View Full Version : The Mighty Reviews 7/15/10

07-15-2010, 10:01 AM
Wktfís Reviews

Superman #701
DC Comics
Written by: J. Michael Staczynski
Drawn by: Eddy Barrows
Covers by: John Cassaday

Okay, now, this is more like it. To begin, Iím a huge Superman fan and have been reading and collecting Superman comics since the Ď60s. But, have to say, these last few years, Iíd abandoned the titles. Pretty much around the time shortly after Lex became President I started losing interest but when Geoff Johns stepped off the title I felt the books had walked away from me. I just didnít recognize Superman anymore. And, when the ďLast Son of KryptonĒ became more of a moniker than a fact, when Superman abandoned Earth and Lois for New Krypton I said sayonara. Only because War of the Supermen meant an end to his exile from Earth did I pick up that series and, in so doing, was introduced to the art of Eddy Barrows, one of the finest Superman artists in recent memory. Thankfully, Barrows is on as the regular artist for now and he is joined by J. Michael Straczynski, whose stellar Thor and Brave and the Bold work has left many highly anticipating what heíll do with DCís flagship character.

And, to the point of how I opened my first paragraph, this is a truly familiar and, at the same time, yes even iconic and far more satisfying Superman than weíve seen in years. Finally! Superman as he might be if he existed in the real world and walked, literally, among us. Inspiring awe, doubt, skepticism and even fear and anger. Having feeling like he may have lost his connection to the planet and people heís sworn to defend, Superman has quite literally ďgroundedĒ himself to walk wherever the road takes him and participate in the human experience. No, heís not getting cats out of trees as Christopher Reeve did, but he is eating in diners, confronting drug dealers, identifying internal health issues and even attempting to reason with a suicidal woman. If this all sounds mundane I suppose it might be, except that JMS imbues his story and character with both a sense of discovery as well as the contribution youíd expect of a hero of Supermanís stature. This is a hero who is reflective yet decisive, confident yet (especially as drawn by Barrows here) also worried and a bit unsure, like heís moving into unknown territory. He knows his place and yet heís discovering it at the same time.

While JMS deserves all the credit in the world for the direction heís taking the character and title as well as the poignancy of the incredibly rich dialogue to which weíre treated here, itís Eddy Barrowsí career launching art that very nearly steals the show. My hope is that this run of Superman does for Barrows what Avengers Disassembled/New Avengers did for David Finch, Astonishing X-Men did for John Cassaday and Captain America did for Steve Epting. Like Barrows, these all were artists who were around and produced great work before these titles, but it was these titles that put them on the map. Same here. Every page is practically flawless and there are so many money shots of Superman that this book could serve as a Barrows portfolio. Weíll have to see if these two creators can be the Claremont/Byrne of their day but, with a beginning like this, we all have reason to believe this storyline may well be the modern day classic Superman story DC is hyping. It will be exciting to see how Superman develops as he moves through the ďGroundedĒ story and how he ultimately must emerge on the other side. But, for now, itís our pleasure to enjoy the ride. My pick of the week.

Adventure Comics #516
DC Comics
Written by: Paul Levitz and Jeff LeMire
Drawn by: Kevin Sharpe and Mahmud Asrar
Cover by: Scott Clark

The first surprise this issue delivers is the return to this titleís historical numbering. But the second surprise, after last issueís meeting of Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes, is that this issue delivers a Paul Levitz retelling of the Legionís very origin. As told by R.J. Brande, the man who created the Legion and also is the father of Chameleon Boy, in the tried and true post-mortem voice-from-the-dead recording (much as Jor-El speaks to Kal-El), Brande recounts for the assembled Legionnaires (in this case, Braniac 5, Chameleon Boy, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Superboy [the traditional re-retconned since Byrne Superman as a boy, not Connor from the Titans]) his own origin and how they all came to be together.

It remains cool that Superman of the 20th Century inspired Brande and, in turn, serves as inspiration to the Legion. Anyone familiar with the Legion knows this already, but itís just great that some things just need to remain true in order to retain their power and meaning. But while nostalgia imbues this story with some charm and plenty of fun, the new elements of this origin story serve to make The Legion a newly accessible team for those just getting into this story now. All in all, this is a pretty benign though completely enjoyable story and, frankly, a perfect jumping on point for Legion fans as well as anyone else who may be looking to get on board with a new title.

This issue also contains a short Atom back-up story that picks up where the Brightest Day: The Atom Special #1 leaves off, which makes the opening a little confusing but no more difficult to understand The Atomís mission or appreciate the fix heís gotten himself into. Atom fans may well cheer a dedicated storyline for their hero, but Iíd be just as fine if Adventure Comics just stuck with the legion and dropped itís $3.99 price tag down to the more standard $2.99.

Daredevil #508
Marvel Comics
Written by: Andy Diggle & Antony Johnston
Drawn by: Roberto De La Torre
Cover by: John Cassaday

Shadowland, the summer street-level event named after the fortress Daredevilís created smack in the middle of Hellís Kitchen, kicked off with a major bang last week with the killing of a major league Marvel villain at the hands of his sworn enemy. Naturally, after the caution already expressed by The Avengers last week, this most recent escapade, broadcast for the world to see, has those closest to Matt, like Foggy and Dakota North, extremely worried about Mattís state of mind and overall mental health. A question, as we learn this issue, is exactly the right question to be asking. It may well be that, during Mattís most recent trip to Japan to unite the Handís five clans, the Handís continental clan leaders have succeeded in a level of corruption similar to poor Regan in The Exorcist. While this is an interesting turn I must admit, though, itís a little disappointing compared to what I thought was a more natural but warped skewing of Mattís perspective.

This issue feels like a bit of the calm before the storm or, coming after Shadowland #1 but before #2, the segment that transitions, with its more street level supporting cast compared to the Shadowland book, from the first to the second part of the main event. What makes this particular book stand out from Shadowland is De La Torreís spectacular art. Since Alex Maleev was on this book, Marvelís done an outstanding job keep the artistic tone and feel of this title consistent over the years, from Maleev to Lark and now to De La Torre. His perspective, level of detail, dramatic poses, scenes and action, as well as his expert use of shadow make him a perfect Daredevil artist.

Itís pretty clear that Shadowland canít be read on its own without its primary companion book, Daredevil, much like Green Lantern was to Blackest Night. But with quality this high and storytelling this strong picking up both of these books feels like a natural, regardless. Certainly, with the player whoís entered the fray on the last page, youíll want to pick up Shadowland #2 to see what happens next.

Sam Wilsonís Review

Captain America Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers #4(of 4)
Marvel Comics
Written by: Reginald Hudlin (damn straight)
Drawn by: Denys Cowan (like chocolate and peanut butter yo)

For those of you who have been sleeping under a rock, you may have missed Reginald Hudlinís run on the Black Panther. He redefined the character for a generation. Under Reggieís pen TíChalla went from b lister to a major player in the Marvel U, marrying into one of Marvelís first families (the X-men, duh) and sitting at the table with Tony Stark and Reed Richards. He stepped away from Tíchalla for a minute, and now heís back, back like a motherfu**er with Denys Cowan in tow. Denys Cowan? You may know him, you know, he redefined the Question back in the Ď80ís in one of that decades most critically acclaimed comic runs, co-founded Milestone Comics (Static, Hardware), had a healthy run on Batman and Detective Comics and most recently redefined the Joker for a new generation (the ďLovers and MadmenĒ storyline from ďBatman ConfidentialĒ). Denys Cowan and Reginald Hudlin working on the Black Panther is destiny, a labor of love, chocolate and peanut butter or Cagney and Lacey even (tip of the hat to Big Daddy Kane). Announced this past year at SDCC (where you can frequently see the two of them walking the floor) this book has been on a lot of folks most anticipated list for awhile. That being said, did it live up to the hype? Hell yeah it didÖ

So yeah, Naziís heads on pikes in the jungle (goddamn that was bad a**). Okay, wait, Iím getting ahead of myself. Our story opens with the Howling Commandos, specifically Gabe Jones. Gabe is our narrator (more or less), and he takes us through his history with the Howlers, Nick Fury and eventually Captain America. The set-up is short and sweet, and soon enough the Howlers are en route to Africa? Why? Hitler needs vibranium to build his transatlantic missile, and he figures a bunch of Africans with spears canít stop him from getting what he needs. Of course he figured wrong and thatís how we got Naziís heads on pikes (goddamn). Anyway, Uncle Sam doesnít have to much faith in the locals either, so in come Captain America and the Howling Commandos. When they touch ground Captain America makes first contact, and sees the Wakandans can handle themselves. Thatís great, but he (and America) wants them to be with the allies in the war. King TíChaka (the Black Panther during WW2, TíChallas father) has no interest in the rest of the world and wants Wakanda to be left alone to its business. So yeah, Captain America (and by extension, America and the allied powers) is not cool with that so a fight ensues. It doesnít go well for Cap, and the Howlers move in to back him up but are stopped by a bunch of bad a** Wakandan soldiers who have way more than spears. The Naziís havenít given up either, and theyíve enlisted their own super soldier to retrieve Wakandaís vibranium and yes. Iím guessing there will be more Naziís heads on pikes (goddamn). The second issue has Captain America and the Howlers aiding the Black Panther in battle, and end up staying as his invited guests. Cap has an agenda though, he believes the Wakandans canít protect themselves and need to become part of the allies so they can be sure the vibranium will stay out of Nazi hands. The Black Panther wants no part of this and really doesnít give a crap what Cap or the US government thinks, but its okay, heíll humor them for now. Anyway, The Red Skull, in addition to having his own super-powered Nazi assholes enlists the help of the White Gorilla (the Man-Apes grandfather I guess). Meanwhile, Nick Fury enlists Gabe Jones to steal the Vibranium from the Black Panther because he feels the Wakandans are incapable of taking care of themselves. It all goes to sh** though when the Super Naziís attack, forcing The Panther and Cap to engage while Nick Fury and the Howlers sneak away to attack the Nazi base camp, and yes, things look hairy which brings us to our final issue. Yup, itís the big show down and Cap and BP fight side by side, and Gabe is forced to make a moral decision. And the Nazis? Well, you know how things worked out for them in the endÖ

This book is the sh**. Sorry, I have no other words. Reginald Hudlin speaks to the fans, and, goddamn, does he speak well. I mean seriously, Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos, Cap, the Black Panther, the Red Skull and Baron Von Strucker heading for a big showdown? Drawn by Denys Cowan? Yeah. Nuff Said. Buy the book, buy the eventual trade, put the cover art as your iphone wallpaper, screw everything else. Classic storytelling is back, yo, and its about goddamn time.

07-15-2010, 10:37 AM

Superman # 701 was AMAZING!!!!

I must have read it 10 times last night!

This was Superman at his very best, JMS's writing was nothing short of BRILLIANT, I especially loved the simple interactions, like when the waitress at the diner said "You're so never leaving this place" and how he dealt with the drug dealers, knowing full well that there are limits to what even he can do, but at least he made that neighborhood a little be better ... and the kid giving him a candy bar ... that was just beautiful.

Superman's exchanges with the jumper ... O M F G ... those few pages alone are worth the price of the book!! I loved when she was finally ready to talk how he just turned and burned the cables to the lights when she asked him if he would ask the cops to turn them off ... but the real clincher came when Superman told the officer that what she needed was someone to LISTEN!! And, the fact that Sups wouldn't answer the cop's question ... gut punch to the heart, because you know that at that moment even he wouldn't have known what to do, if it really came down to that.

To me, even though he was in costume, this story was more about Clark, than either Kal-El or Superman, and yes while it does have a somewhat Forrest Gump feel to it, SO WHAT ... it worked and it worked BRILLIANTLY!!

And it would be an injustice not to give a MAJOR tip of the hat to Eddy Barrow's who's art was absolutely breath taking in it's simplicity. His clean lines and simple perspectives reminded me of comics from a era I thought was long lost.

Even if you're not a regular reader of Superman, this is an issue that EVERYONE should pick up, because THIS is what good story telling is all about!!

All I', gonna say (for me) is I'M HOOKED ... I cannot wait to see what JMS and EB have in store for us next month.

:thumbs2: :thumbs2: :thumbs2: :thumbs2: :thumbs2: :thumbs2: :thumbs2: :thumbs2: :thumbs2: :thumbs2:

07-15-2010, 12:37 PM
Spoilers Continued:

Thanks for chiming in, Jesse. I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews but am delighted when others bring them up to prompt discussion. I absolutely loved the jumper segment of this book, all of it. From Superman's discover and understanding of the situation, to his long discussion with this woman, to his empathy and truth in his statements, and to the nail chewing inflection moment when you really weren't sure which way it was going to go. Just beautifully done.

And, as you know from my review, I couldn't agree more about Barrows' flawless and iconic art!

07-15-2010, 01:37 PM
Re: Superman 701: Wow, just wow. Writing and art were great. I hope JMS can keep up the standard he set here. Barrow's work was just emotional and powerful. I'm also not a regular Superman reader and picked this up on the buzz surrounding it. I'll be picking up the rest of this storyline to see where it goes.

Monty Props
07-15-2010, 10:15 PM
Great reviews WKTF and couldn't agree with you more on both Superman and Daredevil. I'm a bit disappointed in Lord Daredevil's "possession" for lack of better word. I'd be happy if this was just Matt at the end of his rope with an "enough is enough" attitude. I only started reading Superman because JMS took over and I loved what he had done on Thor. I'm so glad I did. I am without speech.

07-16-2010, 11:44 AM
Thanks for chiming in, Jesse. I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews but am delighted when others bring them up to prompt discussion.

Unfortunately, there's very few ways to "discuss" this story without revealing spoilers.

07-16-2010, 12:11 PM
Unfortunately, there's very few ways to "discuss" this story without revealing spoilers.

Oh, I agree, and I thought your post was dead-on.

07-16-2010, 11:14 PM
Eric (my better half) just read the book and he LOVED it too. :)

07-17-2010, 02:08 AM
Eric (my better half) just read the book and he LOVED it too. :)

What's not to love? :thumbs2:

07-19-2010, 03:10 PM
I read superman #701 and just thought it was good.

not great.

And superman #700, the JMS story was just aweful. Really? A woman blaming Superman for the death of her husband from cancer?

Not sure if I will continue picking up the rest of this series. Hey, I didn't like All-Star Superman either.

07-20-2010, 01:13 PM
Well, Mike, while you certainly seem to be in the minority on all counts (Superman #701, All-Star Superman and Wonder Woman) you're certainly not alone, per this review of Superman #701: