Tag Archives: Francis Manapul

Weekly Comic Haul, May 9, 2018: Venom, Justice League: No Justice

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m Rob, and these are the comics I spent my hard-earned money on this week…

(And shame on me, there are no indie comics in my haul this week. Unless you count The Walking Dead as an indie comic. I do not.)

Venom #1
I’m not much of a Venom guy, so normally I wouldn’t have picked this one up. But Donny Cates’ name attracted me to it. He writes Babyteeth over at Aftershock, which I’ve really enjoyed. So I’m giving this one a whirl for him.

Justice League: No Justice #1
I’m not the world’s biggest Scott Snyder fan. He’s hit or miss with me. But the Justice League portion of DC Nation #0 piqued my interest. Plus, James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson are attached, and I dig both of them. Francis Manapul is also an artistic deity. This has been proven.

Detective Comics #980
James Tynion IV is my favorite modern Batman writer. The fact that he’s bringing back all this ’90s and early ’00s stuff is a just a bonus.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi #1
I don’t normally pick up these Star Wars movie adaptations from Marvel. But the preview for this one caught my eye. A portion of it is done through Luke’s point of view, which is a nice little added hook.

The Walking Dead #178 and #179
In recent months, I’ve slept on The Walking Dead a little bit. It was partially intentional, and partially cost-related. I’m intrigued by the new direction they’ve taken things, but they obviously didn’t grab me hard enough to keep me buying month to month. Here’s hoping the combined effort of these two issues will change that.

Darth Vader #15
I’ve had to hold back on Darth Vader as well. This one was strictly a cost thing. Like issue #14, this one might be a candidate for “Epic Covers.” For some reason, part of me is always surprised when someone uses a lightsaber underwater. Luke just did that in Star Wars #48. Did they work that way in the “Legends” continuity?

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

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A Superman: American Alien #5 Review – The Wrong Cape!

Superman: American Alien #5, Ryan SookTITLE: Superman: American Alien #5
AUTHOR: Max Landis
PENCILLER: Francis Manapul. Cover by Ryan Sook.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: March 16, 2016

***Need a refresher? Head back to the beginning with Superman: American Alien #5.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

There’s something about this issue that drives me absolutely nuts. We saw it on the final page of last issue, but it’s plastered all over this one. That’s a damn shame, because in almost every other respect this issue is damn good.

Now an intern at The Daily Planet, Clark Kent is still trying to find his place in the world. For six months, a mysterious “Flying Man” has been a super-powered good samaritan for Metropolis. As Clark’s fellow intern Lois Lane ponders the hero’s motivations, The Parasite makes his first appearance. Now, the Flying Man has no choice but to start communicating not only with the police, but with Lex Luthor…

I understand I may be hung up about this, but it drives me absolutely insane: Clark Kent is wearing Batman’s cape. I talked about this at length last time, but it bears repeating. To me, Superman and Batman have always represented two sides of the same coin. Light and darkness, hope and cynicism, etc. Superman drawing inspiration from Batman implies the latter has a certain wisdom and seniority the former doesn’t, which inherently positions the Dark Knight above the Man of Steel. As a fan, that offends me. Once again, we see Batman is far too central to so much in the DC Universe. It’s what I call “Over-Baturation.”

Superman: American Alien #5, title pageWhat’s more, it ruins a really charming costume. The black “S” shirt and jeans are reminiscent of Superboy’s old look. And the old school pilot headgear has a nice quirkiness to it. The outfit makes sense for a Superman who hasn’t found himself yet, and has simply thrown something together to start his mission. The dark colors also have a cool factor befitting a young adult trying to impress people.

Traditionally, The Parasite isn’t portrayed as a giant. But that’s how we see him in this issue. It suits Landis’ purposes well, and not surprisingly, Francis Manapul is really able to run with it. The explosive moments between Clark and Parasite are really well done, particularly the page when our hero simply grabs the giant by the foot and pulls him through the roof of a building. It’s a tribute to how well-rounded Manapul’s work is that he’s able to pull off both the action sequences, and the more intimate one-on-one scenes between Clark and Lois, with equal amount of finesse. And look at those colors. Wow.

Clark spends much of the issue with Lois Lane. But we also get our first meeting between Clark and Lex Luthor. Like Batman, Luthor is very much the yin to Superman’s yang, but obviously in a different way. So it’s fitting that as Clark is just starting out as a hero, he’s learning from both friends and enemies. We’re seeing portions of Superman’s philosophy and modus operandi molded before our eyes, and it’s true to the essence of the character.

Superman: American Alien #5, Francis ManapulThe exchanges between Clark and Lois are the strongest I’ve seen in awhile. Landis gives them a nice chemistry that has a certain modern vibe without coming off as obnoxious. I imagine that’s what a lot of fans are looking to Max Landis for. He’s made it clear he’s passionate about Superman, and he obviously has his share of ideas. Now he has an outlet for some of them, and at times they’ve been very refreshing.

Portions of American Alien have been extremely annoying. But I can’t deny it’s been a worthwhile read thus far. Landis’ heart is in the right place. I get the sense he understands Superman in a way that few writers do. In that sense, when you open one of these issues, the battle is already half won.

Image 1 from gamespot.com. Image 2 from author’s collection.

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A Justice League #47 Review – Green Potato Chips and Chemicals

Justice League #47TITLE: Justice League #47
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Jason Fabok
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: December 30, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

A lot has happened since we last checked in with Justice League. The Anti-Monitor and Darkseid fought, Darkseid died, we met the New 52 versions of Mister Miracle and Big Barda, and various members of the League were made “Justice Gods.” Batman is the God of Knowledge (and has the Mobius Chair), Superman is the God of Strength, and Shazam is the friggin’ God of Gods!

So yeah, they’re not quite themselves. Cases in point: Batman and Green Lantern are hanging out at Ace Chemicals, and Superman is trying to kill Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, Cyborg, Power Ring, Mister Miracle, and Big Barda look for answers about The Anti-Monitor from the remaining members of the Crime Syndicate of America. But a very unwelcome surprise awaits them.

Batman, Green Lantern, Justice League #47, Jason FabokJason Fabok is back on the pencil this issue after being absent for issues #45 and #46, tagging out to the awesome Francis Manapul. I’m a big Manapul fan, but this is Fabok’s story. Fabok cites Jim Lee as an influence, and that influence is evident in his work. Like Lee (who coincidentally started this series), Fabok’s art has a certain epic feel to it, which obviously makes him a great fit for this story in particular. But Fabok’s art also adds weight to quieter moments, such as the Batman/Green Lantern moment we open this issue with. Granted, the subject matter helps: Batman in the Mobius Chair, inside the chemical plant where the Joker originated. But Fabok is having a great run on Justice League, really making the most of this opportunity.

I do have one question, though. Can Green Lantern actually eat the chips in that construct (shown above)?

The early solicitations for Darkseid War indicated this event has been in the works since the first issue. Considering what we get in this issue, combined with Johns’ track record on books like Green Lantern, I believe it. This story has touched on much of the continuity the book has established, i.e. Darkseid, Lex Luthor as a member of the Justice League, and now the Crime Syndicate. I wasn’t a huge fan of Forever Evil, but it’s interesting to see these altered versions of the characters. Ultraman’s brief scene with Mister Miracle is interesting, as his body is withered away, and he’s become more of a cowardly weakling. Certainly a stark contrast to how he was when we last saw him. It’s evident the Syndicate will be playing a major role going forward. That’s a risky move, considering how crowded this story already is. But the Syndicate’s presence does have the potential up the epic factor Darkseid War is going for. And with some help from Power Ring, we do see the return of a Syndicate character I’m very happy to have back. So it’s worth a shot.

Justice League #47, Jason Fabok, Ultraman

Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth gets put over nicely in this book, as does her relationship with Superman. It’s refreshing to see how central Diana and her mythology are to this story. Darkseid’s daughter Grail is an Amazon by birth, and she apparently has plans for Steve Trevor…

I’m very grateful this book hasn’t been effected by events outside it’s own pages. For instance, we don’t have the Jim Gordon Batman, Wonder Woman doesn’t have the gaudy David Finch costume, Superman has his costume and all his powers, etc. This is a Justice League worth of something like Darkseid War.

This story seems to get bigger and bigger with each passing month. In addition to all the Justice League issues, we had the various character one-shots (most of which I skipped). A double-sized Justice League Darkseid War Special is also solicited for February. At this rate, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some sort of Crime Syndicate special also gets released. Clearly Johns needs a lot of canvas to paint his latest masterpiece. Which is fine, as long as its worth it in the end. If this issue is any indication, that is indeed the case.

Image 1 from inside pulse.com. Image 2 from comicvinecom. 

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A Detective Comics #43 Review – A Contrast in Batmen

Detective Comics #43TITLE: Detective Comics #43
AUTHOR: Brian Buccellato
PENCILLER: Fernando Blanco. Cover by Francis Manapul.
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: August 5, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Between Jim Gordon becoming the new Batman, the upped emphasis on Harvey Bullock and the GCPD, and the reemergence of fan-favorite character Renee Montoya, Detective Comics is starting to bear a mild resemblance to Gotham Central. You won’t hear any complaints about that from me. At. All.

We open the issue to discover the unthinkable has happened: The power core from the new robotic Batsuit has been stolen. As the GCPD rush to find it, the vicious La Morte gang continues to threaten Gotham. Plus, Renee Montoya, fresh from internal affairs, has her sights set on Harvey Bullock’s partner Nancy Yip. Given the two have become “partners” in more ways than one, this makes things personal for Bullock.

Detective Comics #43While this issue isn’t necessarily about him specifically, the most memorable element in Detective Comics #43 is the way Jim Gordon, in costume, is drawn in the opening scene. When Bullock and the others find him, he’s been ambushed by La Morte and is almost completely spent. We see him hunched over, almost as if he’s ready to vomit from sheer fatigue. Then he slides into a sitting position, and Fernando Blanco gives him an expression with traces of both relief and desperation. What makes this so interesting is that it’s such a stark contrast to how we’re used to seeing Batman. His posture is different, his expressions are different, he talks to people differently. This is a nice illustration of he contrast between Bruce Wayne’s Batman and Gordon’s Batman, without making it so obvious.

On the subject of differences, Gordon is still sporting his silly mohawk. The style choice obviously isn’t Buccallato or Blanco’s fault. I suspect that was a Greg Capullo design choice. What does fall on this team’s shoulders is in this issue, Gordon’s head appears to have a 5 o’clock shadow, in addition to the mohawk. Perhaps that’s a nitpick, but it drew my attention away from the story. If they’re trying to convey that some time has passed since Gordon first became Batman, that’s something we as readers already know. Yes, the mohawk look is dumb. But it’s the look we got, so let’s just stick with the damn thing.

Detective Comics #43, Bullock, GordonUnder pressure from Montoya (Damn, it’s good to have her back.), Bullock presents Gordon with a fairly drastic solution to the Yip problem. Like, drastic even by Bullock’s standards. It’s in character, though. For all his eccentricities Bullock has always put his police work first, even when it means crossing certain lines (Longtime fans might want to take a look back at the Officer Down story arc to see what I mean.)

In Batman, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo seem to be telling a story about how being Batman changes Jim Gordon and those closest to him. There’s also the question of whether Bruce Wayne can live without being Batman. In contrast, Detective Comics seems to be about how a police-sanctioned Batman changes the GCPD. For Bullock and Yip, change isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Images 1 and 2 from usgamer.net.

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A Review of The Flash: The Road to Flashpoint – Grudges and Time Gymnastics

The Flash: The Road to FlashpointTITLE: The Flash, Vol. 2: The Road to FLashpoint
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLERS: Scott Kolins, Francis Manapul
COLLECTS: The Flash #8-12
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $22.99
RELEASED: November 16, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m a bit confused as to why DC chose to publish this book.  It’s the lead-in to Flashpoint, the story that altered the timeline of the DC Universe. Thus, we now have a book that takes place in an old continuity, leading up to an event that takes place in an alternate timeline, which features characters who, in the current continuity, are either different or don’t exist altogether. On top of that it’s only five issues long, as opposed to the typical six or seven that usually make up a trade paperback. That’ll be $22.99!

The Flash #8, 2011, Scott KolinsLogistical complaints aside, The Road To Flashpoint isn’t so bad. It gives us the events leading up to the big chronological shift that caused the timeline to nosedive into chaos. We meet a new character called Hot Pursuit, a traveler from an alternate Earth who uses a motorcycle to tap into the Speed Force. He’s determined to stop what he deems to be a catastrophic shift in the timeline, without The Flash’s help. Meanwhile, Barry Allen’s family is growing concerned that he’s spending too much time on his heroics, and is avoiding something in his personal life which may or may not involve Kid Flash. But most importantly, The Reverse-Flash has escaped from Iron Heights and he’s planning something that will change the world forever.

Geoff Johns’ regular Flash partner Francis Manapul tags out to Scott Kolins quite a bit in this book, which isn’t great. But it’s alright. Johns and Manapul have proven that when they’re on their game, they can be as good as any other creative team out there. But Kolins is no slouch. His art adorns the best part of this book, which is the look back at The Reverse-Flash’s origin story. We see how he has manipulated the time stream to alter events in his life and twist them to his own advantage. Johns does a great job portraying him as a twisted, psychotic madman.

The Flash #12, Francis ManapulIt’s nice to see Barry and Bart get a chance to resolve the issues they have with one another, for which the seeds were placed way back in The Flash: Rebirth. Sadly, it won’t ever amount to anything, as these versions of the characters (presumably) won’t ever be working as a team again, given the reboot. But I appreciate Johns taking the time to tie up the loose end. The idea of Barry being “addicted” to the Speed Force is a stretch in my book, simply because he’s a superhero. In that position, it would certainly benefit one to have as much balance in their life as possible. But in the DCU there’s constantly someone trying to blow up the world or something. I actually found myself saying: “Quit nagging the guy! He’s got a lot on his plate!” Hot Pursuit is a decent character, and the idea of a speedster using a vehicle instead of his feet is interesting. But again, don’t invest too much in him, as we likely won’t see him again for quite some time, if ever.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on this book simply because it happens to predate the New 52. It provides some fantastic insight into The Reverse-Flash’s character and sets up a few things going into Flashpoint. But in the grand scheme of things, did that warrant a $22 book? Probably not. The Road to Flashpoint is one of the few Geoff Johns books that doesn’t stand very well on it’s own.

RATING: 5/10

Image 1 from insidepulse.com. Image 2 from comicvine.com.

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