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From the Hoss’ Mouth 10/25/06

Look! Up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s…Richard Donner!?!  Someone call an ambulance.  How does Donner fare in his new comic venture?  A full review of Action Comics awaits you inside.

Also Nextwave, Heroes for Hire, and Civil War: Choosing Sides are there too if famous Hollywood directors aren’t your thing.

Full Reviews:

Action Comics #844
Writer: Geoff Johns & Richard Donner
Art: Adam Kubert

What to think….what to….think.  Well, I loved it.  There’s some parts overall that seemed out of touch and I’ll address those in a moment but overall I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone.  First things first, this book takes the priority spot here because of the inclusion of Richard Donner, the father of superhero films, without which the current glut of blockbuster superheroic epics we currently have would be just a twinkle in Stan Lee’s eye.

Enough ballyhooing, let’s talk about the good.  This issue has an epic feel.  The story they’re going for is as ambitious as it is exciting.  A spaceship carrying a small boy lands in Metropolis.  Not only that, but by anyone’s guess the boy is Kryptonian.  This would seem odd had not the current Supergirl done the same thing 2 years ago.  They also reference this fact to stop any possible jeers from the peanut gallery.  No one knows the deal with the kid but being a child as well as landing in Metropolis leads to a very grave set of circumstances, namely the involvement of the government.  Superman thanks his stars and garters he landed in Smallville, otherwise he’s end up like this poor child here.  Elseworld’s anyone?  Supes isn’t the only one who takes notice though as Luthor also recognizes opportunity when it comes knocking.

That’s not all though, what really grabs your attention almost immediately is that this book seems like an attempt to correct the mistakes of the most recent Superman Returns and honestly even if we include the extra trappings of continuity the comics have, it’s still much better.  In one issue alone I can firmly state this, and I’m sure most of you will agree.  So how is it like the movie.  The first scene is Supes using those Kryptonian crystals to have a heart to heart with Jor El.  The second involves a Perry White who hasn’t been this unforgiving in quite sometime, yes he’s managed to regress to his old belligerent self particularly towards Jimmy.  Also in this scene it’s obvious that Kubert has modeled his Clark right off of Brandon Routh in case the movie theme hadn’t set in for some they just hammer it home with this.  Finally the super-kid, the big WTF moment of the film lands right here in our laps, but this time it works.  All the problems of the movie kid are gone namely the kid’s not Clark’s & Lois’.  Perfect!  Mysterious space kid I can handle.  Bastard child of Superman I can’t.

Are there some problems?  For some there will be. First why is Perry so cranky, second why is Superman so damn threatening, and third… black ops…really…he’s Superman?  These are the three moments that will grab some as being out of character and take you out of the story, but for me they worked.  Specifically when you start to imagine how Superman would react if a small Kryptonian boy, very much like himself, really did manage to land in Metropolis.  I think the over-protective stance he takes isn’t that out of character and absolutely fits where I see them going with this story.  It’s quite an emotional turn and two parts in particular one involving Lois and the other the Kents are the most grabbing.

Kubert excels here.  I loved every panel.  Everything from his characters to his backgrounds are beautiful.  Where he really shines in this story is his layouts.  Every panel flows right into the other and the art is setup so that the story moves right along providing a nice tight and seamless integration of text and visuals.  Also since they are going for a film approach the utilization of the Routh – Clark is a great idea and Kubert manages to fit him in perfectly.

Verdict: As far as I’m concerned there were 2 standout books this week, and for that matter this month: Action Comics and Captain America.  Do yourself a favor and grab them both. 

Quick Reviews:

Civil War Choosing Sides: 5 short stories around 8 pages each that really read more like promos than anything else.  There’s also a sixth “Guiding Light” crossover story.  Hooray!  First up is the Gargan Venom.  Fun, exciting, way too short, and anything but conclusive; the art though is awesome.  Next we get to the Irredeemable Ant-Man which manages to actually squeeze a full fledged story in.  It’s funny just like the first issue of the series but its overall CW importance just isn’t there.  Third finds an Iron Fist promo and nothing else.  Short and sweet, but suffers from the same drawback as Ant-Man.  Fourth is U.S.Agent.  If you’re like me you’ll find yourself asking “Really, so that’s how he joins Omega Flight?”  I really expected more here, a lot more, specifically a better explanation.  Fifth is the Howard the Duck story which is the most amusing yet doesn’t really fit in with any of the others.  Namely because it’s not a promo and also because it’s Howard the Duck.  The “Guiding Light” story is just bad.  Who the hell are these people and what are they doing in my comic book.  Also Iron Man should learn how to spell priority.

Verdict: At $3.99 it’s not worth a buy but it is worth a read.  Grab a copy and huddle in the back where the employees can’t see you then quietly place back on the shelf when done.

Heroes for Hire #3: We’re three issues in and the book has revealed itself to be unimportant.  If anything that happens here is referenced in any other book I’ll be amazed.  Like the X-Men CW mini before it go ahead and pass.  Also the dueling pencillers kept messing with me.  Both do a good job but the style changes just kind of irked me.

Verdict: For completists.

Nextwave #9: On it’s way to ending and the series is still fun.  This issue in particular grabbed me with the introduction of Number None’s super teams.  Ellis seems to be channeling a bit of Morrison’s Doom Patrol run and I like it.  I’m not just referring to the use of the “Number None” name either but moreover the stylistic interpretations of the enemies, the weird floating castle, and all the upside down antics.  This book’s not for the serious but for those who’ve enjoyed the series so far this issue won’t let you down.  Immonen’s art as always with this series matches the story perfectly.

Verdict: Now that it’s on the way out I’m trying to live it up and hold on as long as possible.

This week’s loser:

The Trials of Shazam #3: Damn you Winnick! You had me and you threw it all away.  So…the first trial is a tribal back tattoo….what, why?  Spare me.  In an attempt to make Shazam/Captain Marvel/Jr. relevant they’ve gone and made him stupid.  Shouldn’t the first test have been fighting magical monsters, obtaining magical artifacts, or I don’t know…proving your magical merit.  Cliché isn’t always bad, especially when the alternative doesn’t make any sense. Next I expect to see magic tongue piercings or perhaps he could walk around with a pacifier in his mouth while he goes to magical raves.  Pfffttt.  Porter on the other hand does a good job but his Freddy face is starting to get to me and he also seems to be possessed by Dillon in some panels as his faces start to run together. 

Verdict: Benefit of the doubt…going…going…gone!

The Rundown:

The Great:

52 – Go Black Marvel Family GO!

Secret Six – Mad Hatter is just so damn cool.

Spawn – Surprisingly good for Spawn, let’s hope the Armageddon battle holds up.

Captain America – Tied for best book of the week, also a shining example of how to bring an untouchable character back.

Daredevil – Man that Tombstone is a mean mother…shut your mouth!

Sensational Spider-Man – Arsenic and Old Lace, love it!

The Good:

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters – This book has turned around, I’m enjoying the hell out of it now.

Superman/Batman Annual – Is that…Deadpool?

Wetworks – Going strong in the 2nd issue.

X-Men – A little more development for everyone (and I know it’s a lot) would really help this book jump in that great column.

Exiles – Almost always a winner.

The Fillers:

Black Panther – Don’t let the cover fool you, there’s no BP/Namor throwdowns.

New Avengers – Still can’t figure out what to do with the Sentry huh?

New Excalibur – Ridiculously easy solution = huge letdown.

Supergirl & the LOSH – Kandor just isn’t interesting enough, and all the “visions” just distract.

Hawkgirl – This book has been solid filler and nothing else since OYL started.

Ion – What started off great has really started to drag on now.


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