Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes

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 It's a decade or more out of date here and it can be very excessive.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

October 5, 2020

Book Review: Showcase Presents: Hawkman, Vol. 2

Showcase Presents: Hawkman, Vol. 2 Showcase Presents: Hawkman, Vol. 2 by Gardner F. Fox

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book collects the rest of Hawkman's solo Silver Age series, a cross-over with the Atom in his comic, an appearance in Batman Team-up book Brave and the Bold, and the Hawkman stories in The Atom and Hawkman.

The Hawkman stories are fine for the most part, if a bit formulaic. Hawkman and Hawkgirl fought a lot of Monsters of the Month although they also took on some ordinary Earth gangsters. The stories are okay okay, but almost totally forgettable. What does stand out in the Hawkman solo series is Shayera. She does emerge as one of the strongest female characters in the Silver Age. Even though her portrayal isn't perfect, it certainly beat the way that Sue Richards was being handled over at Marvel. She's smart, resourceful, and capable of saving the day and really the book would have benefitted had the series been called Hawkman and Hawkgirl.

My one favorite stand out story is Hawkman #13, "Quest of the Immortal Queen" where Hawkman's kidnapped by the interdimensional Queen of Asgard to become her latest husband until she gets bored with him. It was wild and it was too bad the rest of the book couldn't measure up.

The Atom and Hawkman books were of two types. First there were issues in which you got a short story with each and then you had team-up issues. We only get the Hawkman side of the solo stories. I thought the Solo Stories were fine. The Phantom Ghost two-parter was engaging. The team-ups didn't do anything for me. They never quite meshed or seemed to make sense as a team. The logic for the book seemed to be that you had two titles that weren't selling, so why not mix them together and see what happens.

The last story was interesting as it was campy, kooky, and no doubt the basis for a lot of "Jean Loring is crazy" stories to come over the decades.

Overall, these comics aren't bad, but for the most part, they're typical DC Silver Age comics. Shayera really does save the book from being dull, but there is better silver age material out there.



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Published on October 05, 2020 16:37 Tags: hawkman, silver-age

September 28, 2020

Book Review: The Flash: United They Fall

The Flash: United They Fall The Flash: United They Fall by Gail Simone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Originally published in the 100-page Giant Wal-mart comics, this look at the Flash finds the Flash dealing with a mysterious threat involving his rogues being forced to fight him. Then there's one shot with King Shark, and then we get another multi-part story with the Flash.

Unlike with Tom King's Superman, or J. Michael Bendis' Batman, Simone makes clear that this is an entirely different take on Barry as it does several things that are different from current DC Comics continuity.

The art is good throughout. The story, though, doesn't show much understanding of the Flash or his rogues and generally seemed a bit tedious, although I will admit to liking the finale of the second story.

Overall, this isn't the worst thing I've read this year, but it's a lackluster release that's not as good as the Superman or Batman books.



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Published on September 28, 2020 23:09 Tags: dc-comics, the-flash

September 24, 2020

Book Review: Superman: Action Comics Volume 2: Leviathan Rising

Superman: Action Comics Volume 2: Leviathan Rising Superman: Action Comics Volume 2: Leviathan Rising by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Invisible Mafia from the previous collection gets sidelined for most of this book as Superman and Lois get on the trail of Leviathan. The conspiracy stuff gets interesting particularly when spooks like Amanda Waller and Director Bones end up wandering what the heck is going on. The story in the main issues of Action Comics has got great scope and is quite a treat to read.

That brings us to the Leviathan Special which is...not horrible but does really accentuate Bendis' greatest indulgences as a writer. There's a lot of talking and a very long dialogue between Leviathan and the woman running the Invisible Mafia. In addition in the story, we have a key plot point break in to resolve a key issue and are told that we need to get the hard cover edition of the book to understand what's going on.

Overall, the story is interesting, but I think the Special drags on to long and has too many Bendisisms that pad out its 40 page length. So if I could give half stars I'd give this 3.5 stars.



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Published on September 24, 2020 22:26 Tags: bendis, superman

September 21, 2020

Book Review: Sub-Mariner: Golden Age Masterworks Vol. 3

Sub-Mariner: Golden Age Masterworks Vol. 3 (Sub-Mariner Comics (1941-1949)) Sub-Mariner: Golden Age Masterworks Vol. 3 (Sub-Mariner Comics by Carl Pfeufer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This collects Issues 9-12 of Sub-mariner as we get into the thick of the War. Sub-mariner creator Bill Everett is long-gone from the book, so this book is a bit below the standards of the first two volumes.

Still, this book does have some interesting war stories including some centered around the neutrality of Ireland, which isn't typically covered in comics. The art is passable and Namor delivers some great two-fisted war action.

Each issue of the Sub-mariner includes an Angel story and the first three were pretty good including two non-War crime stories. The last one was kind of weak

Overall, this is okay, but not nearly as good as the first couple volumes.



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Published on September 21, 2020 23:33 Tags: golden-age-sub-mariner

September 19, 2020

Book Review: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It"

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects Issues Issues 7-11 of Squirrel Girl (Vol. 2).

Issue 7 is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style comic where Squirrel Girl battles the Swarm. It's a fun little story that just takes enough space for its concept.

Issues 8-10 is the heart of the book. Doreen/Squirrel Girl decide to date as the one cute guy she was attracted to is dating someone else. However, the most normal she has is with a giant sentinel robot. Her worst date is with a "Superhero truther" who insists that all the Superheroes are government conspiracies. That is until she runs into the Mole Man, who wants to kill her and then falls in love with her. It's mostly a very fun story. It has its own message and ideology which is worked in subtly enough.

Issue 11 finds Squirrel Girl battling Doctor Octopus, even though he's dead. There's a very clever twist and she'll need all her computer science to survive. I do appreciate how this is worked in as well as the issue's guest artist. This is an exceptionally good one-shot story that's well-worth a read.

Overall, this is another strong volume in the Squirrel Girl, with two fun one-shots sandwiching a pretty solid three-part arc.



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Published on September 19, 2020 21:31 Tags: squirrel-girl

September 18, 2020

Book Review: Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 1

Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 1 Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 1 by Ron Marz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Kyle Rayner's 1990s run as Green Lantern begins here...eventually, but first, we get the three-issue story of Hal Jordan's fall from grace in the wake of Coast City's fall. It's weird to have a book centered on a specific hero and that hero not to show up until the third issue in, but I give it a pass because Jordan's fall is important in setting up Kyle's run plus the story is tragic, but also well-written.

As for Kyle Rayner's early run, it's a mixed bag. As a result of Hal did, things are different, the corps is no more and he's feeling his way in the dark. In a way, the early issues of the book give off a youthful sort of Spider-man feel to them. However, the book takes an infamous dark turn with the original "woman in the refrigerator" story. Whatever, you think about "the woman in the refrigerator" critique of comics in general, in its original context, it comes the heck out of nowhere in what had been a fairly light series. It's an embarrassing bit of 1990s excess.

The storyline is decent, though very episodic, with the big focus being that Kyle's a bit out of his depth even though deep down, he does have what it takes to be a Green Lantern. He starts on Earth and then is taken into space because of the Zero Hour event, and then makes he way home through space and arrives home in time to get a crossover with the New Titans book.

Character work is probably the big highlight. The book does do a good job establishing Kyle and he's also portrayed as a very creative user of the ring.

Overall, even though the book had some missteps, I find myself interested in Kyle and curious at what happens next. So I'd call the book a win. It's about 3.5 star book, which is a decent beginning.



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Published on September 18, 2020 22:12 Tags: green-lantern, kyle-rayner

September 11, 2020

Book Review: Spider-man: The Next Chapter, Vol. 1

Spider-Man: The Next Chapter Vol. 1 Spider-Man: The Next Chapter Vol. 1 by Howard Mackie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This collects six months of Spidey Comics from 1999, with the first of many reboots back to Issue 1 for Amazing Spider-man and Peter Parker Spider-man. It also features a crossover with Thor. The book opens with Peter having given up being Spider-man but someone else having taken up the mantle who he doesn't know who they are.

As a book, it's solid throughout. The stories are all engaging. There are some good guest villains, some nice plot ideas, and nothing really outstays its welcome or gets too stupid in this book. This is a controversial run, but it definitely starts out on the right foot.

The run's greatest liabilities do appear. If the book has a repeated theme, its trying to undo bits of Spider-man history and returning the character and New York City as a whole to previous status quo rather than moving forward. Thus we see the Sandman's return to villainy after many years as a hero, and we begin to see an effort to re-instate the Kingpin. There's also very little understanding of how to write Mary Jane as an actual human being, so she shows up for a few cheesecake panels and jets off on modeling jobs and remains the enforcer who constantly is there to reminds Peter he's no longer to Spider-man.

Again, these issues don't hurt the quality of this book, but they will pose problems for the rest of this run.



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Published on September 11, 2020 19:44 Tags: 1999, spider-man

September 8, 2020

Book Review: Batman and the Outsiders, Volume 1: Lesser Gods

Batman and the the Outsiders, Vol. 1: Lesser Gods Batman and the the Outsiders, Vol. 1: Lesser Gods by Bryan Edward Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects the first seven issues of Batman and the Outsiders as well as a bit of a horror comic starring team members Black Lightning and Katana. In this version, Batman is pretty much in the book to increase sales and that's about it. He offers a few minor points, but the real leader as designated by Batman is Black Lightning as Batman is dealing with mental difficulties (and who among us wouldn't be going mad if our lives were being written by Tom King).

As a book, it's a bit of a challenge. The series starts off slow and as an overall storyline, having a team of mostly Gotham-based superheroes go on a mission to stop Ra's Al Ghul from bringing one young woman under his spell seems a bit of overkill, and it takes quite a bit of story for any member of the team to come into focus. However, Kaliber (even though not an outsider) is an interesting character and we do get some focus on Katana and some great moments from Orphan. The book takes some interesting turns and the Seventh Issue ends on a great clffhanger that leaves me eager to see where the book goes next. So despite a rough start, this surprised with me a very solid ending.



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Published on September 08, 2020 20:25 Tags: batman-and-the-outsiders

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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