guys himself. Blue Fox begins the launch sequence for the missiles, but Canuck subdues him and aborts the firing.

It feels like an old-school propaganda piece akin to Captain America, but with the obvious Canadian twist on things. The writing is a little iffy, but the story is coherent enough. What I was most surprised by is that a lot of the landscape images utilize actual photos of the icy north, including the dog team. It’s a little lazy, but the way they impose the illustrations over top the images is pretty effective.

It’s a very different book, lacking in some cases, but overcoming all with that old-fashioned flare for the fantastic and sensationalism. If you’re ever tired of the same old Marvel/DC brand, give Comely Comics a shot.

TL;DR Score: Probably only because of Blue Fox, but reading this gave me a lot of El Santo and Blue Demon vibes… the wrestlers… anybody remember those guys?

The Immortal Hulk #19

What happens when you dig up Rick Jones’ corpse and splice it with the Abomination?

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The Thing. The Thing happens. Like, John Carpenter style, I kid you not. Look.

Seriously… I know Immortal Hulk has been about bringing horror back to the jade giant, but damn, I didn’t think I’d ever see something like this…. That’s Rick for crying out loud!!!

Honestly though, that’s what’s so great about Immortal Hulk. It just keeps upping the ante and is full of gore and chilling imagery that’s expected of most horror movies. It’s such a page-turner. Expect more of these highlights to pop up in the future.

TL;DR Score: Oh, the plot? Well… honestly I was just distracted by… like, do I need to say it?

Metal Men #1 (of 12)

METAL MEN!!!

Ever since I first learned of these guys during the New 52 Justice League run I’ve been looking to enjoy some more of them, so it seems lucky that there’s a maxi-series unfolding right now!

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Will Magnus, genius doctor and creator of the Metal Men, brings us up to speed on his history with the aforementioned super team and how he seeks to return to simpler times. We see an example of the heartache Magnus deals with when the Metal Men discover (allegedly not for the first time) the fact that they aren’t actually living beings and are basically just pieces of Magnus’ psyche. Magnus shuts them down before things go too far, but finds new inspiration when he receives word that a new nth metal has taken shape and is calling the good doctor’s name.

For a first installment it goes pretty fast but doesn’t necessarily feel rushed. It lays the groundwork nicely, especially if the reader is unfamiliar with the territory. It also doesn’t feel cheap. These are characters with history and the promise of a return to form is nothing but spectacular. I also have to say that it’s still satisfying to see such a colorful team popping right out of the pages – a truly gorgeous book.

This series is about four issues deep now, but if you can track them down I’d say buy them. So far it’s worth it.

TL;DR Score: Maybe I’m missing something crucial, but why wasn’t Platinum in the team-photo of the Metal Men?