Superman Trade Post: Man Of Steel Volume 6 & Eradication!

SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL VOLUME 6 (DC)
Written by John Byrne, Ron Frenz, Jim Starlin & Dan Jurgens
Drawn by Art Adams, Ron Frenz, Dan Jurgens & John Byrne
Collects Action Comics Annual #1, Adventures Of Superman Annual #1, Superman Annual #1, Action Comics #594-595, Booster Gold #23 & Superman #12.
I’ve only blogged about the fourth Man of Steel volume before, but this is a series of collections that I adore, even if I’m not in love with all the of stories therein. I find myself looking back to the 80s and 90s moreso than looking forward to books coming out in the future from Marvel and DC. Part of that is because I’m out of the loop and only really hearing about things after they’re either well liked or panned. Not having all the comic book access I used to is a bummer, partially because I love reading comics, but more prominently because I don’t have the opportunity (or don’t give myself the opportunity) to make up my own opinions unless I find myself lucky enough to get a trade.

Anyway, I appreciate what creators were doing at DC back then. After Crisis everyone was just trying to figure out what was going on and making some really interesting comics that fit in all different corners–some of which we hadn’t seen before–in the DCU. This collection of Superman comics–mostly annuals–does some of that itself. The underutilized but ridiculously amazing Art Adams draws one of the annuals which features Superman, Batman, Robin AND vampires. I had read the issue before, but it was fun reading it again. Then, there’s one of those stories where a monster runs amok, but he’s not really a bad guy. It might have been new then, but I’ve read it enough to know all the beats. Jim Starlin–who I just interviewed actually for CBR–does some really interesting stuff in an annual that thankfully wasn’t paint by numbers and really had be guessing, trying to figure out what was going on. The Booster Gold crossover was fun, followed by the origin of Lori Lemaris which I already knew, so it was kinda boring and finally a Silver Banshee story (possibly her first–at least post-Crisis–appearance?) that does the ol’ “Superman/Martian Manhunter” switcheroo.

In the end, I think the level of enjoyment you get out of these issues will depend heavily on what comics you have already read, how much you already know about Superman and how much you like Superman. I’ve read a ton of comics and know a lot about Superman, but I also love the character and have a great interest in this era because it’s what directly influenced the comics I wound up reading in the early 90s. I’m definitely having holes filled in my mental map of Superman’s history and hope that the Man Of Steel trade series continues on. Has anyone heard anything about that? I don’t think anything past this sixth volume has been announced, right?

SUPERMAN ERADICATION (THE ORIGIN OF THE ERADICATOR) (DC)
Written by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway & Roger Stern
Drawn by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, George Perez & Kerry Gammill
Collects Action Comics #651-652, Adventures Of Superman #460, 464, 465 & Superman #41, 42
I have a series of 90s era Superman trades I’ve had sitting around for a while. I’ve been holding off on reading them because I was hoping the Man Of Steel volumes would catch up. I still want that to happen because, frankly, some of these books are kind of a mess. The trade paperback market was pretty infantile at the time, which might explain why this book that supposedly tells the origin of The Eradicator (who would play a big role in The Return Of Superman storyline, hence the trade) doesn’t really achieve that goal. From what I can tell, it would be a difficult task because there was a significant amount of time between Superman being given the Eradicator (that thing that looks like his spaceship floating about his hand in the trade) and the story you read in the pages.

Another problem is that this story doesn’t actually feature the character we came to know as Eradicator, but instead a tale of Superman/Clark Kent becoming very distant and more Kryptonian (ie cold and scientific). The problem is that, if you’ve probably seen this story before if you’ve been reading Superman comics before. I’d rather read all the comics that lead up to this, the ones that showed Clark becoming Editor in Chief of Newstime magazine or the troubles that Jimmy Olsen finds himself in or the Draaga story. Instead, we get peeks at those threads but the “Hey Clark and Superman are acting wonky, aren’t they?” takes center stage.

A few fun bits do include the building of the Fortress of Solitude, a fight with Lobo and Maxima explaining her intentions for Superman (she wants to make him her man and take him back to her planet Almerac). These are elements that I am familiar and was happy to learn more about. As it happened those same elements played into some of the other older Superman trades I happened to read and will write about shortly. I was kind of disappointed in the collection as a whole because it wasn’t very interesting or original, but it did offer more pieces to the puzzle that is “my” Superman (basically from the Man Of Steel miniseries til the end of Infinite Crisis). Hopefully, the Man of Steel collection series will continue on so I can have a better idea of everything that was going on around this time.

TJ’s Toy Chest: DC Universe Classics Atom Smasher, Blue Aquaman & Classic Booster Gold

Between the cat being a jerk and Atom Smasher’s right leg popping out, this was a surprisingly difficult picture to take. But more on that in a bit. As I mentioned recently, the only figures I was missing from the Atom Smasher wave of DCUC figures were Booster Gold and Blue Costume Aquaman. I also recently came into some Target gift cards, which I figured I could put to good use by picking up at least the Booster figure. Last week the missus and I went to Target and I was shocked to see that that exact wave of figures was on clearance for the reduced price of $10.40. Now, that doesn’t quite reach back to my action figure heyday when I could get four figures for $20, but it was discount enough to get me to buy that damn Blue Costume Aquaman. The reason I hate that figure is because 1) there already are two Aquaman figures out there in the world that I already have and 2) he came with the torso of the Atom Smasher figure. It’s the only move of the DCUC line that bothers me. What not help us out a bit and have Flash come with the torso and not a figure stand? Because no one would buy him otherwise, is the answer I assume. In the end, I’m not too upset because, in my head, I spent the $10 for an Atom Smasher figure that came with an Aquaman figure. As you can see from the pictures (aside from the missus’ clear contempt for what I was doing in the background) I finally decided on the classic version of the Booster figure even though I really wanted the Skeets with Mr. Mind in it. I decided to go with the larger figure I preferred, which is the one with the collar. Anyway, Aquaman and Booster are both great figures. I like how Skeets attaches in the back in the same way that Mr. Terrific’s T Spheres do. I’m also a big fan of the Atom Smasher figure, though how much cooler would it have been if it was his previous identity Nuklon? As I mentioned his right leg popped out a few times, but overall, he’s a great build-a-figure and definitely the largest figure in my collection (I have the Giganta wave figures, but not Giganta herself or any of the equally large Marvel Legends ones).

I think the build a figure concept might be the best thing to come along in action figures in years. Why not give people a little extra value in their package with pieces to build a larger figure who looks awesomely cool when finally assembled? Metamorpho, Gorilla Grodd, Metallo, Solomon Grundy and Kalibak are all sick and I hope to add the other large figures to my collection, especially Kilowog. I love me some Green Lanterns.

Trade Post: Flash The Human Race, Human Target & Booster Gold Reality Lost

FLASH: THE HUMAN RACE (DC)
Written by Grant Morrison & Mark Millar, drawn by Paul Ryan, Ron Wagner, Pop Mhan, Joshua Hood & Mike Probeck
Collects Flash Vol. 2 #136-141, Secret Origins #50
Even though I have great respect for what Geoff Johns did with the character, my favorite version of Wally West was the crazy horn dog from Justice League Europe. He was very fun, to me he was what I always heard Spider-Man to be, cracking jokes and loving the whole superhero thing, but looking to get down whenever possible. Books like this one and Johns’ trades are swaying me more towards the dating Linda Park version of the character. Mind you, I always liked LInda and Wally when he was with her, but it always seemed like when your crazy friend starts dating someone and starts to calm down. You still like him, you just kind of miss the old version of him. Anyway, this is the second trade collecting Morrison and Millar’s run on the book, but you don’t really need to have read the previous book to understand this one. The trade collects two basic storylines, the first being Wally running across dimensions against his supposed imaginary friend from childhood for the fate of the world and the second being Wally dealing with Linda’s apparent death and the Black Flash. Both stories are great, as you might expect from the pairing of writers (though I’m no fan of Millar).

The book does a great job of showing why Wally is cool without telling you, which is something that Johns hasn’t been doing a great job of with Barry since his return in my opinion. First off, he saves the whole universe by running. It sounds simple, but it’s across time and space, so not only does it look cool, but really gets into his head in some smart ways that I really liked. Then, you see Wally at one of the lowest points of his life. He basically quits on the hero gig because he lost his speed and is devastated by Linda’s death. He does come back, though and that’s what makes him a hero. The inclusion of the Morrison-written Flash Secret Origin story is a nice extra that I appreciate for completist sake. The art in the book is kind of all over the place, but the Pop Mahn stuff really stands out for me.

HUMAN TARGET (Vertigo)
Written by Peter Milligan, drawn by Edvin Biukovic
Collects Human Target #1-4
After checking out an episode of Human Target on Fox, I wanted to read the comic to see how similar the two are. And the answer seems to be very little. I know this Vertigo take on the character probably doesn’t exclusively follow the history set up in his previous adventures, though it does seem like it would fit in, but the whole concept of the Human Target in comics is that Christopher Chance takes on the potential victim’s identity to draw out assassins and take care of them. From what I could tell of the one episode I saw (and I haven’t seen any more after that) he’s just a bodyguard, so I’m not sure why they bothered shelling out the licensing fees for just the names. Anyway, this book is okay, but not necessary for anyone to read. The plot is a bit overcomplicated with Chance’s former assistant actually taking on Chance’s identity and then that of a pastor. His problem is that he wants to be anyone but himself, which laves his wife in the lurch. Milligan handles all the twists and turns of the story well, but I felt like the story should have been more about Chance himself and not him dealing with his old protege. It reminded me of 100 Bullets, but didn’t hit me anywhere as much as that book did on a nearly monthly basis. Also, Biukovic’s art looks a lot like Eduardo Risso’s but it’s a little more rounded. So, while this book didn’t really do anything for me, I would like to check out some other Human Target comics because I like the concept. It’s such a strong concept, in fact, that they should make a TV show out of it.

BOOSTER GOLD: REALITY LOST (DC)
Written & drawn by Dan Jurgens with some Chuck Dixon issues
Collects Booster Gold Vol. II #11, 12, 15-19
This is the third trade collecting what I think has been a great run on a book starring a character I’ve had a fondness for since I first picked up Extreme Justice and some other Justice League books backin my formative years. Since his 52-era reboot, Booster’s been running around keeping time safe for humanity learning lessons about what you can go back and save and what you can’t. You might think this isn’t the best place to start, but issues #11 and 12 were written by Dixon who took over from Geoff Johns and my buddy Jeff Katz and then Jurgens takes over as writer with issues #15. I’ve gotta say that it bugs me anytime a trade like this doesn’t just collect everything in one volume. Would it really have been such a difficult task to include the two issues written by Rick Remender and drawn by Pat Oliffe? I’m not a big fan of those guys thanks to how the ruined All Star Atom at the very end, but I’d rather be able to skip some issues in a book than have to read things all out of order.

Anyway, the story starts off with what should have been a simple stopping of a crime and ends up involving several trips back to the same Killer Moth job. Dixon wrote these and while they might seem like throwaways, Jurgens uses them later on in his story which involves all kinds of time travel, past stories and two Boosters teaming up to fight a former colleague of Rip Hunter’s. The story did get a little confusing because it goes in and out of previous issues and I always wonder what happened in the issues that aren’t collected. But, it will go back on the shelf with the first two trades so I can read them all in one sitting later. Also, Jurgens has been killing it art-wise on this book as far as I’m concerned which is great because after Battle For Bludhaven, I really thought he had lost it.