Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Superman (vol.4) #19 (2017)


Superman (vol.4) #17 (May, 2017)
"Superman Reborn, Part Three: Don't Pass Go"
Story - Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Pencils - Patrick Gleason
Inks - Mick Gray
Colors - John Kalisz
Letters - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Andrew Merino
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks - Dan Jurgens
Cover Price: $2.99

So yesterday, I discussed how the "professional" comics reviewers spoiled the Mr. Mxyzptlk reveal, right?  Well, guess what?  The following week, the jerks spoiled the last page of this one too!

Ya know, I don't wanna tell DC to quit handing out comps so willy-nilly... but, maybe penalize the jagoffs that go out of their way to show how special/important they are, and ruin the experience for everyone else.  Nahhhh, I guess so long as they rate everything 10 outta 10 they're safe!

--


We pick up right from the previous chapter... Lois no longer knows who Jon is.  What's more, she also doesn't appear to know that Superman and Clark Kent are one in the same!  A frustrated Superman calls out to Mxyzptlk, demanding to know what kind of "game" he's playing... and also why he's currently glowing with a blueish aura.  We'll get to it...


... but first, Mxy decides to strip away all of the rules of physics, gravity and reality.  As everything goes wonky, the imp shares that, regardless of which reality, Lois and Clark are invariably connected.  He finds it gross... which, I suppose he would!


Then... things get weird-er.  Mxyzptlk reveals that at some point there was a split... leading to two Supermen, and two Lois's's's.  I'm still not sure how I feel about this concept, but we'll play along for now.  Anyhoo, the other, that is the New-52! Superman exploded into red energy right before Rebirth hit.


Superman and Lois are escorted to a floating Daily Planet Building that stretches way up into the cosmos.  Mxy refers to it as the Infinite Planet, and offers up a challenge.  Ya see, young Jon Kent is currently up inside the Planet's globe... if Superman can beat the imp up there, he can have his boy back.  However, if he can't, Jon will remain in the Fifth Dimension forever, and Superman and Lois will be lost and forgotten.


Meanwhile, inside the Infinite Planet globe, Jon Kent is chatting up a pair of glowing balls of red energy.  They reveal themselves as being the New-52! Superman and Lois.  They're the same as his parents... only different, ya dig?


Back to the race... which is depicted as being run on an actual game board... which makes for a neat splash page, if nothing else.  Mxyzptlk sings a song... which, for whatever reason, convinces him that he'll win the race?  I dunno... these beats are kinda missing the mark for me.  Trying to be a bit too "out there" and esoteric... but, I mean, we're dealing with a race to the top of a building...


... which Superman and Lois still win, by... I dunno... telling themselves that they still exist?


Anyhoo, Mxyzptlk feels like this is cheating, and calls them out on it.  Meanwhile, Jon (who can hear all of this going down) pleads with the red energy to help his folks.


Outside, Mxy's had about enough of the fun 'n games, and decides to move on to the conclusion... he tells Superman to forget.  Forget about his son, hell, maybe forget about everything.  And... he begins to do just that!


Suddenly, when all hope (and memory) looks to be lost, the Infinite Planet globe explodes in a brilliant red flash.


We wrap up the chapter with a high-collared, very New-52! looking, Superman holding his wife and son!


--

So, yeah... Superman-Red and Superman-Blue.

I dunno about you all, but... I didn't have much of a problem with the way things were set up with the Supermen post-Convergence.  I was cool with the idea that the real Superman was hanging in the background, while the new, young, brash hip-for-the-kids Superman was "the guy" for a little while.

I feel like this "split into two" concept really just complicates things.  Seems like anytime we have the option to keep things simple, or add a bunch of confusing layers... we always get the latter.  I guess I just don't understand what merging the real Superman and the New-52! one really does for anyone.  I mean, the New-52! series'... ya know, kinda undelivered... outside of the "unmasking" I can't recall a whole heckuva lot from 'em.

As for the issue itself... it, like the other chapters, is breezy.  For dropping so much information, it's still kinda light on actual story.  Hell, we could'a (should'a?) deep-sixed that overlong back-up in Action #975, and just added this chapter there.  Really, this whole story should've been dropped in an Annual or Special.

Overall... it's an important issue, though a bit confusing at times.  Good thing this is yet another five-minute read, so it won't take you too long to give it a second (or third) look if you need to.  Worth a look... in collected edition.

--

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Action Comics #975 (2017)


Action Comics #975 (May, 2017)
"Superman Reborn, Part Two"
"The Man in the Purple Hat"
Writers - Dan Jurgens & Paul Dini
Pencils - Doug Mahnke & Ian Churchill
Inks - Jaime Mendoza
Colors - Wil Quintana & Mike Atiyeh
Letters - Rob Leigh
Associate Editor - Paul Kaminski
Editor - Mike Cotton
Group Editor - Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks - Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Cover Price: $3.99

Alrighty, it's Part Two... otherwise known as that issue where we find out who the fake Clark Kent has been!  A plot point, which was unfortunately spoiled by a litany of comic reviewers on Twitter (and I'd assume other social networks) the day before the issue hit the stands.

Ya know, I get annoyed when Marvel and DC spoil their stuff... but I've come to almost expect it, because they're absolutely starving for any "mainstream" attention they can get.  It lets them feel like they're famous for a few minutes if USA Today decides to darken their doors and yawn their way through an interview.

But the fans/reviewers?  I expect better of us.  We should be above spoiling things... especially things that have been built to for a number of months.

The thing about this issue is that there was an embargo on the comps... they weren't released until Tuesday (we usually get them the Friday before they ship)... this was done to limit spoilers as best as possible.

But, it didn't stop a whole lotta "professional" reviewers from tweeting out four-panels of Mr. Mxyzptlk with a an adorable "Just Because, tee-hee..." as the message before the book hit the shelves.  Not technically spoiling anything, but I mean, c'mon... if you open up a social media site a day before a big reveal... and a bunch of people you follow are coyly poking each other's ribs about Mxy... that's going to spoil the surprise.  I know it did for me!

So, hey... professional reviewers, quit being jerks.  I'll letcha keep rating everything a 10/10, but please don't go out of your way to spoil-not-spoil the books.  I get that it's cool to have "privileged information", but c'mon, you've also got a responsibility.

--


We open with Lois and Superman, having just lost their son, heading to the Metropolis apartment of the fake Clark Kent.  After some expositional catch-up, they arrive to find that nobodies home.  The do some digging and, for whatever reason, check the fridge.  Inside they find a whole bunch of sweet goodies... certainly not the fridge of a grown man (unless that grown man is me).  Just then... fake-Clark shows up!


Superman asks where Jon is... to which, Clark plays off as not knowing what he's talking about.  Clark drops the pretense pretty quickly, and the conversation becomes more intense... he asks Superman if he likes Jon more than him... he asks why he was "left behind".


They have a little test of strength... and Superman is shocked by just how strong this phony Kent is.  In a pretty clunky bit of dialogue, he refers to Clark as an "enemy"... which facilitates the faker referring to himself as a "friend"...


... but a friend, who likes to play games!  He shape-shifts into... Lex Luthor!


But, that's just for starters.  He then shifts into the forms of Bizarro... then Brainiac.  Worth noting, the background is candy... like literally, candy canes and all sorts of sweets.


Next, he's Mongul... then Parasite!  As Superman is staring down the latter, Lois becomes distracted by a nearby snow globe.


As Lois gazes into the globe, the phony shape-shifts a couple more times... first to Cyborg Superman, Hank Henshaw... then into Doomsday!  Inside the globe are some familiar-looking impish characters... which sorta tips the whole thing off.


Bada-bing, bada-boom... it's Mxy!  Which... would've been a better reveal had it not been spoiled on social media!


Mxy reveals his plan.  Since Superman had forgotten about him... he's going to make Superman (and the entire world) forget about Jon Kent!  It'll be as though the boy never existed at all... which is a damn fine indictment on just how scarily powerful Mr. Mxyzptlk can be.  Also, how useful he can be when we're trying to cherry-pick continuity!


Mxy blinks away, leaving Lois and Clark standing alone in Clark's old apartment.  Superman tells Lois they've gotta find Jon... to which, Lois asks "Jon who?"...


What a strong cliffhanger... well, it would be... but we're not done yet.  This is a milestone issue (#975) and so, we gotta cram s'more graham into it.  So hey, were you wondering about how Mxy got tied up in this mess?  No?  Well, we're going to find out anyway!  It begins with Jon telling Mxy how his father would tell him stories of Mxyzptlk, only referring to him as "The Man with the Purple Hat", Ruppletat.


Mxy thinks the story is adorable... but has one of his own to tell.  Ya see, one time when he returned to "play with" his pal Superman, he found himself caught up in a transdimensional somethin' or another... and right into the grasp of the enigmatic Mr. Oz!  After a little back and forth, Oz is able to secure him in his Negative Space Prison.


Mxy doesn't mind so much... he knows his friends will come looking for him when he doesn't show back up soon.  Oz tells him that time works a little differently where they are, and it'll be as though two-thousands years have passed before anyone even realizes he's missing.


Mxy's undeterred.  He's sure his pal Superman will find him quicker than that... only, he doesn't!  The imp takes this as a sign that the Man of Steel doesn't actually care about him.


He tells Jon about how closely associated he's always been with Superman... even on different Earths where he's just in Superman comics and cartoon shows.  This is an especially neat little bit.


Anyhoo, Mxyzptlk was finally able to escape from Oz's prison (which we saw at the open of the previous chapter), and what's more... he found Superman!  How would he be able to get back into his life though?  Well, that's why he chose to come back as Clark Kent.  This would certainly get Superman's attention... and also, help put the secret identity genie back in the bottle.


It was only after visiting the "Smith" farm, that everything came back to him... he understood the changes made to reality, including the fact that he'd been written out of it!  Only now... he's back!


Back to, wherever he and Jon are, Jon suggests that maybe Superman didn't come looking for Mxy because he assumed he'd "grown up".  This gives the imp a nice belly laugh, and he decides to offer the boy a sporting chance to return home.  If Jon can say the one magic word... he'll be free to go.


Jon goes to say Kltpzyxm... but stops himself.  Instead, he says Tatelppur (Ruppletat backwards, natch).  Turns out, that was the ticket!  An imp of his word, Mxy sets Jon's free to return to reality.


Well... not really.  Ya see, Jon was allowed to go home... just not stay there.  Wonk wonk wonkkkk.


--

So yeah... here's the reveal!  The fake Clark Kent has been Mr. Mxyzptlk... you heard it here last!

And while that's pretty cool... the first half of the issue leaves me a little bit cold.  I'm not sure if it's just my peanut brain expecting more of a story when there are so many pages remaining... but, the "stop" felt rather sudden.  It was just... the big reveal... then, rather than digesting the information, we shift into an overlong back-up story.

Let's talk about the choice of Mxy.  I know I was a bit deflated when I first read this (or, rather, had it spoiled online).  I was hopeful that perhaps the Super-team was going to use someone a bit more obscure.  Really, the sky was the limit here... and theories were poppin'... I think I was hopeful that fake-Clark was going to be Superboy-Prime.  I mean, who betta to "fix" reality, right?

However, in retrospect, Mxy was as fine a choice as any.  Maybe that just means that I was so much more disappointed by the Mr. Oz reveal that I've softened on this one.  Who knows?

I mentioned above that Mxy removing Jon from memory is a real sign of just how insanely powerful the imp can be.  In "fixing" the secret identity snafu... I mean, it puts things back where they "belong", but... I dunno... I feel like that's a genie you can't truly ever put back in the bottle.

I mean, sure, we can make it so nobody knows... but, part of the fun/magic of the secret identity is the anxiety we readers potentially have when it's put in jeopardy.  Now, however, we already know what will happen... ya know?  Sure, it's just the New-52! Superman... but, still.  It takes a bit of the urgency away from subsequent situations.

The backup managed to fill in some blanks, and let us know where Jon is hanging out... but, I feel like it overstayed its welcome.  I mean, we really didn't need 3-4 pages of Mxy being locked up in Oz's prison.  Those pages would have been better spent fleshing out the "feature" story... even if it was just 3-4 different indulgent full-page shape-shifts!

Overall... just like I said yesterday... the "feature" took (maybe) five minutes to read... but, it was an enjoyable five minutes.  I do recommend checking this out, however, don't exert the effort of seeking out the singles... just grab the trade.

--

Et-Cetera:


--

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Superman (vol.4) #18 (2017)


Superman (vol.4) #18 (May, 2017)
"Superman Reborn, Part One"
Story - Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Pencils - Patrick Gleason
Inks - Mick Gray
Colors - John Kalisz
Letters - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Andres Merino
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks - Dan Jurgens
Cover Price: $2.99

I was working my way through my library, looking for a way to buy some time before getting into our third annual Twelve Days of Christmas on Infinite Earths, when I came across Superman Reborn.  Well, parts Two and Four of Superman Reborn... had to bobble some boxes to find the other two.

Haven't read 'em since the day they came out... and, quite honestly, I can barely even remember most of it.  The only thing I do remember, is that I was riveted, and couldn't wait for each chapter to arrive!  So hey, why not give it a whirl here over the next few days and see how it reads now?

An aside, and something that comic fans in particular might appreciate.  I just recently relocated all of my longboxes to a corner of the house... this way, when we have holiday visitors they're not stepping/tripping over my obsessive obstacle course on their way in.  So, yeah... everything is neatly stuffed out of sight... and that's when I realized...

... oh yeah, Twelve Days is coming up... and I'm going to have to rifle through 'em all over again.  Only now, in a much more cramped space!

Oh well, such is the life of an idiot comic blogger.

--


We open with flashes of energy, and settle on Mr. Oz's prison palace, or whatever it was (this really feels like it happened at least five years ago at this point).  Prisoner, Red Robin gleefully exclaims that "someone got out!".  The enigmatic Mr. Oz approaches a wall... or monolith... or something.  On it, several pleas for help have been scrawled for Superman.


Elsewhere, Hamilton County to be precise, we join the "Smith" family, as Clark and Lois are about to celebrate their anniversary.  Young Jon gives his folks gifts... a journal for his mother to write all about their recent adventures, and a Farmer's Almanac for his father... your hear about something like a "Farmer's Almanac" and it sounds like such a relic... then you realize you can grab the 2019 edition right here!  That's wild.


All three "Smiths" blow out the candles on the anniversary cake, then suddenly... the doorbell rings.  Jon rushes to the door, only to discover... his father walking away?!  Krypto runs up too... but the fake Clark Kent manages to sooth him before getting all bit-up.


Clark, the real one, Supes up, and flies out to see what's up.  By now the other Clark has left.  He did leave something, however... a gift for the "Smiths"... in the form of, a Kent Family photo album?!


Lois opens it... and inside there are photos of their entire history!  Ma and Pa, Lana, the Planet, a bit of the cover to Action Comics #1.  The only thing missing from these photos... is Jon.


The walk down memory lane is interrupted by... a fire!  It looks like their kitchen is burning up.  Superman goes to put it out... only to find out that it's not really fire.  There's no smoke, and it isn't actually burning anything up.  Instead, it appears to be "erasing" things...


... things that "don't belong" perhaps... and that includes Jon!


Superman rushes in to grab his son... however, he (Jon) keeps blinking in and out of sight.  He reappears in the basement, upstairs, all ova da place.  Superman is finally able to nab him... he wraps the boy in his cape, and dives out of the house.  It's too late, though... Jon disappears from existence!  Oh, their house does too... but, Jon's the important thing.


We wrap up with Lois and Clark in front of the empty lot they used to live on... with the photo album.  All of the photos have been erased... and we're off to the races!


--

Alrighty... heckuva opening chapter.

Gotta say though, before we go any deeper... this feels like it happened sooooo long ago.  I mean, it's been a year and a half (give or take) as of this writing... but it feels just so far removed from where things are now.  In these semi-early days of Rebirth, everything still felt so new... so exciting and optimistic.  We had so many questions we wanted answers to... and the way we were getting our information in drips and drabs was quite well done (for the most part).

Now... just a year and a half later?  It feels like we're spinning our wheels waiting for the next "event" while the current "event" issues take their sweet time hitting the shelves.  This kind of excitement and optimism is woefully lacking... it's frustrating, but it is what it is.  Man, what a difference a year makes!

But this isn't a discussion of late 2018 (DC) Comics, so let's talk about the first part of Superman Reborn.  This had been brewing for awhile, the mysteries of the second Clark Kent... the identity of Mr. Oz (which wouldn't be revealed until the next Superman crossover)... there was just a lot going on.  We had the Kents posing as the "Smith" family, which felt a bit nebulous... but, necessary for the ultimate pay-off.

What we get here... is, kinda "blink and ya miss it".  The entire issue took maybe five minutes to read, which... I mean, it's just the way comics are written anymore.  The thing about this issue was, I actually enjoyed those five minutes spent!  I do wish we'd get a bit more to sink our teeth into, but we do get from Point A to Point B in a pretty satisfying way.

Overall... a breezy read, one that I'd encourage you to check out in collected edition if you're so inclined.  The art is wonderful, and the Smith family dynamic is a hoot.

--

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