Monday, November 05, 2007

Kingdom’s Superman Comes to JSA and The Mystery of Dr. Fate’s Countdown

We’re a little behind on getting reviews out as FanBoyWonder and Mrs. LoveyWonder kept giving each other the “death virus” that is a kick ass cold.

We were trying to work it out of our system before we head down South next week to meet our baby grandson T.J. and visit our baby girl Brianna the Girl Wonder, so as a result our output hasn’t been what it usually is.

That said, here’s our take on the books we picked up from Brainstorm Comics for the week of Oct. 31.

Justice Society of America #10

The Upshot from DC Comics: Alex Ross joins Geoff Johns as co-writer for Part 1 of "Thy Kingdom Come," the epic story years in the making, springing from Kingdom Come! Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! Welcome the newest member to the Justice Society of America: the Kingdom Come Superman! Coming from an Earth plagued by heroes-gone-extreme, how will this Superman react to an incarnation of the Justice Society he never knew? This Superman's world needed better heroes. So does ours.

Generally we’re not a big fan of Elseworlds derivatives of primary DC Universe characters but Kingdom Come Superman has always held a special place in our hearts, as does the 1996 classic Alex Ross/Mark Waid story of Kingdom Come.

The Superman of the Kingdom Come universe is much more powerful but yet much less perfect than our mainline Man of Steel. In Kingdom Come thanks to all of his many years under the yellow sun, KC Superman is much stronger at 60 than he was at 30—a concept that FanBoyWonder at 37 has come to appreciate a lot more now than we did at 26.

Yet it was his years of isolation due to the murder of his wife Lois and the world's repudiation of his more civilized brand of “truth and justice” that drove KC Superman into self-imposed exile—allowing his Earth run amok with meta-human brawlers until it degenerated into the Armageddon of Kingdom Come.

Meanwhile back in the mainline DC Universe on “New Earth”, the Justice Society doesn’t know what to make of this strange visitor from another Earth—a parallel world in the new multiverse we now know is Earth-22.

It seems that KC Superman was plucked from his Earth right after the mega-nuke went off and he believes he is only super-human left alive.

Truth be told, our favorite Superman was the original/Earth-2 Superman Kal-L, who to our mind was killed off needlessly at the end of Infinite Crisis. Whereas Kal-L saw “New Earth” as gone to hell in a hand basket, KS Superman sees this world as “heaven” compared to his world whose meta-humans have stopped even trying to do the right thing.

The JSA’s trepidation at this “other older Superman” is natural and it’s actually nice to see them just warming up the fact that there are indeed parallel worlds out there again—seeing as readers have been force-fed nothing but multiverse since the end of 52.

The painted pages by Alex Ross of Earth-22 contrast perfectly with the other pages by the JSA’s regular art team of Dale Eaglesham and Ruy Jose with Drew Geraci.

We especially liked writer Geoff Johns little touches like Hawkman locking in KS Superman while they deliberate prompting Wildcat to “point out the obvious” that Superman can hear them.

Superman’s sudden burst of power to break out of JSA headquarters despite the best combined efforts of the JSA—including heavyweights Power Girl, Green Lantern and Starman—served many purposes in the story.

It injected some action into the story, it planted the seeds that THIS Superman is more powerful than all of them together—we especially liked a speeding KCS leaving even the Flash in the dust, as the one time Fastest Man Alive notes that KCS may be even as fast as Wally West, the current younger holder of the title.

Most of all it showed KC Superman saving a life of a teen-girl jumper—that’s what Supermen do, save lives. When he tells the girl that “Giving up never helped anyone Miss” he’s as much reminding himself as telling her.

We like Power Girl’s indirect reaction to the arrival of THIS Superman, as she is heartbroken that of all the universes and of all the Supermen, it couldn’t be her cousin, her family, to return.

We look forward to a more direct interaction between PG and KCS next issue as well as the meeting of Superman and Superman. Stay tuned.

JSA Classified #31

The Upshot from DC Comics: “Mr. Horrific" Part 3 of 3. Mr. Terrific has uncovered the full scope of the mystery that made him a fugitive, sending him and his teammates to the Moon. There they will face the mind of one of the Third Reich's most despicable villains. Millions of people will die if Mr. Terrific and the JSA can't stomp out the evil lurking on the dark side of the Moon.

“Horrific” is the word that should be used to describe this three-issue waste of an opportunity to spotlight one of the JSA’s best characters in a meaningful way. Instead we get an awful, unoriginal and uninspired story punctuated by mismatched art.

It’s not that the art by Alex Sanchez is bad—his style is not our cup of tea but we recognize that he is not slouching it—but he is not cut out to draw a straight super-hero story. Sanchez is Vertigo meant to go into a Vertigo book.

He was previously featured in a Dr. Mid-Nite two-part story arc that about vampires and it fit the mood the story but not here.

And the story by Arvid Nelson—please send him the memo that Nazis have been over done and there are a lot worse menaces out there.

The main problem with this book is that the focus is all wrong. While one step above its counterpart JLA Classified—a proverbial dumping ground for back-of-the-file stories—JSA Classified has been hit or miss.

It does do well in spotlighting individual members of the JSA, but more often than not it’s been the junior varsity of writers and artists penning stories that are little noted nor long remembered in JSA cannon.

In the main Justice Society of America title, writer Geoff Johns has mentioned many times the team’s and the book’s mantra—that the JSA isn’t a team but a “society” with an ever-expanding roster. With so characters passing in and out, it’s impossible to do justice (pardon the pun) too many of them in the way of real character development.

That’s where JSA Classified should come in. Classified should be the place where Society members can go when they are ready for their close up—with stories written by or at least in consultation with Johns so the stories matter and meaning to the main JSA title and to the DCU at large.

As much as we love the JSA, if Classified keeps giving us these throw-away story arcs, we may just feel compelled to lighten our pull list by one each month.

Countdown to Mystery #2

The Upshot From DC Comics: Doctor Fate faces a steep learning curve when it comes to mastering his new powers. Uneasy lies the head who wears the helmet when he faces "The Devourer of Souls" in Las Vegas! Plus, Eclipso has discovered Plastic Man's weak point: attacking him through his son, the Titan known as "The Offspring!"

There’s not much to say about this issue (at least the first half) except that we loved it. As we noted last issue, we weren’t crazy about another New Dr. Fate, especially as we liked Hector Hall so much, but writer Steve Gerber is pulling off a re-launch of this legacy character without a hitch.

Mores the pity that DC felt as if they had to shut down the Dr. Fate series just as it was about to launch last year. Gerber has admitted to health problems but we suspect DC’s motives were to stick a really good Dr. Fate story with a really bad Eclispo story together into yet another “Countdown” title forcing us to swallow hard to purchase bad to get the good.

We only hope that the Countdown brand—by now analogous with crap—does not discourage anyone from reading a good Dr. Fate story.

Also, quick word about the Dr. Fate art by Justinano and Walden Wong—top shelf. These guys were born to draw magic. Keep it up fellas.

Trials of Shazam #9

The Upshot From DC Comics: It's the new Shazam versus a god as Freedy Freeman's trials have him going toe-to-toe with Apollo!

Despite our overall, openly-held distain for much of Judd Winick’s work, we’ve been keeping an open mind on this Trials of Shazam so far and we have yet to be disappointed.

Freddie Freeman’s duel with the God Apollo held action, drama and serious story gravity. We were actually enthralled with Apollo’s dilemma to abandon his mortal life as a doctor and family man to take up the slain Atlas’s place of holding up the world.

We’re almost tempted to ask if there isn’t really someone ghost-writing under Winick’s name—it’s that good.

Yet it was a major disappointment for that the artist of this issue isn’t mini-series regular Howard Porter. We know there have been deadline issues—ToS took the entire summer off but Porter created a distinct visual style that we fear would be lost with a replacement artist.

Yet (guest??) artist Mauro Cascioli steps up and carries the visual ball quite ably. No one would mistake Cascioli’s artistic style with Porter’s but Cascioli maintains enough visual continuity to keep the reader from being completely thrown off—while at the same time giving the reader some eye catching visuals.

While we will be seriously displeased if porter can’t finish out the remaining issues of this 12-part mini-series—on principle if for no other reason—we would could more than live with it if Cascioli carries the artistic ball to the finish line.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Online Universities