Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Great Place to Start: Green Lantern

Green Lantern is without a doubt one of my all time favorite characters. Which Green Lantern? All of them! The concept is just so rich, with the opportunity to tell small earth based stories or huge cosmic epics. I know the Green Lantern movie probably left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, but the film is an extremely poor representation of what the character has to offer. Here are a few great places to start reading Green Lantern. Continue reading

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Batman Incorporated #1

I’ve been a huge fan of Grant Morrison’s Batman run since the Batman R.I.P. arc. I know I’ve talked about it a lot in this blog, very recently in fact. The story was set to conclude in vol. 1 of Batman Inc., which launched back in 2010. The series was very good, but was plagued by delays. Ten issues were solicited, but only 8 were actually released before DC launched the New 52 and the book was put on hiatus. The last two issues were released as a single issue titled “Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes” late last year, wrapping up what Morrison called the “first season” of Batman Inc. Now, as a part of DC’s second wave of New 52 books, we have vol. 2 of Batman Incorporated. The big questions here is how is Morrison going to finish his multi-year long epic now that DC’s universe has been rebooted. How much of the original run still happened the way it was presented and how will this affect the conclusion of the story? Well, going off of this issue, the answer is not very much. Morrison comes back in full force with a first issue that rivals that of his own Batman and Robin #1.

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A Great Place to Start: Superman

Superman, the hero that kick-started the Golden Age of comics has become one of America’s greatest pop culture icons. As a character, he represents everything we aspire to be. He is good, just, and altruistic. Some even argue that his story draws parallels with biblical characters like Moses and Christ, although that’s a conversation for another day. I always get annoyed at people for writing Superman off as an outdated boy scout. People complain about him being too good, or having too much power to be identifiable with. I think that is a load. For all the power the character has when he is distilled down to his most basic, it is his humanity that defines him. I will agree that Superman isn’t an easy character to write well, as seen with DC’s current struggles with the character in the New 52, but when he is written well it’s always amazing. If you’ve never been a big Superman fan, due to writing the character off or just not knowing where to start, here are some great Superman stories that can be enjoyed by anyone.

Superman for All Seasons-This is a story by the Batman: The Long Halloween team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Like that book this story progresses over a year’s time, this time focusing on the four seasons rather than holidays. This book’s strength lies in the importance of Clark Kent’s time growing up in Smallville. There’s a really great small town feel in this book that instantly makes me feel at home.

All Star Superman-If I could recommend just one Superman story to every person in the world, it would be this story. Over 12 issues, writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely distill every single aspect of what makes Superman such a good character into one concise story. You could jump into this story with the most basic knowledge almost any American has about the character and do fine. All Star Superman does not take place in the main DC continuity and is a complete story from start to finish. If this book does not stir some kind of emotion in you somewhere, then I say you have no heart. Read this book.

Kingdom Come-This is an absolute classic. In an alternate future, a cataclysmic event brings Superman out of a long retirement. His wife, Lois Lane, was killed years ago by the Joker leaving this Superman bitter and disillusioned with humanity. This is a big story involving dozens of DC characters, but at its heart it is a Superman story. This is the second graphic novel I ever read and I was able to get through fairly easily even with the large cast. This book will likely act as a springboard into other DC characters, I know it was for me. This is a story about a Superman who has doubts and has experienced great loss, making him extremely easy to identify with.

Superman: Earth One-DC launched its Earth One initiative in 2010 with this original graphic novel. Predating the New 52, Earth One is a line of graphic novels that re-envisions DC heroes for a contemporary, bookstore audience. Many have called this book Superman for the Twilight crowd and while I would not categorize Superman: Earth One as anything like Twilight, I can see where they are coming from. In this story you’ll get a revamped telling of Superman’s origin and see him become a hero for the first time. While this isn’t the best Superman origin story in comics, it’s a great starting point for new readers, especially with vol. 2 coming in November of this year.

Superman: Red Son-This story asks the question, “what is it that really defines Superman?”, by tweaking his origin just slightly. Instead of landing in Kansas as baby, Red Son tells the story of what Superman would be like if he had landed in Soviet Russia. That’s right, the Superman is real, and he’s Russian. This is a fun twist on classic DC characters and it leads to some really great character moments.

These are just a few great Superman stories for a new reader to latch onto. I would also recommend tracking down Action Comics #775, a single issue that’s already a decade old. It contains a story called “What’s so Funny about Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” that is a great treatise on why the morality of Superman is still relevant even in a postmodern world. It’s also collected in Justice League Elite Vol. 1. All the stories that I picked where out of continuity, one and done stories, but there are some great in continuity stories as well. If you want to dig a bit deeper, check out Superman and the Legion of Superheroes and Superman: Brainiac by Geoff Johns.

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A Great Place to Start: Batman

One of the reasons I started this blog was to help new readers get into comic books. I admit, sometimes I get so caught up in what I’m reading and what I’m excited about that I probably don’t do the best job of that. So, in an attempt to do better I’ll be doing a series of posts called “A Great Place to Start”. The title comes from these cheesy commercials a college from my hometown runs, where people just walk around whispering “it’s a great place to start, pass it on” in each others ears. It’s a silly commercial, but I like the idea here. If you see something here that you think sounds interesting, go check it out. I’ll try to only post things that I’ve read or know a lot about, so that I know the book or series is new reader friendly. I’ll also include links to Amazon so you can find the book quickly and easily. If you do find something you like, pass it on to your friends.

This week, I’m going to be focusing on a character everyone knows about, Batman. Batman is probably one of the most accessible comic characters out there due to the media saturation the character has received. Almost everyone knows at least the basic origin and idea behind Batman and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne. Here are some great Batman stories that can be easily enjoyed with little knowledge about Batman.

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Annual Extravagana!

From what I garner from the history books, there was a time where it was common for comic book companies to issue special “annual” issues in a series. These annuals would usually deviate from the normal ongoing storyline of the book, would contain a far greater number of pages than a normal issue, and would sometimes tie into other annuals to tell a bigger story. Now, I speak of annuals as old hat somewhat sarcastically. DC and Marvel have both still released annual issues of some of their series through recent years, though it has been on an inconsistent basis and with even more inconsistent quality. DC looks to be shaking that up a bit in the New 52. DC currently has 8 annual issues slated, 3 of which are to be released this month and 5 in August. It’s worth noting that May and August are months with 5 Wednesdays and that 7 of the 8 annuals are to be released on the 5th Wednesday. If this is an ongoing trend we can expect another batch of annuals in October as well.  I’m going to take a look at what we know about the currently announced annuals, because some of them look pretty darn interesting.

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FCBD The New 52 #1

Note: I started writing this post about a week ago, but then I got my tonsils taken out and kind of forgot it, sorry. Here it is now, posted as originally written although slightly dated.

This past weekend was a busy time for me. It was graduation time at my alma mater and several of my close friends graduated. My fiancée and I are less than a month away from our wedding (Aw Yeah!) and now that school is out she’s headed home to start getting everything ready for the big day. I also went and saw The Avengers with a big group of friends and I absolute loved it. Why can’t DC get their act together and pull off something like this. Well, they did get one thing right and that was their offering for Free Comic Book Day this year. If you aren’t familiar with FCBD, it is a day, usually the first Saturday in May, where comic book publishers release special free books to entice readers to visit their local comic shop. In recent years the bigger comic companies have used FCBD to tease upcoming storyline or events, such as DC’s Blackest Night #0 a few years back. This year they have outdone themselves with The New 52 #1, a full length story by Geoff Johns with art by Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Gene Ha, and Kenneth Rocafort. It doesn’t get much better than that.

 

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Dial H #1

Wow, DC really went all out this week, huh? Wrapping up my reviews of the first four books of DC’s second wave of New 52 books is Dial H by China Mieville and Mateus Santolouco. China Mieville, a best-selling novelist with a PhD and a hand in politics, almost made it into DC (Vertigo to be exact) a few years ago with a Swamp Thing series that never got published. Now he’s making his DC debut on a book that by all accounts should be a Vertigo book, but the DCU is all the better for its inclusion. Click more to read on.

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G. I. Combat #1

DC decided to cancel two of its war genre books that launched with the New 52 at issue #8. Those books were Men of War, a by the books tale of soldiers living in a world with superhumans and Blackhawks, a kind of DC version of G.I. Joe. These were consistently the two lowest selling books of the New 52 and received lukewarm reviews, so it’s not very surprising that they got the axe. What is kind of surprising is that DC decided to launch a new war book as part of its second wave. This time the book will revive three DC war concepts, the main feature being “The War That Time Forgot” with rotating stories “The Unknown Soldier” and “The Haunted Tank.” I really admire taking chances with lesser known concepts and genres outside of super-heroics. Unfortunately, this book sucks, and that is all. (Actually there’s more, read on).

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Worlds’ Finest #1

Today I’ll be continuing my review of DC’s second wave of New 52 books with Earth 2’s sister book, Worlds’ Finest, written by Paul Levitz with art by George Perez and Kevin Maguire. World’s Finest has traditionally been the designation for various Superman/Batman team up books, but this book shakes that up a bit. Worlds’ Finest focuses on two survivors of the parallel world Earth 2 #1; Helena Wayne, Daughter of Batman and ex-Robin, and Kara, cousin of Superman and ex-Supergirl. Picking up 5 after Earth 2 #1 in the present DCU, the two have assumed new identities as the Huntress and Power Girl, respectively. How does this book compare to its companion? Does it buck the trend of oversexualized female lead books? Click on to find out!

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Earth 2 #1

Here it is, the first books of the second wave of DC’s New 52 have arrived. With them comes a book that I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for, the first issue of James Robinson and Nicola Scott’s Earth 2. The New 52 has been one of the industry’s worst kept secrets since its inception, with leaks coming months before official announcements and creative changes being outed  left and right before word comes from DC. Earth 2 managed to avoid all, remaining cloaked in secrecy up until release. Is this the book I’ve been waiting for, is it better than I could’ve hoped, or is it Cry for Justice all over again? Keep reading to find out!

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