Tag Archives: Greg Pak

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars Stuff, Batman/Superman,

*”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Tacked an extra one down on the end here. The most recent issue of Superman. But of course, in the spirit of the Rise of Skywalker hype, we begin with Allegiance

TITLE: Star Wars: Allegiance #3
AUTHOR: Ethan Sacks
ARTISTS:
Luke Ross, Lee Loughridge (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Marco Checchetto.
RELEASED:
October 23, 2019

Leia, Rey, and some of the Resistance are still on Mon Cala in this issue. Because it’s largely an underwater planet, Leia has to wear the equivalent of a scuba suit. Imagining an older Carrie Fisher in an outfit like that is…weird.

The “B story” in Allegiance has been about Finn, Poe, and BB-8 stealing weapons for the Resistance. Sacks writes their chemistry very well. Well enough, in fact, that I felt a pang of sadness that they didn’t end up being romantically involved. Yeah, I was on that team.

No Kylo Ren in this issue. Bummer.

TITLE: Star Wars #73
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Phil Noto, Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 16, 2019

This volume of Star Wars is going out strong as we head toward its issue #75 finale. Greg Pak knows how to weave the multi-strand rip-roaring adventure, as all of our main heroes fight for their lives.

But for yours truly, the star of this “Rebels and Rogues” storyline has been Phil Noto. He’s been one of my favorite Star Wars artists dating back to the build-up to The Force Awakens. His “sketchy” style is a lot of fun, and he nails all the likenesses. As far as I’m concerned, he’s welcome in this galaxy any time.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #3
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: David Marquez, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 23, 2019

Unlike many, I’m not really into the Batman Who Laughs, or much of the Metal stuff. But the premise of that character “infecting” six characters across the DCU, and our two heroes having to solve the mystery of who they are was enough to draw me in.

But the way Williamson has executed it thus far, it’s not so much a mystery as it is them happening upon each victim. It’s still a cool idea. I just wish they’d dig a little deeper into it. On the upside, it’s great to see Marquez drawing the World’s Finest.

TITLE: Action Comics #1016
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Szymon Kudranski, Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED: October 23, 2019

I absolutely adore the framing device for this issue. A Daily Planet reporter does man-on-the-street interviews to recap a fight between Superman and the Red Cloud. Bendis is as good as almost anyone at playing up the journalism element in Superman’s world.

A Szymon Kudranski comic that’s this colorful takes some getting used to. There’s nothing wrong with it. But his M.O. is typically on the dark and gritty side. Type his name into Google Images. You’ll see what I mean.

TITLE: Superman #16
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS:
David LaFuente, Paul Mounts (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Ivan Reis.
RELEASED:
October 9, 2019

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Superman look quite so…blocky. I know LaFuente’s style is more on the cartoonish side, and generally I like what he turns in. But the Superman we see here looks more like a Superman action figure than the Man of Steel himself.

This issue gives us the inevitable reunion between Superboy and Robin after Jon Kent’s trip into space, which aged him a few years older than Damian. Bendis gives us what you’d hope to see here. The initial awkwardness, some hijinks and a feel-good exit. A strong issue, blockiness notwithstanding.

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Superman Against Police Brutality – An Action Comics #42 Review

Action Comics #42 coverTITLE: Action Comics #42
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLER: Aaron Kuder
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 1, 2015

Miss last issue? Check out Action Comics #41.

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman vs. The Cops. Yeesh. Well, it’s timely. You can’t fault them for not being relevant…

Indeed, in the year that the town of Ferguson became synonymous with racial prejudice and police brutality, and headlines continue to pop up about cops going too far, Superman finds himself standing between the police and innocent people. While I’m still not a big fan of the de-powered “Tough Guy Superman” approach, this is very much in line with what a Superman comic should be. The Man of Steel taking on issues that effect real people.

As Superman, whose identity has been exposed to the world, battles a monster made of “solidified shadow,” the Metropolis police descend on the citizens assembled in “Kentville.” Now the question is, can Superman protect these people? And what will he have to do to accomplish that?

Action Comics #42, chainsGreg Pak and Aaron Kuder return Superman to his roots here as a champion for the oppressed and defenseless. As we see police in riot gear attempt to tear gas civilians, our hero is set up in a somewhat contrived, yet visually arresting scenario. He wraps himself in a giant chain and creates a barrier between the police and the citizens. He then takes repeated shots to the face from gimmicked up S.W.A.T. team guys. It’s hokey, but it creates the sense of drama and sacrifice they’re going for. And of course, the chain harkens back to the tried-and-true image of Superman snapping the chains off his body.

To be fair, the police aren’t completely demonized here. We see reluctance among the cops, and some of them acknowledge how Superman has saved them in the past. But the bad apples spoil the bunch. We also see the civilians debating whether they should fight back, so the hostility isn’t entirely one-sided. But it’s fairly obvious what this issue is meant to be. The police are the bad guys. One can definitely argue whether this is in good taste, but I think much depends on how the in-story conflict is resolved. We end on a rather dramatic image, so we’ll obviously be seeing more of this next month.

Action Comics #42, splashAs far as Clark Kent himself is concerned, the man we see here is more likeable than the one we saw last issue. While issue #41 saw him using mild profanity, and at one point talking like he was in a gritty noir comic, he feels more like Clark here. He still has more of a cynical edge to him. But he doesn’t feel as darkened here. At one point they actually have him hogtie the big monster he’s fighting, i.e. “farm boy.” That’s a little on the nose, but I prefer that to what we saw last issue. Action Comics #41 felt like we were reading the exploits of a different character. This issue feels like a Superman comic. That’s a very welcome change. If it’s not Superman, this whole Truth thing doesn’t even matter, does it?

Pak and Kuder will have me back for next month. For my money, culturally relevant Superman beats sci-fi monster battling Superman any day. Tough Guy Superman? That’s another story. But the intrigue of how they’ll follow this issue is too much to resist.

Image 1 from nothingbutcomics.net. Image 2 from kotaku.com.

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An Action Comics #41 Review – The Supercycle?

Action Comics #41 coverTITLE: Action Comics #41
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLER: Aaron Kuder
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 3, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

For better or worse, the glasses are off, folks.

Action Comics #41 is the first issue to be published as part of the Truth storyline. Thanks to an expose written by Lois Lane in The Daily Planet, the world now knows Clark Kent is Superman. When we open the issue, an injured Clark is walking back from a fight of some kind, with fewer powers than he’s ever had. He has some of his strength, he can leap great distances, and has some of his speed. The world’s most powerful man is now a marked man, and he’s more vulnerable than he’s ever been. In his new exposed state, Superman will find both unexpected friends and enemies.

The Truth storyline as a whole seems to be an attempt to not only “humanize” Superman more, but to darken him up. Both have been tried before, with varying degrees of success. In Superman #40, John Romita Jr. seemed to be trying to de-humanize Superman in order to make this transformation more meaningful. Apparently, New 52 Superman couldn’t taste food or get hungry. In a bizarre scene, Romita even had him get drunk with the Justice League.

Action Comics #41, page 2There are some more groaners in this issue, as Clark uses a little bit of salty language. Nothing too harsh. Stuff like “Can’t even really feel my damn fingers right now.” Some might say this is too boy scoutish, but I’m not a fan of Superman swearing. At least not unless he’s got a really good reason. Then a few pages later he gets into a fight with some thugs at a gas station and rides off on a motorcycle (the Supercycle?). Parts of this issue almost feel like a noir comic.

Superman is wearing a t-shirt and jeans now, much like he was drawn in 2011’s Action Comics #1. The cape is gone, reduced to rags that he has wrapped around his knuckles. His shirt features the famous “S” symbol as red and black, instead of the classic red and gold. Again, a darkening of the character. His hair has also been cut, which is actually an improvement in my book. One can argue his appearance is a little on the nose in terms of the “Superman is just like you!” agenda. But then again, does a hero like Superman really need a costume if his identity is public?

None of this stuff is outright offensive, and I do like the concept of the Truth story. But the impression I get from this issue is that they’re trying to play Superman off as a bad ass. And that’s really not what Superman is about. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: He’s an idealist. Truth, justice, peace, etc. If you want to see how the public reacts when they see who this iconic figure is in day-to-day life, that’s one thing. And putting him in a t-shirt and jeans does make him seem like more of a man of the people. But there’s a grittiness at play here that doesn’t feel true to Superman.

Action Comics #41, hungryDC has been trying to shoehorn more dark elements into the Superman mythos for years. For my money, that’s always been a product of writers not knowing what to do with the character. Point blank: Superman can be a hard character to write. But it can be done. Hell, Geoff Johns just had a great little run with Superman. It just seems to be a matter of knowing where the intrigue lies, and how to create drama with him.

This issue also suffers from timing problems. Divergence and preview materials notwithstanding, we don’t know what’s happened to Superman leading up to this issue. He’s apparently been locked out of the Fortress of Solitude and stripped of his costume, but we won’t see that until Superman #41 on June 24. The issue also references something that happens next month in Superman #42. In essence, we’re coming into this issue missing a lot of important information.

Still, the central story in this issue, Clark returning to Metropolis, is interesting. Certain people are on his side, and certain people aren’t. The public’s reaction to Clark being outed, which I suspect is a major part of what we’ll see in Action going forward, is compelling.

I’ll give this issue credit. Despite the groan factor of Superman riding a motorcycle, and talking like a gritty detective, it’s got me interested in what the other ramifications of Clark’s “outing” will be. I’ll be glancing at Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman for the first time in months. Truth has the potential to bring a lot of new eyes to the Superman books. But if they go too far in the wrong direction, they’ll send those eyes rolling somewhere else.

Image 1 from newsarama.com. Image 2 from adventuresinpoortaste.com.

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A Batman/Superman #1 Review – What Page Are We On?

Batman/Superman #1 (2013)TITLE: Batman/Superman #1
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLER: Jae Lee
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 26, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In a company that likes to toss around the term “all star,” Jae Lee is a true all star. His dark, gothic style is usually fantastic, and it’s seemingly tailor-made for a character like Batman. But is Lee the right guy to put on a Batman/Superman book? I had my doubts, and I still do. But there is some good stuff here…even thought some of it’s rather confusing.

This issue shows us the first one-on-one meeting of Superman and Batman, first in civilian form, then in costume. To Greg Pak’s credit, his character work is awesome. His opening scene is particularly strong. Clark Kent travels to Gotham City to investigate the murder of some employees at Wayne Enterprises. He stumbles across a boy seemingly being beat up by some bullies, as Bruce Wayne (in a familiar disguise from Batman: Year One) looks on. He gets in Bruce’s face for not interfering on the boy’s behalf. But it seems the would-be victim was simply luring his opponents into a trap. From the get-go, this issue captures the source of Superman and Batman’s constant conflict, and the reason these two characters work so well together despite their differences. It’s Clark’s hopeful idealism paired with Bruce’s cynical reality. Then we go into a beautifully formatted two-page spread, which shows us what the two characters have in common: The quality of people who raised them. It’s a fantastic start.

Batman/Superman #1, robotsBut from there, things get weird. Batman uses some weird robots to try and wrangle Catwoman, who’s being controlled by a new villain called the Trickster (through she hasn’t been referred to by that name in-story yet). Then Superman flies in and the whole thing goes to hell. From there…I’m not sure what happens. Suddenly they seem to know eachother (Batman calls him “Clark”), and Batman is wearing a slightly different outfit. And then we get an appearance by someone we definitely weren’t expecting.

At this point, it seems a lot of this is supposed to be a mystery. But the whens and the wheres of this issue are confusing. In Justice League: Origin, which was written by two of the company’s co-publishers, mind you, we know that most of the League is meeting one another for the first time. And yet, this issue indicates that Superman and Batman met during Clark’s early years as a hero, when he was still wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And YET…later on in the issue Batman calls him by his civilian name and asks: “What’s with the jeans?” What page are we on? Are we in some kind of weird time warp thing? We need to clear this up pretty fast. As in, tell me what this is by next issue, or I might be gone…

Batman/Superman #1, Jae LeeAs I mentioned, I’m not completely sold on Jae Lee’s suitability for a book which prominently features Superman. His Clark Kent looks good, I’ll give him that. I also appreciate that his Superman doesn’t look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model, or a competition bodybuilder (I’m looking at you Kenneth Rocafort). But for instance, there are a few panels (shown above), where he draws a young Clark Kent in Smallville. I think this is supposed to be your typical contrast of sunny Smallville and shadowy Gotham. But Lee’s shadowy style, combined with June Chung’s color choices, give it a much too dreary look. He’s got the right idea, but it doesn’t really fit the way he does things. It can be argued the same is true when we get to red cape time. But it’s tough to say so definitively, as midway through red cape time, Ben Oliver takes over. Yeah, there’s a little tidbit they left out of the marketing campaign…

For longtime comic book readers, it’s tough to even talk about this issue without thinking about the old Superman/Batman series, specifically the stuff Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness did with the first several issues (the story which would eventually be collected in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. The first issue of their run was published almost 10 years ago. That issue also had a writer with a great understanding of both characters’ voices, and an artist whose style might have gone a little too far in one direction for a lot of peoples’ tastes. While Lee likes drawing skinny pale people, McGuinness likes drawing big muscular balloon people. But Superman/Batman #1 is 10 times what Batman/Superman #1 is. It had great pacing and flow, played up the dynamic between our main characters in a way that was both insightful and fun, and it put them against Lex Luthor, a bad guy we all love to hate.

Batman/Superman #1, fightBut while that issue was built upon more than 15 years of story continuity, the New 52 initiative is less than two years old. In Batman/Superman #1 all the iconic Superman and Batman stuff is there, but certain specifics in terms of backstory are still being established. Heck, after we close this first issue we’re not even sure where we are on the  New 52 timeline. All that stuff is still being established in other books. Superman/Batman #1 kept things simple, which definitely helps when it comes to first issues.

Hopefully Pak and Lee (and whoever else is pencilling…) will fill in some blanks next issue. Until then, Batman/Superman #1 is in the “undecided” category for me. That’s a shame, as for a longtime DC Comics fan like me, this series should be a no-brainer.

Image 1 from hypergeeky.com. Image 2 from comicbookmovie.com. Image 3 from bleedingcool.com.

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