Monthly Archives: December 2017

Quick Critiques – Dec. 11, 2017


Batman #36 (DC Comics)
by Tom King, Clay Mann & Seth Mann

I remember when I was a kid buying World’s Finest #271, one of DC’s many oversized dollar titles, and that issue promised a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Superman/Batman team. It explored the history of the characters’ connection (and I believed it opened to my eyes to DC’s multiple-earths concepts, which I loved). That purchase was made 36 years ago, so it’s safe to say I’ve read a lot of Superman/Batman team-up stories. With this newly released story, Tom King may have delivered the best Superman/Batman story to date. The villain in this opening chapter of the “Superfriends” story arc is deliciously deep cut, but what makes this such a memorable and touching piece of pop culture is King’s focus on who Bruce and Clark are and they view one another. The pacing and scripting are meticulous. I love how every moment, every word parallels another. I can’t begin to express how happy this comic book made me. My awe at the writing gave way to a real warmth inside. Thanks, Mr. King, for snatching a relatively simple notion out of the ether — the heroes’ unspoken awe and respect for one another — and shaping a wonderfully grounded tale that still builds on the ongoing engagement story.

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Flea Market Finds: Runaways (Battleworld)

Runaways v.4 #s 1-4
Writer: Noelle Stevenson
Artists: Sanford Greene & Noelle Stevenson
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover artist: Greene (regular)/Phil Noto & Stevenson (variants for #s 1 & 2)
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US per issue

With the new Runaways TV series well underway now, I figured it would be a good time to delve into a set of comics of the same title from 2015 that I picked up for a song a couple of months ago. During its Secret Wars crossover series from that year, Marvel published a diverse array of limited series set in the weird, patchwork landscape of the World That Doom Built. Runaways (which carried “Secret Wars” and “Battleworld” branding on the covers) focused on various teen heroes. Writer Noelle Stevenson manages to achieve a nice balance between a dire, deadly tone to the story and a more irreverent side that’s in keeping with the youthful, oddball qualities of the characters. Unfortunately, the book was hindered by a couple of things. Firstly, like all of these “Secret Wars” spinoffs, there was a sense of the impermanent and inconsequential nature inherent in the alt-universe premise of the larger crossover, and secondly, I was constantly distracted by the fact that only one of the characters from the original title from which this spinoff derived its title was included in the cast of characters.

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Ready, Jet, Go!

Jupiter Jet #1
Writers: Jason Inman & Ashley Victoria Robinson
Artists: Ben Matsuya (main story)/Jorge Corona (“The Origin of the Jetpack, Part One”)
Colors: Mara Jayne Carpenter
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover artists: Ben Matusya (two covers) & Jonboy Meyers
Editor: Nicole D’Andria
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

This comic book came to my attention because my local shop announced it would be hosting a signing event later this month with the writers. As a customer and comics enthusiast who wants to support the only comic shop in the area, I plunked my cash down for a copy of the first issue. I’m quite pleased that I did, because I discovered a delightfully entertaining, all-ages comic. We’ve seen a rise in this sort of comic in recent years, and I hope we see more, because it’s this sort of fare that can expand the medium’s audience. Jupiter Jet is a celebration of pluck and pop culture, and of the wonder and imagination that’s inherent in science and engineering. There’s enough of an air of mystery in the story to keep the reader coming back for more, and a couple of young characters whose energy and enthusiasm is infectious.

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Future Imperfect

Faith and the Future Force trade paperback
Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Stephen Segovia, Barry Kitson, Diego Bernard; Juan Castro, Card Nord & Brian Thies
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover artist: Kano
Editor: Warren Simons
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Price: $9.99 US

My knowledge of any incarnation of the Valiant Universe is limited; the only Valiant-related title I ever followed with any regularity was The Second Life of Dr. Mirage in the 1990s. As for Faith, despite her significant rise in popularity as a character in the latest Valiant relaunch, I really had no knowledge of her other than her non-traditional body shape for the genre and the fact that she can fly. I’ve been curious about the character, given online chatter I’ve seen, but I generally attributed her higher profile to the fact that she’s a plus-sized character with which segments of the comics-reading audience could identify. Her titular role in Faith and the Future Force and the pleasing campiness of the title prompted me to give it a glance, and I’m pleased that I did. The book serves as a somewhat accessible introduction to the character, and I was surprised and entertained by what I found. Ultimately, some plot elements robs the story of tension, and the ever-shifting art styles found here are off-putting despite being crafted by some solid talent. Despite its flaws, though, this Faith and the Future Force collection is worth a look, especially given the affordable price, which is two thirds of the total cost of the original issues.

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Bruce Almighty

Batman: Creature of the Night #1
“Book One: I Shall Become…”
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist/Colors/Cover artist: John Paul Leon
Letters: Todd Klein
Editors: Chris Conroy & Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $5.99 US

I had no idea this project was in the works at DC, but as soon as I saw the cover and who was writing it, I immediately recognized it as a sister book to the much heralded (and deservedly so) Superman: Secret Identity from 2004. In that book, a man living in a world in which Superman is a comic-book character just as he is in ours ends up developing the same powers as the Man of Steel, and essentially becomes Superman. It was a fascinating character study and an exploration of how the world who really react to such a powerful figure. With Creature of the Night, Busiek offers the same examination, but this time, he delves into the notion of the Batman. I suspected it wouldn’t work as well in this context, given that Batman is a hero without powers; I thought the lack of the fantastic might not offer the same opportunities to the writer. I might be right, but I don’t know, because Busiek surprised me, bringing an element of the supernatural or paranormal to bear here as well. Creature of the Night hasn’t quite hooked me as strongly as Secret Identity did right off the bat, but I remain intrigued. What pleased me the most about this book was how it appears to serve as another example of DC’s willingness to experiment with format and non-continuity examinations of its more noteworthy properties again.

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