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Superman #34 – Review

By: Geoff Johns (story), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Laura Martin (colors)

The Story: Superman and Ulysses’ first official team-up may be their last.

The Review: I don’t often speculate as to how a story will go—partly because of my natural cautiousness and partly because I’m frequently wrong—but I’m about 99.99% sure that a big showdown between Neil (a.k.a. Ulysses) and Clark will ensue sooner or later. I base this on one theory only: you don’t create a direct Superman analogue without intending to match him up with the real thing. That’s just how things roll in superhero comics; it’s almost a waste otherwise.

So every issue, I’m looking for signs of where Neil and Clark’s relationship will go sour. It’s a difficult task because the two of them are as similar as they can get without actually being the same character from parallel universes. Both are gentle giants who believe deeply in peace and hope (and who don’t stand for threats to any of those things). Neil’s forgiveness of his parents for rocketing him away (and his dad for giving up on the search for him) is gratefully given and free from bitterness. Even Clark couldn’t have done better in that situation.
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Daredevil #7 – Review

By: Mark Waid (story) Javier Rodriguez (art), Alvaro Lopez (inks)

The Story: It’s a jungle out there. Daredevil and confusion everywhere.

The Review: I tend to dread it when writers—specifically comic book writers and superhero writers especially—bring in political dimensions to their stories. Politics are an impenetrable morass of complications and the higher up you go, the worse it becomes. Once you get to the international stage, forget it; you need to be committed to understanding this stuff 24/7 before you can truly understand it. Superhero writers invariably oversimplify things and it almost always reflects poorly on the story.

Not even a great like Waid is immune. I confess I’m not up to speed on Wakandan politics, this being the side-effect of not being a total Marvel devotee. But I really don’t understand why, if Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, it would need to outsource its research to the U.S. at all. Even setting that aside, the plan to extradite the three protesting nun who didn’t actually expose Wakanda’s doings strikes me as overly complicated. Shuri justifies herself thusly, “Those women risked embarrassing Wakanda. If I declare that to be a crime, then it is.” She’s the Queen of Hearts in full-body black spandex.

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The Wicked + The Divine #3 – Review

By: Kieron Gillen (story), Jamie McKelvie (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: Baphomet and the Morrigan prove that sex and rage go hand-in-hand with religion.

The Review: Religion as reality TV seems to be the throughline of this series, and I’ll be very interested to see the point Gillen’s trying to make with that. The simplistic theory is religion is mere entertainment for the masses, vacuous and prone to unnecessary conflict. The squabbles among the different gods are motivated by competition for attention, to obtain the largest number of fans/believers, all of which seems pointless when the gods are doomed to disappear in a couple years anyway.

It’s easy to sign onto this theory as you watch the Morrigan and Baphomet confront each other in the Underground. After a romp in the sack a few days earlier (thus providing him with an alibi for Luci’s frame-up), they now bring their darkest powers to bear against each other simply because Baphomet tried to usurp the Morrigan’s chosen venue. Their blowout is pure overgrown drama, the toxic, juvenile stuff of Jersey Shore‘s worst nightmares.
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The Multiversity #1 – Review

By: Grant Morrison (story), Ivan Reis (pencils), Joe Prado (inks), Nei Ruffino (colors)

The Story: It’s the Superman-Captain Carrot team-up you’ve all been waiting for.

The Review: At least, it arrives, a project long-touted and already somewhat overhyped. It’s not just the Morrison name, although there’s certainly that; it’s also the fact that he’s working on a project so aligned to his talents and interests, one that sprawls not only over the DCU proper but the entire Multiverse as well. Any good DC fan is sure to be interested in how the Multiverse’s current structure looks now and how it may be used in the future.

Personally, I’m bummed that arbitrary limitation of 52 worlds remains in place, although Thunderer (Earth-7), one of the many featured heroes, refers to them as “fifty-two known worlds,” suggesting unknown ones may pop up later. But even with the cap in place, Morrison has a massive playground to run wild in, using each Earth to site different themes of heroes, almost all of them with a sly wink. Earth-23 is home to an all-black Justice League; Earth-36, where Red Racer and Power Torch (Flash and Green Lantern doppelgangers) are lovers; Earth-11, in which all our favorite characters’ genders are reversed.
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The Fade Out #1 – Review

By: Ed Brubaker (story), Sean Phillips (art), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colors)

The Story: You can’t wish on a fallen star.

The Review: I’d like to start off this review of Brubaker’s latest work by saying a few words about his last one. In the end, I’m not sure it was the most entertaining or impressive or even memorable series ever (already the why and how of Jo’s life is slipping my mind), but Fatale sure was different. It’s rare to come across a work so minimally derivative and also so well-written. Brubaker may not have gotten his point clearly across, but his storytelling was unparalleled.

With his elaborate, urgent prose style, Brubaker often comes across as a novelist whose medium happens to be half-visual. His choice of subject for The Fade Out is certainly untypical for a comic book, being firmly set in the real world, in a real historical period, with no fantastical, sci-fi twists or spins. There’s no invitation to suspend your disbelief; Brubaker challenges himself and Phillips to tell a purely human drama convincingly without the caveat of overt fictionalization.
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Batman and Robin #34 – Review

By: Peter J. Tomasi (story), Patrick Gleason (pencils), Mick Gray (inks), John Kalisz (colors)

The Story: Another heartwarming Bat-family reunion.

The Review: The Super-family may have the reputation for being the brighter, friendlier gang of heroes, but it’s the Bat-family that’s gotten tighter over time. Part of that is the changes from the relaunch; the Supers are no longer on intimate terms while the Bats have preserved all their past history with each other. But I think the difference also comes from the fact that the Supers have less need of each other by virtue of their powers; to keep Gotham running, the Bats must rely on their collective strength.

So things haven’t been quite right since Death of the Family drove a wedge between Bruce and the others, one that he exacerbated in post-death of Damian grief. The reconciliation between him, Babs, Jason, and Tim—the three he hurt the most during that period—thus comes right on time, premised on an excellent promise on Bruce’s part: complete and utter truthfulness.
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Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #1 – Review

By: Eric Shanower (story), Gabriel Rodriguez (art), Nelson Daniel (colors)

The Story: Nemo refuses to meet the girl of his dreams.

The Review: Even though I do this reviewing thing as a living—in one sense of that word—I’d never lay claim to any special expertise on comic book history. That said, I am relatively familiar with the sibling of comic books: comic strips. There was a time when, thanks to my erstwhile dad, I was far more familiar with The Adventures of Tintin, Krazy Kat, The Spirit, Bringing Up Father, and, of course, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland than any DC or Marvel comic.

What continues to dazzle me about those old cartoons are the bounty of details and vibrant colors bursting from every panel, the and inventiveness of every visual in every aspect, the sheer variety of stories that were told. Their superhero peers look positively gaudy and commonplace by comparison. So the moment Return to Slumberland was announced, I knew I had to get my grubby hands on it right away, and I was well rewarded for it.
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