Thursday, November 30, 2017

Action Comics #837 (2006)

Action Comics #837 (May, 2006)
"Up, Up, and Away! Chapter Two: Mild-Mannered Reporter"
Writers - Geoff Johns & Kurt Busiek
Artist - Pete Woods
Colorist - Brad Anderson
Letterer - Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor - Nachie Castro
Editor - Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.50

Had such a good time yesterday in the One Year Later-verse... let's go back for more!


Well, Lex Luthor might be a free man... but it's here we learn that he's no longer an affluent one.  Despite his exoneration, public perception still paints him as guilty... and having become "too hot to handle" for his board of directors, he's been ousted from his own corporation!  He doesn't appear to be terribly bothered by this, however, and is keeping himself busy tinkering away in his lab... that is, until his work is interrupted by the arrival of... Superman?!

Well, no... it's actually the Toyman controlling a Superman robot... the last one standing after their deactivation following Graduation Day.  Luthor produces that shard of glass from last issue, and claims to have found it at the ruins of the Fortress of Solitude.  Considering that there's some Kryptonian etched on it, I'm willing to believe him.  He asks Toyman to visit the Prankster and inform him that his powers will be needed for the next step in his plan.

We shift over to Lois and Clark's apartment, where the latter is icing his swollen face.  Lois wonders why Clark didn't just beat Luthor up... after all, even depowered, Clark is an impressively-sized dude.  He tells her that his "fighting back" will be continuing to publish articles.

The two chat for awhile on the balcony... and in a neat twist, we learn that Clark's glasses are no longer just part of his disguise.

Later that day, we rejoin Clark at Metro Square where he plans to continue his investigation.  He's found that several inactive subway tunnels have been regularly maintained... and figures that's as good a lead as any.  He follows lucky track 13, and comes upon a group of goons wearing variations on Lex Luthor's Warsuit!  Unfortunately, ol' Clark forgot to put his phone on vibrate, because it starts to ring, giving away the fact that he's there.

The baddies give chase, and Clark... answers his phone?!  Well, yeah... because on the other end are Hal Jordan and Hawkgirl, and they're here as back-up.

Amid the fracas, one of the Luthor goons takes aim at a train loaded with passengers.  Without even thinking, Clark pounces... and finds himself looking directly at the business end of the baddie's fist.  Hawkgirl is able to swoop in and bring Citizen Kent to safety.

We rejoin Luthor at Centennial Park where he's stood before a the Superman Memorial... which, after the events of Infinite Crisis, features a Superboy statue as well.  It looks a bit different than it did back in 1992-1993... smaller, and without a tomb underneath.

Lex is eventually joined by his next contact.... Metallo!  Another piece of the puzzle falling into place.

We wrap up with Clark chatting with Hawkgirl and Hal.  Jordan suggests it's time Kent got "back into the game", and produces a power ring with a Superman logo on it.


Another strong chapter for "Up, Up, and Away!".

I enjoyed this issue on both fronts... let's talk the Luthor strand first.  I really dug it, however, this sort of story kinda set the precedent for so many Superman stories that followed.  It's a team of baddies organized by a bigger-bad.  Seems like we get that kind of Superman "template" story on a yearly basis these days.  Two or three issues of shady team-building... ramping up the odds, and then a big fight.  It's not a bad story... just one that feels overdone at this point.

Lex as (comparably) destitute opens up some interesting avenues for storytelling.  He's been dead... but he's never been poor, and there's that old saying that the most dangerous person is one who has nothing left to lose.  It's been... yeesh, eleven years since I read this run, so I don't exactly remember how it all plays out... but I'm hopeful that this aspect gets a bit of exploration.

On the Clark end... he continues to "fight the good fight" by publishing his article undeterred.  As satisfying as it might've been to see a depowered Clark Kent whup Lex's bald butt, this feels more "right".  I thought it was neat to see that his glasses aren't just part of his disguise anymore... while at the same time, it was kind of heartbreaking.  Though, I can't exactly put my finger on why...

Later in the subway, we learn that acting like a hero is a tough habit to break.  Even without his powers, Clark didn't have a second thought about leaping into action.  This was something noticed by Green Lantern too... he notes that Clark is a "man without fear".  I thought that could've just been a throwaway line, until the end... Hal offers our man a power ring of his own!

I'm having a heckuva good time revisiting this one... it's from a time in DC history where everything sorta just blobs together in my brain... so, it's really cool to take a second look and compartmentalize everything that's going down.  Already looking forward to the next part.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Superman #650 (2006)

Superman #650 (May, 2006)
"Up, Up, and Away! Chapter One: Mortal Men"
Writers - Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns
Artist - Pete Woods
Colorist - Brad Anderson
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Associate Editor - Nachie Castro
Editor - Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.50

I promise this isn't becoming a Superman blog... though, if you thought it was, I guess I couldn't blame you.

It's been a month of upheaval at Casa Chris, and I've been sorta using this blog as something of a touchstone... using it as a comfortable and familiar place-to-be.  In the past, when I needed something familiar, I'd turn to the X-Men.  Unfortunately, I wouldn't recognize a single one of them these days... and so instead, we turn to Superman.

So basically, I beg your indulgence as I get accustomed to my real-life new digs.  Thanks!


We open with a pretty straightforward (though flowery) retelling of Superman's origin.  I'm guessing this is for the reader, and not part of the story as it begins with a caption of "68 Years Ago".  It parlays pretty easily into the Superman Retrospective that is being played at Centennial Park... where the people of Metropolis are thanking the Man of Steel for his service to the city (and world)... and also, commemorating that it's been an entire year since anyone's seen him!  Whaa--?  It's as though this story is happening... 1 Year Later!

Among the viewers are Clark and Lois... and their feelings about the film are pretty mixed.  They are approached by Jimmy, who is still deeply saddened that Superman disappeared twelve months earlier.  The Kents... well, they kinda blow him off so Clark can go scarf down a soft pretzel.

Later, Lex Luthor is released from prison... having been exonerated of all of his crimes.  If it feels like we've missed something here... we have!  Something, something... Fifty-Two.  While Lex was found innocent in a court of law, the jury's decidedly still out in the court of public opinion.  During his press conference, he is pelted in the dome with a rock.

He's rushed into a waiting limousine where he reveals to have in his possession a glass shard, with something etched on it in Kryptonian.  The word is... Doomsday.

Back at the Daily Planet, Clark delivers his latest Intergang piece to Perry White.  Man, Intergang's just won't quit!  Feels like Clark's been chasing this story ever since Byrne left!  Anyhoo, Perry commends Clark... pointing out how great a reporter he's become, really "upping his game" this past year.

Clark heads out, passing a few Fifty-Two-related Daily Planet clippings on his way, until he runs into Lois.  She informs him that down on the Avenue of Tomorrow a fella named K. Russell Abernathy is experimenting with Kryptonite... hoping to use it as a viable energy source.  We join Abernathy at his lab... where things ain't going all that well.

There's a tremendous explosion.  Clark rushes an old woman to safety while looking on... we see a pair of glowing green hands emerge from the wreckage, and soon learn they belong to Abernathy... the Kryptonite Man!

As the citizens panic, Clark pulls back to activate his... signal-watch?!

and, moments later...

Supergirl and the Kryptonite Man do battle for a bit, with Abernathy actually being able to hurt her with a punch.  Kara winds up affixing him to a garbage truck with her heat vision, and flying him away to the S.C.U.  Clark notes that she has greatly improved over this last year... remember, she was still quite new to the scene at this point.

We wrap up with Clark being dragged into an alley by some nogoodniks.  He is then held before the ultimate nogoodnik, Lex Luthor... who really roughs our man up!  Lex wants Clark to quit writing about him... and punctuates each statement with a punch.  It's pretty clear that Clark might just be a bit less than "super" at this point in time.


A very interesting issue.  I'm reminded of Marvel's Secret Wars (the first... less horrible one).  Let's look at Amazing Spider-Man... in issue #251, Spidey is drawn into Secret Wars.  The following issue, he's back... and wearing the black costume.  How did that happen?  Well, you're going to have to read Secret Wars, silly!  We get plenty of breadcrumbs here... but if you want the actual loaf, you're going to have to check out the weekly 52 maxi-series.

It's definitely an interesting approach to rejoining a universe "already in progress".  So much was up in the air following Infinite Crisis, that I couldn't say with any certainty that even DC Editorial knew what went where.  I mean, it wouldn't be until over three years after this issue that Superman: Secret Origin was released.  That's three years... thirty-six issues of each Superman book, where we didn't know what his origin was!

Let's talk Clark.  It's not until the final page that we see that, yes, he's depowered.  For all we knew, he was just taking a break from suiting up.  In his new, more human, lifestyle... he's enjoying some of the more mundane things... a soft pretzel smothered in that horrendous glop we call mustard, upping his game at the office, just being a normal dude.

It's strange to say... but, I find him to be far more aloof as a "normal dude" than I ever viewed him as Superman.  We see him dismiss Jimmy Olsen a couple of times in this issue alone.  That might just mean one needs to be Superman to put up with the goofball, but I still didn't really dig it.  There was just a feeling of detachment here.  Hard to put my finger on it.

Speaking of "putting a finger on it", I thought the bit with Clark having a signal watch was pretty inspired.  Supergirl was still something of a question mark at this point, having only appeared a little while before Infinite Crisis... so it was cool seeing her come into her own here.

Lex's exoneration is pretty weird.  We recently did a bit of research on Steel for Cosmic Treadmill, and recalled that during 52, John Henry found the corpse of an alternate-Earth Lex Luthor... which somehow cleared our Lex of all his crimes.  I guess it's one'a them "it's comics" sort of explanations.  Though, to be fair... I haven't read 52 in quite some time, I'd assume/hope there's far more to it than that.

Overall, really good issue!  It keeps things nebulous, while not frustratingly so... and begins laying the foundation for the next evolution of post-(both)Crises Superman.  Worth checking out... I'd guess that at least some of this might still be in continuity now!


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Action Comics #992 (2018)

Action Comics #992 (January, 2018)
"The OZ Effect, Aftermath: Aftereffects"
Story - Dan Jurgens
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Will Conrad
Colors - Hi-Fi
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Andrea Shea
Editor - Paul Kaminski
Group Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99

It's been awhile since we covered something recent on the humble blog.  I was actually considering taking a look at Doomsday Clock, however, even after two reads... I'm still not quite sure what I think of it.

Sooo... let's talk the latest Action Comics instead.  Since this is still on the shelves, I'll endeavor to be a bit less "spoilery" if I can help it.


We open at the Fortress of Solitude where Superman recounts everything he'd recently learned about Mr. Oz... and his father Jor-El.  He's still having trouble believing that they were one and the same.  He cross-references the information with Kelex... then has a bit of a breakdown.  If his father was so easily corrupted, what does that mean for him?

He smashes up his "little table", an act witnessed by an arriving Batman.  They chat about both of their recent run-ins with their fathers... and it feels like we're really ramping up to Doomsday Clock.  They can't talk long, however, as Superman hears a boat full of refugees in need of help.

Back in Metropolis, Perry White is stomping around the floor of the Daily Planet looking for Clark Kent.  Lois covers for him... but it doesn't look like the Chief is necessarily buying it.

Lois heads out to the roof, where luckily enough, Superman has just arrived.  They discuss recent revelations, and some questions about the goodness of humanity are raised.  Before they can go too deep, Hal Jordan shows up to spirit the heroes to Mogo.  There, they watch Tomar Re's records of the destruction of Krypton to see if a second ship escaped the boom.  Green Lantern fans will remember that Tomar Re was the Lantern of Krypton's Sector... and he was unable to save the doomed planet.  Upon watching, they find that the file has been corrupted!

After a stop back in Metropolis, Superman heads to the Justice League Watchtower.  He plans to take a trip on the Cosmic Treadmill to witness Krypton's destruction himself... firsthand!

At the moment he zooms away, a Time Bubble arrives!  It's... Booster Gold!  And it looks like he got there just a second too late.


Full disclosure, The OZ Effect left me kinda cold.  Felt like for all the build up, we got little in the way of resolution.  Not sure why I expected more out of it... maybe it was the constant coverage and hype online.  Though, to be fair, that was more for the lenticular covers than the actual story/reveal.  Such a sorry state our comics "press" is in, ain't it?

As an epilogue, however, this was a great issue!

Ever since the big reveal at the end of DC Universe Rebirth, we've gotten precious little (in story) to move that forward.  We had the four-part The Button storyline... but, other than that... not a whole lot.  This issue is the first time it really feels like things are converging... and it all appears to be heading somewhere.  Time anomalies are central to this plot... and they're finally moving into the forefront.

I was tickled to see a nod to Tomar Re's (non)involvement in the day Krypton died.  Anytime old/real DC continuity is mentioned, I'm down with it.  I guess I'm pretty easy to "pop".

Speaking of DC history... Booster Gold!  If I'm not mistaken, this is the first real Booster "sighting" since Rebirth began... Hell, it might be the first since... Convergence?  He's always a welcome sight... and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how this time-travel story plays out.

Overall... perhaps the best chapter of The OZ Effect... and it wasn't even an official installment!  Things feel like they're ramping up... and with Doomsday Clock going on, and Action Comics #1000 on the horizon... this is a pretty fun time to follow the Super-books.


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Monday, November 27, 2017

Earth 2 #1 (2012)

Earth 2 #1 (July, 2012)
"The Price of Victory"
Writer - James Robinson
Penciller - Nicola Scott
Inker - Trevor Scott
Colorist - Alex Sinclair
Letterer - Dezi Sienty
Special Thanks - Andy Kubert
Assistant Editor - Sean Mackiewicz
Editor - Pat McCallum
Cover Price: $3.99

Here's a book I remember being kind of excited for.  The name "Earth 2" stirs up a lot of images for me... and I'd bet many a classic DC Comics fan.  I guess I wasn't all that excited, because I actually forgot to preorder it!

I headed to the store and "Byrne-stole" it... ya know, flipped through it before buying it... and realized that it really wasn't what I was looking for.  Especially not for $4!

Found it in a fifty-cent bin not too long ago... and figured for that price, it might be worth a read.


It's Earth 2, five years ago.  Just like we saw in the first New-52! arc of Justice League, Apokolips is on the warpath.  Parademons have invaded, and it's up to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to save their world.

While they battle the baddies we get a bit of internal monologue from each.  Superman laments the fact that this is all going down in Metropolis... his city, that fell under his watch.  Also, Lois is dead.  Diana thinks about Amazon Island also having fallen.  Bruce, however, is tunnel-visioned on the task at hand.  He approaches a tower, while checking in with his daughter, Helena Wayne... Robin!

Robin, in turn reaches out to Supergirl who is flying over Papua New Guinea.

On the ground below, a squad of soldiers being led by Al Pratt are guarding a nuclear device.

As the Earth 2 Trinity continues battling the Parademons, we flashback to their pre-fight strategy session in the Batcave.  Bruce suggests introducing a virus program these strange Apokoliptan towers that have popped up.  He volunteers to do the deed so long as his superfriends can buy him enough time to do so.

Back on the battlefield, Diana is visited by the Roman "messenger" God Mercury.  The Gods themselves have suffered losses in this war.  He comments that man no longer believes in Gods... and it's time that the Gods believed in man.

Mercury vanishes into the horizon, and Superman finds himself swarmed by Parademons.  In the confusion, Steppenwolf is able to sneak up on Wonder Woman, and... kill her!

Upon seeing this, Superman goes super-nova... and explodes!  Unlike the late New-52! "new" Superman-superpower, this nova blast doesn't just leave him nude and depowered for 24-hours... this seems to actually kill him.

Back in Papua New Guinea, the Parademons descend on the nuke.  At the very same time, Batman arrives at the tower in Metropolis and prepares to inject the virus.  Helena informs him that she'll swing by to pick him up... she doesn't seem to realize this was intended to be a suicide mission.  Batman infects the tower... and it goes boom.

Despite the casualties, the mission was a success!  Parademons fall from the sky.  Robin and Supergirl reconnoiter and, catching a glimpse of a figure inside the boom tube, fly into it... directly into their Worlds' Finest ongoing series.

Back in the "present"... remember, all'at came before happened at the beginning of that "five-year timeline"... GBC owner, Alan Scott watches the documentary of the event we just read... complete with his own narration!  How 'bout that?  I hate listening to my own voice.  We see that the Earth (2) still smolders even a half-decade hence.

We shift scenes to Lansing, Michigan where Jay Garrick has an argument with his ex-girlfriend Joan.  They've broken up, and she has decided to head west to work for Tyler-Chem (likely an Hourman/Miraclo reference?).

We wrap up with Jay drinking his troubles away later that night.  On a hill overlooking the city, he is visited by... Mercury!


This was... okay.  Not what I wanted from an "Earth 2" book... but, at the same time, I can't be mad at it.

If I'm going to read about Earth 2, I'd prefer to read about the classic Justice Society or All-Star Squadron... not sure the world necessarily needed younger versions of Alan, Jay, Al and the gang.  Well, I guess it's not like a writer these days is going to create new characters, right?

While I still think the "five year rule" is kinda dumb, I appreciate the adherence to it for this issue.  Apokolips attacking different Earths at the same time is interesting... and it's cool to consider that multiple Justice Leagues were all embroiled in these wars.

Not sure how I feel about the (presumably) God-given powers for the Flash.  Not that breathing in "hard-water fumes" makes a heckuva lot of sense... but, there's a charm to it.  I got a bit of an Abin Sur meeting Hal Jordan vibe here, but still... I prefer this Society not be comprised of "chosen one" heroes.

It wasn't the best... but a decent enough way to launch "Wave Two" of The New-52!  Also... it's gorgeous!  Nicola Scott is one of the most talented artists to pop up this past decade... her work is almost always jaw-droppingly amazing.  It definitely does a lot of the "heavy lifting" here... raising a decent-but-skippable affair to something I'd recommend checking out.


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