Saturday, April 30, 2016

Superman (vol.2) #157 (2000)

Superman (vol.2) #157 (June, 2000)
"Superman's Enemy Lois Lane"
Writer - Jeph Loeb
Pencils - Ed McGuinness
Inks - Cam Smith
Colors - Tanya & Richard Horie
Letters - Richard Starkings
Associate Editor - Maureen McTigue
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $1.99

Super busy day working on my final project for Forensics... soooo... Hey!  Random issue of Superman!


Clark Kent is gazing into his wedding ring and lamenting the fact that it appears that Lois is leaving him.  He lays alone in their bed, unshaven and fully dressed as Superman.  He is thinking about how all those in his life will react to this news.

He hears the apartment door open and rushes to see who it is.  It's Lois, and she has a suitcase.  She claims that she's only there to pick up her things and she'd be gone momentarily.  Clark reaches out for her hand, while noticing that she is not wearing her wedding ring.  She asks him to take his hand off of her, and when he refuses... she, well, wallops him through the window and across the street with one helluva right hand.

Rather than being upset or fearful, Superman is now happy.  He knows that there's no possible way for this to be his Lois (it's funny the things we will choose to suspend our disbelief for, ain't it?).  Lois flies after him shouting like a madwoman about all of the times she'd been humiliated by him.

As she approaches a seemingly pron Superman, he wraps her in his cape and uses his x-ray vision to give her the once over.  She's definitely not a robot, and she appears to be a perfect bone-for-bone match to his Lois, even down to a hairline fracture on her wrist.

Lois breaks free, and this time strikes Supes with a left uppercut sending him flying a decent distance.  She hovers over by Lex Luthor's office, and burns the words "You're Next" in his window much to his befuddlement.

She than flies past the Daily Planet where she gives Perry a friendly wave.

She finally reaches Superman who had landed on a moving train.  Lois continues pounding on Superman, and for the most part, he allows it, simply choosing to defend himself rather than going on offense.

Finally, Superman's had enough.  He pins Lois down, and taunts her.  Claiming that if he is to fall this day, it is Lois Lane who will get the credit for taking him down... rather than who is really behind all the hullabaloo.  Not being able to take it anymore, and wanting all the credit for himself... the Lois facade fades leaving only THE PARASITE.

The two battle, and we get a view of all the personalities currently floating around ol' Parasite's noggin... including that of one Lois Lane.  They fight until Parasite's heart begins to give out.  He shrivels up and perishes in Superman's arms, but not before telling him that Lois did truly love him.

Superman is left alone.  No Parasite, no Lois...


Well... it was a fight issue.

That isn't to say it wasn't any good, because it was.  I enjoyed it.  It was damn pretty to look at, that's for sure.  I always loved McGuinness's Lois, can't really put my finger on why.  I think it may have something to do with the fact that this era of Superman is when I "came back" to the character.  I suppose many of these takes or looks of the characters have kinda gotten ingrained in how I perceive them.

I remember reading this when it came out, and the rumors were that under the new editorial direction that they were considering breaking Lois and Clark up... at least for awhile.  While this was coming out, I figured that was what they were building towards... I certainly didn't think Lois was going to get crazy-whacked out powers, but I thought perhaps she would have maybe gotten mind-controlled and went off-panel for an extended period.

I was glad then, and I'm glad now that they decided against breaking the couple apart (whether they wanted to or not, I suppose).  I'm also glad they got the opportunity to do such an offbeat story pitting Superman against SuperLois.  This feels like something that would have happened in an Imaginary Story during the Silver Age... and here we are, at the turn of the century doing this story in-continuity.  Too much fun.

The entire Loeb/McGuinness run is highly recommended.  Much of the beginnings of the run are in a six-volume trade paperback collection.  They include many Superman stories of this era, including those in Adventures of Superman, Action Comics, and Man of Steel.  There is also the (sorta overrated, if you ask me) Emperor Joker trade collection as well as the nearly-phone book-sized Our Worlds at War collection.  Definitely seek those out if you're interested in "City of Tomorrow" era Superman.


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Friday, April 29, 2016

Justice League of America #179 (1980)

Justice League of America #179 (June, 1980)
"The Siren Song of the Satin Satan"
Writer - Gerry Conway
Artists - Dick Dillon & Frank McLaughlin
Letters - Todd Klein
Colors - Gene D'Angelo
Editor - Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.40

Folks who know me know that I have been a fairly completionist type of Justice League collector over the past couple of decades.  I have (with very few omissions) a complete run of Justice League Anything from just before the start-up of the Detroit League.  That includes all of the JLI titles (which, finally has a podcast dedicated to it!!!) and relatively oddball titles like Extreme Justice and Justice League Elite.  My pre-Detroit league-library (leagbrary?) is spotty at best, and always seems like it would be such an overwhelming endeavor to pursue collecting.  If I were to pick one single issue that I wanted in my collection (within reason, of course) it would have been the book we're going to discuss today, Justice League of America #179.

I think most people are familiar with this cover from that bout of "Superman's kind of a... not too nice fella" plague that hit the internet some years back.  When I first saw it, I knew I had to have it... however, prior to this past weekend, I'd never come across it in the wild... even at an inflated price, it just never showed up.  This past weekend, I decided to brace myself for disappointment and head into one of our local Half-Price Books locations.  Of late I have found these visits to be underwhelming to flat-out disappointing... I guess when you frequent these shops as much as I do, you don't give 'em enough time to add new (used) items.

Anyhoo... long story, still long... I managed to snag this issue for a very reasonable (at least in my opinion) two-bucks.  Was it worth it for me to buy this thing at 500% of its cover price?  Let's find out...


Welcome to the hottest Disco in New York, The Studio.  It is here where you'll feel the night fever and likely partake in a little bit of jive talkin'.  Meet Roscoe Remington, a regular disco stud and mayor of Funkytown who burns up the multi-colored dance floor.  Now, let's turn our attention to fashion model Sabrina Sultress (hmm...), she's caught the the notice of young versatile, who turns to putty in her gaze.  All it takes is a flick of her finger to make ol' Roscoe (do the) hustle on over.

Now, aboard the Justice League satellite, Firestorm is celebrating his recent induction to the ranks of the greatest team of superheroes ever assembled.  From the cover image, I would automatically expect that the other Leaguers were rather against this... but, they seem cautiously understanding.  They express a bit of concern in regard to Ronnie's age and maturity... but, overall appear to accept him and appreciate is innocence and attitude.

Of particular interest is Zatanna's reaction.  She can't hide her jealousy toward Firestorm.  She is upset that she's no longer the League's "newest member", and envies all that he is about to experience insofar as comradery and novel thrills.

As Firestorm's raucous celebration settles down, he tends to his more mundane requirements, including a scintillating lecture from Batman.  He appears to doze off during the proceedings, however, he is in reality sharing thoughts with his partner in nuclear headspace Professor Martin Stein.  The two discuss how far Firestorm has come since the explosion that birthed the dual-minded hero.

Black Canary snaps Ronnie back to reality by accusing him of napping on the job.  She and Ollie discuss their thoughts on the new member, and Red Tornado gives us a brief rundown on the League's growth and membership since its inception.

Following the lecture, the team teleports back to Metropolis via an invisible booth atop a midtown building.  The heroes wish each other well before calling it a day.  Superman remains with Ronnie to give a few words of encouragement as well as remind him how to use his JLA communicator.  Hmm... almost feels like Chekov's signal device.

Ronnie heads for Bradley High where he plans to attend the Junior Mixer.  Upon landing, Firestorm diffuses, leaving Ronnie and a seemingly amnesiac Martin Stein in his wake.  Ronnie recalls that when they are in the Firestorm matrix, Stein doesn't remember their escapades.  He loads his groggy partner into a cab and sends him home, before meeting up with his pals.

The gang reconnoiters and decides they should ditch the dance and hop on the subway to head out to The Studio... after all, (the legendary) Rosco dances there every night.  After a bit of reluctance from jerk-face Cliff Carmichael, the foursome rides the rails.

At The Studio, the kids are approached by a young lady wearing a Gary Spivey wig.  She tells them she watched randy Rosco head upstairs with the fine Ms. Sultress... also known as the Satin Satan (that's a bit extreme, no?).  She's watched many a man go to her penthouse, but none of them ever discuss what happens up there.


Smelling trouble, Ronnie breaks away from the group.  He turns into Firestorm just as Professor Stein is exiting his cab, and they fly up toward the penthouse.  Once there, Firestorm sees the frozen (or perhaps stone?) form of Rosco.  He tries to talk to Sultress, and she plants a big kiss on him.  He manages to press his JLA signal device just before his arm goes limp... and we are [to be continued...]


It's not often I read a Justice League story and come away from it thinking I've read a story featuring the classic JLA.  I don't have a whole lot of history/experience with the "Satellite Era" of the team, but I can certainly tell why so many have such a strong affection for it.

The inclusion of Firestorm to the Justice League doesn't feel like a terribly contentious concept these days.  I would assume many people think it was a great idea.  I love the idea personally, as I am always a fan of the POV character.  Firestorm, despite his incredible powers still appears to be in awe of his fellow Leaguers.  I really dig that about him.  Superman should be looked up to, seeing Ronnie only muster a "Wow" when he watches him fly off was a treat.

The story is wonderfully dated, featuring Disco fashions and potentially sleazy nightclubs.  I suppose folks may hold that up as a negative, but I loved it.  Just like eternal punching bag Vibe gets taken to task for his not-so-timelessness, I really enjoy seeing things like this.  Granted, ask me again in twenty-years when we're looking back on contemporary trends like Internet memes and heroes' social media accounts, and see how much I dig that.

The focus being on Firestorm/Ronnie was fair enough for this issue.  This was post-DC Implosion and before the Fury of Firestorm, so it's nice having a spot for Ronnie's supporting cast... even jerk-ass Cliff.

If I gotta nitpick anything... well, I was thinking, man this story flew!  Come to find that there's only 17 story pages here.  Whodathunk an extra couple of pages would make such a difference?  I'd have loved this to go longer... now I'm gonna have to dive back in the bins to read the fallout.  Hell, any excuse to go diggin' and buyin' is fine with me!

This one should most definitely be tracked down if at all possible.  As of this writing, it is regrettably skipped on DC's Digital site (their available issues jump from #174 to #183, go figure).  I am also unable to say for certain whether or not this issue has ever been collected.  Definitely a fun issue that's worth the hunt.


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Superman: Lois & Clark #7 (2016)

Superman: Lois & Clark #7 (June, 2016)
"Arrival, Part VII"
Writer - Dan Jurgens
Pencillers - Lee Weeks & Stephen Segovia
Inkers - Scott Hanna, Art Thibert, & Jay Leisten
Colorist - Jeremy Cox
Letterers - A Larger World Studios
Assistant Editor - Andrew Marino
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99

If you would have told the teenage Chris (otherwise known as Chris is on Earth 616) that at any point in his life he would consider Superman among his favorite characters, he'd have laughed in your face... then he would have adjusted his hypercolor t-shirt and probably would have quoted Bart Simpson.

I would have never even imagined that... what's more, if you would have told me that a Superman title would be my favorite book month in and month out, well I certainly wouldn't have believed that either... and yet, here we are.

The Superman books of late (with Superman: Lois & Clark topping the pile) have been a real surprise.  After many false-starts and inconsistent narratives, DC Comics appears to have found a winning formula for this family of titles... just in time for the re-whateverthey'recallingit that's on the rapidly approaching horizon.

I'm super pleased that the current creators are the ones that will come with us through the Rebirth Rubicon.  I am (not even cautiously) optimistic that the Superman books they have in store for us will maintain a high level of quality, and anxiously await experiencing the roll-out.

But, that's still several weeks out.  For now, let's discuss Superman: Lois & Clark #7.


We open on a Flashback, some several years ago.  Lois and Jon are returning home from the grocery, and are surprised when they find Clark inside in full celebration-mode over Lois' latest "Author X" book publication.

All the while, Jon is playing with his Superman and Flash action figures and is having trouble figuring out who would win in a race.  Lois picks Superman but Jon appears to come from the John Byrne school of super-powers... if speed is Flash's only power, then he's gotta be the fastest in the world.  Jon ultimately has Flash win, which I wish would have elicited at least a funny eyebrow cock from Clark.  Best part here, Jon's Superman action figure... it's got the trunks!

Back in the present, Lois and Jon are locked in a burning storage room.  Over the past few issues Intergang came to the realization that Lois White and Author X were one in the same.  Little did they know, when they locked the pair inside that one of them would be impervious to fire damage.  Jon breaks them out, and with Intergang hot on their heels, they flee the scene.

Meanwhile, Clark is over on the Roosevelt Bridge dealing with the television-manufactured threat of Blackrock.  The two tussle, until Clark finds out this was all a television publicity stunt.  He then spikes the poor fool into the ground, and destroys all of the film evidence (good thing they weren't going live!) before heading toward his wife and son.

Intergang has caught up with Lois and Jon, and plan to take them out firing squad style.  Luckily, Clark blurs by in the nick of time and hauls his family to safety.

When they arrive at home, Lois and Clark realize the jig is up... they gotta come clean to Jon.  They do their best to explain their former home on the pre-Flashpoint (though they don't call it that) Earth, and Jon seems to come around.  He was initially quite upset that they kept such a massive secret from him, but seemed to process the information pretty well, even to the point of embracing his father being a superhero.  Jonathan and Martha would be proud.  Clark gets an odd feeling, and has a strange vision of violence.  He knows he is needed, and so he takes off... leaving his proud wife and son safely behind.

Throughout the issue there were a couple of vignettes of a woman called Hyathis who is in search of the Oblivion Stone.  She manages to come into possession of half of it... however, not the second.  For that one is currently being kept at Clark's makeshift Fortress of Solitude.


Man I love this series.  If I didn't know for a fact that this Superman will be continuing on post-Rebirth I'd be bumming pretty hard right now.  It was the announcement of this title back in the late-summer of 2015 that brought me back to DC Comics in a major way.  I felt as though this book was something of an olive-branch to older and lapsed fans.  While I still collected and read DC Comics, I didn't really consider myself a full-blown "DC Guy".  Lois & Clark (and Titans Hunt) was DC's mea culpa, and for me... it worked.  I'm back.

This was yet another incredible issue of this amazing series.  There's so much heart in this book, that I cannot help but smile as I read it.  As cliche as it may sound, this is my Superman.  Each and every month Dan Jurgens proves that he is the Superman creator of my generation, and I am incredibly thankful he will be continuing on in the legacy-numbered (yeah, it matters) Action Comics post-Rebirth.

I suppose if I had to nit-pick anything, it's that I really have very little interest in the Oblivion Stone subplot that has been weaved through this series since the start.  I am far more interested in the "White" family dynamic.  I feel like I'm seeing an old friend that I hadn't seen in many years.  All I want to do is find out what he's been up to... the Oblivion Stone story, while probably necessary, feels like a distraction from the real "meat and potatoes" of this series.

The art continues to be great in this series.  Despite the abundance of illustrators here, I felt it flowed very nicely.  I like Superman as a Dad... because, and I may be projecting here... Superman, to me, was (and is) the perfect Dad.  Seeing him actually playing that role, with a son he adores, almost brings a tear to my eye.  It's strange when you can actually be happy for a fictional character... but, (as I say far too often) here we are.  He's earned his happiness... and I am glad we have been given this opportunity to experience it.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Shazam! The New Beginning #2 (1987)

Shazam! The New Beginning #2 (May, 1987)
""S" is for Wisdom... "H" is for Strength..."
Writers - Rey & Dann Thomas
Penciller - Tom Mandrake
Inker - Jan Duursema
Letterer - Agustin Mas
Colorist - Carl Gafford
Cover Price: $0.75

During my semi-recent endeavor to actually learn a thing or two about the Big Red Cheese, I just so happened to luck across the remaining three parts I needed of Shazam! The New Beginning during a fortuitous jaunt through the local cheap-o bins.

After a good, if not somewhat befuddling opening chapter let's see how this series' sophomore issue fares.

*Note: If you need to be brought up to (the) speed (of Mercury), check out my coverage of Shazam! The New Beginning #1.


Continuing directly from the previous issue's cliffhanger, Black Adam has emerged from Dr. Sivana's lab-portal.  He is speaking in an odd tongue that Thad can't quite grasp.  Frustrated, Adam destroys everything in the basement laboratory, before setting his sights on the puny little doctor.

Adjusting himself to be able to speak in a contemporary tongue, Black Adam threatens to kill Sivana so that he can never be sent back from where he came.  He ultimately thinks better of it, realizing that perhaps the Doc can be of more use to him alive... as his own personal slave.

Curious to his current whereabouts, Adam grabs Sivana and flies them both through the roof of the decrepit mansion.  They arrive at the nearby Golden Gate Bridge... oh yeah, we're in San Francisco... not Fawcett City, grumble grumble...

Atop the bridge, Sivana comes to the realization that his presumably extra-dimensional guest doesn't hail from another dimension at all... but from the distant past.  Adam discusses places which tie his origins to ancient Egypt including the Nile and Memphis (probably not our Memphis).  Black Adam decides he will not destroy the world, as he feels he is instead destined to rule it.  Sivana accepts his role as a servant, though has designs on a slave uprising.

We now rejoin young Billy Batson, who is writing the word SHAZAM in the sands of Stimson Beach... and watching the tide come in to wash it away.  He decides to go to the nearby bus depot with hopes that he may be able to afford a fare to Albuquerque where he can reconnect with his kind Uncle Dudley.

With only twenty bucks to his name, the Greyhound employee tells him he'll only go as far as Sacramento.  A disappointed Billy suddenly feels a hand on his shoulder, he swings around to find his supposed-sister Beautia.  She apologizes for orchestrating the ruse back at the family court, and offers to give him $200 so that he can go be with Dudley.  She also lets it slip that there may be more than meets the eye in regard to his parent's fatal car accident... with Dr. Sivana mixed up in it somehow.

After an uncomfortable and uneventful bus ride, Billy arrives at the theater where his Uncle is performing his magic act.  The ticket-taker refuses to let the boy in, as the theater is also showing movies that are Rated R.  Billy excuses himself to a nearby alley, and says him a magic word... and emerges as Captain Marvel.  The shocked and befuddled ticket-taker grants him entry.

Inside, ol' Dudley's act ain't going all that great.  He's getting heckled by a couple of jerks in the crowd... Captain Marvel "suggest" they cool their jets and keep their mouths shut, before joining his unaware Uncle on stage as his special volunteer.

Cap enters a large box on the stage, and lets out a SHAZAM just as his Uncle says his own magic words.  The box flops to the stage, revealing a young boy standing where a full-grown man once was.  The pair have a touching reunion, and Billy promises he'll explain everything that's gone on.

Billy and Dudley spend the night at Dud's hotel, and Billy tells him everything that has gone on over the past few days, including the theory that Sivana was somehow behind the death of his parents.  Billy wants to head back to San Francisco to get to the bottom of it all, and Dudley agrees to join him.

Without enough money for the bus fare home, Billy SHAZAM's up and sets about flying the two back to the Bay.  On the way, Dudley gets a grumbly tummy, and asks if they can stop for some eats.  As they belly up to the bar, and Billy downs his second... or third triple-cheeseburger, an Air Force officer runs in and informs a General, who was in the middle of a cup of coffee that there's a UFO getting a little too close to a top-secret high priority aircraft that was transporting some VIPs.

Billy sees this as an opportunity to help out, so he SHAZAM's once more and takes to the skies.  As he zeroes in on the target aircraft, he can make out a small black figure making its own approach.  Before he realizes it, Black Adam socks him right in the mush, nearly knocking him out of the sky.

After regaining his bearings, Captain Marvel recognizes Black Adam from his meeting with the Wizard Shazam.  He serves up a knuckle sandwich of his own, and the now it's on!

Rather than fight fair, Adam heads straight for the aircraft and threatens to tear it in two unless Cap backs off.  Billy considers his options, and ultimately retreats.  He'd rather the inhabitants of the vessel remain alive, even if they are Black Adam's captives.

Billy hangs back as Black Adam makes off with the ship... but promises that he will one day take his pointy-eared foe down!


Now, this is more like it.  While I did like the first issue, this one is so much better.  Perhaps it's due to the increased action, or maybe it's just because the "origin" story is out of the way.  This issue really illustrated that no matter which body Billy inhabits, he's still a young boy.  Not the petulant New-52 Billy, nor the saccharine Fawcett version, but just a normal, perhaps impetuous, boy.

I enjoyed seeing Billy reunite with his Uncle Dudley... and really dug him coercing the hecklers.  What I didn't like was his Norman Osborne hairdo when he's in his Captain Marvel form... yikes.

My Black Adam experience is more the turn of the century version... the one that worked with the Justice Society of America... sometimes even on the same team as Captain Marvel.  Seeing him as a full-fledged villain is certainly a novelty... at least to me.  I've seen him as a bad dude before, but for all his badness (think Fifty-Two post-Infinite Crisis), his actions were justified.  Here, his motivations aren't entirely clear... though, I will say that I'm intrigued.

Overall, I really enjoyed this issue.  I thought all of the characters were well done.  Really digging this version of Billy, and even Dudley... who I initially thought I'd hate.  I'm also quite interested in what the second half of this miniseries has in store for the Sivanas, Beautia especially.  If you're a newcomer to (or just a fan of) Captain Marvel/SHAZAM! you really ought to give this one a shot.


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