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Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of Marvel and DC Comics.

DC Universe Rebirth #1

DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH #1

Capsule Review

CONTEXT-FREE REVIEW: DC’s latest reboot leads with DC Universe Rebirth #1, a big ol’ bunch of housekeeping that is one part mea culpa and one part blueprint for doing better, served with a side of finger-wagging at past editorial decisions that have painted DC into a grim and gritty storytelling corner. It’s also an entertaining story, mostly. The writer is DC’s silver bullet, Geoff Johns, who along with a half-dozen artists serves up a literal lightning storm of present-tense DC vignettes, with a time-lost Wally West bursting in and out of reality, looking in on old friends who do not remember him (or their pasts). The script is wordy with a couple awkward exposition dumps but does the job, assisted by art that values clarity over style (and where each artist seems to be trying to make this book look the product of a single hand). The Big Idea, here, is that the DC Universe has lost its way, manipulated by an outsider Big Bad (and I won’t spoil his identity, but details are here). The Big Bad, you see, is the reason why DC has failed — why it over-applied the lessons of Watchmen and Dark Knight in creating a dark and unsmiling comic universe where no one is having any fun … not the characters, not the creators, and not the fans. “A darkness from somewhere has infected us,” Wally says, “It has for a long time now.” The premise of Rebirth, it seems, will be heroes struggling against this darkness.

DC Universe Rebirth #1

OK. Here is where you get on, or you get off. Here is where you embrace the meta or you choke on DC’s naked admission that all those books they’ve been marketing to you for decades were dirty, nasty things that we should regard with shame and revulsion. For my part, I got on board. I liked the stories Johns set up here, including the schmaltzy ones, and I even felt a bit of emotion — like a tingling sense of wonder when the Atom’s recorded message served as a call to adventure in the microverse, and I teared up (just a little bit) when Wally witnessed a marriage proposal, and again later when he was reunited with his old mentor. Rebirth #1 is not perfect, but it will do — and it had better, as there is a sense that if DC can’t get it right this time, then we may not have DC (as we know it) to kick around any more. In the end, Johns goes right at it, inviting us to cleanse ourselves of the sins of the past through the transformative power of love. And, yeah, I don’t feel like those sins were mine, especially, but I’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt. I’ll read more of this reboot …

… but you will have to wait until July for my capsule review series to continue, because I’m going on vacation, and Longbox Graveyard is going on hiatus!

DC Universe Rebirth #1

THE PART WITH THE CONTEXT: It’s kind of silly that I even have to add this paragraph, but DC Comics has become such a lightning rod for fannish discontent that some kind of public service announcement is required, if only for self-defense. There’s been plenty of coverage about how DC has walked back their this-is-the-new-reality New 52 launch with Rebirth; how Rebirth smells of desperation after DCYou cratered last year; the editorial turmoil around DC’s Vertigo line; and the serious-on-entirely-different-level charges of sexual harassment inside the DC offices … it’s a big ball of awful, to be sure. This is apart from the more mundane fan outrage DC has provoked with how they’ve handled some of their characters these past several years; or the collateral news of Warners reshuffling their movie division after Batman v Superman seemed to get it so wrong; or even the echoes of discontent over new projects spinning out of beloved DC classics like Dark Knight and Watchmen (with the later now hotting up again). It seems like everyone has a beef with DC Comics! I’m not here to dismiss anyone’s issues with DC — and I even share a few of them — but I do want to state that I’ve gone into this review series laser focused only on the comics in front of me, without really trying to fit things into the larger context of DC’s business operations, talent relations, or the way they have treated their fans and their brand/continuity. I’m just reviewing the comics, man! In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a couple friends and DC, and I would like to see them succeed in their jobs … and if that makes me some kind of apologist, well, OK, I guess. But I’m here to tell you that I don’t have a dog in this fight — aside from wanting to like these comics, and wanting superhero comics in general to enjoy success — and if DC can give me that, then I’m happy. I have scant investment in DC’s characters or history and thus will have little sensitivity to the character and continuity changes that may drive more dedicated fans mad. So you can blast off at me in the comments section if you like (and I hope you will!), but please do so with the understanding that I am an outsider when it comes to most things DC, for better or worse … at least as much of an outsider as a guy who has been writing a comics review blog for five years can be!

Approachability For New Readers

This book is aimed squarely at the core, and new readers be damned. It is readable and entertaining but good luck if you don’t already know most of DC’s characters and history. There’s an awful lot of handwringing here about continuity and characters and times gone by, but I was intrigued more than I was confused. Hopefully the stories to come will focus more on the present than the past.

Read #2?

Well, there isn’t a second issue of DC Universe Rebirth on the schedule (yet), but I will definitely be reading the next issues in this relaunch.

Sales Rank

(N/A)

Read capsule reviews of a competing relaunch — The All-New All-Different Marvel Now!

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International Iron Man #1

INTERNATIONAL IRON MAN #1

Capsule Review

This book teams Brian Michael Bendis with his old Daredevil running mate, Alex Maleev, and so it is going to be a love-it-or-hate-it-affair. In its favor, you get solid dialogue, an intriguing new take on Tony Stark, and plenty of emotion and mood through Maleev’s art. On the other hand, you get that Bendis/Maleev explosion-in-the-word-balloon-factory style of storytelling, plus it is going to cost you four bucks a month for the next year to get the whole tale. Despite my early reservations, I have come to appreciate this team’s style, and I enjoyed this latest Iron Man book, though there is precious little Iron Man in it — aside from the opening and the coda, Iron Man is a distant dream in this story, which concentrates on a fateful meeting during Tony Stark’s pre-heroic college days. There are a lot of talking heads and only a little action, but the characters are authentic and the plot does move forward, at least by Bendis standards. It is an unconventional take on Tony but Bendis pulls it off, and he has earned some credit — the work he is doing right now makes most of Marvel’s other writers look like they are playing with Tinkertoys.

Approachability For New Readers

Fine. Bendis has a cinematic sensibility, and while his story starts in the middle, he catches you up with the who, what, and why as he goes along.

Read #2?

Sure … when it is collected.

Sales Rank

(N/A)

Note

Seeing as my All-New All-Different review project began with an Iron Man book, this latest Iron Man book seems a good place to bring the project to a close. Thanks to everyone that stuck with me through these better than 60 (!) reviews, and keep an eye on Longbox Graveyard for a summary post about my experience with Marvel’s latest relaunch, coming soon!

Read more about Iron Man at Longbox Graveyard

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling relaunch.

International Iron Man #1

 

Hyperion #1

HYPERION #1

Capsule Review

With all due respect to creators Chuck Wendig and Nik Varella, does anyone want a Hyperion book? Has anyone ever wanted a Hyperion book? I ask because in an age where New Avengers sells less than 20K copies a month, giving Hyperion his own book sure seems like shoving an orphan into the storm. Marvel is shining a spotlight on the Squadron, for whatever reason … in addition to their new Squadron Supreme series, we are getting a Nighthawk book in a couple weeks. It is strange, but I suppose I shouldn’t fault Marvel for trying. I do fault Marvel for not trying harder. This new Hyperion book isn’t terrible, but it is nowhere near outstanding enough to break out in this market. For those not in the know, Hyperion is Marvel’s answer to Superman, a relic of an unauthorized Avengers vs. JLA pastiche from decades ago. Here we join Hyperion as he dons a trucker cap to drive across the country and fume and ruminate about his Squadron pals. He picks up a girl on the run and then collides with the Hills Have Eyes carney rednecks that are hot on her heels. This is a perfectly adequate book with a couple mild surprises, but I tell you … I felt the shadow of cancellation before I was a quarter of the way through the book. I can’t see new readers jumping on board with this story, and die-hard Hyperion fans (both of them) will find their hero nearly unrecognizable here.

Approachability For New Readers

There is a wordy explanation of Hyperion and his backstory on the title page. It does the job.

Read #2?

No, thanks.

Sales Rank

(N/A)

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.

 

Hyperion #1

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