Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes

November 21, 2020

Book Review: Superman: The Golden Age Dailies-1944-1947

Superman: The Golden Age Dailies-1944-1947 Superman: The Golden Age Dailies-1944-1947 by Alvin Schwartz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Collecting Superman daily news strips from October 1944-July 1947, this series captures Superman at a point when the strips had become (mostly) more lighthearted, with most storylines having a strong comedic element. We get see things happen like Lois being left a fortune, her being engaged to Superman, and two talented elderly female cooks trying to make a man out of Mister Mxyzptlk. It's Superman as lighthearted fun before everything went all nuts in comics during the Silver Age. We get appearances by the Prankster, two by Mister Mxyzptlk, and one by Lex Luthor.

I will say that the second appearance of Mister Mxyzptlk was not as good, with his being a romantic rival for Superman being just a little too silly. I also thought Luthor's evil plan was a little too unambitious for him and not up to his usual standards.

The last story is a bit more serious as it addresses the Post-War concern of Juvenile delinquency by telling a story that focuses on two delinquents who are pals from different sides of the track. This one is pretty good for what it is. It featured, "Community House." The radio series would feature Unity House during its fights with the clan. I wonder if this was somehow related.

Overall, this is one of the more solid volumes of comic strips and well worth a read for those who like a lighter touch on the man of steel.



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Published on November 21, 2020 23:48 Tags: golden-age, newspaper-strips, superman

November 20, 2020

Book Review: Firefly: The Unification War Vol. 3

Firefly: The Unification War Vol. 3 Firefly: The Unification War Vol. 3 by Greg Pak

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Unification War saga draws to a close as Browncoats who joined forces to rescue Mal and those trying to bring him in reveal what they truly want and many are wanting to restart the War, including Mal's mother.

As a conclusion, this is decent enough with a lot of good twists. It's clever enough as far as it goes. The problem is that the book illustrates the challenge of tryign to set books in between the end of the TV series and the movie Serenity. At the end of the book, it's clearly gotten into events that seem beyond implauisble, given what we know of where the characters went.

Again, this isn't bad but it's really straining credulity at this point, which is why I'd love to see more Firefly stories set after the movie.



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Published on November 20, 2020 22:34 Tags: firefly, unification-war

November 16, 2020

Book Review: Batman, Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs

Batman, Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs Batman, Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs by James Tynion IV

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Batman is grieving the death of Alfred but that's interrupted by a major shake-up. Gotham is under siege as are many of its supervillains, as the plans of the Designer begin to come to fruition.

In the interest of full disclosure, I picked up this after having dropped Tom King's run on Batman after the volume after the "wedding," so was aware of the events of City of Bane mainly through coverage.

As a jumping on point, this book does fairly well. There are still some gaps unexplained. But if you accept that Bruce and Selena are back together and Alfred's gone, you can enjoy this book with minimal knowledge of what's come before.

Tynion uncorks an epic story to open his run. He doesn't waste time, but gives us Batman's Big 4 of Rogues (Catwoman, Joker, the Riddler, and Penguin), Harley Quinn, plus add in Deathstorke and a Squad of Assassins on a mission, and this whole idea of the Designer and you've got a story that works.

Ever since DC Rebirth, writers have been obsessed with introducing randos we've never seen before as massive menaces to Batman. However, Tynion's take works because the concept is interesting and this isn't some lone rando, but someone who is tied into Batman intimately in a way that's believable. Add on that, a massive mystery that actually allows Batman to be a detective.

The stories from Batman Secret Files are pretty good and showcase a variety of styles, but the main attraction is Their Dark Designs, which manages to be a thoroughly engaging, must-read Batman epic.



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Published on November 16, 2020 20:57 Tags: batman, james-tynion

November 4, 2020

Book Review: Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen: Sitting in a Tree

Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen: Sitting in a Tree Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen: Sitting in a Tree by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book crosses-over three issues of the Miles Morales Spider-man book and Spider-Gwen as Miles travels to Gwen Stacy's dimension, Earth-65. The story ahs some fun moments, particularly when we get into other characters from the Spider-verse getting involved.

So why don't I rate it higher?

Well, it does go on a bit long. There's not enough story here for six issues, it's padded. It also doesn't really advance the ongoing character arc of either character.

Here's the biggest problem. The book is based around a kiss and the idea of romance between Gwen and Miles. The romance really feels forced and with the age difference, it's slightly inappropriate. It's the central point of the cover and the kiss is built up in the issue, and it really never goes anywhere. Simply telling a Miles/Gwen crossover where they meet and get to know each other and then maybe they start to develop feelings would have made sense, but it seems someone had the mandate that they had to kiss by the end of the mini-series, no matter how inconsequential the kiss turned out to be.

I'm not giving it 2 stars because this is an improvement over the last bit of Dreck from Spider-Gwen and it has fun moments, and some interesting artistic content, but man does it trick you and haven utterly pointless central theme.



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Published on November 04, 2020 23:43 Tags: spider-gwen, spider-man

October 31, 2020

Book Review: Stargirl

Stargirl Stargirl by Geoff Johns

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book reprints the first 14 issues of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. in which Courtney Whitmore teams up with her stepfather to fight crime as the new Star Spangled Kid, and then issue #4 of JSA All-Stars in which Courtney takes on the name Stargirl.

The book is really of interest because of the TV series based on Stargirl as a comic book series, it's not particularly remarkable. It's Geoff Johns first work in comics and as a book it's not bad, but that's about all you can say to it. The characters are shallow, the villains aren't that inventive, and the plots are a bit forgettable.

However, it's of interest because of the TV series. Johns did use much of the plots in the book in the first season of the TV series. However, because he's older and maybe a bit wiser, he offers different twists on the ideas in the book in the TV series. There are differences between the Blue Valley plot and what the villains plan is. The relationship between Pat and Courtney and indeed Courtney's entire character is very different in this book v. the TV show. I thought she could be a bit stubborn and irrational on television, but the book version was definitely worst in that regards.

If you liked the Stargirl TV show and want to find out the origin of some ideas in that series, this book is worth checking out, or if you're a fan of Geoff Johns work and want to see his first project. Otherwise, this is mostly unremarkable.



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Published on October 31, 2020 23:24 Tags: jsa, stargirl

October 24, 2020

Book Review: Doctor Who Series III, Vol. 4: Dead Man's Hand

Doctor Who Series III, Vol. 4: Dead Man's Hand Doctor Who Series III, Vol. 4: Dead Man's Hand by Tony Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the last volume in IDW's run on Doctor Who.

The story has the Doctor and Clara arriving in Deadwood at the same time Calamity Jane and Oscar Wilde are there. However, mystery develops when it turns out the body of the recently deceased Wild Bill Hickock is missing and the Doctor discovers an alien who is ready to pass judgment on the Earth.

This is a really solid story. There's a lot going on here, but not too much to fit into 80 page of comic book storytelling. It's a really proper Westerns with some great moments. It also managed to play into its role in the fiftieth anniversary without going over the top and to tie in to IDW's first Doctor Who comics back during the Tenth Doctor's era.

The original trade paperback also included the story, "Escape from Alcatraz" which is a really fun and engaging escape tale from Doctor Who Special 2012. It's a really nice, fun breezy tale that moves a great pace.

Overall, this is a very solid collection that delivers great value and a lot of fun.



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Published on October 24, 2020 23:27 Tags: dead-man-s-hand, doctor-who

October 23, 2020

Book Review: Naomi: Season One

Naomi: Season One (Naomi (2019-)) Naomi: Season One (Naomi by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Naomi introduces DC/Wonder Comics' new heroine Naomi as she learns the truth behind her adoption and who her biological parents as well as who one of her adoptive parents is.

Naomi has some good ideas at its core. The characters are likable enough. The problem is that very little actually happens. Bendis is a good writer but the format of this book played into one of his weaknesses. He has an elaborate back story for Naomi as well as many other characters Lake Oswego and he's determined to get out.

The book has page after page of people talking, flashbacks, and backstory. It's tedious. The amount of text used is sometimes tedious with multiple narration bubbles filling pages. I feel this probably would have worked better if this has been 12 issues with back story worked in around more stories and adventures. As it is, this too often feels like an info dump more than anything else.



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Published on October 23, 2020 19:29 Tags: naomi, wonder-comics

October 21, 2020

Book Review: Spider-Man: The Gathering of Five

Spider-Man: The Gathering of Five Spider-Man: The Gathering of Five by John Byrne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Gathering of Five collects two separate storylines that brought to an end all of the current Spider-man books and would set the stage for a late 1990s relaunch of Spider-man. The book is helped having read some of the other post-Clone War storylines including things like Spider-hunt and Identity Crisis. Those stories give you a flavor of the sort of hell that Norman Osborne was putting Peter through and all the manipulations going on.

As a climax to that arc, I think this mostly works. The idea of bringing five people together with three promised three gifts while one gets death and the other gets madness is really chilling. The confrontations between Peter and the Green Goblin are good. The decisions and the struggle with Mary Jane is fine and works well. There's a lot of solid surprises and turns, and the art is decent.

The last issue did leave me with a lot of mixed feelings. First, I think the last issue should have been in Amazing Spider-man rather than Peter Parker, Spider-man. Second, it kind of used a big cheat to escape the consequences of the cliffhanger at the end of the previous issue. The issue does end with Peter ending his time as Spider-man and the reason for that is not very well-founded. It's part of a precedent that Marvel would follow in years to come with characters acting how the writers need them to act rather than in ways that are consistent with who they have been stablished to be. Still, that's to read this story through later ones which isn't wise.

This one works pretty well. There are some very nice payoffs and resolutions, great characters, some good plot twists and plenty of excitement. Overall, a decent enough conclusion for nearly 40 years of Spidey history even if stuck the landing a little.




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Published on October 21, 2020 21:50 Tags: 1990s, spider-man

October 16, 2020

Book Review: Avengers Epic Collection Vol. 24: The Gatherers Strike!

Avengers Epic Collection Vol. 24: The Gatherers Strike! Avengers Epic Collection Vol. 24: The Gatherers Strike! by Bob Harras

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This collection of 1990s Avengers stories...aren't terrible. Yeah, Black Widow and Captain America are on the team and on the periphery of the action and the rest are hardly household names except for Vision. However, the stories themselves are not bad at all, though non particularly memorable. After the Avengers main story material, we get into a story involving Kang, a woman who has taken his place and time travel shenanigans with past and present Avengers meeting up. It's a good fun and i feel like the art while having some of the awful 1990sness that would define Marvel this decade...is not near as bad as it could be.

For me, what takes this book from three starts to four stars (maybe more like 3.5) was the reprint of the Avengers 30th Anniversary issue. There's a ton of insight into the history of its team, its major battles, and the reasoning behind some of the creative decisions made. To me, this more than made up for the book's deficiencies and made for a very fun read.



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Published on October 16, 2020 22:15 Tags: 1990s, avengers

October 10, 2020

Book Review: Black Panther: Panther's Quest

Black Panther: Panther's Quest Black Panther: Panther's Quest by Don McGregor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Panther's Quest is a 1980s mini-series written by Don Macgregor who wrote the epic Panther's Rage back in the 1970s. The series was serialized in the weekly marvel premiere magazine which generally featured 8-page installments. The thesis of the story is that T-Challa goes to South Africa in search of his mother, and meets with an informant who has information only to run into militias and deal firsthand with the oppression in South Africa during Apartheid.

There are many legitimate criticisms of the book. It is massively overwritten with lengthy flowery prose serving to tell us about the situation in South Africa and what characters are thinking rather than to show it. It's a decade or more out of date here and it can be very excessive. In addition, much of the story is a diversion. The Panther's Quest is introduced in the first issue and essentially pushed off to the side until the last quarter of the book.

Nevertheless, it's still worth reading. It's a good historical document and has the Marvel Universe dealing with Apartheid head-on. The story is filled with some very real poignant moments. The art by Gene Colan is good, even though he's not at the height of his powers.

The reader should be warned that this is a very difficult book. It deals with a very ugly situation and it portrays the situation and the way people suffer in great detail. The action is often bone-crushing and extreme. There are some dark events in this story involving children, dogs, and a bit of sex slavery. While Marvel gave this book a Teen rating, it really does border on being Mature Readers book.

Overall, if this is the type of story that interests you, it's worth checking out.



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Published on October 10, 2020 22:52 Tags: 1980s, black-panther

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
...more
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