Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes

November 16, 2017

Blue Beetle, Vol. 3: Reach for the Stars Blue Beetle, Vol. 3: Reach for the Stars by John Rogers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reach for the Stars collects Issues 13-19 of the mid-2000s Blue Bettle series. The stories mostly fall within the bounds of the creators of the Scarab (the Reach) and their efforts to subvert the Earth, yet the stories also work as self-contained tales.

Jaime Reyes meets up with Guy Gardener, Superman, and the Teen Titans while battling Lobo, Eclipso, and Giganta. The stories flow nicely and the supporting cast gives the book plenty of heart. One of my favorites when Jaime has to travel to Mexico to fight a giant and save the inhabits of the town and he needs to get the owner of a luxury hotel to let the poor people to stay so he can fight the villain and there's a nice plot twist as to that is. Overall, this is another fun series of adventures in the Blue Beetle series.

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Published on November 16, 2017 22:47 • 37 views • Tags: blue-beetle, jaime-ryes

November 14, 2017

Super Sons, Volume 1: When I Grow Up (Super Sons, #1)Super Sons, Volume 1: When I Grow Up by Peter J. Tomasi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects the first five issues of Super Sons featuring Robin (Damian Wayne) and Superboy (Jon Kent.) The book remains essentially a very fun adventure, nothing too special in terms of the plot. What ultimately makes this book a winner is the relationship between Damian and Jon. The two make a superb odd couple and their constant clashes are delight. Tomasi has captured the fun of kids with super powers and realized the concept brilliantly.

Overall, just a very nice team up book for the young and young at heart.

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Published on November 14, 2017 20:01 • 38 views • Tags: dc-rebirth, robin, super-sons, superboy

November 11, 2017

The Incredibles: Family MattersThe Incredibles: Family Matters by Mark Waid

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Incredibles are a crime fighting family, but after a new neighbor moves in, Bob begins to lose his powers.

Overall, this book is okay. There are some good ideas here, and the art is nice and fun to read, and certainly there's some emotional depth to plum with Bob's loss of powers. However, I felt more could have been done. There's a certain predictability about the plot if you've seen the film, so it's not great.

Still, there's some fun to be had her which make this an okay read.

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Published on November 11, 2017 22:40 • 44 views • Tags: the-incredibles
Atomic Robo: The Crystals Are Integral CollectionAtomic Robo: The Crystals Are Integral Collection by Brian Clevinger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection contains stories collected in three Atomic Robo collections: Other Strangeness, The Deadly Art of Science, and the Ghost of Station X.

Other Strangeness contains four stories. Unlike in previous volumes, there's no link at all between them, other than they all happened in 1999.

The first has Robo battling vampiric creatures from another dimension, the second has Robo in Japan teaming up with a group of sorta Power Rangerish kids to battle monsters. The third story is the best with Robo battling Doctor Dinosaur, by far my favorite villain. A super genius dinosaur full of implausibility. It's absolutely awesome. This story is probably my favorite Atomic robo chapter.

The final of the four stories has Robo facing a ghost from the past, an archenemy he defeated long ago.

The second book, The Deadly Art of Science is set during the 1930s and finds Robo joining forces with a reluctant mystery man (ala the Green Hornet) and his daughter in his vigilante search. However, Tesla doesn't approve but young Robo is ready to assert himself...and falling in love. I liked this story. There's plenty of humor. I also think it takes a better take than some other Robo books which have portrayed him as having almost the same personality and view of the world regardless of how old he is. Here, Clevinger gives a young robo a slightly mature more impetuous take on the world with love for pulp fiction.

The final book, The Ghost of Station has modern day Robo going into space to save astronauts only to get blown him. He's set on the course of a mystery and an international conspiracy. This one isn't bad and has some good action, but I think it's off tonally a bit. The story seems to be too serious and to take itself too seriously and when your story's about an 80 year old robot whose CEO of his own company that's not a great idea. Still, it's not bad, but it could have been better with more humor.

The book also includes two Free Comic Book Day giveaways. The 2009 FCBD story is about Robo and team hunting for a nearly extinct bird in the rain forest. This story's okay, but not specacular.

The 2010 FCBD book finds Robo judging a Science fair when an old enemy emerges. This one is a lot of fun and manages to feature a "girls in science" message without being obnoxious. The story is hilarious, particularly the enemy. Overall, it's just a really fun ride, and one of the better FCBD stories I've ever read.

Overall, this is an enjoyable collection with the World's greatest atomic robot. Definitely worth reading.

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Published on November 11, 2017 05:43 • 41 views • Tags: atomic-robo

November 6, 2017

What If? Classic Vol. 6 (What If? (1977-1984))What If? Classic Vol. 6 (What If? by Danny Fingeroth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Issues 33-38 of What if? Are collected in this book.

Issue 33 features two stories:

What if Dazzler had become the Herald of Galactus?...A plot turn that makes more sense than what happened in the mainstream continuity. Surprisingly good and a bit poignant. Grade: B+

What if Iron Man had been trapped in King Arthur's Time?...Essentially, what would have happened if Tony Stark had been doublecrossed by Doctor Doom when they teamed up to escape the time of King Arthur. A compelling story with some great twists. Grade A-

Issue 34 is the humor Issue. It reads a bit more like Marvel's parody comic What The? However, it's filled with pages of rapid fire jokes with multiple joke what ifs on some pages and no concept take up more than a couple pages. Some are now politically incorrect, and some are stupid, but there are enough funny ones to keep you laughing through the stupid ones. Overall, not bad. Grade: B-

Issue 35 features three stories:

What if Bullseye had not killed Elektra?...Drawn and written by Frank Miller himself. This is a decent story. May have inspired the end of Dark Knight Rises. He even gives the watcher a Noirish feel. Overall, a decent if not spectacular story. Grade: B

And Thus are Born the Cat People: An untold tale of the Marvel Universe, like was done with the Eternals in another collection. This was in fun, kind of B Movie sci fi with a Marvel twist. Grade: B+

What if Yellowjacket Had Died?: Yellowjacket (the then latest superhero identity of Hank Pym) continued attacking after a villain surrendered, leading to his eventual court martial. What if he had died? Then my friends, there would have been Avengers drama. It's a somewhat believable take on what might have happened with a strain on the team and his wife Jan ( who would divorce him) becoming desirous of vengeance. Overall, okay, but not spectacular. Grade: B-

Issue 36 featured two stories:

What if the Fantastic Four had not gained their powers?: This one lays out the very reasonable scenario of Reed Richards deciding to be reasonable and wait for an appropriate ship to go into space, which means no one gets powers. However, what happens when the threat of the Mole Man emerges? It's a story that shows what makes the Fantastic Four heroes and it's not their powers, it's their hearts, minds, and family feel. Grade: B+

What if Nova had not given up his powers?: This book asks what would have happened if the original Nova (Richard Ryder) had chosen to remain on Xandar to hold on to his powers and then tried to escape back to Earth with him rather than surrendering him as the Xandarians required if he went home. This story illustrates the problem with What If? stories. There's only a range of stories which are believable. Twists of fate and choices that are within their personality you can do, but if you stray too far from who these people, they're no longer recognizable, and this is the case here as Ryder's behavior is totally inconsistent with the heroic persona. The story is a boring battle scene with a stupid attempt at a moral. Grade: D

Issue 37:

What if the Thing continued to mutate? The first of a doubleheader on continuing mutation finds a mutation continuing far beyond what happened in the main continuity. It's a well thought out story with a very nice ending. Grade: A-

What if the Beast continued to mutate? This story takes a different direction, as the mutation that turned the beast Blue goes even further turning him into a real beast. The way the X-men handle it is consistent and the ending is intriguing. Grade: B

What if Galactus had turned the Silver Surfer into Norrin Radd? And Reed Richards had actually made it possible for him to return to Zenn-la. File this one in the, "The Silver Surfer can't win," file along with the, "Ain't Galactus fickle" file. Grade: B-

Issue 37 focused on possible future:

First are the Avengers, as the Scarlet Witch is in her last days and the Vision is trying to cope with it. Never a big fan of the Vision-Scarlet Witch relationship but this story becomes a beautiful tale of love and sacrifice. Though, the imagination put into future Avengers was bit lazy. Grade: A-

What if Sharon Carter had not died?: A look at what if Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter had a family. It features the Red Skull to boot. It's another enjoyable tale. Grade: A-

Daredevil 2013!: An over the hill Daredevil is working at the U.N., where his old love Natasha comes for an official visit, but they both are drawn in when an old enemy attacks. The art's not great, but the story is well-done and has a very solid conclusion to the volume. Grade: B+

Overall, I think (with the exception of the Nova story), this is one of the strongest What If? Classic volumes with many enjoyable favorites for fans of classic Marvel comics.

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Published on November 06, 2017 17:22 • 40 views • Tags: marvel-comics, what-if

October 30, 2017

Nightwing Vol. 3: Nightwing Must DieNightwing Vol. 3: Nightwing Must Die by Tim Seeley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 16-21 of Nightwing.

The first five issues constitute the book's titular arc in which Nightwing's girlfriend Shawn is kidnapped just after requesting he get a pregnancy test. He's joined in his search by Robin who is determined to prove himself the rightful successor to Batman despite popular opinion...even on his own team.

Mostly, when this book works, it's because of Damian's character and the relationship to Nightwing and there are some good moments in there. Reading this book made me very curious to check out Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin run.

The story is just okay. It feels a bit long and isn't anything readers haven't seen several times before. The art is uneven and often unpleasant to look at.

Still, the relational stuff and tone of the Nightwing series still makes this an okay read.

Issue 21 is a one-shot featuring Wally West showing up in Bludhaven. This is a decent one shot. It's neither boring nor is it a spectacular one. It's just a nice little one off fight that sets the tone for things to come.

Overall, I'd probably most recommend this for Nightwing completists and fans of Damian Wayne.

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Published on October 30, 2017 22:25 • 32 views • Tags: dc-rebirth, dick-grayson, nightwing

October 28, 2017

Batman: Detective Comics, Vol. 3: League of ShadowsBatman: Detective Comics, Vol. 3: League of Shadows by James Tynion IV

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects Detective Comics 950-956 and finds Gotham under siege from the League of Shadows, a group Batman doesn't even believe existed as anything more than a myth.

The strength of this story are the character relationships. Orphan (Cassandra Cain) really takes a character journey as she deals with the trauma of her childhood where she was raised to be a weapon. Her mother Shiva is at the head of the League and is trying to get her to kill. She begins to find herself, there's a lovely theme with her and this dancer, as well as her really saving the day in Issue 955.

I also appreciated the inclusion of Azrael. He's a de facto replacement for Spoiler. My only complaint with him is that his introduction is not really set up in terms of him joining the team, it just happens. However, I like that it treats his faith seriously and he has a real sounding conversation with Batwing that explains his journey and why he believes. It's respectful.

Where the book has problems is that it seems to be very similar to the other two volumes with the group facing off against an evil group that threatens to bring Gotham down to fulfill its own agenda, and we have to wonder if their agenda is really all that bad. This one is also hurt by an ending that renders the Bat Family somewhat irrelevant.

Still, the character works makes this worth reading despite the flaws.

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Published on October 28, 2017 22:11 • 50 views • Tags: batman, dc-rebirth

October 26, 2017

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, Vol. 3Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, Vol. 3 by Jiro Kuwata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final volume of Bat Manga offers a lot more of the same. We have mad scientists (who are look very familiar) and we have insane schemes. Some of the stories are a bit tired like the first tale, "The Crimes of Planet King." It's yet another battle between Batman and a crook for the sake of it with very little hook.

"Robot Robbers" is a bit more interesting though with a big plot flaw. "Clayface Encounter" is an interesting Japanese take on Clayface and it works pretty well. "The Robbery Contest" finds Gotham in the midst of contest by criminals for the most outlandish robberies and Batman's caught in the middle. "The Mysterious Catman" finds Batman and Robin facing a Cat-based villain with a secret. The ending's kind of confusing, but other than this, it's okay.

"The Phantom Batman," has a good mystery where Batman and Robin are stopping crimes but the real Batman and Robin know nothing about it. "Duel in Space," finds Batman and Robin kidnapped and on another planet facing off against creatures with deadly powers who could kill them.

Overall, this book is fun. The situations are outlandish but the art is beautiful. The translations are good, with only one translation sounding awkward. If you love silver age Batman or Manga, this is a very worthwhile read.

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Published on October 26, 2017 16:33 • 53 views • Tags: batman, japanese, silver-age

October 22, 2017

Just saw Spider-man: Homecoming and it was one of the most fun Marvel movies I've seen in a long time. Probably most fun since Guardians of the Galaxy 1.

So, I'm going to give a review of what I thought worked and didn't work. Some spoilers ahead.

The Good:

---Start with the opening riff of the theme to the 1967 Spider-man Cartoon series awesome.
---Peter Parker as an average teenager is very well-conceived and better than the Amazing Spider-man. He's goofy, has immature moments and is absolutely lovable.
---Borrowing the idea of Spider-man having a chubby best friend from the Miles Morales comics. I loved the character and the relationship.
---The Tony Stark/Peter Parker relationship. If you watched Captain America: Civil War and even the first part of the Spider-man: Homecoming, you'd think that Tony was just using and dumping him, but he does really care and have a parental feeling for him. I loved the scene where Peter says he just wanted to be like Tony and Tony said that he wanted him to be something better.
---The Vulture in this film is one of the best and most morally complex villains in the Marvel universe. He has reasons for what he does and he goes on a journey.
---Captain America PSAs. Hilarious.
---The "Enhanced Interrogation" scene, is hilarious with a full on riff of Christian Bale's Dark Knight interrogation of the Joker.
---Having a movie show that with great comes great responsibility without having to say it.

The Bad:

---Michelle, "My friends call me MJ." No, the idea that this character is a substitute for Mary Jane Watson is absurd. She has an entirely different personality and an entirely different skillset than Mary Jane.
---While Aunt May nearly dropping the F-bomb at the end of the movie is kind of funny, it also shows how far Hollywood has gotten from the root of the character in the comics. Part of the responsibility that Peter had to deal with was the feeling that he needed to provide for his aunt because she was elderly and on her own. If you're going to change that, give her some dignity. The presence of Rosemary Harris in the first three films is a big plus.

The iffy:

---In the comics, Peter was a loner and outsider, mocked by all. Here's he given an entire geek culture with multiple roles and activities, many of which he's dumped for Spider-man. In one way, it's try to substitute that responsibility to friends and school for that to Aunt May. It works to a degree, but also changes the nature of the character a bit. It works in this movie, but as a traditionalist I"m iffy.

Overall, this is probably the most enjoyable Spider-man film for it's pure sense of fun. It
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Published on October 22, 2017 17:17 • 52 views

October 20, 2017

Wonder Woman 77 Meets the Bionic WomanWonder Woman 77 Meets the Bionic Woman by Andy Mangels

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Confession: I've never watched either of the shows this book is based on. Getting into both is on my to-do list and after reading this book, that's even more true.

Prior knowledge of these programs is not required. to enjoy this and I enjoyed quite a lot. I've read a lot of these intercompany crossovers between DC and TV properties from the 1960s and70s.. This, by far, is the story that I enjoyed the most.

It avoids several tropes (no "superhero" battle between our protagonists) and it makes short shrift of Diana Prince's secret identity so that these two character can get to know each other, team up, and kick tale. Both are likable and fun characters to read. The art is gorgeous and vivid providing a nice almost painted feel to it.

The story itself is a typical yarn leading to Diana Prince and Jamie Sommers fictional top secret organizations to pool resources and thus they meet and go off to fight the bad guys, even taking a trip to Paradise Island where Jamie is most welcome.

The book does have a few portions that are backstory and consequently dialog heavy, particularly as the villains lay out who they are, but that's to be expected with these events.

Overall, this was a lot of fun and might even more so for those who are fans of the series.

****I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Net Galley****

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Published on October 20, 2017 18:19 • 49 views • Tags: bionic-woman, wonder-woman

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
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