Thursday, October 18, 2018

Young Justice #1 (1998)


Young Justice #1 (September, 1998)
"Young, Just Us"
Writer - Peter David
Pencils - Todd Nauck
Inks - Larry Stucker
Colors - Jason Wright
Separations - Digital Chameleon
Letters - Ken Lopez
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.50

Ya know, after covering the third part of the Young Justice "trinity" yesterday, I got a hankering to actually dive into the series itself.

I gotta say, growing up (this series started when I was 18... so, I guess I was technically already "grown up", except... not at all) this series was one of my favorites... heck, I'm sure for awhile there it was my #1 favorite.

Sadly, in the interim, it's kinda turned into one of those books that proves the whole "You can't go home again" adage.  I've tried time and again to revisit this series... but, for whatever reason, struggle getting through it.  Not sure why... it's just one of those things that "is", I guess.  I could go into some theories... but, I wouldn't want to bore you (any more than I already am!).

Let's hop right in!

--


We open with a trio of bad dreams, maaaan.  In the first, Robin has lost his hand... it was eaten by "killer cockroaches".  No bother, Batman just slaps a Batarang on his wrist and calls it good.  In the next, Superboy sprouts glowing wings... and in the last, Impulse "Hulks out".  Oh, by the way... this is being written by Peter David, just in case you haven't picked up on that.  These "bad dreams" feature things that have happened in other books Peter David has worked on... Aquaman losing his hand, Supergirl being a fallen angel... and of course, the Hulk being... well, Hulkish.


But... like I said, these are just a trio of bad dreams... nothing to actually worry about.  Our young heroes wake up simultaneously, and we can see that they're camped out at the JLA's old Happy Harbor cave-hideout.  They're awake all of 30 seconds when Impulse realizes... he's bored.


Well, we'll get back to that.  First, we're going to shift scenes to a (conveniently) nearby archaeological dig... where an archaeologist named Nina Dowd is checking out some strange findings, in the form of a... tire?!  No sooner does she touch it than it goes BWAFOOM.


Back in the Cave... Impulse is still bored.  As such, he decides to... uh, rush off, grab a can of spray paint... and proceed to "tag up" the joint.  Wouldn't have been my first impulse (no pun intended), but whattayagonnado?  Heck, he even writes some disparaging remarks about the band Hanson on the chest of Red Tornado!


Wouldn'tcha know it... that's all it takes to wake ol' Reddy up, which scares the bejeezus out of the boys.  He takes a moment to give the kids the once over, before deducing that together they epitomize the Freudian concept of Id, Ego, and Superego... which, I'll grant ya, is an interesting way to look at it.


Reddy then reveals how they managed to wake him from his self-imposed slumber.  Ya see, they simply annoyed him to the point where he has the intense urge to smack the lot of 'em!  So, he's now awake... and, kinda indebted to the young fellers!


Impulse checks the monitors and learns of what went down at the dig site.  The foursome head off to look into it.  Unfortunately, DEO Agent,s Donald Fite and Ishido Maad have already arrived... and believe they're in control of the situation.  So yeah, they're Fite 'n Maad.  Did I mention that Peter David wrote this?


Bart, seeing a strange crystal, heads into the crater anyway.  Maad doesn't hesitate to squeeze off a round in his direction (yeesh).  Thankfully Superboy swoops in for the deflection.  Impulse vibrates his way into the crystalline cocoon... which, explodes!  When the dust settles, we see that Nina Dowd was inside it... though, now she's calling herself Mighty Endowed... because, well... she's... uh, hmm.  Her boobs done got big... very big.  So big, she can't support 'em!


Robin tries to take control of the scene... and is approached by a goofball reporter from a local news station.  He refers to them as the Teen Titans (and really, why wouldn't he?).  He is corrected, and after a couple of misunderstandings, our heroic trio is anointed as Young Just Us... er, Young Justice.


Back in the hole, Superboy spies the big ol' tire sticking out of the dig, and decides to nyoink it out... revealing that it is attached to, well, a pretty gaudy looking vehicle... which he decides to call the Super-Cycle!  Robin wonders why just touching the thing would have turned Nina Dowd into... the ample bosomed beastie they nearly had to fight.


Robin then takes a closer look... and winds up getting trapped in the seat!  Despite Kon and Bart's best efforts... it looks like he's stuck!  The Super-Cycle then takes off, leaving the DEO, Red Tornado, and the media behind!


Annnnnd, that's where we leave off!


--

Yeah, this was pretty fun.  I'm sure I appreciated it more as a teen-ager myself, but I can't say that I didn't enjoy this a great deal.

I mentioned during the preamble that I wasn't going to bore you with any theories as to why certain runs we love become difficult to revisit in later years... and, well... I guess I kinda lied, because I'm about to.  Hey, at least by now you've already read the synopsis and looked at all the panels... so, if you wanna click off now, you won't be missing much.  Just know, my feelings will be irreparably hurt.

I've said time and again that, to me... comics history is more than just "comics history"... in a way, it's also our history.  Just like any other hobby, I suppose... though, with the periodical nature of comics, I feel like we've got more to tie specific times in our lives to certain eras/runs... we can point to a well-remembered/well-loved run in a book, and kinda point to where we were in our own lives, running alongside it.

Where I'm going with this, I suppose, is... perhaps there's a part of me (us?) that engages in something not entirely unlike transference (but certainly not exactly), with certain comics.  If I look back, I originally read this during a highly transitional time in my life.  Becoming an "adult" (I'll letcha know when I finish that), moving across country, starting to work for a living... I gotta wonder if that has anything to do with it.  Maybe I just have difficulty putting myself into the "gestalt" of when these books came out?  Maybe it just reminds me of a time where I had seemingly limitless options... and kinda kick myself today for not taking advantage of that.

If anything I said holds any water (or makes even a modicum of sense... I apologize for the rambling), than I'll concede that I have been rather unfair to this book in the years that followed.  I'll stop with the me-search before I decide I wanna Irish-up the cup'a coffee I'm sippin' on.

Back to the issue.  It was fun... and I'd definitely recommend it.  It's a silly book, and one that'll probably cause you to chuckle out loud.  There are "inside baseball" bits, but the humor isn't entirely predicated on knowing the reference.  Sure, you'll get more out of it if you realize Peter David wrote that issue of Aquaman where he lost his hand (and so on)... but, even if you didn't, the visual and reaction are still funny enough on their own.

We get some decent puns... Fite n' Maad, Ms. N. Dowd becoming rather well En-Dowd.  Silly stuff like that.  Harmless enough, though... the latter probably wouldn't make the final cut these days.

Overall, I'd certainly recommend this... though, I would suggest going for the trade collection, if you can.  This is very much a "chapter one" (not that there's anything wrong with that), and I'd reckon you'd get much more out of it going in for the entire first arc.  If you like what you've read about this issue, I'm sure you'll dig the trade.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Impulse #1 (1995)


Impulse #1 (April, 1995)
"The Single Synapse Theory"
Writer - Mark Waid
Pencils - Humberto Ramos
Inks - Wayne Faucher
Colors - Tom McCraw
Letters - Chris Eliopoulos
Assistant Editor - Alisande Morales
Associate Editor - Ruben Diaz
Editor - Brian Augustyn
Cover Price: $1.50

Today we're going to wrap up the Young Justice "Trinity" (I think they're kinda timely right now, no?).  After chatting up both Superboy #1 and Robin #1, we're finally going to be taking a look at the first issue of Impulse.

If you'd like to check out the other discussions, just click'em the covers.



--



We open just outside Manchester, Alabama... where a missile is being tested.  What those testing it do not realize is that Alabama's latest (only) speedster is having himself a little run just before heading in for his first day of school.  The missile locks onto Impulse... and he takes it on a bit of a chase, before it finally strikes its intended target... a strange hovercraft.  They erratic path the missile has taken does not go unnoticed by the crew.



Next we see Bart, he's stomping the halls of... I dunno, Manchester High School, I guess.  It's here we see a fair amount of cringy teen-speak, which kinda takes the wind out of my sails that "cringy teen-speak" is a relatively new phenomenon in comics.



Bart heads into his classroom, where he does that whole "stand in front of the class and introduce yourself" thing, that I'm pretty sure I've never actually seen in real life.  He doesn't say much, and just takes his seat.  It isn't long before he's zoning out during a history lesson.  This doesn't go unnoticed either.



The teacher grills Bart on everything she'd just discussed... and, he's able to recount everything down to the tiniest detail.  She takes this as "sass", and decides to use it in order to punish the entire class.  Now they all have to write their own "personal histories".



And so, Bart quickly learns how to write (no foolin') and gets right down to it.  Gotta say, this is a pretty creative way to dump exposition.  His story starts with his grandparents, Barry and Iris... who "retired" to the far-flung 30th Century following the Trial of the Flash.  There, they had children... who grew up and had children of their own, including... our boy Bart!



Bart grew up in a virtual reality dealie, and aged at an accelerated pace.  To save him from dying of old age in only a handful of years, Bart was sent back to the present... where he met the current Flash, Wally West... even fought alongside him!  He'd be given "identity papers" and sent to Alabama to live with the Golden Age speedster, Max Mercury.



After school, Bart shows Max his biography... which gets summarily torn up.  Ya see, the whole point of this was to keep the Flash family secrets quiet.  If Bart goes blabbin' in his biography... that'd kinda put the kibosh on that.



Bart unpacks the house while Max reads the paper.  He learns about that experimental hovertank... which is set to be demo'ed that Saturday.  Bart finds that curious, as he recalls overhearing that the missile had to be "dead on"... for Saturday.  He runs off while Max... continues to read the paper.



Back at the Mesa, the "missile guys" slow down the tape of their earlier attempt... and get a good look at what caused the morning missile to go all cattywampus... Impulse!



Speaking of Impulse, he's heading back over.  He is snagged by a pair of geeks, but manages to get away... running right into a darkened room where he finds himself staring down a whole lotta gun-barrels.



--

Not a bad way to launch a series.  Not exactly the highest of stakes... but they don't always need to be, right?  The threat here is really just a backdrop for Bart's acclimating to his new environment, and that's fair enough.

I definitely appreciated the creative way the Bart Allen history was presented here.  Not a straightforward "info-dump", but a story told in Bart's own words... just moments after learning how to write, so there again too, we get to see Bart "grow".  My only complaint about this is... the cursive handwriting was a bit difficult to read.  I suppose, being that these are the first words Bart's written, it makes sense... but, I gotta say... I'd have much preferred being able to read these captions without squinting, or pressing my face into the page.

The interaction between Bart and Max felt... I suppose "right".  These two were just kinda shoved together, and it makes sense that they wouldn't automatically feel like family.  It also gives the two some room to grow together... which they will.

The art here comes from a young Humberto Ramos... and his style, even in 1995, really compliments the frenetic Impulse character.  Outside of Wieringo, Ramos is who I most associate with Impulse... and I really dig what he brings.

Overall... this might not rock your socks, but I think there's a lot of fun to be had here.  Couldn't tell ya whether or not the upcoming Wonder Comics Imprint Young Justice will feature this Impulse... but, it wouldn't hurtcha to become acquainted with this fella.  This issue is available digitally... for a buck!

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(Not the) Letters Page:



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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Man of Steel #1 (2018)


Man of Steel #1 (July, 2018)
"Man of Steel, Part 1"
Writer - Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils - Ivan Reis & Jay Fabok
Inks - Joe Prado & Jay Fabok
Colors - Alex Sinclair
Letters - Cory Petit
Associate Editor - Jessica Chen
Editor - Michael Cotton
Group Editor - Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $3.99

Going to take a look at a newer book today... one that I really dragged my feet on getting around to reading, if I'm being honest.

It's probably unfair to say... but I definitely went into it with some preconceptions.  I'm not a stranger to the work of Brian Michael Bendis... and in fact, I'd consider myself a pretty big fan of his work!  I probably own a good 90% of his comics output... and it isn't often that he disappoints.

Bendis on Superman, though?  That makes me a little bit nervous.  Let's find out if those fears are well-founded!

Also... since this is a newer book, I'm not going to go as "deep" with the synopsis... hate to spoil an issue folks might still be looking to pick up.

--


We open with Krypton... again.  The beastly, Rogol Zaar is appealing to several of the cosmic heavy-hitters of DC lore... insisting that Krypton is a disease which must be purged, lest much of the universe be plunged into endless war.  Simply put, Krypton must be "cleansed".  Meanwhile on Earth... Killer Moth is threatening Firefly... Superman snags'em both, and delivers his first bit of snark.  Which, isn't nearly as precious as I feared it might be.


After depositing the baddie, Superman overhears some screaming... looks like there's another building fire.  He mentions that there have been a bunch of them of late.  He swoops in and saves the day.


As he takes an x-ray tour of the building, he (and we) meets the new Deputy Fire Chief, Melody Moore (hmm, an "MM" instead of an "LL"?).  They "make nice", exchange some banter, and decide to help each other out with the potential arson investigation.


Back in the long ago, Rogol Zaar is chatted up by the Old-Timer, Appa Ali Apsa.  He wants to ensure that Zaar isn't going to take the Krypton "situation" into his own hands.  In his word, Krypton "must be allowed to rise and fall on their own".  Whether or not the Old-Timer has any insight into Krypton's future... I couldn't say.


In the present, Clark Kent is at The Daily Planet writing up a story on the rash of fires.  Perry ain't all that keen that one of his top reporters is wasting his time on something as mundane as arson.


Later on, Clark returns home.  Jon is annoyed that he's outgrowing his Superboy costume... and even more so that his mudduh won't alter it for him.  Clark checks in on Lois, who is trying to uncover some S.T.A.R. Labs shenanigans... when suddenly, the kitchen is bathed in light!


--

As I mentioned in the preamble... I am a fan of Brian Michael Bendis, I've never disliked his work.  That said, I was still a bit trepadacious about him taking over the direction of the Superman family of titles.  Not that the tail-end of the Rebirth era was exactly setting my world on fire... it was solid, and I enjoyed it... but, maybe it was time for a new voice.  But... Bendis?

Well... I gotta say (and I should mention that I have read this entire Man of Steel miniseries), I think Superman... is in good hands!  I feel like my "fears" might've been informed by... nothing more than fatigue.  Anytime a writer is as prolific as Bendis is, there's a possibility (probability, even) that their writery-ticks will start to get on your nerves.  I've experienced "fatigue" with many of my favorites (Geoff Johns, Peter David, Grant Morrison... and, here with BMB).

That's not to say there wasn't some "snark" that I wasn't terribly fond of here... but, I gotta say, it wasn't nearly as "precious" as I feared it might be.  To use a bit of "low-hanging fruit", part of me was worried that this would feature 12 pages of Lois, Clark, and Jon eating Chinese take-out, while "bantering".  I'm happy to see that isn't the case.  On the same subject, I was kinda worried that Lois would be shifted from her normal character to a generic snark-bot... and there again, not the case... so, it's all good.

As far as the art is concerned... fuhgeddaboudit... some amazing work here!  Top notch, all around!  My only gripe would be in the design of the Rogol Zaar character... he comes across as so generic.  Just a(nother) hulking brute... really nothing special about him.  Hopefully over the next few months he'll win me over, but I'm not really all that optimistic.

Overall... this is a good start, though if you haven't picked it up yet, I might caution you to just nab the trade paperback collection.  This issue is available digitally.

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DC Nation:


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Monday, October 15, 2018

Deathblow and Wolverine #1 (1998)


Deathblow and Wolverine #1 (September, 1998)
Story & Breakdowns - Aron Wiesenfeld
Finishes - Richard Bennett
Colors - Monica Bennett
Letters - Mike Heisler
Computer Colors - BAD @$$
Design - Greg Brotherton
Assistant Editor - ERT
Editor - Tom Harrington
Cover Price: $2.50

Here's a book I never knew existed!  Let's take a look at that time back in the 80's when Logan and Michael Cray hung out in Chinatown!

--


We open in San Francisco, 1982... and man, I love this art already!  Wolverine is heading in to visit a lady friend named Sung, who is in rather poor spirits at the moment.  Ya see, she went to visit her mother... and her mother didn't even recognize her.  Logan attempts to comfort her... and says that this can happen as people get older.  She asks him to accompany her back, and he agrees.


Logan and Sung head back over... and he is surprised to see just how lucid Sung's mother is... chatty, friendly... just a real sweetheart.  This is when Sung informs him that her mother has never spoken English before!


Suddenly, the worm turns... Sung's mother backhands her... and, like they usually do, a ninja bursts through the window... and slashes Sung's mother right across her belly!  She slumps to the ground.


Wolverine shouts to Sung to get outta dodge... and she begrudgingly does.  Then he gets thrown out the window... and hits the Chinatown street amid a sea of arrows.


He runs through what looks like it might be a Chinese New Year festival... right past, er into... our man, Michael Cray... Deathblow!


Wolverine gets attacked by even more ninjas... and winds up collapsing.  Cray stands before Logan's body and begins firing on the ninjas.


He loads Wolverine into his convertible and drives away, shaking ninjas off with each turn.  He tells Logan he's going to take him to the hospital.  Wolvie... pops his claws in response.  Might be best not to take him there.  Before he can tell Cray where he'd like to be dropped off, Wolverine... falls asleep.


And so, Cray decides to take his passenger back to his place.  While Wolverine is kayoed, Cray looks through his belongings... and finds something most curious: A letter addressed to him, from Logan and Sung's address!


Wolverine begins to stir, and Cray begins with the questions.  Unfortunately, before he can get any answer... more ninjas!  Cray is forcefully ejected from his home... which is then destroyed when a car drives through it.


Wolverine and Cray fight off the ninjas, like they do... and decide to head back to Logan's home address.  Upon arrival... he doesn't find Sung, instead there's a creepy fella in a top hat!


--

What a fun little romp this was!

I gotta admit, I know next to nothing about Michael Cray... other than, I think he was cloned a whole helluva lot back in the day... but, what we see of him here is a pretty cool character.  I'm pretty sure my main takeaway for him is his lamenting the loss of his house... just seemed like such a sad-sack reaction to having a bunch of ninjas descend upon one's home.

Wolverine was... Wolverine.  This was before their were X-Men movies, so Marvel hadn't yet spilled the beans on every little bit of his history (in attempt to beat the studios to the punch), so it could stand to reason that... sure, Logan and Cray met up in 1982 San Francisco.  It seemed like Logan knew everybody anyway... so really, what's the harm?

As for the story... there's not a whole heckuva lot to sink our teeth into.  We know that there's something going on with Sung... and somehow she's in the middle of the mystery.  That, and there were a whole lot of disposable ninjas roaming the streets of San Francisco.

Where this issue shines, for me... is the art.  It's pretty glorious stuff!  Worth the price of the issue alone!

Overall... a weird little miniseries, that I didn't even know existed until I found this issue in a cheap-o bin.  It's one I will be keeping an eye out for... and I'd recommend others do the same!

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