Superman Trade Post: Secret Origin & Secret Identity

superman secret origin Superman: Secret Origin (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Gary Frank
Collects Superman: Secret Origin #1-6

When I started reading Superman comics, the character was about six years out from his post-Crisis reboot which de-powered him a bit and made a conscientious effort to make him the last Kryptonian (hence a clone Superboy and extra-dimensional shape-shifting Supergirl). Another major tenet of those days was that Superman because Superman as an adult. This was the Superman I knew, though I also understood that the Golden and Silver Age were jam packed with elements that didn’t fit into that rubric. I try my best to keep an open mind for Superman stories that don’t fit into that mold, but sometimes they throw me for a loop. Luckily, I didn’t have that problem with Geoff Johns’ retelling of the Man of Steel’s life in Secret Origin.

Johns worked with the amazing Gary Frank on this miniseries after they teamed up on Action Comics a few times. Essentially, this is the definitive origin story for the post-Infinite Crisis DCU which has since gone the way of those aforementioned older ages. Still, there’s plenty of Superman-fueled goodness in here for people to dig into.

The first issue is set in Clark’s earlier days when his parents reveal his alien origins to him. He’s mad about the whole thing, but still uses his abilities to help people when he can. We also find that Lex Luthor grew up in Smallville too and even encountered Clark. My favorite part? Young Clark doesn’t like the Superboy costume his mom made him, which makes perfect sense when you think of a modern teenager running around with his underwear on the outside. In the next issue, Clark heads to the future to hang out with the Legion. I wish Frank could draw a thousand issues of Legion comics, I really do, he’s perfect for them.

The last four issues follow Clark as he gets to Metropolis and working at the Daily Planet while also revealing himself to be a hero. One of the interesting things that Johns does in this book is take some of the classic elements and making them make sense in more modern times. The costume thing is part of that, but so is the fact that the Daily Planet is still a paper that exists (instead of all the ones that have closed down in the past decade). For my money, that’s one of Johns’ strongest talents, integrating old craziness and making it work even in a world where aliens come to Earth and save the day all the time. I even like what he did with Metallo and Parasite, though I’m not a fan of the former’s design this time around (you can’t like everything, right?).

So, no, this isn’t MY Superman (everyone has their own) but it still tells a great Superman story that’s not unrecognizable. One of the problems I’ve had trying to read the New 52 Superman books is that he just doesn’t seem like Superman to me. This is still on point and fits in with what I like about the character: he’s the ultimate orphan who still wants to fight for his larger family, humanity.

superman secret identitySuperman: Secret Identity (DC)
Written by Kurt Busiek, drawn by Stuart Immonen
Collects Superman: Secret Identity #1-4

Superman: Secret Identity is one of those books that everyone loves and I just never got around to reading. I actually have the last three issues in a box out in the garage, but wasn’t going to fully skip the first issue. Luckily, the library had a copy, so I dove in right after Secret Origins.

This story by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen is actually about a person named Clark Kent who’s in a version of our world. His parents named him that as a joke because everyone knows about the comic book and pop culture icon. But, after a mysterious meteor hits nearby, Clark gets Superman-like powers and starts experiencing some of the fictional hero’s ups and downs.

In a way, this book reminds me of Paul Cornell’s Action Comics story “The Black Ring” in that you find yourself learning about Superman by comparing him to the character you find yourself reading. This version of Clark follows some of the fictional version’s path, but he also finds himself living in a simpler world than the one in the comics, but still one filled with a certain amount of danger for him and his eventual family. He also deals with concepts like secret identities in ways that feel more realistic than some of the ways they are dealt with in ongoing comic book series’ that not only try to keep things interesting year in and year out, but also come from a variety of different minds and voices.

As it is, Secret Identity is a wonderful take on Superman from two very distinct, but complimentary voices in Busiek and Immonen. I was familiar with the artist’s work on books like Adventures Of Superman, but here he keeps his figures smaller and more realistic, while playing more with darkness and shadows than I remember him doing in the the mainstream superhero work. Together he and Busiek nail that real-person-dealing-with-the-unreal idea that the writer has become famous for in his comic book career.

Comics, Comics, Comics, Comics: Gen 13 By John Arcudi & Gary Frank

Gen 13 26 On several different occasions (including this one) I’ve talked about how much I dug Gen 13 in the 90s. Every ten years or so there’s a teen superhero comic that kids of that era really gravitate to. For me it was Gen 13. I started reading the book somewhere in the teens and made it my mission to track down all of the accompanying issues, crossovers, spinoffs, one-shots and first appearances. I actually did a pretty good job and have close to a complete set from their first appearance up to Claremont’ run.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read OG Gen 13 comics though. When it comes to youthful favorites I often wonder if my adult self will enjoy the material as much as my younger self did. In this case I’m not so sure how things will hold up, but there was one run I decided to try again when we went to my parents’ house for Christmas: Gen 13 #25-41 written by John Arcudi and drawn by Gary Frank, two of my favorite creators these days.

The Arcudi/Frank stuff really starts in a back-up story in #25 so that’s where I began re-reading. The gang — superstrong Caitlin Fairchild, weather manipulator Sarah Rainmaker, firestarter Bobby “Burnout” Lane, gravity controller Roxy and  molecular bonder Grunge — are supposed to be lying low in NYC especially after their leader Mr. Lynch has been framed as a terrorist by the media and I/O leader Ivana. While I’m not 100% on what all went on in the 24 issues leading up to #25, it had something to do with part of the team going to space and Caitlin meeting a deranged version of their mentor and team leader John Lynch. Coming back, she can’t completely trust him because the crazy version didn’t seem all that different than the man she knows. After running into a fellow Gen Active who has a history with Lynch and fighting a mad scientist power-sucker named Tindalos, they head to the Florida Keys to lie even lower for a while.

Gen 13 33In the Keys their adventures seem a bit more mundane but still include local conspiracy theorists, the return of Caitlin’s dad Alex, half the team running into another mad scientist who turned into a giant baby (see: right) and a quick trip back to New York by Roxy and Sarah so the former could meet with her step mom and the latter can try and find a woman she briefly met and became smitten with. All of this leads to a pretty bonkers confrontation with Tindalos and an attack that not everyone survives.

I vaguely remember this arc when it was happening and thinking it was kind of weird and slow. That’s an opinion that was shared by some of my fellow readers who wrote letters to that effect. But, like many of them, I found this arc to be incredibly engaging this time around. Sure, it lacks the on-the-run, constantly-in-danger antics of the previous 25 or so issues, but there is just so much going on here on a character level. Caitlin has to deal with her feelings about Lynch, Lynch needs some time away, Alex comes in and starts leading the team, Roxy discovers that her step mom is actually her birth mother AND that Alex is her dad. To a lesser extent, Sarah tries to combat her loneliness and find a lost potential-love. Grunge and Bobby don’t go through as much, but that’s alright. If everyone was having some kind of crisis, it would be exhausting.

Plus, Arcudi really made this whole thing feel like an arc. Characters learn things about themselves and each other, they deal with those revelations and by the end, most of them are different, especially Caitlin. And, while the wrap-up seemed to come a bit faster than originally intended (those last three issues cut back and forth a lot to the point where I’m still not exactly sure what happened), I still think as a whole these issues tell a complete larger story that feels satisfying at the end of it.

Did I mention how much I love Gary Frank’s art? Because I loooooooove Gary Frank’s art. I first saw his work on Midnight Nation and then a few other books that have all been a visual treat including his awesome run on Action Comics with Geoff Johns. He has such a clear, crisp style that mixes the big time superhero stuff we all know and love with the facial expressions of a Kevin Maguire or Steve Dillon. Heck, Cassidy from Preacher even shows up in a panel at one point!

gen 13 41

After reading this run again, I’m actually pretty excited to go back and read the rest of the books in my Gen 13 collection. I remember some really fun arcs, runs and one-shots in there that should be a treat to go back to. While I don’t think all of them will be as good or solid as this run, I think there will definitely be some fun nostalgia moments.

I also realized that this run will be a good candidate for binding. At 17 issues, it’s pretty much the perfect size. But, the real question becomes whether I want to bind my entire collection. If that is the case, I might have to take a closer look and figure out the best way to do so. Before this arc you’ve got 24 issues, plus the various first appearances and the original Gen 13 miniseries, so I’m just not sure how it will all shake out until I get my collection back together in one place. Maybe I’ll pick a mini or a few one-shots from this era to round things out.

Wonder Woman Trade Post: Diana Prince Volume 4 & Who Is Wonder Woman?

diana_prince_vol_4 Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Volume 4 (DC)
Written by Denny O’Neil, Samuel R. Delany, Bob Haney & Robert Kanigher, drawn by Don Heck, Dick Giordano, Jim Aparo & Don Heck
Collects Wonder Woman #199-204, Brave And The Bold #105

If you’ve already read my reviews of the first, second and third volumes of the Diana Prince: Wonder Woman you already know the basic idea behind this quartet of collections: Wonder Woman decided to stay in this reality when the Greek gods decided to go on a sojourn. Now on her own, the powerless Diana Prince still did her best to right wrongs while also learning martial arts from a man named I Ching, wearing a lot of white and opening up a boutique.

Before writing this review I went back and read the previous three, partially because it’s taken me five years to read four trades, but also because I needed a little refresher on my thoughts. All three reviews share two elements of this run that I got a kick out of: Mike Sekowsky’s writing and art are fantastic and the issues run the gamut of genres much like the films Roger Corman produced around the same time. This volume, unfortunately lacks Sekowsky’s involvement, but does continue the genre mash-up goodness that I so enjoy.

Much like she did in the first volume, Diana finds herself palling around with a private detective, this one Jonny Double (the same guy Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso rejuvenated in the 1998 miniseries). He’s a fun character because he’s your traditional down-on-his-luck guy, but also peppers his speech with some beatnik-ness which goes well with the overall vibe of this book. Diana and Jonny get paid to protect a guy. What sounds like a simple bodyguard job turns into all kinds of wonderful wackiness involving cultists, exploding dogs (not a typo) and jousters on motorized unicycles (also not a typo). The next story is even crazier, borrowing elements and characters from Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser, a concept I know nothing about but still involved swords, sorcery, mystical gems and Catwoman (she and the Gray Mouser both chase a mouse!).

The book ends a bit wobbly thanks to an issue of Brave And The Bold that doesn’t feature nearly enough mod Diana drawn by Jim Aparo. This one didn’t do much for me, but I do appreciate it in the book. Then you’ve got the penultimate issue which is fantastic. This one has Diana getting in on the Women’s Lib movement and helping bring down a man setting up a crummy department store to put women in danger while making money off of ladies wanting to get in on at least the fashion of women’s lib. There’s a lot of great stuff in this one from O’Neil who’s no slouch in the writing department.

Let’s call this SPOILER TOWN (for a decades-old book). This last issue feels like an editor coming in with a broom and just sweeping everything that I love away. I Ching gets killed by a sniper on page 4, Diana goes after him but winds up hitting her head and losing her memory on page 7, by 13 she’s back on Paradise Island and we’re treated to another retelling of her origins. Oddly, we’re also introduced to Nubia the Wonder Woman from another Amazon place called the Floating Island. Has this ever been brought up again? My Wonder Woman knowledge is just about zero between this time and the next time Diana lost her powers in The Contest, so it very well may have and I missed it. It seems like an interesting idea and while they don’t completely dump on everything that came before it or tell you that it never happened, it certainly feels like an unceremonious end to a series I really enjoyed. Even with a bit of a weak ending, I’m still a huge fan of this line of books and will proudly display them on my bookshelves…when I eventually get shelves big enough to support my whole collection.

wonder woman who is wonder woman Wonder Woman: Who Is Wonder Woman? (DC)
Written by Allan Heinberg, drawn by Terry Dodson with Gary Frank
Collects Wonder Woman #1-4, Annual #1

Much like with New 52, DC had different levels of failure and success when they pulled their One Year Later jump towards the end of the universe-altering Infinite Crisis. I’m still a huge fan of what Judd Winick did in Green Arrow and Outsiders and also Up, Up And Away which reintroduced us to Superman. But others didn’t go over so well. Remember Nightwing? Nah, don’t, it’s not worth it, I promise. Wonder Woman fell somewhere in between, but everyone was really excited about it. Allan Heinberg moved from TV to comics with Young Avengers which was pretty great and also joined Geoff Johns for a JLA arc that was heavily tied to Infinite Crisis. Teaming him up with Terry and Rachel Dodson seemed like a killer match. But, the book was super late. MyComicShop tells me that the first three issues came out consecutively, but there’s a four month gap between #3 and #4 with the annual hitting nine months after that. Much like they did with the first Geoff Johns/Richard Donner arc of Action Comics, DC switched gears with the ongoing to get the issues coming out more regularly and finished this story in an annual. None of this matters to you if you’re just reading this book, of course.

The intent of this book was to set up a new status quo for Wonder Woman. This comes after the lead up to Infinite Crisis which found Diana killing Maxwell Lord who had the power to control minds and did exactly that with Superman. Wonder Woman dropped off the face of the map for a year — just like Superman and Batman — but is now back…as Diana Prince, an agent of the Department of Metahuman Affairs partnered with Nemesis. While she’s working at being a secret agent, Donna Troy has stepped in as Wonder Woman and Cassie Wonder Girl is pissed off at the whole thing. But, Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery — Cheetah, Giganta, Dr. Psycho and a small fleet of others — wants her to return so they go after Donna and Cassie. The real baddie then gets revealed and Diana winds up with a new status quo: when she turns from Wonder Woman back into Diana, she loses her powers.

It’s not a bad set-up and if this was a simple four issue lead-in to whatever happened next, it’d be great. But, I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Issues #4-13 feature issues by Will Pfeifer, novelist Jodi Piccoult and J. Torres, but my memories of those issues aren’t very good. This was also around the time that Amazon’s Attack happened which also doesn’t have a good reputation in my brain. With #14, Gail Simone hops on board and creates one of the best Wonder Woman runs in recent memory (I’ve got to read Rucka’s stuff). I don’t remember her stuff taking muck or anything from this arc, so it winds up feeling a little pointless upon further reflection.

Trade Post: Bloody Mary & Tom Strong Volume 1

bloody mary gart ennis tpb Bloody Mary (Helix/Vertigo/DC)
Written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Carlos Ezquerra
Collects Bloody Mary #1-4, Bloody Mary: Lady Liberty #1-4

Garth Ennis is one of those comic creators who has earned a life-time pass as far as I’m concerned. His work on Preacher (my reviews of which you can read here, here and here) resulted in one of my favorite works of fiction ever. I’ve read plenty of his other stuff from the myriad of World War II-inspired tales to things like Punisher: Welcome Back Frank and The Authority: Kev. While most of those other books don’t match Preacher (probably because that book now stands on such a pedestal in my mind) they’re all enjoyable.

When I saw a copy of his Bloody Mary trade on a fellow Sequential Swapper’s page, I was quick to try and get my hands on it. We were able to work something out and I eventually got to reading it fairly recently. Packed with the usual Ennis dark humor and bloody violence, the two miniseries’ featured in the collection follow the adventures of a super soldier by the name of Bloody Mary who fights on the side of the US and Britain in their longrunning war with Europe in the year 2012. As you might expect from a Garth Ennis comic, neither side is particularly angelic and just about everyone has severe emotional and psychological problems, but that doesn’t stop them from having a sense of humor about all the terrible things going on around them.

Both stories — which were published in the mid-90s by DC’s short-lived sci-fi tinged imprint Helix — work really well in their allotted four issue stories which can be a nice change if you’re used to huge, overarching comic stories. It’s nice to see a writer and artist get in there, do their thing and walk away with four rad issues of art and story. Speaking of which, Carlos Ezquerra is pretty much the perfect artist for this book. He’d done plenty of dystopian war torn futures from his days working on 2000 AD. In fact, I’d say that, even though Mary herself is American and Ennis is Irish, the look and feel of Bloody Mary reminds me of what few British comics I’ve read and seen from the lates 70s/early 80s, but in a way that doesn’t feel old or tired. I’m not sure if this was their first pairing, but Ennis and Ezquerra would go on to work together plenty of times and now I kind of want to back and read some of those WWII stories.

tom strong volume 1 Tom Strong Volume 1 (America’s Best Comics/WildStorm/DC)
Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Chris Sprouse with Art Adams, Gary Frank, Dave Gibbons & Jerry Ordway
Collects Tom Strong #1-7

By the time Alan Moore launched America’s Best Comics through WildStorm  back in 1999 I’d probably read Watchmen, but it was still a little over my head. So, I wasn’t as crazy excited about ABC as I should have been. I’ve written extensively about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen here and here as well as Top 10, but the two glaring omissions in my ABC reading have been Tom Strong and Promethea. I’ve attempted to read both of these books at different times in my comic reading career and even have the very first issue of Tom Strong signed by Chris Sprouse (as well as a sketch of Tom that Sprouse very nicely did for me around the time of the book’s launch). And yet, neither clicked for whatever reasons.

Well, recently, again while perusing Sequential Swap, I saw the first volume of Tom Strong up for trade and decided to give it a read. Man am I glad I did. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Tom Strong is a kind of Doc Savage type character whose scientist dad decided to move to an island in 1899 when Strong’s mom was still pregnant with him. Tom was born into a pressurized containment unit where he was taught by his parents and their robot Pneuman but never had skin to skin interaction with them until the day an earthquake hit, his parents were killed and Tom emerged to be raised by the island’s natives, a group who had mastered their own sciences. Tom strong eventually married their princess Dhalua, became a renowned adventurer and had a daughter named Tesla.

Much like Bloody Mary, I enjoyed how these issues mostly did their own thing while also adding to the growing mythology of Tom Strong. And that’s really the beauty of this particular Alan Moore comic book, you get the feeling that this entire world exists in his head and he’s giving you exactly what details you require when you need them to not only keep you invested in the story, but also to show you how deep that well goes. Each issue is basically a self-contained story that also includes a back-up story, usually informing the formerl. I loved the storytelling on display which could be enjoyed both for the adventure itself, but also as a way of watching a writer convey story and worldbuilding to the reader without ever getting heavy-handed or boring.

Speaking of never boring, the art in this book is masterful. Sprouse’s style is absolutely perfect for the big, bold heroics that go along with the core of Tom Strong as a character and a comic book. His lines are so clean and clear that you always know exactly what’s going on which is even more impressive when you think about how dense Moore’s scripts can be. Adding to the visual fun is a host of beloved artists who offered their talents to the back ups. Art Adams and Gary Frank are two of my absolute favorites so seeing them do some stories was great. You also get to see Jerry Ordway and Dave Gibbons do their thing.

tom strong sketch chris sprouseThe crazy thing about this book is that it kind of felt like Alan Moore was using some of his crazy snake god magic on me through its pages as a way of inspiring creativity. There was something about the time and place and experience of reading this book that I’ve never experience before. As I read each issue, I was further driven to sit down and write my own stuff. I was literally reading the issue while also thinking about my own story which seemed to be growing at a much more rapid pace than usual and then putting the book down, flipping my laptop open and typing ideas like a madman. I don’t know if I was just inspired by the creativity on the page or what, but it was a really great experience.

KEEP OR DUMP: As you might already be able to tell by the reviews, I’ll be keeping both of these books in my collection because I enjoyed the reading experiences so much. When it comes to Bloody Mary, I’m sure I’ll want to return to this book both to experience this story again and also to  get a quick dose of Ennis that doesn’t involve reading a much larger run on a series like Preacher, Hitman or Punisher. Regarding Tom Strong, I’m keeping it and also doing my best to track down the other trades even though I know Moore doesn’t write the last two or three. I look forward to acquiring them and eventually reading the whole run altogether.

Superman Trade Post: The Legion Of Super-Heroes & Brainiac

superman and the legion of super-heroes Superman & The Legion Of Super-Heroes (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Gary Frank
Collects Action Comics #858-863

As I probably over-stated when I wrote about Geoff Johns’ first three volumes of Action Comics, I had a few problems with this run when it first came out. I wasn’t a fan of the Superman continuity I was familiar with getting tampered with, changed and possibly ignored, and this Legion of Super-Heroes arc was actually a part of that, but also helped turn me around on the whole thing. You might not remember, but back in 2005 Mark Waid kicked off a brand new version of the Legion that I really enjoyed. I’m not a big fan of that concept because it’s pretty difficult to get into — I posit that the Legion and X-Men are the two most difficult to crack comic book franchises of all time thanks to all the continuity — but that series was easy to get into because it was a full-on relaunch. As such, I was confused when this arc hit and a new-old Legion was on the scene.

And yet, Johns handled this story and these characters in such a way that I got sucked right in. Plus, I think that Gary Frank is one of the greatest, most interesting superhero comic book artists around and should draw every book, so that sucked me right in. The story here finds Brainiac 5 bringing Superman into a future where a one time Legion reject now called Earth-Man and his cronies in the Justice League have tricked the people of Earth into believing that Superman was a human and that aliens are all awful. They’ve also turned the sun red, so when Superman gets there, the only powers he has are the ones given to him by the Legion flight ring.

And that’s where Johns nails Superman once again in his run on the character. He’s a guy who will not only continue fighting even though he has no powers, but also do so while wearing the iconic costume that makes him as much a target as it does a symbol. Supes ain’t gonna back down from that, he’s going to fight for what’s right. As far as the Legionnaires go, Johns incorporated the imprisonment of like half the team as a way to keep this huge team from becoming too unwieldy for newcomers to the idea. The ones he did decide to showcase all had their own distinct personalities that seem to jibe with the versions I’ve read in books like The Great Darkness Saga, An Eye For An Eye and The More Things Change (they really need to just buckle down and collect everything Legion-related). He also does that wonderful, magical thing that Geoff Johns excels at where he can take a lame old character like Polar Boy and make him awesome.

There’s a pretty cool intro by Keith Giffen in this trade where he guesses that Johns will return to the Legion at some point because, as Giffen well knows, it’s a really difficult franchise to leave behind once you’ve really gotten into it. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe that’s happened just yet, but I would love to see him return to the franchise either in comics form or a film which is, now that I think about it, a really good idea considering it’s a teen superhero book filled with kids trying to figure out who they are, who they can love and who they can punch.

superman brainiac Superman: Brainiac (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Gary Frank
Collects Action Comics #866-870, Superman: New Krypton Special #1

While Superman: Brainiac definitely continues the goodness from the previous book, I do have one quick complaint I have to get off my chest right off the bat: for some reason DC skipped Action Comics #864 and 865 which were written by Johns. I mean, this is a five issue trade with some material from a special, would it have been so hard to include two extra issues (or tacked one on at the end of the previous volume and the next here)?

Okay, enough grousing. This book finds, as you  might expect, Brainiac coming to Earth, which shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Superman’s kicked his butt a ton of times, right? No. What we learn is that every other Brainiac we’ve seen as but a part of the real Brainiac, the guy who stole Kandor from Krypton and eventually smashed it together with Supergirl’s one-time home Argo City.  Now he wants Metropolis, but Superman and Supergirl are standing in the way even though the very thought of facing this villain practically shakes Supergirl to her core. While Superman fights to defeat Brainaic, he sends one of his robots to attack Ma and Pa Kent which leads to the SPOILER death of Pa Kent by way of heart attack. It’s a moment that made me really upset and mad the first time around because my superfan brain wanted me to think he only did it to match the old continuity or the Richard Donner Superman films. But, that’s not the case. Reading all of these books together, Johns incorporated so many wonderful moments with Jonathan Kent in order to both set things up and show how wonderful their relationship is. He earned that death, you guys.

And that pretty much brings us to the end of Johns’ run on Action Comics. This arc would go on to become very important because it essentially launched the events that would become the New Krypton saga. At the time, I thought Johns was overseeing the issues that were written by James Robinson, Greg Rucka, Sterling Gates and a few other people. I’m still not finished reading through New Krypton and probably won’t be doing a multi-part review like these, but I do think it’s a really interesting story that deeply explored what Superman is about.

Casting Internets

Well, I wanted to stay a little more timely with Casting Internets, but with the holidays, I got WAY behind not just on doing posts, but also reading stuff. Over the past week, I got really caught up. Not much was worth linking to, but I do have a few here that were fun.

Even before hyping my own links, I’ve got to call out this amazing post from Topless Robot. My pal Rob Bricken tore through a Washington, D.C. news report about DC comic books not being appropriate for kids. Mind you, they are clearly labeled as not for kids. His indignation is palpable and amazing.

In addition to my daily posts over on Spinoff, I also wrote a really fun piece about Mattel and their DC action figures for CBR in addition to pieces about Hoax Hunters, Rebel Blood, Near Death, the Artifacts finale and I even helped out with the CBR Top 100 Comics of 2011!

I also wrote about Black Widow’s costumes for Marvel.com!Phil Noto drew Hellboy!

If you’re a How I Met Your Mother fan and saw the episode from a few weeks back, I highly recommend checking out the Puzzles website, especially the calendar and menu. Looks like quite the NYC hang out.

Whoa, there are 700 unreleased Thin Lizzy songs according to The Onion. They will be mine, oh yes, they will be mine. Maybe I should get the rest of their existing records, too. The Superman: Earth One book only looked interesting because of Shane Davis’ art, but the Batman version by Geoff Johns and the always amazing Gary Frank? I’ll buy that for some dollars. (via CBR)

I am definitely on board for this Bruce Lee documentary called I Am Bruce Lee. Like how they put it right on front street. (via /Film)

Books Of Justice: JLA Deluxe Volume 2

JLA DELUXE EDITION VOLUME 2 (DC)
Written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Howard Porter with Val Semeiks, Arnie Jorgensen, Gary Frank & Greg Land
Collects JLA #10-17, Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1, JLA/WildC.A.T.S. #1
As with the previous volume, I was once again surprised with how much Morrison packed into so few issues. I remembered the Injustice Gang story, the one where GL, Aquaman and Flash travel to Wonderworld and then to a possible future where Darkseid has taken over, but did not realize they were all happening at the same time. This is one helluva yarn to unravel and that’s before we even get to the Prometheus story. Wow, so much going on here. All other comic book writers–especially ones who want to write big time superhero team comics–should take notes for reference instead of throwing out yet another boring retread of old villains without much new thought or spark.

While a group of super villains coming together to put an end to the heroes might not have been the most original idea of all time–and seems even less so after the past few years of that being the go-to plot for villains–Morrison twisted it just enough by putting Lex Luthor in charge and having him use hostile takeover (read: business) tactics to destroy the JLA. He also, thankfully, didn’t just go with whatever Super Powers lame-os that seemingly everyone else who does this story. I fully expected to see Cheetah instead of Circe, but Circe makes so much more sense. As it turns out, the Injustice Gang series acts as a kind of book end for the other stories I mentioned. Kyle Rayner really gets to shine in an issue before Morrison moves the spotlight over to Aquaman. He does such a good job of giving everyone their due diligence.

But, my favorite aspect of this story is the Darkseid Is possible future. I am a sucker for these kinds of stories because they really get to play with our heroes in ways that just can’t be done in modern comics. Superman’s dead, Batman has been forced to kill, Flash is a fat guy, GL’s a zombie, but more interestingly, Argent has become a hero! Most of you might not remember Argent, but she was one of the characters in Dan Jurgens’ relaunch of the team in the late 90s. Seeing a guy like Morrison show her in such a cool light made me really re-think that character and reinforced the idea in me that there are no bad characters just bad takes on them. Apparently, no one else was paying attention because she hasn’t done much since Devin Grayson’s Titans book (I think).

And then the JLA disbands…but not really. It was a hokey trick that didn’t need to be there. Besides, it wound up just being a restructuring that brought in new members. And you know what? Morrison didn’t put the team together by having our heroes looking at pictures and weighing their options or all meeting up by happenstance and deciding to join forces, THEY WERE JUST THERE! I’d like those potential super hero team writers to take note of this too. We don’t need to see how the team is put together. It’s boring. Just put them together and if questions arise (or better yet, if mysteries abound) answer them as you go. I don’t want to see how next season’s Steelers come together, I want to see them play football! Wow, I’m punchy today, but I think it’s because this stuff all seems to basic and obvious and yet we’re inundated by boring and bad team books all the time.

Anyway, we’re introduced to a brand new villain named Prometheus thanks to his one-shot that then carries right into the next issue that introduces the new team. Prometheus might be one of the greatest villains of the 90s with his ability to download everything from building schematics to marital arts moves into his brain, but I do have one question, how did he get their moves on camera, especially Batman? Ah well, maybe he used his Cosmic Key. Like Zauriel, Prometheus has been mostly mishandled, but I think he could use an upgrade and come out swinging. He had the one-shot not too long ago, has he appeared since? The whole “he doesn’t have VILLAINS programmed in his brain” conclusion is a little Silver Agey, but wound up being fun anyway. I’m still not clear if Catwoman being there was her own idea or Batman’s but that sure was good luck if not planned.

The book ends with a comic I’ve never read before, but enjoyed: JLA/WildC.A.T.S.. I’ve gone on record several times as being a fan of the Wildstorm Universe, so seeing the ‘Cats interact with the Big Seven and written by one of my favorite comic writers is a treat. However, this book won’t blow you away. It’s kind of your standard inter-company crossover, but with Morrison’s crazy brain working on the reasons why they’re crossing over. Even so, I’m glad it’s included in the book to make sure everything he did with the team is collected.

Reading this book not only made me want to get the other two volumes of the JLA Deluxe series, but also get all of the DC 1 Million issues and read the whole thing as one big epic. It would be nice if DC put something together with all the one-shots in the correct chronological order with the main miniseries, but since I haven’t heard anything about that, maybe I’ll just put my own together and bind that shiz up. I’m going to keep my eye out for them as the con season heats up and will maybe get to them after getting my Justice League collection bound.