Saturday, August 19, 2017

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #14 (2008)

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #14 (May, 2008)
"Thy Kingdom Come, Gog"
Story - Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Penciller - Dale Eaglesham
Inker - Prentis Rollins
Colorist - Alex Sinclair
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Harvey Richards
Editor - Michael Siglain
Cover Price: $2.99

On the Blog,
I think it was the Justice Society...

Ehh, too many syllables to make that one work... let's just get to it.


We open in the bedroom of Sandy, the (former) Golden Boy... current "Sand".  He's lamenting the fact that he's been avoiding sleep of late due to persistent nightmares.  He gets a knock on the door, and it's Power Girl.  She congratulates him on recently saving a young boy from a creep (likely part of the reason for the nightmares), and asks if he still has his "talking to the dirt" powers.  He responds in the affirmative, and is tasked with tracking a sample of volcanic ash found where Gog teleported out.  From here we shift to the source... and see Gog in battle with another who thinks himself a god... a New God, in fact!  It's Infinity Man from the Fourth World.

We get some expository narration from the big bad... he confirms that his name is William Matthews and he took the mantle of Gog after discovering an ancient temple in an African Jungle.  Now, before Gog can land the killing blow, Infinity Man 'ports out.  We can see that Sand's "dirt-talking" ability yielded accurate results, as he has observed the whole fight going down.

What follows is... oh boy... a meeting of the Justice Society at the big table, and wow, there be a whole lotta heroes here!  I think this is the first time we're seeing the entire lineup huddled around the table... there's over two-dozen of 'em... plus an owl!  Amazing.

Many of the younger Society members think the elders might be overestimating this Gog... which leads to a (somewhat familiar) history lesson from Superman-22.  He warns that should Gog remain, he will eventually pick a successor... Magog.  Magog would change the way heroes "did business" by straight-up murdering bad guys... and not paying too much mind toward "collateral damage".  He further warns that the world he comes from is one that no longer has a Justice Society.

It's here where we begin to see a subtle schism in the ranks.  Green Lantern starts giving marching orders... and it's basically all the seasoned-members (minus Wildcat) will hunt down Gog... the newbies (plus Wildcat... both Wildcats) will remain at the brownstone.  David Reid ("Lance", Franklin Roosevelt's grandson) takes particular exception, and pretty much says he's going regardless.

For some reason this page looks pretty rotten in my copy...

Amid the "grown-up" blibbuh-blabbuh, Maxine turns to Starman and asks why he's being so quiet... she's used to him "Deadpooling it up", I suppose.  Somber Thom explains that he had been on Earth-22... and it wasn't a particularly pleasant place to visit.  He continues to say if Magog is allowed to be "born" here... there will be a war in which the heroes are all killed... after all, that's what all his history books on Xanthu said.

Lightning suggests that if this threat is as big as they say, it might be wise to reach out to the Justice League for assistance... her father, Black Lightning, is currently a member.  She stands up and... unfortunately bonks her head on one of Mr. Terrific's T-Spheres... triggering her electric powers, and causing a brownstone blackout... whoops.  Jennifer is mortified... but that doesn't stop Jakeem from trying to spit a little game in her direction.

Dr. Mid-Nite looks over to David Reid, and notices that his lance is still "on-line"... which is because it's not electrical in nature, but somehow tapped into his biology.  Suddenly there's a static-hiss sound, and from it, emerges... Gog!  He's not alone either... he's got Sand... impaled on his staff!

Gog immediately goes after the youngsters... or maybe it's just that the newbies are the first ones to spring into battle.  Either way, he mops the floor with the lot of 'em.  This royally ticks the old guard off... and so, they swarm!  Gog notices Superman-22, and is none too happy... after all, he's responsible for the fall of Kansas!

An enraged Gog bursts through the brownstone and takes the fight into the New York City streets.  Here's where the young-guard gets some licks in.  Mr. America lassos Gog's staff away... right into the waiting arms of Amazing Man... who transmutes it's metal into his body, and clobbers Gog into... er, well, whatever it was... it's rubble now.

Gog decides enough is enough... and grabs Amazing Man by the throat.  Superman-22 leaps back into action... and gets snatched by the throat as well.  It looks as though Gog might be about to stand triumphant... until he turns and finds himself starting into both the Brightest Day... and the Blackest Night, Green Lantern and Obsidian!


Another solid installment of Thy Kingdom Come.  This time it's heavy on the action... and it's a welcome change.  As much as I love the quiet character moments, I really dug seeing the Society work together in battle here.

As this is a chapter in a very "for the trade" kind of story, there really isn't a whole lot to say without getting too repetitive... not that I've let that stop me before.  I will say that I'm glad to have Dale Eaglesham back in the penciller-seat.  I mean, these super-crowded panels and pages... damn, so good!

I know the first time reading this is was left pretty unsatisfied after each "chapter"... sort of the same way I was left unsatisfied after reading Ultimate Spider-Man.  Like, I enjoyed every minute reading it... but at the end of it all, it took too few minutes to get through an issue.  This was a quick read... not a bad one... just quick.  Waiting a month for the next installment... kinda sucked.  O course, the trade reads beautifully... but I ain't "reviewing" a trade here today.

Anyhoo, back to the story... we get to learn a bit more about Gog.  Although he's really an ordinary fella from... whatever prime "real" Earth post-Infinite Crisis was called... either Earth-One or Earth-Zero... I'm not sure if they'd decided yet... either way, he's from "here", but still recognizes Superman-22 as being unable to save Kansas.  That raises some questions to be sure.

We get a bit more of a "subtle schism" between the old and the new members of the Society... which is pretty neat, and I gotta wonder if there were already eyes toward spinning them off into JSA All-Stars at this point.  It wouldn't surprise me.

Overall... another fine issue, but it's becoming harder and harder to recommend as a stand-alone read.  It's pretty clear that this is supposed to be read in trade format... which is one of the more challenging things about attempting to cover more contemporary offerings here at the humble blog.  So many of them are written this way... but, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  I guess it's a good thing that Thy Kingdom Come is definitely worth checking out in it's collected form.


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Friday, August 18, 2017

Adventures of Superman #549 (1997)

Adventures of Superman #549 (August, 1997)
"The Gang's All Here!"
Writer - Karl Kesel
Penciller - Stuart Immonen
Inker - Jose Marzan, Jr.
Letterer - Albert De Guzman
Colorist - Glenn Whitmore
Separations - Digital Chameleon
Associate Editor - Mike McAvennie
Editor - Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $1.95

Today we've got a double-decker "1st Issue Special: Where Are They Now?" where we discuss an issue featuring two groups who were introduced back in that mid-seventies series.  One of whom's first appearance... still eludes me.

We've got Newsboys!
We've got Dingbats!
We've got Arsonists!
and also...
We've got Boy Millionaires!


We open in Metropolis, and it's just after midnight.  Superman is... on patrol, which is something altogether new to him.  Ya see, this is during the Electric Blue era, and he no longer has super-hearing/vision to rely on, and he's actually gotta go "pound the pavement" should he want to be where he's needed.  I really dig this... one of the more nuanced differences during this era, and I'm happy to see it mentioned.  Anyhoo, he's stood atop the Goldberg Theatre, and witnesses a car-full of fellas rushing in to "teach some punks"... a lesson, I suppose.  Either way, Superman heads inside... and finds himself in the middle of just about the cutest rumble ever... it's the Newsboy Legion versus, get this... The Dingbats of Danger Street!

Superman injects himself into the middle of the action and pulls Newsboy Scrapper and Dingbat Krunch apart.  It seems there's been a bit of a misunderstanding, with both gangs thinking the Goldberg is "their turf".  After a stern talking-to, the disparate groups decide to enact a 24-hour truce... and then start making fun of Jimmy Olsen, for reasons I don't entirely remember.

Speaking of Superman's Pal, we join him... shiner and all, while he chats up Cat Grant.  I'm assuming something bad happened to him on camera... but, it's been so long since I read this era that I don't recall what.  Whatever it was, it left him with a black eye... so there's that.  Cat hands him a copy of the Daily Planet, with a Lois Lane-written cover story discussing Intergang... and their mysterious new mob boss.

Speaking of Intergang, we join them... mysterious new boss and all!   They ain't taking too kindly to the bad press, and decide it's time for a man named "Torch" to deliver a message to "a skirt" named Lois Lane.  Hmm...

Speaking of Lois Lane, we join her... house guest and all!  She arrives home to greet her husband, and has brought with her... Lori Lemaris!  They reacquaint for a bit, and he shares with her that when not in his Electric Blue form, he has zero superpowers... he is basically just a human dude when not all bzzzted up.  She's visiting because she's heading to South America the next day for some work-study.  Wait, she's... still in College?  What is she, me?

Outside, Jimmy Olsen skulks about.  Upon realizing that he's outside of the Kent apartment building, he considers heading upstairs to chat them up... that is, if they'll still speak with him.  Man, he must've really messed up... I gotta track down just what this fool did to get everyone so peeved!  Anyhoo, before he can head inside... there's a hyooge explosion!

Upstairs, Lori instinctively heads for the fire escape... only to find that it's been... removed!  Turns out Intergang tough-guy Rough House just pulled the damn thing right off the building!  Jimmy runs to a pay phone to make a call... and finds that he's only got enough coinage to make one call.  Seeing this as his opportunity for redemption. he decides to call his camerawoman, Angie.  Oh, he asks her to call the fire department... I guess they charge for 9-1-1 calls in Metropolis.

Inside 1938 Sullivan Place, Clark has blued-up and is helping to gather the residents.  The stairs are too full of smoke to consider taking... and so, he loads them all into an elevator, and uses his magneto-powers to deliver them to safety.  Are there really only a half-dozen people living in this apartment building?  Talk about an exclusive piece of real estate!

On the street, Lois, Lori and Superman meet up with Jimmy and Angie... and Jimmy asks where Clark is.  Lois and Lori stammer for a bit, and say that Superman saved him first... which causes Jimmy's "freckle sense" to tingle.  How come Superman always seems to save Clark Kent first?  Hmm...

Superman considers for a moment that Jimmy might not be as dumb as everyone thinks... and corrects Lois and Lori, claiming that Clark is actually still inside the building looking for stragglers who didn't get that all-expense paid elevator ride to safety.  Of course, this means Superman's gotta head back into the smoke trap... where he, transforms back to Clark Kent... annnnnd succumbs to smoke inhalation.  Whoops.

Luckily, a firefighter is able to... actually rescue him.  That's not something we see everyday.  This entire ordeal has been captured on film by Jimmy's girl Angie, which will be important in a bit.  Jimmy's happy to see Clark... but can't help but wonder, whatever happened to the Man of (Beyond) Tomorrow?  Uh-oh.

We pick up with Lois picking up Clark from the hospital, where he'd been admitted for smoke inhalation.  Gotta wonder how a hospital visit for a "human" Clark Kent might go... but it's probably best not to think too hard.  Clark realizes the mortality these new powers bring... and decides to visit Emil Hamilton to see if there's any ETA on his "real" powers returning.  Bad news, Big Blue... that ain't ever gonna happen!  Yeah, yeah, I know... but let's play along.

We begin our wrap up back at the Goldberg, where it's current owner Mr. DeBris is ticked off about the damage done by the Dingbats and Newsboys.  Superman arrives on the scene just in time to introduce a crew of V.I.P.s he'd invited to help with the renovations... annnnnd it's The Green Team!  Worth noting... their "Green Machine" chopper lands on Simon Street.

They take one look at the "Goldboig", and drop two-million in cold hard cash at Mr. DeBris' feet.  Now he can afford to renovate the old dilapidated theatre into a youth center... with room enough for both the Newsboy Legion and the Dingbats of Danger Street!

Our story ends in the office (or work space) of Jimmy Olsen, where he is watching back the footage from the Sullivan fire.  Cat pops her head in to give him some kudos... and suggests he's better suited for "behind the camera" work.  Jimmy pauses the tape on the scene where Clark is being helped out of the building... and suddenly realizes that... he knows who Superman is!  Keep in mind there are two other fellas on screen when he says this.


Had a whole lotta fun with this one... and not just because of the 1st Issue Special alumnus.  This was just a really neat snap-shot of Electric Blue era Superman.

Let's start with the molecular/physiological changes in the Man of Steel himself.  This era gets a lot of flack online... and I'd venture to say, the loudest complainers probably never read a single issue of it.  It's certainly not my favorite... but even back then, we knew it was a temporary thing (despite what Emil Hamilton would have us believe).  I couldn't imagine this story occurring in our contemporary (somewhat toxic) world of social media.  Manoman, the creators would be getting harassed on a daily basis.  Oof, I cringe just thinking about it.

But, I digress.  This issue handles the changes wonderfully... masterfully, even!  It's not beating us over the head with "different!" but actually places Superman into situations where the changes can be spotlit.  I mean, our opening has him "on patrol"... as though he were Batman or something.  I think that's really cool, and makes him a "fish out of water" while still in his own pond... or something... that analogy might've gotten away from me.

The smoke inhalation is a great way to illustrate a potential weakness subtly, without having him... I dunno, get shot... or stabbed.  I feel like this shows his "everyday" mortality... it makes a reader wonder... can he now get sick?  Can he now be poisoned (by something that isn't Kryptonite)?  What would've happened if he transformed back into Electric Blue with lungs full of smoke?  Would it burn out... or would there be an even worse adverse effect?  Definitely some food for thought here.

The Jimmy subplot has the potential to be a goodie... but, since it's Jimmy... I'm always going to err on the side of "silly".  It's been forever since I've read this era, but I'm already bracing for Jimmy to proclaim that the guy who helped Clark out of the building is really Superman.  It's always gotta be silly.  Seems like they want to "serious" him up every now and again... perhaps most recently during New Krypton.  Of course that was all wiped away in the Summer of 2011.

Okay, now for the reason I dug this book out of the longbox... We get to see the Dingbats of Danger Street and the Green Team: Boy Millionaires.  If the DC Wikia is accurate... this is the Dingbats third (and final) appearance, ever!  Their first was in 1st Issue Special, their second was in issue #6 of Hero Hotline (I really ought to finish that series off!)... and this is where they wound up!  I guess we can just assume that they're still hanging out in the Goldboig T'eatuh.  This is also listed as the final appearance of the (original) Green Team!  Weird... and random!  Maybe there was a dare going around the DC offices to include some off-the-wall characters into an issue or something.  Whatever the reason, I was glad to see them!

Overall, I think this was a really good issue.  If you have even a passing interest in what "Electric Blue" Superman was all about, you could do far worse than checking this one out.  I'm somewhat surprised that this is available digitally!  Definitely worth a look.


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Superman: New Krypton Special #1 (2008)

Superman: New Krypton Special #1 (December, 2008)
"New Krypton, Part One"
Writers - Geoff Johns, James Robinson & Sterling Gates
Pencillers - Pete Woods, Gary Frank & Renato Guedes
Inkers - Pete Woods, Jon Sibal & Wilson Magalhaes
Colorist - Hi-Fi
Letterer - Steve Wands
Associate Editor - Nachie Castro
Editor - Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $3.99

New Krypton hit during that strange and ugly time where I was suffering from a bout of interminable unemployment.  Every now and again during this horrible year, in between losing almost everything, I would pop into comics news sites.  I couldn't afford to actually read anything, but I enjoyed "keeping up".

Toward the Fall of 2008 the news broke that Superman would be... leaving Action Comics and Superman!  I remember thinking, as a younger fella, that it would be cool if maybe Superman did a storyarc in Detective Comics while Batman did one in Action Comics, and thought this might be what was going on.  Alas, it wasn't to be... instead, Superman's adventures were going to move to the World of New Krypton maxi-series, being replaced by Mon-El and the team of Nightwing and Flamebird in his "home" titles.

This wasn't the news I wanted to read... and I pretty much wrote off the titles.  Not that I could afford to support them in the first place, but figured... if I could, I wouldn't.  And this held true, until my obsessive tendencies kicked in a few years later.

They say time heals all wounds... and it's been a very long time (and multiple reboots) since I've actually tried reading this, so let's see how an older and mellower Chris receives this...


We open during the funeral of Jonathan Kent.  Pa had passed of a heart attack at the end of the Brainiac storyline which led up to the rediscovery (and resizing) of Kandor... and thus, the (re)introduction of a hundred-thousand Kryptonians!  It looks as though Clark is giving something of a eulogy... though, it's worth mentioning that the first several pages are silent.  What follows is a pretty violent fantasy (I'm pretty sure it's a fantasy and not a memory) wherein Superman beats the holy hell out of a defenseless Brainiac.

Clark remains in Smallville, and pops into the family barn to go through some of Pa's belongings and reflect.  He comes across an old kite, a hat reading "Happy Father's Day" in Interlac from the far-flung future, and finally a horseshoe Clark had burnt a father's day message into with his heat vision.

We shift to a military installation and find a commander chatting up... holy cow, Codename: Assassin!?  I think we know who is responsible for writing this bit (if it's 1st Issue Special, it's gotta be Robinson).  They are discussing the arrival of the Kandorians and it is revealed that they currently have Brainiac hooked up to a whole bunch of machines in hopes that they can find out what he's got in his head.

While he's poked and prodded he awakens... and goes a bit berserk.  He breaks free of his bindings and proceeds to thrash the Docs and researchers, demanding to know where his cities were taken.  His rampage lasts long enough for Agent Assassin to get involved and flatten him with some power blasts.

Back in Smallville, Clark is talking with Ma.  He offers to remain in Smallville for the foreseeable future, but she tells him he's needed elsewhere... also, the folks of Smallville have shown an outpouring of love and support for the Kent family.  He jams out... and heads to the Antarctic where Kandor has been embiggened.

Upon arrival, he meets up with his Aunt and Uncle, Alura In-Ze and Zor-El.  They are proud of the man their nephew grew into, and are thankful for his aid in rescuing their people from Brainiac's clutches.  Superman suggests the Kandorians make themselves more acquainted with Earthen culture and customs... which Zor-El doesn't appear to be completely on board with.  He asks why Kal-El would want his own people to learn to be "less Kryptonian".  Hmm.  Superman tries to clarify, however, the chat is interrupted by the arrival of his cousin (and their daughter) Kara Zor-El... Supergirl!

We hop over to Washington, DC where Lois is leaving a bouquet of flowers at her father, Sam Lane's grave.  He was killed during Our Worlds At War, but don't cry for him just yet.  Lucy Lane arrives, and the sisters have a fairly contentious conversation.  Lucy has joined the military to honor her father... and talks about how pathetic she used to be, characterizing herself as "Lois Lane's sister".  She continues... accusing Lois of loving Superman more than their father... and attributes that to his death, which is a low blow... and really doesn't make sense... but whattayagonnado?

Back in Kandor, the Kryptonians begin displaying meta-human powers.  Up until this point, their powers have been few... now, they're all flying!  The first thing one of the Kandorians do it... kill a(n endangered) blue whale!  Whoops.  The Kandorian felt it was a threat... and punched it.  It feels like it's this point where Superman realizes that he's got a tough row to hoe.

Superman uses this to back up his stance on the Kryptonians adapting to Earth culture... and turns to Zor-El to aid in leading their people.  Zor-El clarifies that he and his wife may lead the city... but they don't control the people.  He assures Kal that before long the Kandorians will prove to be friends of Earth.  Hmm.

We briefly pop back to Smallville... and witness a pretty heartbreaking scene of Ma Kent dining alone.  It's scenes like this that always remain with me.

Back at the Daily Planet, Lois and Jimmy are talking.  It's weird, Jimmy's calling Lois "Ms. Lane", which I would've figured they were beyond by this point.  He mentions seeing a strange man during Superman's battle with... Atlas, (Heyyy... another 1st Issue Special alum!).  He discusses a Cadmus facility in the desert called Warpath... that is amassing weaponry  in order to "defeat Kryptonians"... in light of this perceived "invasion".  But who could be behind this?

Glad you asked, because as we wrap up we visit Stryker's Island... more specifically the cell of Lex Luthor... but he ain't the guy we're talking about.  He's been in prison since being booted from the White House, and is madly scribbling all sorts of plans on his cell walls... and floor!  He finds himself visited by... well, the man behind the whole shebang (and Kryptonian invasion paranoia), General Sam Lane?!


Well, I guess it's true... time does heal all wounds, at least for me.  I really dug this issue this time around.  We've got a bit to unpack, so let's get to it.

Now my main takeaway my first time through was that New Krypton made Superman less special.  There's a point of view that Superman should always be the most fantastic part of any panel he's featured in.  Putting him among 100,000 Kryptonians made him far less special.  In reading this back, I can already see that they're building this story to illustrate that even among his own people... Superman is still special.  His Kryptonian powers along with his Smallville upbringing make him stand out.  I can dig that.

Speaking of the Kryptonians... there's a lot of potential for conflict here.  I will admit that I've never read this epic tale to completion, so I don't know how this pans out (outside of General Zod having some part in it).  I found it interesting... subtle even, that Zor-El was confused (and perhaps insulted) by Kal's suggestion that they familiarize themselves with Earth cultures and customs.  I look forward to seeing if/how this pans out.

I do love Superman's face upon seeing the dead blue whale.  It's as though he hadn't considered the negative potential for Kryptonian mass Earthen-immigration.  Somehow punching a whale in the face still comes across as somehow subtle.  Interesting that Zor-El kinda shrugs the whole thing off too.  I dig where this might be headed.

The Ma Kent scene was one of the more powerful.  Amid several beautiful and majestic looking two-page spreads, we get a quiet page of Ma dining alone.  I'm unsure if the juxtaposition was intentional, but the hopelessness in her page was almost tangible.  I mean, the pages of the Kryptonians flying were so impressive you could almost hear an orchestra beginning to play... then, Ma Kent in sitting at the table in her (silent) darkened kitchen.

Quiet scenes like that always get me.  It's even worse than the funeral, or the actual death.  It's where you must come to grips with the fact that life does go on... albeit in a drastically (and painfully) changed form.  I'm reminded of a particularly painful scene in All in the Family following Edith's death.  Archie returns home and sees a pair of her slippers... and he goes to yell at her for leaving them out as a reflex... but then the stark realization hits him.  It's a scene I've only seen once, because... dammit, I'm not going to put myself through that twice... so, my memory might be a bit off.

The reintroduction of Sam Lane was interesting... or would've been had I remembered that he had died in the first place.  I guess it would've been more impactful had I recently read Our Worlds At War.  Putting Luthor back on the table as a threat is also a neat touch... it makes sense for the guy who always warns about the danger of "the alien" to team up with an anti-Kryptonian task force (of sorts).

I appreciate the nods to 1st Issue Special throughout this issue (and the Robinson run).  He's clearly a big fan of the short-lived seventies oddity.  I love anytime obscure characters are given a bit of a shine... I mean, DC (and comics in general) has so many one-off characters with potential... and it's nice to see 'em get some screen time every now and again.  Plus, it gives obsessives like me something to mark out over.

The art here was really good, with the caveat that a few of the Gary Frank bits made the characters look a bit... let's just say, emaciated.  Faces were kinda sucked in, and the mouths/teeth looked especially "off".  Otherwise, great work throughout.  If I remember right, Guedes and Woods were the regular artists on Superman and Action Comics respectively going forward.

Also... we've got triangle numbering!  Whoo-hoo!

Overall... I'm not sure how long New Krypton will hold my attention... or how long it would hold yours, but I would suggest that this introductory special is worth checking out.  It's been collected as part of Superman: New Krypton, Volume One and is also available digitally.


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