Monthly Archives: August 2012

Review: Superman Annual #1

It’s not perfect, but it’s A LOT better than what we’ve been getting.

Written by Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza
Illustrated by Pascal Alixie, Marco Rudy, Tom Raney, Elizabeth Torque, and Mico Suayan

• Abducted by a group of mysterious aliens, Superman is dragged to a remote alien galaxy to take part in THE GAMES, a world hopping game of cat-and-mouse where players are hunted for sport.
• Can even the help of a mysterious new GREEN LANTERN overcome the might of an alien empire?

See that solicitation up there? Forget I even posted that. None of that happens. See, somewhere between the time of solicitation and the book’s actual release this issue had a complete creative shift. So while you may have been hoping to see that new Green Lantern in a cosmic romp by the great Keith Giffen, you actually get the further Wildstorming of the DC universe. The thing is it’s not half bad.

This is Scott Lobdell’s big debut on Superman and a lot is hinging on his performance. Since the launch of the New 52, the Superman title has had two different creative teams, neither of which made the character modern or relevant. In fact, I would say that this book has done more harm to the perception of Superman in comic book community that the bloated New Krypton saga or JMS’s much derided “Grounded” storyline. With Grant Morrison leaving Action Comics soon, all eyes are on Lobdell.

This issue begins with a flashback on the Daemonite home world, where a young prince confronts his mother about the death of his wife and the genetic decline of the Daemonites. Later on in this issue we discover that this prince goes on to become the villain Helspont, who dominates this issue. I admit to not being very well versed in the Wildstorm mythos (I’ve only read Planetary and early Authority) so I don’t know how the character’s portrayal in this issue reflects his earlier appearances. That said, the character works very well as a Darkseid level villain for Superman. Helspont actually gives Superman a concussion by throwing him into the moon, and it’s awesome.

While the majority of the issue deals with the fight between Superman and Helspont, there are three interludes where Helspont’s minions visit with important alien characters in the DC universe. Martian Manhunter, Starfire, and Hawkman are all offered a place in something called “The Thirteen Scions of Salvation,” which sounds like something straight out of Battlestar Galactica. These interactions are left unresolved and it’s unclear where the story threads will pick back up, though I’m sure it’s all set to build up to a major crossover event. Grifter and Deathblow also make appearances in this issue. You can expect Red Hood and the Outlaws (also written by Lobdell), Grifter, Hawkman, and Stormwatch to all play a role in this sure to be upcoming event.

Pascal Alixie, the main artist for this issue, shares page space with four other pencillers which, even for an oversized annual, is a bit excessive. Unfortunately the artists were not credited with what pages they actually worked on, so I’m a bit unsure who to congratulate and who to critique. The art, for the most part, was very good. The opening sequence on Daem, the scenes featuring Martian Manhunter and Hawkman, and the various double page spreads with Superman and Helspont were are really well done. However, there were a few pages where Superman’s anatomy is a little off, such as the last page where he has gorilla arms. Also, holy cow Starfire, put those away! The kids are watching!

This isn’t the book that’s going to put Superman back in the good graces of the seething masses of comic book-dom, and the $4.99 price tag is pretty off-putting even with the larger page count. Oh, and Scott Lobdell spams thought bubbles like a fiends. If you’re a fan of the character (like I am) or a longtime Wildstorm reader there’s definitely a lot to enjoy here. There are a lot of cool revelations, but also a lot of unresolved plot threads with no clear indication on where to follow next. If you’re craving as much Superman as you can get, pick this up, otherwise I would wait until September’s Superman #0 to get in on the Lobdell train.

Verdict: 7.0-This issue might be important later on, but right now it’s for Superman and Wildstorm fans only.


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One Year in the Books

Today officially marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of the New 52. While this is an important milestone for DC’s grand experiment, it’s special to me because one year ago I was inspired to start this blog. Between Justice League #12, Justice League International Annual #1, Green Lantern Annual #1, and Superman Annual #1, there’s going to be a lot for me to talk about in the coming days, and a lot to look forward to in DC comics. Looking to the future, I plan to open up my focus a little bit on the blog. The first way I’ll be doing this is by opening the Power Rankings feature to books from all publishers starting in September. Earth 53 started out as just a fun way for me to express my interest in comics without driving my friends and loved ones crazy. Though I still have no idea if anyone actually reads my posts on a regular basis, I like to think that I have at least helped someone in their interest in comics over this past year. If there are any semi-regulars, I’d love to hear your opinions on the blog. Let me know what’s working and what isn’t, and if there’s anything you’re especially interested in that you would like me to discuss. Thanks to anyone who somehow stumbles across this blog, I hope you decide to stick around.

-Zach

The Road to the New JLA

This past week at Fan Expo in Toronto, Canada, DC Comics made a surprising announcement. Geoff Johns, super-scribe and CCO of DC Entertainment, will be going the way of Brian Michael Bendis by taking on new Justice League book in addition to the original one launched at the start of the New 52. Justice League of America, launching in 2013 with art by David Finch, will feature an extremely eclectic and a (imo) very exciting cast of characters. The team as been foreshadowed in several books and the implications it brings for the future of the New 52 are vast. Today I’ll be talking about the clues we have been given thus far and speculating on what might still be to come. Also, with the upcoming #0 issues celebrating the 1 year anniversary of the New 52, I’ll include a list of titles that you should check out if you want to follow the major story lines leading up to JLA and more exciting stories in the DCU.

The new faces of the Justice League of America (Image from mtv.com/geek)

When the New 52 was announced, we learned that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee would lead the way with a modernized version of DC’s legendary super-team, this time known only as “Justice League”. The team followed the pattern set by Grant Morrison’s “Big 7” team from the 90’s, which is widely considered to be the greatest incarnation of the Justice League ever created. The major difference would be that Cyborg, most well know from his position on the Teen Titans, would take the place of JL mainstay Martian Manhunter, who would find a place on the new Stormwatch. Justice League International and Justice League Dark were also announced along with Justice League to round out an Avengers style family of team books.

Since that time, Johns has been planting seeds of things to come. Before JL’s first issue, DC released a promo image that featured characters that were to be included in Justice League later on, outside of the main seven. At the time of this writing, only one of those characters, Green Arrow, has made an appearance in the book. Said appearance took place in Justice League #8, and featured Arrow trying to earn a place in the League. While he didn’t accomplish his goal, a secretive meeting with Justice League liaison Steve Trevor hinted that Arrow might be heading up his own team in the future.

Pictured on the left of the Justice League, from top to bottom: Deadman, currently a member of Justice League Dark; The Atom, who has only appeared in the FCBD special; Element Woman, a new character from Flashpoint who as since only appeared in the FCBD special; Firestorm, who has had some interaction with JLI. On the Right of the Justice League, top to bottom: Green Arrow; Hawkman; Lady Luck, a new character that has yet to make an appearance in the New 52; Mera, wife of Aquaman.

The next tease we got came from DC’s Free Comic Book Day 2012 offering, “The New 52 #1,” also written by Geoff Johns. The final four page splash, illustrated by Justice League artist Jim Lee, depicted the League fighting amongst themselves and various other DC heroes, many of which were depicted in the aforementioned promotional image. A new Green Lantern was also shown for the first time. This was when readers learned of the upcoming event known as the “Trinity War”.

Notice any similarities between the characters depicted in this teaser and the ones shown in the promo?

Since then, we have learned that Justice League International was to be cancelled, with an annual issue written by Geoff Johns and Dan Didio acting as the capstone. Also, Martian Manhunter recently left Stormwatch. This all sets the stage for the formation of the Justice League of America, which seems to be the team that was hinted at in Justice League #8.

Now, let the speculation begin. There is going to be a lot revealed this Wednesday with the release of three books written by Geoff Johns; Green Lantern Annual #1, Justice League #12, and Justice League International #1. The GL Annual will reveal the fate of Hal Jordan and set the stage for the coming of Baz, the new GL revealed in the FCBD special and featured in Justice League of America. Justice League #12 wraps up the current story arc and that book and is said to have major ramifications for the team and entire DCU. These threads will be picked up in the JLI Annual as that team appears to be dismantled, making way for the JLA. Now, looking at the teaser images shown above, we see that Hawkman, Green Arrow, Baz, and Vibe are accounted for in JLA. Deadman is a member of Justice League Dark, but is the only member of that team to be featured, suggesting a major role in coming events. Johns has said that Shazam will be joining the main Justice League in the coming future, which makes it strange that it appears to be Black Adam that is featured in the Trinity War teaser. Could that just be a coloring error, or is there a missing link we don’t yet know of? That leaves Mera, Element Woman, and The Atom as the only characters to not currently be featured on a team. It makes sense that Mera would join Aquaman on the Justice League. Element Woman and the Atom have not made a true appearance in the New 52, and could end up on either Justice League team, but I feel that if they were to be in JLA they would’ve been featured in the initial teaser image. Lady Luck is an absolute enigma, having not been depicted or even mentioned by Johns since before the New 52 even began. I’m very interested to see if the lack of information about the character has to do with an upcoming plot, or if the character was discarded along the way as new ideas were introduced.

Common speculation is that the three Justice League teams might be the “Trinity” referred to in “Trinity War” and that the story will involve the three teams fighting against each other. However, one of the only clear fights shown in the teaser is Hawkman vs. Green Arrow, both of whom are members of JLA, debunking this theory. It is more likely that the Trinity refers to either the trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, or that of the Trinity of Sin introduced in the FCBD special.

There’s a long way to go before we get to the Trinity War. DC has heavily hinted that the event is set to take place September 2013, marking the two-year anniversary of the New 52. Next month, DC will be celebrating the one year anniversary of the New 52 with #0 issues, special issue in each series that are perfect jump on points for new readers. If you missed out on the New 52 when it began and what to get into, now’s your chance. Here’s a list of books that you should definitely be following in order to keep up with the all the major developments in the DCU:

  • Justice League
  • Justice League Dark (Issue #9 onward)
  • Green Lantern
  • Phantom Stranger (coming in September)
  • Justice League of America (coming 2013)

It would also be a good idea to check out this week’s Justice League International Annual #1 and FCBD DC The New 52 #1, which is free here on Comixology. Another book that might be good to follow is Team 7, another book launching alongside Phantom Stranger that will focus on a black ops government in the early days of the New 52. The group includes Steve Trevor, who Johns has said will be a major character in upcoming stories, as well as characters like Black Canary, Deathstroke, Grifter, and Amanda Waller. If you don’t have a comic store nearby, all these issues can be purchased at comixology.com and can be read on your computer, along with any iOS or Android powered device. It’s an extremely exciting time to be a DC fan.

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Dissecting Marvel NOW!

I’ve held off on weighing in on Marvel NOW!, the publisher’s latest initiative to move comics off the shelves, due to a lack of information and overall interest. However, as news has slowly trickled out my interest has increased. This week’s announcements have put my interest into overdrive. So now, I’m going to give my thoughts on the Marvel NOW! books we know about, and speculated on the ones we don’t.

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New 52 Power Rankings: July 2012

It’s one month away from the end of the first year of the New 52. I’ll be giving a much bigger overview on my thoughts for year one next month. For now, here’s my top 10 New 52 books of the month.

Top 10 Books

Ranking

Title

Last Month

Months in Top 10

1

Animal Man

 7

10

2

National Comics: Eternity

 N/A

1

3

Green Lantern

 1

11

4

I, Vampire

 4

9

5

Swamp Thing

 2

10

6

Dial H

 6

3

7

Earth 2

 10

3

8

Action Comics

 N/A

7

9

Justice League

 5

10

10

Green Lantern Corps

 N/A

1

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