Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Best of Batman & Superman: The Original Switcheroo

***It’s easy to put Batman and Superman against one another, as they’re so different. But those who truly understand them know that the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are better together! “Best of Batman & Superman” celebrates their best moments as a team!***

TITLE: World’s Finest Comics #77
AUTHOR: Edmond Hamilton
ARTISTS: Curt Swan, Stan Kaye (Inker)
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL COVER PRICE: 10 cents
RELEASED: 1955

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

A few years back I spotlighted a story called “Super/Bat,” in which Batman gains Superman’s powers and the Man of Steel winds up powerless. It’s one of the more obvious stories you can do with these two heroes. But “Super/Bat” was hardly the first time it happened. For that, you’ve got to go back to 1955.

“The Super Bat-Man” is an oddity for this space, as it’s not what I would call a great work. At times it’s hardly even good. But it’s got a winning premise, and there’s some nice creativity on display here. It’s an intriguing “What if…?” story if nothing else.

Once again we’re with Edmond Hamilton and Curt Swan as the evil Professor Pender’s “de-charging ray” robs Superman of his powers. And of course, he’s got a “super-charging ray” that grants someone super powers for a day. Within five pages, Batman is converting the Batmobile into a Supermobile, and turning the Batcave into the Supercave. Silly? Sure. Obvious? Probably. But why the hell not? Also, the guy can’t fly anymore! He’s gonna need a car.

As one might expect from a ’50s comic, this super-powered switcheroo becomes the fodder for campy comedy. Batman may be a martial arts master and the world’s greatest detective, but he apparently doesn’t know his own super strength. Complete with Robin under his arm, his landing in the Batcave shakes not only the cave, but all of Wayne Manor. He also breaks some household stuff. Again, silly and obvious.

There’s also an awkward panel in which Swan seemingly wasn’t sure whether he was drawing a Wayne Manor or a Batcave interior. We wind up with a bizarre backdrop that’s half of each (shown above).

What I appreciate more than anything about this story is the psychological effect it has on both characters. Because of their new situation, they now have to play by different rules, and have completely different mindsets. We see them do things they’d previously never have to do. Case in point: Superman technically has to lie by omission. To stop a pair of goons stealing a fur truck (Just go with it…), he bluffs by simply standing in the middle of the road. The crooks obviously think Superman can “wreck our truck — and maybe ourselves too!” But of course, Superman isn’t wrecking anything in his current state. It’s a clever, if not a little underhanded, way of getting Superman out of a bad situation.

Incidentally, I’m fascinated by how some of these stories treat Lois Lane. She’s portrayed as cunning and clever, which she should be. But Batman, and more notably Superman, either underestimate her or flat out treat her like an idiot. After Superman busts the fur bandits, Lois quite naturally asks him why he’s driving a car. His brilliant response (shown above)? “Just an — er — idea of mine! I’ll explain later! Bye Lois!” Yeah, because that could have worked.

Moving on to Batman, he uses his new powers as an opportunity to build on his image as an agent of terror by going to the next level with his bat iconography! Well…sort of. He uses two big pieces of metal to put out a gigantic fire. But of course, they just happen to be blue and shaped like Batarangs. So if it looks like a bat and flies like a bat…

So how does Superman get his powers back? Comic book science at it’s finest, folks. It turns out Pender’s de-charging ray sprayed fine Kryptonite dust on to Superman’s costume. So a quick costume change, and we’ve got our Man of Steel back. A hastily thrown together solution. But hey, they’ve only got 12 pages. They did what they could with what they had. And for what it’s worth, fine Kryptonite dust isn’t the worst route to take under the circumstances. It’s easy to explain and easy to do away with. Just fine for a short story like this.

I do, however, have to call BS on something Batman says on the final page. Once the day has been saved, he tells Superman he’s not sorry to lose his powers, as “being a Super-Batman is too much for me!” Nope. Not a chance he says that. Even Silver Age boy scout Batman would recognize how much good he could do with Superman’s abilities. He’d understand the need to let them go, but would quietly wish he could stay super.

The story ends on a really bizarre note, even by ’50s standards. Lois “deduces” that the entire power switcheroo was a hoax, and that our heroes simply switched costumes. No matter how you slice it, that just doesn’t make sense. If Superman and Batman switch costumes, that means Bruce Wayne is walking around without his mask on, and his double-life is over. Or is she saying that Clark was switching back and forth between the Superman costume and the Batsuit? If so…why? Why would he do that? What purpose would that serve?

Lois may be cunning and clever, but even she doesn’t get them all right…

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

Posted in Fatherhood, Movies

Finding Nemo: A Horror Film

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Finding Nemo is a great movie. But it should really come with a parental warning. Not for the kids, but for the adults.

Before you’re a parent, Finding Nemo is a fun, heart-felt family movie. But as a father with introvert tendencies, Finding Nemo becomes a kind of horror movie.

Think about it: The kid gets abducted before the dad’s eyes by masked Australians dressed in black, and the only way to save him is to travel across the planet with some loud, ditsy broad who won’t stop singing and talking about whales. And apparently somebody slipped you a hallucinogen because everybody looks like a fish.

Honestly, it’s a degree or two away from being a Taken movie.

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: DC Future State, Star Wars: The High Republic, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Dark Nights: Death Metal isn’t my thing. Just not my flavor of ice cream. But apparently it just changed the DC Universe on a cosmic level. So I had to do a little research.

Apparently, coming out of Death Metal, the DC Multiverse is now a DC Omniverse. An omniverse is, of course…*looks it up*…a universe that is spatiotemporally four-dimensional.” What does that mean? Apparently it means there are, like, a lot of alternate universes out there, and everything is canon somewhere.

That should be DC’s new tag line: “DC Comics: Where everything is canon somewhere!”

Out of Death Metal we go into Generations Shattered, and the two-month long Future State event, which shows us “glimpses into the possible unwritten worlds of tomorrow.” These Future State stories are taking over virtually all the main DC books until March. So whether we like the future or not, it’s here…

Oh, and Star Wars: The High Republic started this week too.

Oh, and there’s other stuff too.

Everybody gettin’ this, so far? Good. Now let’s dive in.

TITLE: Generations Shattered #1
AUTHORS: Dan Jurgens, Robert Venditti, Andy Schmidt
ARTISTS: Various. Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, & Hi-Fi.
RELEASED: January 5, 2021

This one didn’t do it for me. Which was a surprise, as DC usually does pretty well with these one-shot event kick-offs (think DC Universe: Rebirth). Plus, the idea of all these heroes from various decades (’40s Batman, ’90s Steel, etc) coming together is pretty cool.

But while there’s tons of great artistic talent on display here, there’s a certain emptiness to Generations Shattered. I was left wanting more. And not in a good way.

Quite a shame. There was a lot of potential here.

TITLE: Star Wars: The High Republic #1
AUTHOR: Cavan Scott
ARTISTS: Ario Anindito, Mark Morales (Inker), Annalisa Leoni (Colorist), Ariana Maher (Letterer). Cover by Phil Noto.
RELEASED: January 6, 2021

This has more of a fantasy vibe than a traditional Star Wars book. Not the least of which because we’ve got a fairy-like alien on the opening pages.

This issue drew me in, but the hook wasn’t that strong. I’m wondering whether Yoda, who is in this issue, should have played a larger role. As the only character we know who’s alive during this time frame, he would have been the natural segue in, wouldn’t he?

TITLE: Future State: The Next Batman #1
AUTHOR: John Ridley, Brandon Thomas
ARTISTS: Nick Derington, Tamra Bonvillain (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Jose O. Ladronn.
RELEASED: January 5, 2021

Right now, people should be reading anything that has John Ridley’s name on it. This is good stuff. Very street-level in both writing and art. I also love that the Santa Prisca gang wears ’90s style Bane masks.

The issue also does a lot of justice to the Outsiders, and oddly enough, the Peter Tomasi version of Arkham Knight from Detective Comics. That story didn’t do much for me. But the character feels like she belongs in this world.

TITLE: Star Wars #10
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS:
Jan Bazaldua, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz & Rain Beredo.
RELEASED:
January 6, 2021

Spoiler alert: Luke Skywalker isn’t in this issue. So that’s a misleading cover, right there.

Put that aside, however, and this might be the best issue of the series thus far. We’ve got some good character stuff, including the exploration of the relationship between Lando and Lobot, the latter of whom doesn’t get played with that often. Han Solo’s absence leaves a big void in the Star Wars story that can be used for newer or lesser known characters. This issue is a textbook example of that.

TITLE: Future State: Wonder Woman #1
AUTHOR: Joelle Jones
ARTISTS: Jones, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 5, 2021

This issue is pretty. That’s par for the course for a Jones & Bellaire book. Jones draws the underworld like a crowded city subway station, which is fun. Our new Wonder Woman, Yara Flor, also has a flying horse named Jerry. Because why not? There’s also humor injected into things, which is nice.

The thing is, I’m not really sure what to think of all this. The issue is fun, but there’s not much to get me invested in our new hero, or to make me want more. So I’m on the fence about coming back next time.

TITLE: Future State: Harley Quinn #1
AUTHOR: Stephanie Phillips
ARTISTS: Simone di Meo, Tamra Bonvillain (Colorist), Troy Peteri (Letters). Cover by Derrick Chew.
RELEASED: January 5, 2021

Simone di Meo and Tamra Bonvillain look good on Harley. They give this issue a feel akin to a much brighter Batman Beyond. They also give Professor Pyg a gas-mask-centered redesign that’s pretty cool.

The art is inspired, but the plot isn’t. An imprisoned Harley helping the police (who are aided by Scarecrow, oddly enough), track down Gotham City villains. It’s essentially a twist on the Hannibal Lecter character. Harley devotees may come back next issue. But I’ll pass, thanks.

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

 


Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Best of Batman & Superman: Comic Book Medical Science

***It’s easy to put Batman and Superman against one another, as they’re so different. But those who truly understand them know that the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are better together! “Best of Batman & Superman” celebrates their best moments as a team!***

TITLE: World’s Finest #75
AUTHOR: Bill Finger
ARTISTS: Curt Swan, Stan Kaye (Inker)
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL COVER PRICE: 10 cents
RELEASED: 1955

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The more I read these old comics, the more obvious it becomes just how much Batman and Superman comics have changed. Specifically, how they’ve matured, and what segment of the audience they’re reaching for.

Case in point, the modern Batman/Superman series is written for teens and adults. But in 1955, World’s Finest #75 was clearly written for children.

In the modern era, our heroes are searching for traitors among them in Who Are the Secret Six? Or in more recent issues, getting introspective as they take on a bunch of cybernetic supervillains. The wacky, fun adventures are usually still there. But their sensibility skews older. World’s Finest #75, on the other hand, is at its core a pretty basic story about friendship and insecurity that kids can still relate to more than half a century later…

Written by Batman co-creator Bill Finger, our story sees the Caped Crusader break his leg in a fight with the treacherous “Purple Mask Mob.” With his partner on the sidelines, Robin needs a new cohort to help him catch the bad guys. But soon, Batman finds himself asking whether Robin prefers being partnered with the Man of Steel.

Robin is the oft-unsung hero of these early Superman/Batman stories. (Though he did get a date with Lois Lane that one time.) Going even as far back as the early covers for World’s Finest, Robin is right there with them. Heck, he’s often between them! And while the story is more about Batman than anything else, it all revolves around Robin. As a reader and someone who loves these characters, that’s gratifying to see.

The Purple Mask gang. Batman gets his leg broken not by the Joker, the Penguin, or the Riddler, but the god damn Purple Mask Gang. *face palm* I can’t imagine why they were never adapted into one of the movies.

One thing it will help to know coming into this story: It’s dripping with Silver Age camp. You’ll find no better example than Batman sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a cast on his leg, dressed in full superhero garb. There’s bad hokeyness, and then there’s good hokeyness. For yours truly, Batman’s wheelchair attire falls directly into the latter category. I can just picture him being so pathetically despondent after getting hurt that he refuses to take his costume off.

In the spirit of Silver Age camp, this story straddles an odd line between playing up Batman’s importance to the trio, and making him look like an oblivious buffoon. Come to think of it, Superman and Robin don’t come out looking too shiny either…

Our altered Dynamic Duo (Super Duo?) spent much of the story following the trail of the ever-elusive Purple Mask Mob. Meanwhile, the incapacitated-yet-still-costumed Batman continually asks them to bring back “trophies” from their various outings. Because apparently a T-Rex and a giant penny aren’t enough for the Batcave.

Then toward the end of the issue, as Superman and Robin are bamboozled as to the location of the gang’s hideout, Batman reveals some debris left on the so-called trophies have allowed to deduce the Purple Mask Mob’s location. In Superman’s own words, “How do you like that, Robin? He solves our case for us…at home, in a wheelchair!”

Pretty good, right? Finger and Swan shine a spotlight on what makes Batman different from other superheroes: His wits. But on the other end of the spectrum, while Batman can use tiny bits of hair and clay to locate a gang of crooks, he apparently can’t tell whether his leg is or isn’t broken.

That’s right, kids! Batman’s just fine! See, the “break” happened when Batman got some dust thrown in his face and fell out the window. (It happens.) The dust was apparently poisonous, and Superman and Robin needed to keep him out of action for a few days so his body can safely process the…poison? Wait, what? That’s not just comic book science, that’s comic book medical science!

It does, however, beg the question of why they couldn’t just tell Batman that he, you know, breathed in poison. Not to mention the question of how the world’s greatest detective couldn’t tell that his own leg wasn’t really broken.

So why, amidst all this silliness, do I consider this to be one of Batman and Superman’s finest tales? It all comes down to Batman’s insecurities, and Bill Finger knowing his audience.

Batman worrying about whether he’s being replaced by Superman is a story plucked straight from an elementary school playground. Think back: What happened when your best friend suddenly had a new buddy? You inevitably started to wonder if he/she liked this new person more than you, and if your friendship was being usurped.

Is it still a silly story by modern standards? Of course it is. But remember, these stories were written for kids back then. Like it or not, Bill Finger was smart enough to know this was something his readers could relate to.

It also plays into something I’ve always felt about this trio: Robin’s got the best gig in the world. Remember, Robin was originally created as a point-of-view character for young readers who wanted to fantasize about running around beating up bad guys with Batman. With World’s Finest, Robin got to do that, plus pal around with Superman! What kid wouldn’t want that?

Of course, we know what’s coming at the end. The once again bipedal Batman asks Robin if he’d rather be teaming with Superman, and the Boy Wonder affirms that, “We’ll always be a team!”

It’s such a weird story. Yet it’s so simple, kid friendly, and easy to access. It’s enough to make you wonder if major publishers like DC should get in touch with their roots a little more. In the ’70s, and especially the ’80s and ’90s, mainstream superhero comics matured to try and keep up with an aging audience. At one point, DC used the tag line, “DC Comics aren’t just for kids!”

Okay. Fair enough. But lets never forget: DC Comics was ultimately created for kids. The so-called “dark age” of comics is over, folks. We don’t have to make everything for the little ones, but let’s try a little harder to remember where we came from…

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

 


Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: Jinny Hex, and More Catching Up

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This concludes most of our catching up period. Hopefully we’ll be back on schedule from here on out!

TITLE: Jinny Hex Special #1
AUTHOR: Magdalene Visaggio
ARTISTS: Gleb Melnikov, Luis Guerrero (Colorist), Gabriela Downie (Letterer) Cover by Nick Derington and Nick Filardi.
RELEASED: December 29, 2020

This book made me miss Young Justice a little more than I already do. I didn’t think that was possible.

I’m not sure Jinny Hex would be able to support her own series. But if she could, the first two issues would look something like this. We’ve got a story and villain that help us get to know her better, the introduction of a supporting character, and the seeds of a status quo. If you’re a fan of Jinny’s, this issue will please.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #1
AUTHOR: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Ty Templeton, Sean Parsons (Inker), Monica Kubina (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer). Cover by Mirka Andolfo.
RELEASED: December 31, 2020

In the Arkham games, the Joker had a weird fascination with the Scarface puppet. This issue essentially gives us the DCAU version of that. You can tell they had fun writing those two together.

Still curious as to why they’re re-doing this story about Arnold Wesker going straight…

TITLE: Something is Killing the Children #13
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Werther Dell’Edera, Miquel Muerto (Colorist), Andworld Design (Letters)
RELEASED: December 23, 2020

I’m starting to wonder if Something is Killing the Children isn’t like The Walking Dead comic book, in that it’s better read in five or six-issue volumes as opposed to issue by issue. I’m finding that the book has started to lose me on a month-to-month basis, even though the story at large is still appealing. This isn’t a negative judgment on the book. Certain comics simply work better in fewer, larger doses.

TITLE: Star Wars: Smuggler’s Run #1 (of 2)
AUTHORS: Greg Rucka (Novel), Alec Worley, Edward Gauvin (Translation)
ARTISTS: Ingo Romling, Amauri Osorio (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 23, 2020

On one hand, this was a pleasant surprise, as I’ve read the Greg Rucka novel this issue is based on. On the other, Smuggler’s Run makes a slightly better novel than it does a comic.

Still, Ingo Romling’s animated style is a fun match for the Star Wars universe. Some really awesome shots of the Millennium Falcon. Granted, Han does look a little old on the cover.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #15
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Andrei Bressan, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer). Variant cover by Travis Charest.
RELEASED: December 22, 2020

A charming little story about Solomon Grundy, with some cameos by some D-list villains you don’t see too often. Namely Lock-Up and Lady Vic. It’s punctuated by a cute little moment between Clark and Bruce at the end.

This Travis Charest variant cover is awesome. We could very well see it again down the road as the cover to a trade or something.

TITLE: Batman #105
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, Alvaro Martinez, Christian Duce. Variant cover by Francesco Mattina.
RELEASED: December 15, 2020

I’m having some trouble wrapping my head around the direction they’re taking Ghost-Maker, and how quickly this story is resolved. Based on what Tynion and the team have established up to this point, everything got wrapped up a little too neatly for me. I’m wondering if they were shorted an issue because the story needed to be done in time for Future State.

Still, Ghost-Maker is intersting enough. I’m curious to see where they take him.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin #2
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Marco Renna, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Variant cover by Eleonora Carlini.
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

I appreciate whenever we see the Rangers in new environments we never saw on the show. So it’s nice to see them at a music festival in this issue.

Mighty Morphin #2 has really nice balance. We get a good blend of dialogue between the teens, Power Ranger action, and even some of Bulk & Skull. They can’t all be this evenly divided. But when they are, it’s generally a good thing.

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Best of Batman & Superman: The Cruise of a Lifetime

***It’s easy to put Batman and Superman against one another, as they’re so different. But those who truly understand them know that the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are better together! “Best of Batman & Superman” celebrates their best moments as a team!***

TITLE: Superman #76
AUTHOR: Edmond Hamilton
ARTISTS: Curt Swan, John Fischetti (Inker). Cover by Win Mortimer.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL COVER PRICE: 10 cents
RELEASED: 1952

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Published in 1952, Superman #76 is generally considered to be the first “proper” meeting of Batman and Superman. Granted, they’d been appearing on comic book covers together since the 40s. They’d also appeared together with the Justice Society in the pages of All-Star Comics. Batman and Robin had also made guest appearances on The Adventures of Superman radio show. But often, when historians are asked, “When did Batman and Superman meet in the comics?”, they point to this issue.

Put on your writer/editor hat for a moment: You want to have Superman and Batman, the two biggest and most popular superheroes in the world, meet for the “first time.” Where and how does it happen? In Metropolis? Gotham City? During a battle against Lex Luthor? The Joker? How did they discover one another’s identities? Did Superman use his x-ray vision? Did Batman brilliantly deduce that Clark Kent is Superman? There are a litany of possibilities. So what did they go with…?

Superman and Batman met on a cruise ship.

That’s right, folks. They met and even discovered one another’s identities aboard a goddamn cruise ship. What’s more, in it’s own little way, it worked. It was kind of a genius move, actually.

Written by Edmond Hamilton and drawn by Curt Swan, “The Mightiest Team in the World” kicks off with Batman and Robin doing something unthinkable by today’s standards: Taking a vacation. As Dick Grayson prepares to visit relatives upstate, Bruce Wayne is about to take “a real vacation, on a coastal cruise! I’ll just relax and forget crime for a change!”

Clearly pre-Silver Age heroes knew how to balance business and pleasure, as Clark Kent is about to vacation on the same cruise. And wouldn’t you know it, he winds up sharing a room with Bruce Wayne!

Then, via the magical serendipity of fiction, a jewel thief blows up a nearby tanker truck and uses the diversion to make off with a shipment of diamonds. Naturally, our heroes are keen to jump into action. Feigning fatigue, Bruce kills the lights, prompting both men to do their superhero quick-change.

But low and behold, the light from the flames shines through the window, revealing Bruce Wayne to be Batman and Clark Kent as Superman!

I used to balk at what, in hindsight, is a pretty historic moment. But I’ve found the more years go by, the more I soften on it. As a 30-something adult, I’ve actually come to appreciate it quite a bit.

One of the cardinal sins of a Superman/Batman story, for my money, is making one hero look superior to the other. These two men should stand on equal footing. If you can’t manage that, then you shouldn’t be writing the two characters together.

With this issue, the revelation is pure happenstance. We don’t have Superman peeking under Batman’s cowl with his x-ray vision. Batman doesn’t concoct some conniving scheme to discover Clark’s secret. It’s simply fate that they discover one another’s identities by accident in a moment of heroism. In that sense, it’s kind of perfect…

What’s more, they don’t spend a lot of time digesting it or brooding over it. They recognize they still have work to do, and they get to it.

Obviously our villain is meant to be the jewel thief, who has stowed away on the cruise ship. But I’d argue another character is perhaps inadvertently placed in an opposing role: Lois Lane. After seeing Superman and Batman on board the ship, Lois comes aboard looking for the story. Our heroes now have to keep her at bay while searching for the jewel thief.

After giving Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne a sea-sickness alibi, our heroes try pawning Batman off on Lois. The idea is that if Superman pretends to be jealous, “she’d be too occupied for amateur detective work!” But Lois is on to them. She pretends to actually be enamored with the Caped Crusader, which in turn actually does make the Man of Steel jealous.

Considering some of the stories we’d later get in books like Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, it’s not necessarily surprising to see them lean into a jealousy angle between Superman and Lois. But on the other hand, it’s nice to see Lois portrayed as a force to be reckoned with among the heroes. Batman may be the world’s greatest detective, but contrary to what Superman says here, Lois is hardly an amateur detective herself.

C’mon Superman. It’s not amateur detective work. It’s called investigative journalism.

One of the classic Superman/Batman tricks is having the two disguise as one another. Superman dresses as Batman, Batman dresses as Superman, etc. Tom King and Clay Mann put a nice spin on this trope in Batman not long ago. We see an early version of it here, as after our heroes inevitably catch the bad guy, Bruce Wayne masquerades as Clark Kent while standing next to Superman to throw Lois off the scent of Clark’s true identity.

She gets the last laugh, though. Lois does indeed get a date with a hero by the end of the issue: Robin. (“Isn’t he the cutest little chap?”) How’d they get in touch, as Dick is supposed to be upstate, and we’re long before the age of cell phones? Why, that’s not important…

“The Mightiest Team in the World” is filled to the brim with pre-Silver-Age charm. What’s more, it does right by its characters. Superman and Batman come out of it looking like the world’s finest heroes. Lois Lane stands out as a clever go-getter, and not simply a brainless damsel. Even Robin gets a date by the end. Truly a red letter issue for all parties.

A cruise ship. Who’da thunk it?

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Best of Batman & Superman: A New Era Begins

***It’s easy to put Batman and Superman against one another, as they’re so different. But those who truly understand them know that the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are better together! “Best of Batman & Superman” celebrates their best moments as a team!***

TITLE: Superman/Batman #1
AUTHOR: Jeph Loeb
ARTISTS: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines (Inker), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer)
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL COVER PRICE: $2.95
RELEASED: Fall 2003

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

It’s hard to believe this issue is creeping up on 20 years of age. And yet, among Batman and Superman stories, it’s a timeless classic.

If I could bring one person back to work on Superman and Batman, seperate or together, it would be Jeph Loeb. He understood both characters, and cut to their core better than almost any of his peers. That’s why, in the early 2000s, DC tapped Loeb and his former Superman collaborator Ed McGuinness to work on an all new title featuring the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight: Superman/Batman.

Loeb would do more than 25 issues of Superman/Batman, roughly half of which were with McGuinness. Almost all of them were great. But the book’s inaugural issue, Superman/Batman #1, delivered pure magic. You’ll won’t find a better example of why these two characters are better working together than against each other.

The series is narrated by both characters simultaneously. Thus, we get duel perspectives on the events of the story. Loeb makes perfect use of this tool right out of the gate, as our heroes narrate their origins in alternating sequences (shown below).

Loeb, McGuinness, and the team start out with dueling sequences in which Superman and Batman narrate their origins. What’s brilliant about this is that it showcases not just the differences between these two characters, but their similarities. Yes, they have different methods and demeanors. But its this common ground that ultimately brings them together. These are two heroes born of tragedy, who used that tragedy to forge their identities for the betterment of mankind. That mutual desire to better the world serves as the foundation of every Superman/Batman story we’ve ever seen.

Our main antagonist for the issue (though not the story at large) is Metallo, a machine with the brain of John Corben, and a heart of pure Kryptonite. Coming out of the opening sequence we get a fight between he and Superman in Metropolis. We then jump to Gotham City Cemetery, where Batman is examining Corben’s grave.

Here we get a great little moment between our heroes. One of my favorites in the entire six-issue story. Superman talks about going through Corben’s files at S.T.A.R. Labs, and speculating about his actions of late. Batman asks, “Which one of us is the detective again?”

Superman replies with a line I absolutely love: “It’s called investigative journalism.”

I love this moment because it illustrates that while Superman isn’t the detective Batman is, he’s not just some brute with super powers. Writers like to emphasize that Batman is the brains of the team, while Superman is the braun. But the best writers are the ones who show us it’s not as simple as that. Superman is perfectly capable of putting on a detective hat, just as Batman can hold his own against some of Superman’s more powerful enemies.

We’re reminded of that moments later as Metallo attacks, shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet. And of course, he falls directly into John Corben’s exhumed grave. After briefly incapacitating Metallo, Batman goes to work trying to extract the bullet. Loeb provides us with another great little moment as we get this little exchange…

Batman: “Do me a favor, Clark. Lose the sense of humor.”
Superman: “Do us both a favor, Bruce. Buy a sense of humor.”

We get a cliffhanger for next issue as Metallo then proceeds to dump a mountain of dirt on top of our heroes, burying them alive. Then to close the issue, we go to the Pentagon and President Lex Luthor. We’ve got a crisis on our hands, as an asteroid made of Kryptonite is headed for Earth. To complicate matters, President Luthor has recruited his own team of heroes…

Visually, the issue is gorgeous. Everything is bright, crisp, and clean. Ed McGuinness’ superhero figures are always jacked beyond belief. Practically every muscle in both Superman and Batman’s bodies are bulging for display. It’s not my favorite style choice. But it works for McGuinness in a cartoony, popcorn-flick sort of way.

Simply put, this issue has it all. Action. Drama. Beautiful art. Character exploration. Character origins. It’s appealing to fans, but 100% accessible even if you’ve never picked up a comic book before. What’s more, it’s the first chapter in one of the best Batman & Superman stories ever told.

Now that’s how you kick off a series.

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

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Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Return to Tatooine

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E5. “Chapter 5, The Gunslinger”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Amy Sedaris, Jake Cannavale, Ming-Na Wen
WRITER/DIRECTOR:
Dave Filoni
PREMIERE DATE:
December 6, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
After stopping on Tatooine for repairs, Mando takes a job alongside a young bounty hunter.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So did we need to come back to Tatooine? No, not really. But I’m glad we did. Going to a classic Star Wars setting reinforces that this is, in fact, the universe we know and love. And yes, nostalgia is a factor. It’s nice to see Mos Eisley again.

I’m a little surprised they used pit droids, i.e. the “hit the nose” robots from The Phantom Menace. I don’t mind Episode I as much as some people do. But you’d think in this, the first live action Star Wars television show, you’d want to avoid allusions to what’s often considered the franchise’s worst film. (It’s not. But that’s another story.)

Question: Aren’t most rifles in Star Wars blaster rifles? If so, Peli Motto asking the droids to get her blaster rifle doesn’t really make sense. It should probably just be, “Get my rifle!”

Yeah. I’m nitpicking at that level, folks. But it’s because I care, damn it!

So he just left the child on the ship? That’s uncharacteristically stupid for Mando.

Dr. Mandible, the giant bug in the cantina, is also stupid. He makes his debut in this episode.

Fun fact: The Mos Eisley Cantina has a name. Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina.

Another fun fact: They squeezed Mark Hamill into this episode. He’s the voice of the droid at the bar (shown below). Apparently that’s the very same droid that spoke to Threepio in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. What a remarkable coincidence…

I wonder if Mando would have taken Toro Calican under his wing before he picked up the child. Perhaps being a father figure softened him in short order.

That’s a recurring theme in the original Star Wars trilogy. The “scoundrel” who becomes a good man. The big one is Han Solo. But it applies to Lando Calrissian as well.

I must confess, I’ve never seen Agents of Shield, or much of anything else with Ming-Na Wen. But she makes a pretty good bounty hunter. And Fennec Shand is yet another powerful female character added to the Star Wars universe.

I don’t recommend watching this episode in a room with a lot of sunlight. I did so, and could barely make anything out during the nighttime scenes.

So the general consensus was that the person who comes to Fennec’s aid at the very end of the episode is Boba Fett. In the end, that obviously turns out to be true. That speaks to the amount of foresight the showrunners hopefully have.

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: Rorschach, Crossover, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We’re going to be spending the next few weeks catching up on “Weekly Comic 100s.” So you’re going to see a variety of books from late November into December. Starting with…

TITLE: Rorschach #3
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Jorge Fornes, Dave Stewart (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 15, 2020

This issue gives us an origins story for Laura Cummings, Rorchach’s apparent sidekick. To its credit, it strikes close to home, as Laura’s father leads a home-grown militia preparing for the arrival of squids, a la the one we saw at the end of Watchmen. And of course, the ones we often see on the news nowadays…

It’s a brilliant thing to pluck from modern headlines. It feels not only poignant, but something Rorschach would appreciate.

TITLE: Crossover #2
AUTHOR: Donny Cates
ARTISTS: Geoff Shaw, Dee Cunniffe (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

This issue was a better read for me than the last one was. I was so baffled by the inciting incident and the whole “comic characters come to life” premise that I couldn’t enjoy the issue. This time around things settle down, and we get an idea of what where the book is going.

I still can’t say I’m a huge fan of Crossing Over. Despite this issue being a little more grounded, I still have trouble wrapping my head around the premise. But I’ll say this much: I’ll be back for issue #3. For curiosity’s sake, if nothing else.

TITLE: Juggernaut #4
AUTHOR: Fabian Nicieza
ARTISTS: Ron Garney, Matt Milla (Colorist), Joe Sabino (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

“Sorry. I know it’s hard to breathe inside me.”

A villain says that to Juggernaut in this issue. I’ll just let that statement speak for itself, I think.

While the novelty of this series is starting to wear off a bit, I must admit Nicieza, Garney, and the Juggernaut team have a good outing with this issue. We fill the action quota, while also doing some nice character work with both Cain Marko and D-Cel, who I’m starting to warm to more and more.

TITLE: Batman/Catwoman #1
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 1, 2020

This book jumps around to different scenes at different times quite frequently. Not my cup of tea in terms of story structure.

This book introduces Phantasm, as in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, into the DC Universe proper. Fair enough. Though her inclusion doesn’t tip the scales one way or the other in terms of quality.

Clay Mann and Tomey Morey are on point here. The issue has a certain sensuality to it, which I suspect is by design. I just wish I could stop having Heroes in Crisis flashbacks when I see Mann’s work.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Jennika #2
AUTHOR/ARTIST: Brahm Revel
RELEASED: December 2, 2020

This month, we learn that New York City has de-funded all the fire departments in Mutant Town until they can figure out an aid package. I’d say that doesn’t reflect too well on New Yorkers. But then I remembered: This is the universe where Baxter Stockman is the mayor. That ship may have already sailed…

I know I’m a broken record, but I can’t say enough good things about the “sketchy” aesthetic Brahm Revel brings to this book. What’s more, he gets to flex some horror muscles in this issue, which is a tribute to his versatility.

TITLE: The Other History of the DC Universe #1
AUTHOR: John Ridley
ARTISTS: Giuseppe Camuncoli (Layouts & Cover), Andrea Cucchi (Finishes), Jose Villarrubia (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Camuncoli & Marco Mastrazzo.
RELEASED: November 24, 2020

This could very well be the best Black Lightning story ever written.

The Other History of the DC Universe #1 takes you there. It brings you into the mind of Jefferson Pierce, and shows you how he feels. Not just about John Stewart strictly being a substitute Green Lantern, or the Justice League being comprised of mostly white men. It draws you into the head and heart of a man trying desperately to save the community he grew up in, and bring a little more justice into the world.

This issue is worth the $6.99. Worth every penny.

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

Posted in Movies

Rob Watches Star Trek: So Much to Do, So Little Time

TITLE: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
STARRING: William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei
DIRECTOR: Leonard Nimoy
WRITER: Harve Bennett
STUDIOS: Paramount Pictures
RATED: PG
RUN-TIME: 105 min
RELEASED: June 1, 1984

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m in awe that Leonard Nimoy directed not only this movie, but the next one as well. Can you imagine that kind of thing happening today? Say they put Mark Hamill in the director’s chair for a Star Wars movie. Or Tobey Maguire in charge of a Spider-Man flick. They’d be hounded by toxic fans to the point of never wanting to touch the franchise ever again.

Fresh off the events of Star Trek II, Star Trek III brings us the revelation that Spock’s “living spirit” is in limbo, and has found a home in the mind of Bones. Thus, Kirk and the crew set out for Genesis to reunite Spock’s spirit with his body. But they do so against the will of the Federation, and must steal the now decommissioned Enterprise. All the while, the Genesis project has caught the attention of the Klingons, who want its power as their own.

A lot happens in Star Trek III. Like, a lot. Even when you set aside the fact that they’re trying to friggin’ resurrect the dead. Kirk’s son dies. The Enterprise blows up. We have all these big emotional moments between characters as they risk their lives and careers to save Spock. On paper, this movie is just as epic and impactful as The Wrath of Khan. If not more so.

So why is it strictly okay? Why doesn’t it hold up as a successor to The Wrath of Khan?

For my money, it’s the old “10 pounds of stuff in a five pound bag” metaphor. There’s so much going on that these big moments don’t necessarily have the impact they need and deserve. Chief among them is what happens to Kirk’s son David, who we met in The Wrath of Khan. The villain kills him off during the second half of the movie. Naturally, Kirk is grief-stricken. The Search For Spock does it’s best to give it proper weight. But in trying to wrap up all the film’s plot threads, there isn’t enough time. Yes, Kirk is distraught about his son. But this is the death of his child. He should be absolutely destroyed to the point that he needs the entire movie to bring himself to suit back up.

Furthermore, Star Trek III robs the premise of Kirk having a long-lost son of any story potential it may have had. How do father and son adjust to this new connection? What role do they play in each other’s lives? Does David become a liability for Kirk in the field? Granted, David wasn’t the most compelling character in the world. But Star Trek III removes the opportunity to make him compelling.

David’s death might have been more impactful had it come at the hands of a more interesting villain. Kruge, the lead Klingon, comes off as a hollow mustache-twirler. Yes, Christopher Lloyd is fun. But he’s also campy. That’s not what you want to follow The Wrath of Khan with.

Still, the movie isn’t without its fun elements. I love that Spock’s living spirit ended up with Bones. If anything, that should have been explored more. Actually, in hindsight, that should have been an episode of the series. It’s a fantastic way to not only contrast Spock and Bones, but give them insight into one another.

Star Trek III also continues something started in Star Trek II that I find very important: It emphasizes that these people are friends. Not just Kirk, Spock, and Bones, but the entire crew. That’s why they’re willing to risk their careers to steal the Enterprise and go after Spock.

I wish they could have had more fun with the stealing of the Enterprise. Sort of like a mini heist movie within the movie. Have Kirk, Spock, and Chekov do the grunt work while Scotty and Uhura work remotely. A Star Trek heist movie could have been fun, and a good way to make this story a very different animal from The Wrath of Khan.

But alas, Star Trek III feels like a younger sibling trying to live up to an older sibling’s achievements. It pales in comparison, of course. In hindsight, I wish Nimoy had been given a better script for his directorial debut. Thankfully he’d get another chance with Star Trek IV

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