Archive for Brainiac

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 9th September 2009

Posted in Adventure Comics, Blackest Night, Comics, Green Lantern Corps, Secret Six, Superman, Wednesday Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21st September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

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Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


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Adventure Comics #2
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Francis Manapul
A heart-warming tale of love re-kindled, with some surprising developments on the Luthor/Brainiac front.  The best Superman book since Johns left Action.
Verdict: Must have.


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Blackest Night: Batman #2
Written by Peter J. Tomasi ǀ Art by Adrian Syaf
Without a doubt the best Blackest Night tie-in on the stands.  It’s simple enough to stand on its own, and Tomasi does even more to flesh out the new Dynamic Duo.
Verdict: Buy it.


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Green Lantern Corps #40
Written by Peter J. Tomasi ǀ Art by Patrick Gleason
Tomasi continues to mine the rich landscape that he himself created.  The return of the dead means the return of past plot threads, and Tomasi weaves them together beautifully.
Verdict: Buy it.


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Secret Six #13
Written by Gail Simone ǀ Art by Nicola Scott
I’m really digging this “Depths” story arc.  Secret Six continues its proud tradition of anti-heroics and black humour.  If you haven’t been reading this book, you really ought to be.
Verdict: Must have.


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Superman: World of New Krypton #7
Written by James Robinson & Greg Rucka ǀ Art by Pete Woods
The entire Superman line has been a real disappointment to me since Geoff Johns and Gary Frank left Action Comics.  Everything just feels so…orchestrated, contrived, storyboard-ed – so many adjectives spring to mind, few of them positive.  I expect more from James Robinson and Greg Rucka individually, but together!  This should have been the Golden Age of Super-storytelling.  Instead, the whole thing’s mired in uninteresting political posturing.  “Phantom Menace” continually springs to mind.
Verdict: Avoid.


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Wednesday Comics #9 & 10
Written by Various ǀ Art by Various
Wednesday Comics just keeps getting better as it sprints towards the finish line.  There’s really only one weak story in the bunch.
Verdict: Buy it.

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Superman: World of New Krypton #3

Posted in Comics, DC, Superman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
You will believe a man can fly.

You will believe a man can fly.

Authors: Greg Rucka & James Robinson
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Cover Artist: Gary Frank
Variant Cover Artists: Howard Chaytkin with Edgar Delgado
Assistant Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

New Krypton is an interesting little ‘what if?’ scenario for Superman.  What if Superman lived in a world where everyone had the same powers he has?  What if he wasn’t special at all?  What if he was just Clark Kent?  Would he still make a difference?  Except he’s not Clark Kent, the human reporter – he’s Commander Kal-El of the Kryptonian Military Guild.  And yet, this series has done more to highlight Superman’s very human upbringing than any other.  Superman is special, and what’s special about him is his humanity.

This all sounds very poignant for what is essentially a story about a hostage situation.  That we get to see Superman negotiate a hostage situation at all just goes to show how interesting New Krypton’s basic premise is.  While some readers are waiting for ‘something’ to happen, I’m enjoying all the very ‘normal’ situations Superman finds himself in, and how his intrinsic responses differ from that of his Kryptonian colleagues, particularly Zod.  Now, I expect that ‘something’ readers and critics are impatiently waiting for is something along the lines of ‘Zod’s up to something, and it ain’t good’, and this story certainly alludes to that in some small measure, but I want to see this ‘what if?’ scenario explored first and played out to the full.

It’s true, General Zod does risk losing the menacing heights he achieved during Geoff John’s and Richard Donner’s “Last Son” story arc, if he doesn’t do something villainous soon.  It seems that Superman and Supergirl aren’t the only ones who view New Krypton as a new beginning.  Zod, too, has turned over a new leaf, it seems.

(For those not in the know, New Krypton consists solely of the citizens of Kandor, a city which was shrunk and trapped in a bottle by Brainiac long ago.  As a result, the people of New Krypton are still adjusting to their newfound freedom, and are completely unaware of the nature of General Zod’s military coup back on Krypton proper.  They were also completely unaware of Jor-El’s peaceful attempts to warn the Council of Krypton’s impending doom.  Years later, Zod and company are the only survivors of Krypton’s destruction, and the only surviving Kryptonians who were ‘right’ about the whole thing.  His attempt to forcefully ‘save’ Krypton from the Council’s ignorance is thus considered an act of heroism in retrospect.)

Superman and Zod’s new relationship is understandably awkward considering their embattled past, and while this is intended and entertaining, it’s also a little implausible.  Zod seems far too reasonable for a man who was an egomaniacal madman not so long ago.  And Superman seems far too composed for a man who – being the only one who knows the truth about Zod – is required to serve under his command!  Zod appears to admire Superman’s non-lethal solutions to societal problems, and Superman appears to regard Zod as someone other than an egotistical madman.  If they get much more familiar, it’s going to be very difficult for these two to lock fists to faces in the inevitable future.  I suppose I’m just concerned that Rucka and Robinson have written themselves into a corner they can’t get out of (though I feel the same way about the whole New Krypton scenario altogether).

World of New Krypton explores another side of Superman that we’ve perhaps not seen before: Superman the Revolutionary.  New Krypton still operates under a guild system as established on Old Krypton, but the Labor Guild (sound familiar?) is the only without political representation.  Superman, the red-blooded American he is, sees this as fundamentally wrong and undemocratic, and in many ways planted the dissenting seeds that led to this situation.  Members of the Labor Guild take Alura (Superman’s biological aunt and Supergirl’s mother) hostage, demanding reasonable working conditions and political representation.  Before Zod orders their outright execution, Kal-El asks for 30 minutes to find a non-violent solution.  Now this is what makes Superman, Superman!

Rucka and Robinson remind us again what makes Superman so important in the superhero landscape.  There are some forces too good to be polluted by the evils of this world, and one such force is Superman.  Even in a world full of superpowered beings, Superman sets himself apart with purity and ingenuity.  You can have your post-80s grit, but I prefer my Superman squeaky-clean, thank you very much.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4

Posted in Comics, DC, Final Crisis, Legion of 3 Worlds, Legion of Superheroes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
A gold star for anyone who understands this story.

A gold star for anyone who understands this story.

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: George Perez
Inker: Scott Koblish
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Nick Napolitano
Assistant Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Artists: George Perez & Tom Smith
Alternate Cover Artists: George Perez & Hi-Fi

Legion of 3 Worlds makes my head explode.

I read it aloud to my sister over wine and cheese (because I’m all sophisticated, like) just to make sure, and I can now safely guarantee that this story is perceiveable only by those well-steeped in DC history.  Sure, there are a few main threads that can be picked out by the uninitiated, but not without wading through a sea (or seas) of continuity and comic book logic.  In order to explain the events of this comic to my sibling, I had to provide short synopses on Superboy, Legion of Superheroes, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, The Flash, Green Lantern and the Justice Society.  Which I didn’t mind doing, despite making me feel like a nerd of mammoth proportions.  Even then, it was too much for one person to absorb in five minutes, so it only helped a little.  So Newcomers, Beware!  This book is not for you.

If you’re still reading, then good for you!  Either you’re a walking DC Encyclopaedia, or you’re thirsty for punishment.  Seriously, the DC faithful will find Legion of 3 Worlds deeply rewarding.  The more you know about the DC Universe and its characters, the more this book has to offer in terms of fan service.  Geoff Johns proves himself to be the Biggest DC Comics Fan on Earth, juggling the cast of not only three incarnations of the Legion of Superheroes (post-Infinite Crisis, post-Zero Hour, and “Threeboot”), but also Superboy-Prime’s Legion of Super-Villains.  All the while, George Perez proves himself to be the most capable artist of his time, rendering a ridiculously large cast of characters on the same page at the same time with confidence and clarity.

It’s more than appropriate that George Perez should draw this story, because in many ways, Legion of 3 Worlds is the spiritual successor to Crisis on Infinite Earths, moreso than the core Final Crisis series, or even Infinite Crisis.  Indeed, some of the most significant beats pick up story threads from the second crisis, but it makes me wonder: does Geoff Johns regret some of the decisions that were made during Infinite Crisis?  I can’t help but feel that each new crisis weakens the emotional impact, and often negates the literal impact of the crisis preceding it.  That being said, Legion of 3 Worlds feels like a multiverse-spanning epic, and manages to entertain along the way.  It may not claim to be a ‘crisis’ proper, but it serves as a fitting tribute to those stories that came before it.

Legion of 3 Worlds #4 – like its predecessors – is home to some genuinely shocking moments, which I won’t spoil for you here.  The hilariously deranged Starman once again proves to be my favourite in Geoff Johns’ stable of characters.  Superboy Prime once again proves to be the most annoying, though his dialogue is (purposely) so bad it’s good.  Remembering the character’s inherent purity from the original Crisis, Prime’s bratty transformation and motivation for evil has always been difficult for me to swallow, but I think Johns is going somewhere with this.  The rest of the dialogue is pitch-perfect – witty and entertaining – though not entirely free of confusing pseudo-scientific explanations, particularly from any of the three Brainiac 5s.  Nonetheless, the core story is essentially an action-packed battle between good and evil.  The cinematic presentation of Legion is reminiscent of Johns’ and Richard Donner’s “Last Son of Krypton” arc, lending the tale a sense of urgency, particularly in the final sequence.

Confusing though it may be, Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4 presents a magical multiverse where anything is possible.  DC readers will have plenty to sink their teeth into.  To anyone else who is interested – I recommend you do your homework first.

Legion of Superheroes #40

Posted in Comics, Legion of Superheroes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 17th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

Legion of Superheroes #40, ‘Enemy Rising Part 1: Headlong into Darkness’
Author: Jim Shooter
Artist: Francis Manapul
Inker: Livesay
Colorist: JD Smith
Letterer: Steve Wands

The Legion of Superheroes really embodies everything that DC has been trying to achieve with their re-instated multiversal approach. Legion is packed with vibrant characters and fantastical adventures across the 31st Century cosmos. This issue opens with the latter, but majors in the former, and with Legion veteran Jim Shooter at the helm, that’s not a bad thing. There’s a wealth of characters in the Legion of Superheroes, and I use that word very deliberately. While it’s near-impossible to remember every character’s name and abilities (though names like ‘Shadow Lass’ and ‘Lightning Lad’ do help), Shooter deftly handles each character pitch-perfectly and switches between them with ease and purpose. You may forget the names again when you put the book down, but you won’t soon forget the personalities that crackle and smolder through each line of dialogue. Shooter’s familiarity with his cast is apparent; they are his personal playground. Not in a self-indulgent way, like Brad Meltzer’s love-letter to the Justice League; more like an artisan who knows his tools.

The Legion of Superheroes were never really on my radar until Geoff Johns re-introduced them, first in the ‘Lightning Saga’, then in his work on Action Comics. Now, between this and Action, the Legion are far and away one of DC’s most fertile properties. And if it’s one thing I’ve learned from Action, it’s that a good Legion tale benefits from crisp, clean artwork, and artist Francis Manapul has this in spades. Whether he’s depicting physical or emotional action, Manapul has the details spot-on.

As I hinted earlier, the story begins with the takedown of a rampaging alien on Talok VIII. This scene had me hooked within the first few pages – Shadow Lass provided the action, while Brainiac 5 brought the humour (surprisingly) – and strapped me in for the ride to come. The contrast between the interplanetary scope of the story and the close-knit relationships between these teenage superheroes is interesting to say the least. This issue focuses mainly on Lightning Lad’s struggles as a leader. It really is quite masterful, the way the writer reins in the story to create an engaging teen-superhero-space-soap-opera. Even though this issue is a little light on action, it’s certainly not light on humour, charm, or drama, and I can’t help but feel that it’s building towards something far bigger. For now, Shooter is quite happy to mine the depths of his rich cast, so that we can familiarise ourselves as he has. The great thing is that all of the character sketches really serve the story, and don’t feel contrived in the least. Shooter’s approach means that we actually will care when the time finally comes to throw the Legion in harm’s way.

A great deal of the humour in Legion comes from Shooter’s extrapolation of a litigation-mad society. If you think it’s ridiculous now, wait until you see what Lightning Lad and Princess Projectra have to deal with 100 years later. The rest of the humour is sourced in the team’s domestic arguments – Brainiac’s freaking out about an impending alien invasion while the rest of the team bickers about the ethics of mind control. Enter Lightning Lad, the star of this particular tale, who swoops in and takes control, then chills to a cup of coffee.

The multiverse was made for stories like these. The Legion really has come a long way in recent times. The goofy camp of yesteryear is all but gone, but the humorous and endearing team dynamic remains. I can’t help but think that a story like this would not have been possible in the 90s or even the gritty-and-grounded 80s. If you enjoyed Johns’ run on Action Comics, then I highly recommend you pick up Jim Shooter’s entire run.