What We Watched In 2015

Back in the day, this blog got traffic boosts from the posts I wrote about Jersey Shore, The Challenge, Real Housewives and The Big Bang Theory. Taking notes while watching and posting that night got pretty exhausting and when the kids starting coming, those fell to the wayside. But, I still love television and wanted to share some of our favorite shows from this past year. Continue reading What We Watched In 2015

Trade Post: A Few Thoughts On New Krypton

new krypton

Superman New Krypton Vol. 1-4, Supergirl: Who Is Superwoman?, Superman: Mon-El Vol. 1 & 2, Superman: Nightwing & Flamebird Vol. 1 & 2, Superman: Codename Patriot, Superman Last Stand Of New Krypton Vol. 1 & 2 and Superman War Of The Supermen.
Written by Geoff Johns, James Robinson, Greg Rucka, Sterling Gates & Eric Trautmann, drawn by a cast of hundreds.

After reading through Geoff Johns’ run on Action Comics (check out the posts here and here if you’re interested) it only made sense to move right into the epic that it spawned called New Krypton. As you can see from the above image, this is a pretty hefty undertaking. I’ve got 13 of the 15 books that encompass the entire thing, I didn’t realize there were two Supergirl volumes I was missing, but I was already three or four books deep by that point and just decided to move forward. I’m not going to go through and write about each individual book because that would take forever and there’s a lot I’ve forgotten. Still, I really enjoyed this story and wanted to talk about it a bit.

Johns’ run ended with the first real look at Brainiac whose ship has a bunch of bottle cities inside, including a Kryptonian one (Kandor mashed up with Argo City). They got that city out and re-enlarged it in the Arctic which of course caused a fair share of trouble because not all Kryptonians are as good as Superman. Eventually, after several run-ins with Earthers, Krypton becomes its own planet in an opposite orbit of Earth. To be with his people, Superman actually leaves Earth but asks Mon-El to stay behind and keep Metropolis safe. At the same time Earth outlaws Kryptonians but that doesn’t stop Nightwing (Chris Kent from Johns’ Last Son arc) and Flamebird from running around trying to find some Kryptonian sleeper agents who are hiding out on Earth.

In addition to all that Supergirl’s dealing with her mother who seems a little crazy, but the real drama running through the entire thing is between General Sam Lane who supposedly died way back during Our Worlds At War and General Zod, neither of whom trust their alien counterparts and have taken measures to keep the other in check and destroy them if need be. As much as the story is about showing how truly GOOD Superman is by comparing him to all of these other far more flawed characters around him, it’s also an intergalactic chess match between Lane and Zod as their machinations play out in subtle and overt ways. I really enjoy how both of those elements play out over this gigantic storyline.

And it is gigantic, you guys, but that’s what I love about it. Just think about how weird of a story this is. Superman leaves Earth and finds himself surrounded by other Kryptonians making him far less special (theoretically) in an all new title called Superman New Krypton. Meanwhile, Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird took over Superman and Action Comics respectively. At the same time, the usual cast of characters — Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Lana Land, Perry White, Ma Kent — get to do some new things now that Superman is gone. Jimmy runs around trying to figure out a mystery, Lois actually does the same, but she’s doing it without her Superman safety net. And, hey, SPOILER WARNING, the entire thing ends with nearly an entire planet getting murdered by Lex Luthor and Gen. Lane. I remember sitting at the lunch table at Wizard reading these comics and trying to figure out how this story was going to end with my pals. The general consensus was that they would just send the planet off into space or the Phantom Zone or something. There was a little talk about what actually happened, but none of us thought they’d actually do that because it would be too intense. Nope. Boom. Gone. I was pretty surprised by the ending and how often can you say that about a Big Two epic like this.

I did a little research before diving into this reading experience and came up with a fairly good reading order, but it needed some tweaking, so I’ll lay it down here for others to check out and so I can have a reference point next time I give it a read through. The first seven volumes are pretty solid and can be read thusly.

New Krypton Vol. 1
New Krypron Vol. 2
Supergirl: Who Is Superwoman?
New Krypron Vol. 3
Mon-El Vol. 1
Nightwing & Flamebird Vol. 1
Codename: Patriot

Here’s where it gets a little tricky though because the books intertwine a bit.

Nightwing & Flamebird Vol. 2
Mon-El Vol. 2 (stop at the last issue)
New Krypton Vol. 4
Last Stand Of New Krypton Vol. 1
Last Stand Of New Krypton Vol. 2
War Of The Supermen
Go back and read the rest of Mon-El Vol. 2

I actually read Mon-El Vol. 2 before Nightwing & Flamebird Vol. 2, but I think this way makes more sense, leads to less skipping around and Mon-El flows into the end of the series better than Nightwing & Flamebird. Anyway, I will say that, while I’m glad these books were collected they way they were, there’s a part of my brain that actually likes the idea of this story better as a series of weekly comics coming out. At the time I was just voraciously reading each issue and trying to figure out what was going to happen next in all the different stories. I’m sure I could go back, figure out the release dates and jump from book to book, but that sounds like a TON of work. I want to say there’s some material that’s uncollected, I seem to remember some back-ups that aren’t in these volumes, but might be in the Supergirl ones. Something about Captain Atom in General Lane’s weird alternate dimension. Seems crazy that something like that wouldn’t get included considering how much attention they put into these books, most of which came out in hardcover and feature intros and extra features.

As a longtime Superman fan, I love what this story says about Superman as well as the people he surrounds himself with. At the same time, it’s a sprawling, engrossing story that encompasses pretty much every genre with some huge, over-arcing elements which go through all the books. With all that going on, I felt like the characterizations were pretty consistent across the board and resulted in a story I not only enjoyed the second time around but felt equally invested in.

New 52 Volume 1 Trade Post: Teen Titans, Superboy, Supergirl & Aquaman

teen titans vol 1 its our right to fightTeen Titans Volume 1: It’s Our Right To Fight (DC)
Written by Scott Lobdell, drawn by Brett Booth
Collects New 52 Teen Titans #1-7

I’m gonna try something a little different with this trade post: more books with shorter reviews. Let’s see how that works. As I mentioned when I read a bunch of the New 52 #1 issues, this book was one of my favorites. To me, the whole point of relaunching your entire universe is to offer readers something completely new. Some of the New 52 books don’t bother doing much of that from what I’ve seen, but Scott Lobdell does something really cool here. Instead of playing Batman’s sidekick, Tim Drake is running around as Red Robin in an attempt to save superpowered kids from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. This leads him to joining forces with fellow young costumed heroes like Wonder Girl (don’t call her Wonder Girl), Kid Flash, Bunker and Skitter. What I really like about this book is that Lobdell really just throws you into the story and doesn’t slow down too much, but still offers enough information to enjoy.

The whole book revolves around a series of mysteries large and small that continue to draw me in issue after issue. Why is the non-powered Drake so interested in helping super-kids? Why does Wonder Girl dislike being called Wonder Girl so much? Who is N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and what is their game? What’s the deal with these new characters? What’s going to happen with Superboy?

All of the above makes this a very 90s feeling book, but I don’t mean that in a negative way. People dump on the 90s a lot, but there was a lot of newness being explored in those books without getting too far wrapped around itself. And, even though this is technically a “putting the team together” story, it’s done in a less traditional way and it revolves around a less traditional team, so I don’t mind as much. Also in the 90s vein, I love Brett Booth’s art in this book. He’s got a huge amount of detail and never skimps when it comes to either background or characters. That kind of detail is fantastic and not always easy to nail.

superboy vol 1 incubationSuperboy Volume 1: Incubation (DC)
Written by Scott Lobdell, drawn by R.B. Silva
Collects New 52 Superboy #1-7

I was less into Lobdell’s Superboy, though I’m not sure if I can exactly put my finger on why. It’s a completely different kind of story. While Teen Titans is an on-the-run, putting-things-together-as-we-go kind of thing featuring an aloof clone created in an attempt to make their own Superman who’s trying to figure out who he wants to be and what he wants to do with his newfound life and power.

I think one of the reasons I wasn’t as taken with the series is because it feels a lot more “monster of the week.” Superboy wakes up and they send him after King Shark, then they send him after another villain. When he’s talking to the woman who gets revealed as Fairchild (originally from Gen 13) and Ravager or is out in the world trying to figure out if he’s good or bad, those are much more interesting moments for me. Still, I like that this and Teen Titans lead up to a bigger story called “The Culling” that I look forward to reading eventually. He’s an interesting character with a lot in there to check out.

On the art side of things, I don’t know if Silva’s style is really the kind of thing I dig. It’s cartoony and stylized which I like, but at times it feels a little too un-detailed, like you’re just looking at shapes strung together without as much physical continuity.

supergirl vol 1 last daughter of kryptonSupergirl Volume 1: Last Daughter Of Krypton (DC)
Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson, drawn by Mahmud Asrar & Bill Reinhold
Collects New 52 Supergirl #1-7

I have an interesting history with Supergirl. I dug Peter David’s book, but never really read it on the regular (though I do want to go back and read the whole run in order). Then, when they brought a new version of Superman’s cousin into continuity, I was not into it because I was still a continuity nut at the time and wanted Kal-El to be the only Kryptonian around. I liked how they came up with interesting ways to have a Superboy and Supergirl in the 90s and didn’t want to see that change. Anyway, the idea of Superman’s cousin coming to Earth is one I eventually came to accept, but now that we’re dealing with an all new continuity (and I don’t care nearly as much about the details as I used to) I’m cool with it.

And I think Green and Johnson do a good job with this story. The whole thing is a fish out of water tale with Kara landing on Earth thinking she’s going to protect her younger cousin Kal, who is now Superman. It’s a lot to deal with for a girl who was kind of aimless on Krypton, especially because she doen’st speak the language.

Unlike Superboy, this book is much more of a journey story with Supergirl interacting with different characters offering her different pieces of information to help her figure out exactly what’s going on with her, ultimately leading to another planet. By the end of the journey presented in this trade Kara has a bit of an understanding as to what she wants to do with her weird new life. A life wonderfully drawn by Mahmud Asrar (for the most part) who has a cool kind of indie style that captures Kara’s fragility and strength while also balancing giant robots, monsters and pretty girls. After reading this book I decided that The Big Bang Theory‘s Kaley Cuoco should play Supergirl. Someone make that happen.

aquaman vol 1 the trenchAquaman Volume 1: The Trench (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ivan Reis with Joe Prado
Collects Aquaman #1-6

Unlike Supergirl, I had a much deeper relationship with Aquaman (also written by Peter David come to think of it). His lengthy run on that book is pretty much the be all, end all for me as far as that character is concerned. Still, when I heard that Geoff Johns, writer of some of my all time favorite comics (JSA, Green Lantern), was tackling the character I was definitely interested. And you  know what, he does a great job which I’m sure is a shock to no one.

The New 52 version of Aquaman doesn’t seem all that different from the original, a much simpler, more streamlined version. He’s new to the surface world which is good timing considering a race of hyper violent humanoid fish creatures have risen from the depths to kidnap, eat and kill people. While that adventure is an interesting one, I really liked some of the book’s other elements. The waitress being surprised that Aquaman wants fish and chips made me chuckle, then you’ve got the whole issue of Aquaman in the desert which was a great idea. There’s also a lot going on with Atlantis and Mera that makes me curious about what’s coming up. And, man, Ivan Reis kills this art. He’ detailed like book, but with a darker edge that fits the book both thematically and environmentally.

Overall, I lucked out with this crop of New 52 backs. Each one took a different approach to introducing these new versions of old characters. It’s interesting to take a closer look at that aspect of the storytelling and analyze which ones I like better than others. I look forward to reading the second volumes of all of these books…eventually and if I can get my hands on them.