Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Superman: Lois and Clark #1 Review – Super Dad

Superman: Lois and Clark #1TITLE: Superman: Lois and Clark #1
AUTHOR: Dan Jurgens
PENCILLER: Lee Weeks
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: October 14, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It would be unfair to say that Lois and Clark relies entirely on nostalgia to carry itself. But let’s be honest: For those of us who sting long for the pre-New 52 era, that’s a big factor. If you were first exposed to DC Comics in the ’80s, ’90s, or 2000s, this is your Superman. The post Crisis on Infinite Earths, pre-Flashpoint Superman. Not to mention Lois Lane, and their young son Jon.

After the events of Convergence, Clark, Lois, and baby Jonathan find themselves on the New 52 Earth mere hours before the events of Justice League: Origin. In a very different world, the family changes their last name to White and begins a life of relative anonymity. Lois begins publishing books under the name “Author X,” while Clark works as a farmer. Young Jonathan is oblivious of his parents’ old life. But with Clark unable to stay out of the game entirely, his son is starting to pick up on things.

Lois and Clark #1, Lee WeeksIt’s an interesting move, bringing these versions of Clark and Lois back. I read one reviewer say that DC is trying to “have its cake and eat it too” with this title. That’s a fair critique. After all, the “main” version of Superman has had his identity exposed to the world, is de-powered, and has never been in a relationship with Lois Lane. To bring the married versions of these characters back, existing in the same universe alongside their New 52 counterparts, might be considered a cheap move. It’s undeniably a ploy to bring back older readers. But even if it is a cheap ploy, it’s got the potential to be a pretty good one. This issue consists mostly of exposition and character re-introductions. But some compelling seeds are planted for future issues.

Full disclosure: I haven’t read Convergence: Superman (also by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks) yet, so the circumstances of Jonathan’s birth aren’t fully known to me. But there is one thing I’m confused about. Justice League: Origin took place “five years ago,” right? And that was in 2011, so we might be able to say that it was six years ago. In this issue, we see that Jon was a baby at that point. But according to the solicitation for this issue, Jon is nine years old. How does that work?

Superman, Lois and Clark #1, Lee WeeksRegardless, seeing pre-New 52 Clark and Lois again is awesome for a longtime fan like me, in the hands of renowned Superman scribe Dan Jurgens no less. There’s one moment in particular that hits you right in the feels. Jurgens and Weeks revisit the final moments of the Justice League’s battle with Darkseid in Origin. Then in the background, we zoom in on a familiar figure. Then we cut to a splash page of the Man of Steel himself watching from afar. For a longtime fan like me, this was a heart-warmer. I remember the initial awkwardness of the New 52. But these pages almost tell us: “Guess what? Superman, your Superman, was there all along.” It’s a hokey notion. But it made for the kind of feel-good moment that I suspect this series aims to provide.

Much of the issue consists of Clark and Lois awkwardly reciting exposition, via both dialogue and narration, the latter being done by Lois Lane. If it had just been Lois, that would have been fine. But there’s an obvious contrived nature to Clark saying lines like: “When we were first imprisoned on Telos, we didn’t know our Earth — our whole universe, was gone forever.”

A portion of the issue is devoted to Clark trying to prevent the space shuttle crash that turned Hank Henshaw into Cyborg Superman. This notion of Clark and Lois trying to alter events in this timeline to prevent certain tragedies that occurred in their timeline is interesting, and is certainly a goal worth revisiting in future issues. Though I suspect their interference it’ll wind up having more negative effects than positive.

Superman: Lois and Clark #1, Lee WeeksLee Weeks does some fantastic work in this issue. His work has a certain elegance to it that is very much befitting of this version of Superman. He’s also tremendous at conveying this Superman’s advanced wisdom and experience strictly via his art, without making the character look old, per se. Look at Clark’s face on the cover. It’s not just the beard and the glasses. It’s the eyes. It’s the line work on his face. I would argue once we get into the issue you can see it in his posture. Weeks has the opportunity to do some fantastic work here.

Also, can we please keep Tony Daniel away from this title? He did a variant cover for this issue, and it was everything we don’t want it to look like.

Lois and Clark is an interesting little experiment for DC. They brought their multiverse back in Convergence, and this is the first time since then that they’re making major use of it. A successful run for this book could pave the way for the return of other characters. Hell, in this very issue we saw that Parallax/Hal Jordan is out there in the multiverse somewhere…

Image 1 from dangermart.blogspot.com. Image 2 from comicsverse.com. Image 3 from adventuresinpoortaste.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois, “Haywire” Review

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E4 – “Haywire”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Dylan Walsh
WRITER: Michael Narducci
DIRECTOR:
James Bamford
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
March 16, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Lois continues to clash with Morgan Edge. Clark struggles to balance family life with his Superman duties.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Dylan Walsh plays Lois’ father, General Sam Lane. It wouldn’t shock me to see him kick the bucket at some point. As I recall, he’s died more than once in the comics.

You know what I’d like to see at some point? Flashbacks to Clark and Lois raising Jonathan and Jordan as toddlers. Maybe it’s because I have a toddler myself. I just think it would be interesting to see them in that context.

Bitsie Tulloch is slowly growing on me as Lois Lane. She’s not natural in the role the way someone like Margot Kidder was. But I liked the tenacity she showed in this episode. She’s coming along well.

Shuster Mines. As in Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, Lois Lane, etc. I see you, show. I see you.

I’ll say it again: Jonathan is a good brother. He’s starting to really get jealous of Jordan’s success with football. Rightfully so, by the way, given that Jordan has friggin’ super powers. But he’s letting him have it. He’s not making too much of a stink.

So Superman picks up this super-powered kid who’s wigging out, flies him high up in the sky and says, “The air’s thin up here. It’ll help calm you down.” Is that how that works? And is that really what happened? I don’t think so. The kid passed out. Call a spade a spade, Big Blue.

One thing I’m immensely grateful we don’t have in this series? The Superman spit curl. That occurred to me when I saw the shot of Superman rocketing up into the sky. No stupid cartoony spit curl.

There’s a special school for kids with super powers? That wouldn’t happen to be the Teen Titans Academy, would it? Nah. That’d be just a little too awesome…

That attempt at a date by Clark and Lois was really charming, in my book. Establishing romantic chemistry between those two is important. In a lot of ways it’s at the heart of the series. Superman & Lois hasn’t quite got it down yet. But they’re working toward it.

General Lane establishes “Project 7734” at the end of this episode. Long story short, in the comics Project 7734 is a designation for a series of efforts made by Lane and the US military to keep the Earth safe from alien threats. Most notably Kryptonians. It dates back to the New Krypton storyline in the comics from about 10 years ago.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois, “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower” Review

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E3 – “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Inde Navarrette
WRITER: Brent Fletcher
DIRECTOR:
Gregory Smith
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
March 9, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Jordan tries out for the football team, while Sarah clashes with Lana.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Here’s what I liked about that “Kent family plays with paint” sequence: Right after Clark races off to do Superman stuff and everything has stopped, there’s that half-second before we cut to the next scene where Lois goes back to playing with the boys. It sends the message that Clark dashing off is something that happens all the time, and she’s used to it by now even if the boys aren’t.

Three episodes in, and I’m not really feeling social anxiety from Jordan, as the show’s premise suggested. Based on my experience with social phobia, he’s not so much anxious as he is angsty. And that’s more or less any teenager at some point, right?

Tyler Hoechlin is giving off serious dad vibes as Clark. Maybe it’s the hokey, “Aw shucks” nature of the Clark Kent character. But Hoechlin is making it work. 

How much you wanna bet that Lana’s husband, Kyle, becomes a supervillain at some point? Or maybe Sarah? Maybe both?

“Everything you do is a mistake,” said the teenage brat to friggin’ Superman.

When she got attacked during this episode, I was initially inclined to say Lois should carry a weapon of some kind. Then I realized, what better weapon could you have than a direct line to Superman? Sure as hell beats a gun, or a knife, or whatever the hell she could be carrying.

Jonathan is a good brother. That’s refreshing to see. It would be easy to pit the two brothers against each other constantly. But the show makes him a lot like his dad. That’s good writing, in my book.

This was a good parenting episode, and a good episode for Lana in particular. It provided her with some much-needed depth as a quietly suffering wife and mother.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.


Posted in Uncategorized

Superman & Lois, “Heritage” Review

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E2 – “Heritage”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Emmanuelle Chriqui
WRITER: Todd Helbing
DIRECTOR:
Lee Toland Krieger
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
March 2, 2021
SYNOPSIS: As the family adjusts to life in Smallville, Clark teaches Jordan about his Kryptonian heritage.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I do need to make a correction from last week’s post. The “first” Superman costume from the premiere did not make its debut in The New Frontier (although that’s primarily the work I associate it with). It’s from all the way back in the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons of the ’40s. Whoops. Hey, what do you expect? I’m not Superman, y’know…

Captain Luthor says, “We need to stop Kal-El before he does to this world what he did to mine.” It looks, then, like Captain Luthor is an alternate-universe Lex Luthor. In the comics, the most prominent alt-universe Lex is the one from Crisis on Infinite Earths. Alexander Luthor, as he’s known, is that world’s only hero, fighting against an evil version of the Justice League. Is that what we’ve got here?

There’s a city on Krypton named “Kryptonopolis?” That’s pretty dumb, actually. I wonder where the city of “Earthopolis” would be…?

We see the artificial intelligence Jor-El, played by Angus Macfadyen. I imagine it’s more daunting for an actor to play that role than we imagine. After all, a large portion of the audience associates that role with Marlon friggin’ Brando. No pressure there.

Question: Clark takes Jordan to the Fortress of Solitude to learn about his Kryptonian heritage, but not Jonathan. Why? Odds are Jonathan is manifesting powers too, right? They’re just different than his brother’s. So why sew the seeds for jealousy by taking one brother and not the other? Also, they couldn’t have waited until after school to take Jordan to the fortress? What, are they worried about him missing dinner or something?

I’m finding myself wanting to see more personality from Bitsie Tulloch’s Lois Lane. It feels like she’s missing a certain spunk, or killer instinct. I suppose you can argue this is an older, more subdued version of Lois. But I’m not sure I buy that. Granted, it could also just be Tulloch growing into the role.

So now we’ve had another episode to let this Social Anxiety Disorder thing with Jordan sink in. Much like I’m wishing Lois had a little more spunk, I’m wanting to see Jordan be more socially isolated. After all, he kissed a girl in the show’s very first episode. That’s not to see everyone experiences social anxiety the same way, or that it should be portrayed uniformly. But if you’re going to say the kid has Social Anxiety Disorder, why not really dive in and explore it?

Lana not knowing Clark’s secret takes some getting used to. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But she’s almost always portrayed as having been in on it since Clark was a teenager. And even having a cunning nature to rival Lois’ at times. Thus far, Superman & Lois has portrayed her more like a ditzy homemaker.

That shot of Superman standing with the American flag in the background was a nice touch. I’m a sucker for cheesy stuff like that. 

Lois quits The Daily Planet after an editor re-writes a story of hers, and joins The Smallville Gazette. I’ve always been a fan of the journalism-oriented side of Superman’s world. So seeing Lois empowering a small community newspaper is pretty cool. I’m also liking the Chrissy Beppo character. Here’s wondering what she and Lois can learn from each other.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois Season Premiere Review – Family Matters

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E1 – “Pilot”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Emmanuelle Chriqui
WRITERS: Greg Berlanti, Todd Helbing
DIRECTOR:
Lee Toland Krieger
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
February 23, 2021

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Looking at the Superman costume they used for his debut in Metropolis, my initial instinct was go shout: “They made it to match his original suit in Action Comics #1!” Because, of course, I’m a huge geek.

That’s not what they did, however. It took me a minute to realize where I’d seen that suit. It was Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. The costume’s vintage look threw me off.

So the kid says to Superman, “Thanks. Cool Costume.” He replies, “Thanks. My mom made it for me.” That line is plucked directly from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Superman For All Seasons.

This show went out of its way to establish geek cred right away.

Jordan, one of Clark and Lois’ twin sons, has Social Anxiety Disorder. As someone who’s struggled with social anxiety, that hits home for me. I’m sure it hits home for a lot of the people watching a comic-book-inspired TV show like this. From that standpoint, it has the potential to be a very smart move. But as with anything, it’s all about how they execute it…

I’m a staunch Superman defender. But watching this episode’s expository opening sequence, I can understand why some people don’t like him. Especially when he talks about being married to the most famous journalist in the world, raising two teenage boys, and then we see him on TV doing Superman stuff. As he’s presented here he has, in many ways, the perfect American life and family. In that moment, he comes off like the most popular football player in high school who grew up to become president of the United States. Personally, I love that Rockwellian Superman. But I can see the drawback. The hard truth is that when he’s at his truest and best form, Superman isn’t for everybody.

Question: I know that as comic book characters Superman and Lois Lane don’t age. But how old are they supposed to be in this show? Late 30s? Early to mid 40s? For what it’s worth, Tyler Hoechlin is 33 and Bitsie Tulloch is 40. Mrs. Primary Ignition, by the way, thinks that age difference makes them look weird. I’ll admit, it is a little weird. But I imagine that’s one of those things that’ll wear off with time.

After discovering the rocket in the barn, Jonathan (Can we just call him Jon?) and Jordan come right out and accuse Clark of lying.  I like that. Superman supposedly never lies. But as a parent, Clark Kent does. What that says about being parent is up for interpretation.

“Your life falling apart doesn’t mean you’re special. It means you’re human.” That’s a good line from Lois.

Fun fact: Alexander Garfin, who plays Jordan, was the voice of Linus in The Peanuts Movie. Am I weird for thinking that’s kind of perfect, considering Jordan has social anxiety? It matches up with the whole Linus and the blanket thing, right?

On the subject of Jordan, for me it’s always a fine line with how moody and angsty certain teenage characters are. At what point does it cross the line and get too moody or angsty? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that. It just depends on the character and the story…

Clark Kent’s signature glasses disguise always requires a huge leap in terms of suspending disbelief. It’s comic book science at its least practical. But disbelief really stretches thin when you try to sell us that Clark’s own children didn’t recognize him without his glasses on.

Simply put, when we get to the scene where Clark takes his glasses off and it’s this big revelation, Jonathan and Jordan look like idiots. It’s just that simple.

What are the odds that as the series progresses we get a good twin/bad twin situation? Does one become a superhero, and the other a supervillain, thus tearing the Kent family apart? Seems like the probable way to go…

So the bad guy in this episode turns out to be someone named “Captain Luthor.” I can only assume this isn’t Lex Luthor, as the CWverse Lex is played by Jon Cryer. (Right? It’s been awhile since I’ve been plugged into the CWverse.) But apparently it’s not a Superman show unless you have a bad guy named Luthor. So…cousin? Someone unrelated who adopted the name?

Overall, not a bad premiere. I can’t say I was blown away. But Superman & Lois shows a lot of promise. Tyler Hoechlin was, and is, a great Superman. Possibly the best performance in the role since Christopher Reeve, and I don’t say that lightly.

If you’re into the concept of Clark and Lois as parents, there are two book’s I’d highly recommend. The first is Superman: Lois and Clark (which has nothing to do with the ’90s TV show). The second is Son of Superman by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, and all the subsequent books in that series. For my money, this series owes a debt to these creators and those titles.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Wrestling

A Superman: Rebirth #1 Review – Death and Rebirth

Superman: Rebirth #1, 2016TITLE: Superman: Rebirth #1
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
PENCILLER: Doug Mahnke
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 1, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman was created to thin out the number of “super” characters in the DCU. The idea was to restore his status as the Last Son of Krypton. Now, more than 30 years later, DC is using this same version of Superman to do the exact opposite. With this character comes a new Superboy, and a new Superwoman. Now that’s what you call, ironic.

The Superman we met when the New 52 launched is dead, having succumbed to Kryptonite poisoning. As the world mourns the loss of the Man of Steel, one man is certain he will return: Clark Kent. That is, the Clark Kent of another Earth, who has hid out on this world along with his wife and son. But Lana Lang isn’t convinced. She also has no idea there’s another Superman on her world. Thus when the two meet, emotions run high.

I’d love to hear someone try to explain the new Superman status quo to a newbie. It’s putting up X-Men numbers in terms of how convoluted it is. That being said, I’m very pleased to see the old Superman back. Why he’s not allowed to have red boots in this new “Rebirth” era is beyond me. But having him back has shaken things up nicely.

doug mahnke, death of supermanIn this issue, Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke acknowledge the elephant in the room in the aftermath of the New 52 Superman’s death. They take us back to The Death of Superman, and we get Mahnke’s take on some of those iconic moments from the fight with Doomsday. Considering how many big event comics Mahnke’s fingerprints have been on in the last decade, there’s something fitting about him getting a crack at this one. Later, we see Clark’s resurrection, and he and Lana even search for a New 52verse version of the regeneration matrix. As a longtime fan, it’s gratifying to see them go back and look at this stuff from a new perspective. I never understood why DC omitted this story from the New 52 continuity. It crossed over into pop culture, and kids who grew up in the early ’90s typically remember it. So why eliminate it?

Clark has an odd line during this issue, when he tells Lana: “…two Clark Kents on two different worlds were very lucky to have Lana Langs in our lives.” They need to be careful with this kind of thing, especially now that we have an infinite multiverse again. The idea that you’ve got an infinite number of Clark Kents on different worlds, some of which might be interchangeable, seems like the kind of thing that could lead to apathy from the audience. What do we care if our main character dies, if we can simply replace him with one from another world?

Clark Kent, Lana Lang, Superman Rebirth #1, 2016Mahnke’s versatility is on display here. On one hand, the flashbacks to the fight with Doomsday are very intense and high-octane. In contrast, we have a scene with Clark at the memorial that’s very somber. We also have scenes with Clark and Lana that, while they have a certain tension, are fairly quiet. But Mahnke manages to stay consistently strong throughout.

With this relaunch, DC has managed to make the Superman books more interesting than they’ve been in years. At face value, at least. How ironic that death winds up being the element that freshens the Man of Steel up a little bit. But who knows? Maybe a little family time is exactly what Superman needs.

Image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from bleedingcool.com.  

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Superman #45 Review – Fight Club and Finances

Superman #45, 2015TITLE: Superman #45
AUTHOR: Gene Luen Yang
PENCILLERS: Howard Porter. Cover by John Romita Jr.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: October 28, 2015

***Need to catch up? Check out our reviews of issues #43 and #44.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ugh. I so want this to get better, but it’s just not happening. As we’ve seen in previous installments of the Truth storyline, there are flashes of quality in Superman #45. But the direction the story takes is all flash and little substance.

With his identity exposed, and Clark Kent’s life destroyed, Superman follows the trail of the cyber criminal group Hordr to California. Once there, he finds himself broke. So when he stumbles on to a meta-human fight club of sorts, Clark is faced with a moral dilemma. Does he go against his moral code, or duke it out for some cash?

Let’s cover the good before we descend into the negative. Clark briefly runs into Lois Lane in this issue, and wants nothing to do with her. Seeing Clark this angry at Lois, and justifiably so, is a really interesting dynamic. Obviously there’s romantic tension lingering under the surface here. How long is Clark going to stay mad at Lois for this? And what can Lois do to regain his trust? This is one of the few areas of intrigue in this series right now.

Superman #45, Howard PorterGene Luen Yang’s spin on the meta-human fight club angle is that the fighters are “gods and goddesses from mythologies on the brink of extinction.” That take is a little overblown for my taste. The issue actually reminded of the “Grudge Match” episode of Justice League Unlimited, where Roulette lures Black Canary, Huntress, and Wonder Woman into her Meta-Brawl arena. Has Roulette even surfaced in the New 52verse? If you’re going to do a story like this, why not use a villain like her? The whole thing about gods and goddesses is convoluted, and actually slows the issue down because Yang has to explain the whole thing.

I have a hard time buying the idea that Superman, exposed identity or not, has trouble coming across money. If he were the only hero in this universe, then maybe I’d believe it. But he’s a Justice League member, he’s still got a lot of friends in Metropolis, and he’s friendly with the President of the United States. Chances are if Clark needs a loan, he can get one from somebody.

But for the sake of a story, let’s say Clark is indeed broke. Yang lets us know that Clark will not steal, as he was taught better by his adoptive father (who he refers to as “Pop” instead of “Pa” for some reason). So the prospect of earning money via a fight club is tempting. But I don’t buy the notion that he’d seriously consider participating. He’s Superman. His mission is to inspire people. It’s beneath him. If you want to put him in that scenario, have him take down the fight club.

Superman #45, 2015, Howard PorterPerhaps I simply hold Superman to a higher standard than some. Too high, maybe…

The whole Truth story is so far gone at this point that it’s barely even worth it to mention ways it might be improved. But you want to do a story about Superman and money? How about you have Clark break up the fight club. Then as the sun begins to set he faces the grim reality that he has no money, no food, and no place to stay. He is now homeless, and largely de-powered. Superman has never been in such a vulnerable position. Then, he comes across a kind and compassionate civilian who owns a small motel. Recognizing him as Superman, this person gives Clark a free room, and a bit of food. As we close the issue, Clark realizes the irony of his situation. He was sent to Earth to inspire humans to to good, to “save” them. Now, one of those very humans has saved him in his darkest hour. This would provide intriguing insight into Clark’s relationship with his adopted home world.

I wasn’t aware last issue was John Romita Jr’s final go-around as the interior artist for Superman. In his place is the more than capable Howard Porter, along with colorist Hi-Fi. Hi-Fi’s colors are much richer and more vibrant than what we’ve seen in recent issues. Porter’s Superman is also much more expressive than Romita’s was. It actually borders on comical at times. But Porter is a nice change of pace. Sadly, solicitations indicate he’s only going to be around for another issue.

Solicits also indicate we’re heading into a big crossover called The Savage Dawn, featuring Vandal Savage. I wish I could say I’ve got high hopes. If you want a mildly optimistic spin on this, I’ll say it’d be fairly hard for me to be more underwhelmed with Superman than I am now.

Images courtesy of dangermart.blogspot.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Divergence #1 Review – The New Batman, a New Era for Superman, and More Mobius

Divergence #1 (2015)TITLE: Divergence #1
AUTHORS: Scott Snyder, Gene Luen Yang, Geoff Johns.
PENCILLERS: Greg Capullo, John Romita Jr., Jason Fabok.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: Free Comic Book Day Release
RELEASED: May 2, 2015

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

This year, we actually got something nice from DC for Free Comic Book Day. Not only do we have three talented writers matched with three equally talented artists, but the three mini-stories we’re given are actually pretty amazing! Snyder, Yang, and Johns are all in top form today, and if these stories are any indication of what’s to come post-Convergence, then I think I might just take a look.

Divergence #1 seeks to set up the new status quo for Batman, Superman, and the Justice League after Convergence. Batman gets top billing, as he often does these days. In “The Rookie”, Gotham City without Batman has thankfully not descended into chaos and fire following the events of Batman #40. It’s actually pretty refreshing to see Gotham at peace for once, though the narrating TV reporter speaks of unhealed wounds. Indeed, Capullo treats us to a beautiful splash page of a crowd of Gothamites shining miniature Bat Signals in the sky, looking positively sullen.

Batman, Divergence, Greg CapulloBut all hope is not lost! The Hillary Clinton-esque Geri Powers appears to reassure the citizens of Gotham City that a new Batman is about to be born. Who’s behind the cowl this time? I think I’ll leave that for you readers to find out for yourselves. But I’ll tell you this: It’s equal parts astounding and amusing. It was also nice to see the seeming end of Batman through the point-of-view of the ordinary, mundane folks like the reporters and cops. The inner circle of the Bat-family is nowhere in sight, except for the new “Batman.”

In “Exposed,” we’re introduced to Gene Luen Yang’s take on Superman. We start with Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen chatting sometime after Clark’s had his secret identity outed by Lois Lane. To top it all off, he’s operating with weakened powers. In my opinion, Superman has behaved in pretty much every single New 52 appearance as an irrepressible jerkhat. This includes Geoff Johns’ run on Justice League, which features Superman and his fellow heroes engaging in petulant bickering while, you know, saving the world.

Divergence #1, Superman, John Romita Jr. So Superman here is kind of a jerk, understandably so. But he then beats up this super-strong thug who tries to kill him and some innocent bystanders. At least he tried to avoid the fight, and he actually saved some people. Jimmy Olsen then plasters pictures of the fight all over social media, and excrement hits the fan for the Man of Steel. He then tells off Lois Lane when she tries to help him.

I like Yang’s story, but I don’t like his Superman. Yang’s a talented writer, but I wish the people at DC would get over themselves and get the message that their heroes don’t all have to be jerks. Superman is one such hero, and he’s a good place to start. At the very least, the story was still pretty fun. Yang’s writing style is free of any grim-and-gritty pretentions, a theme reinforced by the bright, easy-lined artwork of John Romita Jr.

And that brings us to the final story in this issue: “The Other Amazon.” Fittingly enough, this story by Geoff Johns focuses primarily on the lore of Wonder Woman, using it to highlight the origin of The Anti-Monitor, a.k.a. Mobius. The long and short of it is that this rogue Amazon named Myrina gives birth to Mobius, whose father is revealed to us at the end, and we get a preview of Darkseid War. She will apparently be a major player in this latest hullaballoo. I really hope that this will end up being a feather in Wonder Woman’s cap. From what we see here, it certainly looks likes it will be the case.

Divergence #1, Wonder Woman, Jason FabokThe mini-story itself does its job well. It gives us a window into what’s going on in Darkseid War, and makes you want to check it out. It actually looks pretty epic! On the other hand, I’m beginning to get fed up with these Geoff Johns-led super-mega-events. First there was Blackest Night, and then Flashpoint, Trinity War, Forever Evil, etc. I mean really, when will it end? At least Jason Fabok’s art was nice. It manages to be bright and flashy even when most of the background is dark brownish and grayish.

On the whole, this Free Comic Book Day issue was by no means of low quality. DC really invested a lot into this issue, bringing in some real heavy hitters, and boy, did they hit hard. Divergence #1 gave us three engaging, entertaining stories with lovely artwork and solid writing. This is a far cry from last year’s Free Comic Book Day issue, where they just reprinted the origin of Chris Kent. That was just lazy.

Fortunately, Divergence #1 is anything but.

Image 1 from dreamwidth.org. Image 2 from weirdsciencedccomicsblog.wordpress.com. Image 3 from bleedingcool.com.

Follow Levi Sweeney on Twitter @levi_sweeney, or at his blog, The Stuff of Legend.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Posted in Wrestling

A Superman, Vol. 1: Son of Superman Review – A Family Affair

TITLE: Superman, Vol. 1: Son of Superman
AUTHORS: Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason
PENCILLERS: Gleason, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke
COLLECTS: Superman: Rebirth #1, Superman #16
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED: January 4, 2017

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is the first ongoing Superman book in a long time that actually feels happy to be a Superman book.

This topic has been beaten to death, but let’s touch on it quickly: It’s time to stop trying to modernize, freshen up, or worst of all, “darken” Superman. It’s been done time and time again, and it never clicks. They’ve changed his costume. They’ve made him moody and broody. One time they even de-powered him and put him on a damn motorcycle. No more. It’s time to stop being ashamed of Superman. Let the character be who and what he’s always been at his core: A champion of values. Truth, justice, hope. and yes, the American way. Let the guy smile. Embrace the character’s legacy instead of hiding from it. Let him be the hero we need in these trying times.

Son of Superman does all of that, while still carving out a new direction for the Man of Steel. Simply put, it’s the best Superman book in years. Almost a decade, perhaps.

The DC Rebirth incarnation of Superman puts the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths version of the character back in the cape and boots. He’d been brought back for Convergence, and eventually became an ongoing character again in the pages of a new book, Lois and Clark. With him was his timeline’s incarnation of Lois Lane, and their young son Jonathan. As Clark Kent finds a balance between protecting the Earth and raising his son, Jonathan must learn to manage his emerging superpowers. With those powers come responsibility, risk, and a legacy…

Instead of focusing on Superman facing a threat, we spend most of this book learning about Jonathan. We see his response to living with a secret identity, how he reacts to challenges, and how Clark and Lois are raising him. They’ve accepted that he’ll one day inherit the Superman legacy, and are gently preparing him for the role. In theory, Superman works on two levels. Youngsters can identify with Jonathan, while older parent-aged readers connect with Clark and Lois. It’s by no means a sexy approach. But artistically, it’s true to the soul of the Superman character. His adopted parents instilled him with a set of principles. Now he has to pass those principles on to his son. But the dynamic is tweaked, because he’s able to relate to what Jonathan is going through. It’s a premise that lends itself to heart-felt storytelling, not unlike what we saw from Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s work in Batman & Robin.

We kick things off with Superman: Rebirth #1, which establishes our “new” hero, with some nice fan service thrown in. The New 52 Superman was killed off, and as the post-Crisis Superman is the one who famously died and returned, he sets about bringing his counterpart back in a similar fashion. Te issue is highlighted by artists Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, and Will Quintana giving us their take on the iconic Superman/Doomsday battle. It was out of continuity for so long, and it’s brought back in what I’ll call a “wide screen” sequence that plays out over about seven pages. Mendoza’s inks compliment Mahnke’s richly detailed pencils, and Quintana’s color make it every bit the glorious and epic scene it needs to be. The same applies to when they return for issue #5. We’ve got Superman talking to ghosts, we’ve got the Eradicator trying to eradicate things, we’ve got a big Batman robot straight out of a Snyder/Capullo comic…

Actually, I don’t mind the “Hellbat” returning from the Tomasi/Gleason Batman & Robin book. Maybe it’s because Lois Lane is the one using it, as opposed to Batman. It makes for a fun holdover.

But artistically, this book belongs to Patrick Gleason, inker Mick Gray, and colorist John Kalisz. Obviously, as a co-writer Gleason has the advantage of molding the story to fit his strengths. But just from a basic figure rendering perspective, it’s so amazing to see Superman look like Superman again. Even the classic spit curl, which I’ve never been a huge fan of, is a breath of fresh air. These pages are bright, flamboyant, and unabashedly sentimental. Gleason’s slightly exaggerated, animated style is a perfect fit for a story about a pre-teen learning to be a superhero. There’s a lot of fun on these pages.

Gleason also has an amazing knack for classic Superman iconography. The page at left comes to mind, with our hero in the classic pose as an American flag waves in the background. For obvious reasons, he lays it on a little stronger in issue #1. We’ve got a two-page spread that simply shows him opening his shirt to reveal the “S” insignia. That’s followed up immediately with another two-page spread giving us snapshots from Superman’s history. This is who Superman is, and who he’s always been. To see it all reemphasized is borderline beautiful.

The biggest obstacle this book faces is establishing that this is a “new” Superman from another timeline. They obviously devote a good amount of time to it. But it’s still a lot to wrap your head around, and has the potential to be really confusing for someone jumping on. This book is about a family trying to figure out how they fit into a new world. But that runs counterintuitive to how the average reader sees Superman, as he’s so ingrained in the fabric of the DC Universe. By the time we close the book, most of that awkwardness has subsided. But to say the least, this hasn’t been the smoothest Superman relaunch we’ve ever seen.

But it’s worth it in about every possible way. It’s been far too long since a Superman book has been this good. While this is obviously a new direction for the Man of Steel, in many ways it feels like he’s finally gotten back to his roots. That’s the Superman we need right now. That’s the Superman we’ve always needed.

Welcome back, Big Blue. We’ve missed you.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Superman: American Alien #1 Review – Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Superman: American Alien #1 (2015)TITLE: Superman: American Alien #1
AUTHOR: Max Landis
PENCILLERS: Nick Dragotta, Matthew Clark. Cover by Ryan Sook.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 11, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman: American Alien is a unique opportunity for Max Landis. He’s a renowned Superman critic who gets to put his money where his mouth is.

Granted, Landis isn’t just a Superman critic. He’s also an accomplished writer in the movie industry. He co-wrote and did the screenplay for Chronicle, and also wrote the upcoming films Victor Frankenstein and Mr. Right. He also directed the music video for Ariana Grande’s “One Last Time.”

But to comic book fans, Landis is perhaps best known as the man behind the short film The Death and Return of Superman, as well as a number of extended YouTube editorials (Regarding Clark, Death and Return of Superman Pitch By Max Landis, etc). While I haven’t agreed with everything he’s said, it’s tough to deny how knowledgeable he is about the art of storytelling. To their credit, DC saw that, and they started talking with him about doing a Superman story of his own. And to his credit, Landis eventually took them up on the offer, essentially agreeing to put his money where his mouth is.

Superman: American Alien #1, Max Landis, Nick DragottaAmerican Alien consists of seven short stories from the life of Clark Kent. This issue shows us an eight-year-old Clark and his parents coming to grips with his power of flight. In a brief Q&A that can be seen in the back of this issue, Landis said he was going for “heartwarming” with this first installment.

Again, to his credit, he accomplished his goal. At the end of the issue, you’re smiling. At one point things get a little too silly for my taste, and at others Clark seems a little too wise for an eight-year-old. But by and large, the issue feels like something Pixar or Dreamworks might put out. That’s high praise, considering DC continues to struggle with making readers sympathetic to a character so powerful. They’re beating him down pretty hard right now, having exposed his identity and powered him down quite bit. But the right now the Superman books are largely lacking the emotional core you’d hope to find when Clark faces such dire circumstances.

In contrast, there’s a lot of emotion in American Alien #1. Granted, it’s not all as complex in terms of Clark himself, as he’s just a child. But in just one issue we see the terror, frustration, shame, and ultimately excitement that this new ability brings him. Things are a bit more subdued in terms of the Kents. But we can definitely see them questioning their decisions as they struggle to raise this very unique child.

Superman: American Alien #1, alien mirror, Nick DragottaHowever, there is one moment that nearly takes you out of the story. Clark has just had what we’ll call an “angry outburst,” and he’s driving home with his father. As they’re talking, Clark flat out says: “Dad…I’m so unhappy.” I question the notion of an eight-year-old being that conscious of his own overall happiness, much less being able to vocalize it so concisely. Even if the child in question is Superman. That’s not to say it’s impossible. I just found it odd coming from a child.

On the plus-size, Nick Dragotta and colorist Alex Guimaraes very much deliver an aura akin to Clark’s idealized Kansas childhood. That opening shot of Ma Kent hanging off her young son’s leg (shown above) makes for an awesome hook. There’s also an excellent shot of young Clark looking in a mirror, and then suddenly seeing himself as a Yoda-like space alien (also above). Dragotta’s art very much makes this feel like an eight-year-old’s story, much as I’m sure Tommy Lee Edwards will give next issue’s fight story a certain hormone-enduced rough-and-tumble feel.

At the end of the issue, we get a two-page spread that’s separate from the rest of the story. Drawn by Matthew Clark and titled “Castaways,” it’s simply a workbench covered in artifacts that belonged to the Kents. We see old photos, notes, newspaper clippings, etc. It sets the period well. If I’m not mistaken, we also see a clipped newspaper article about the car accident that killed them both. Certainly an ominous bit of foreshadowing.

Superman: American Alien #1, page 3, Nick DragottaMax Landis and his cohorts may very well be bringing us a much-needed fresh perspective on Superman with American Alien. But I would argue it’s easier to do that with Clark Kent before he puts the cape on. Perhaps if Landis ever gets the chance to write Clark Kent as the Man of Steel, we’ll see just how good he really is. And as far as Superman stories are concerned, I think he has the potential (Key word: Potential.) to be very, very good.

For more Superman, check out Lois and Clark #1, Superman #45, and Superman: The Men of Tomorrow.

Image 1 from newsarama.com. Image 2 from kotaku.com. Image 3 from pastemagazine.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.