Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "dc-rebirth"

Book Review: Batgirl: Volume 1: Beyond Burnside

Batgirl, Volume 1: Beyond Burnside Batgirl, Volume 1: Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book marks the DC Rebirth beginning of Barbara Gordon's Batgirl as she travels through Asia, meets an old high school flame, and encounters a country-spanning mystery, which is resolved in the second to last issue. In the final issue in the book we get a fun meeting with Poison Ivy on a plane.

The art is decent, the actual mystery story is, on its own, okay, and held my attention. I liked the character and the story showed some good research had been done.

My problem with the book is that I didn't see the point of it. My hope with the Rebirth books is that they would serve as an easy jumping on point for new readers. This book fails at that. Why is Barbara travelling Asia? What does she do in Burnside? Who is her best friend in the wheelchair she calls a couple of times? I've got the Burnside books on my to-read list, but if I have to read them before I know what's going on with the character, then the point of Rebirth is somewhat lost with Batgirl.

I did like the character, so I will probably pick up Volume 2, but this book doesn't work as a jumping on point.

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Published on April 16, 2017 17:16 Tags: batgirl, dc-rebirth

Book Review: al Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps, Volume 1: Sinestro's Law

Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps, Volume 1: Sinestro's Law Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps, Volume 1: Sinestro's Law by Robert Venditti

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Green Lantern books have been some of DC's best-sellers and I've been curious about them, but to someone who hasn't read them they can be a bit impenetrable. There have been so many events and so many different books with so many different Green Lanterns, it's hard to know where to start. It's as close to the X-Men as any DC book gets.

This book is actually a great jumping on point. It doesn't toss away all that's come before, but it doesn't hit you over the head with a bunch of needless continuity. It gives you enough to understand what's going on and the current state of play, which has been marked by the apparent disappearance of the Green Lantern corps and the emergence of Sinestro's Yellow Lanterns as the chief enforcers of order in the Galaxy, but unbeknownst to Sinestro Hal Jordan survived as did a small percentage of Lantern (though an amazingly high percentage of those who are familiar from other media.)

The story is a great space opera with plenty of action. Hal Jordan is an awesome man of action who has a superb story arc and a brilliant conclusion. Guy Gardener has some good moments as well. This is just an incredibly fun entry story into the Green Lantern universe. Highly recommended.

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Published on April 17, 2017 06:08 Tags: dc-rebirth, green-lanterns

Book Review: Superman, Volume 2: Trial of the Super Sons

Superman, Volume 2: Trial of the Super Sons Superman, Volume 2: Trial of the Super Sons by Peter J. Tomasi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 7-13 of Superman and gives us four distinct stories:

Our Town (#7): Finds the Kent family out for a trip to the county fair. Clark has promised Lois no superheroing and even left his outfit at home. But then he overhears robbers planning to knock over the box office and has to figure out something. This is just a light and fun little tale that gives a nice look at the Kent's background.

Escape from Dinosaur Island (#8 and #9): Superman and Jon find themselves on an island inhabited by dinosaurs as well as characters from the War Comic, "The Losers" and meet Captain Storm of the Navy. This is a fun diversion of just a father and son adventure in a strange place.

The Trial of the Super Sons (#10 and #11): Robin (Damian Wayne) kidnaps Jon for concern he might be a threat which leads to friction between Superman and Batman, which is quickly settled but their sons' behavior makes the two Superfathers concerned that their offspring may not be ready for their capes and so they're taken away and they are put on trial where they will have to learn to work together (or will they?). Overall, a very fun story that pays homage to the Bronze/Silver Age of the Super Sons and brings it up to date.

Super-Monster (#12 and #13): Lois is going in for an interview ti the local paper when the editor is attacked by a super-powered Frankenstein monster who reveals the editor has been replaced by an alien war criminal after a lot of fighting. The story is nice as it does just focus on Superman and Lois in the story. When the Bride of Frankenstein appears, there's also kind of a nice undertone about the blessing and often fragility of marriage in high stress situations.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's not for everyone, but I found is is immensely entertaining. It continues this exploration of Superman and family from the previous book in ways that are charming. It doesn't forget about action, but it does seem to take a back seat to exploring these characters and overall, I'm good with that.

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Published on April 28, 2017 04:58 Tags: dc-rebirth, superman

Batman: Volume 2: I Am Suicide

Batman, Volume 2: I Am Suicide Batman, Volume 2: I Am Suicide by Tom King

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Batman has to captures Psycho Pirate from Bane's prison in order to get help for Gotham Girl and he puts together his own squad of criminals who will help him in exchange for some favors if they should get out alive. While it's similar to the Suicide Squad, it isn't the main reason for the title.

As for the story, particularly the first five issues is okay and the art is really good. What kills it is the writing. Tom King repeats things. Repeats things a lot. Changes sentences and just makes a small change and repeats what was said before. He does that. He does that a lot. He says things. Things he says in order to sound profound by re-arranging the order of words. Poetry. It's supposed to be poetic like an old noir story. A story that's Noirish and repeats things to sound poetic because it's an old noir story.

But they have a secret. The best of them have a secret. It's a secret Tom King doesn't know. Or maybe Tom King knows the secret but got carried away. You see you can repeat things. You can repeat a lot of things. You can say a sentence and then modify it. You can say a sentence and modify it a few times. However, you can't just say a sentence and then modify all the time. You can repeat things, but you can't repeat things all the time. It becomes repetitive and pretentious. Pretentious and repetitive is what it becomes.

As opposed to the first volume, I didn't like this take on Batman. He was often irresponsible particularly in the final two issues. And the way he's knocked for a loop and put in peril in Issue #15 is just foolish beyond imagination.

So overall, I'm not a fan of this volume and reading it leaves me dubious about whether Volume 3 will be worth reading.

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Published on April 29, 2017 09:05 Tags: batman, dc-rebirth

Book Review: Green Lanterns, Volume 2: The Phantom Lantern

Green Lanterns, Volume 2: The Phantom Lantern Green Lanterns, Volume 2: The Phantom Lantern by Sam Humphries

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book collects Green Lanterns #7-14 with Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. This time, we get two inter-related story arcs. The Exiled Guardian that arrived in Issue 6 is present for Baz's family Halloween but also is kidnapped by hostile aliens who want what he possesses which turns out to be the phantom ring which sets up the titular Phantom Lantern Arc.

The series really does focus on these two characters and their own personal struggles. Yet, it doesn't depend on retreading the same ground, going back to the same well over and over again. The two are definitely comfortable with another as a team. Jessica shows more of a sense of humor and friendliness. She has insecurities and fears that come through the story particularly that she may not really fit as a Green Lantern due to the power of the Phantom Ring's ability to bring out whichever energy is the strongest. I like the resolution to that arc a whole lot. Simon is not sure he's strong enough. They literally have to face their fears in the course of the story.

At the same time, the Phantom Lantern is a great character: a man who was saved by Hal Jordan and who became obsessed with becoming a Green Lantern. He gets the phantom ring and we find he may be the worst person in the world to wield it due to his emotional instability and his tendency to drift across the emotional perspective. He's dangerous and unstable, but he's not a monster. It's interesting to see how this plays out.

The long-exiled first lantern was the key to helping him achieve his goal, but what that figure is playing at remains a mystery until the end and even then, it appears only acquired a means to an end.

Overall, this book exceeded the first and I like Simon and Jessica more than I did after the first volume. This is probably the biggest surprise I've had in reading DC Rebirth. Highly recommended.

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Published on May 15, 2017 05:00 Tags: dc-rebirth, green-lanterns

Book Review: Blue Beetle: The More Things Change

Blue Beetle, Vol. 1: The More Things Change Blue Beetle, Vol. 1: The More Things Change by Keith Giffen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received this book in digital form off of Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

In this book, Jaime Reyes has the Blue Beetle scarab and is working with Ted Kord, the post-Crisis Blue Beetle, who is now sidelined. Kord provides Jaime support in the field while also helping him study the scarab with hopes of getting rid of it. Their dynamic reminds me a bit of the 1990s series Batman Beyond with Kord being a somewhat more easygoing but also less helpful than Bruce Wayne was in that series.

This book seems to be trying to recapture the spirit of Reyes' original series from the mid-2000s with Jaime being an El Paso-based teenager whose family knows about his superpowers. I liked the series but this just doesn't give the same vibe.

In six issues in this book, there's not really a compelling storyline and it doesn't have the same sense of fun as the earlier series. The dialogue is often repetitive which gets old fast.

The biggest problem in the book may be Jaime. He's not particularly likable as written. There's one story where he spends several pages being a jerk to a metahuman girl who's just trying to be playful and friendly. Jaime is whiny, a fact that is called out by other characters in multiple issues. It only makes the whining slightly less bothersome.

The book has some good supporting characters who sadly don't get enough focus and there are a few moments that call to mind the good old days, but overall, I left the book uninterested in what happens next. I have to say this is one of the more disappointing DC Rebirth titles I've read.

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Published on May 17, 2017 05:10 Tags: blue-beetle, dc-rebirth, jaime-reyes

Book Review: Superwoman, Volume 1: Who Killed Superwoman?

Superwoman, Volume 1: Who Killed Superwoman? Superwoman, Volume 1: Who Killed Superwoman? by Phil Jimenez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 1-7 of Superwoman and begins with the New 52 Lois Lane and Lana Lang each being Superwoman but that doesn't long as Lois apparently explodes leaving Lana to carry on alone.

The book has some interesting features. Chief among them is Lex Luthor who has claimed the mantle of Superman and even though he's imprisoned for most of the book, this book gives some insight to his character and Lana points out a bunch of his stuff that's utter abusive nonsense. I can't help but feel a little sorry for him as he really is put through the ringer in this book.

I also thought some of the supporting cast worked well particularly John Henry Irons.

What doesn't work well is Lana Lang. Making her become Superwoman is a big surprise, but there's little in this book that makes me want to read more or her adventures. I think Phil Jimenez was trying for something different: She was emotionally vulnerable and prone to anxiety and her powers are killing her. These are well thought out problems and they don't necessarily make us want to read about her. This is a very wordy book and Lana is the most verbose character in the book seeming to never stop talking. Her overall character lacks sense of fun or even firm purpose.

I think the type of idea Jimenez had for Lana's character is a good one but it's not well-executed. Marvel had Carol Danvers who had to stop using her powers because it was destroying her mind, but they didn't do that in the first book, they got us to know her and cheer for so when she was grounded, we felt the impact of that. Here, starting with this problem when she doesn't understand her powers means that she doesn't really fully understand what she's lost and what she's risking, and neither do we. As for emotional problems and struggling with anxiety, a better character having those sort of issues is Jessica Cruz in Green Lanterns, who despite her open struggles is far more fun to read than Lana.

When writing a book like this with a character concept that's new, it's got to be really good. This book isn't bad, but it's lackluster. It's weaker than Batgirl's debut series. Batgirl could afford a weaker opening volume because it's an established character with a fan base that will keep it around. Superwoman on the other hand is a new heroine and her first book needed to be strong to generate reader interest. This book fails to do that and so while it's worth reading for the stuff about Luthor, this book didn't make me interested to keep reading this series.

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Published on May 21, 2017 19:47 Tags: dc-rebirth, review, superwoman

Book Review: Nightwing, Volume 2: Back to Bludhaven

Nightwing (2016-) Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven Nightwing (2016-) Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven by Tim Seeley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 9-15 of Nightwing. The book is essentially a five part story bracketed in by a One Shot. Issue 9 is, “Fighting Destiny” and finds Dick having some serious nightmares. Superman comes along to help him. Even though, he’s not the Superman Dick knows, the two have a good dynamic and it’s interesting to see that relationship to develop. There are also some good insight as Dick faces his fears.

Issues 10-14 is a five part story that has Dick moving to Blüdhaven in an attempt to get in touch with himself and find out who he really is and to enjoy a city where everything is black and white and he hoped to work in the light as a social worker. Unfortunately, it turns out not to be all that simple. As his boss is a former supervillainess and Blüdhaven has become a refuge for ex-minor villains seeking to turn over a new leaf who go by the name the Run Offs. In addition to that, there’s a series of murders that the Run Offs are being framed for. Overall, this story’s got solid characters, a good mystery, and also some nice character work for Dick.

Issue 15 features a new romance for Dick and focuses on its development . It’s counting down to the present and setitng up the next big storyline. I like the story and the way it just does focus on the relationship and insight into the characters without having to have those as elements jammed into an action story, even though its clearly set up for the next storyline. Given that there were already six issues in this trade, it’s probably reasonable to wonder if this shouldn’t have been included in the next trade, but that’s nitpicky.

Overall, Nightwing continues to be an enjoyable character driven series. This book manages to mine some good moments from what would normally be lesser characters including a battle with the infamous villain Orca. A solid installment.
***Disclosure: I Received a free digital copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review***

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Published on June 19, 2017 18:37 Tags: dc-rebirth, dick-grayson, nightwing

Book Review: The Flash, Volume 2: Speed of Darkness

The Flash, Volume 2: Speed of Darkness The Flash, Volume 2: Speed of Darkness by Joshua Williamson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 9-13 of the Flash.

Issue 9 features a meeting between the two Wally Wests (the post-Crisis Wally and the New 52 teenage Wally.) The characters play well off each other and have to team up when things go wrong with Barry. This is a fun story and the characters play well off one another and it ends with a great Easter Egg.

Issues 10-12 has Kid Flash in trouble for running off to fight crime on his own with the Teen Titans and in Central City and Barry stopping training him which results in the two of them being caught with the Shade. The Shade is one of the DCU's most interesting villains and he's just not handled well here, and the story is a bit tired. It's not horrible, but a bit of a let down from prior storylines.

Issue 13 has Kid Flash taking on a b-list Supervillain named Tarpit while Barry and Iris go out to eat on a date around Christmastime. This is a fun Holiday issue and shows some character growth by Wally.

Overall, the book has two enjoyable one-shots with a lackluster three part story sandwiched in between. This collection is worth checking out if you've been following the Flash's Adventures as it does move that story forward.

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Published on July 06, 2017 04:35 Tags: dc-rebirth, flash

Book Review: The Flash, Volume 3: Rogues Reloaded

The Flash, Volume 3: Rogues Reloaded The Flash, Volume 3: Rogues Reloaded by Joshua Williamson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects seven issues of the Flash, Issues 14-20.

It begins with the 4-part titular story, "Rogues Reloaded," which finds that the Rogues seem to have disappeared from Central City. Barry's starting to miss them because of the lesser and often more ruthless villains who take to the street in their place. However, the Rogues have one more trick up their sleeve and a plan for one more big score.

This is a solid Rogues story with plenty of action and Barry has his moments against each of the Rogues as this plays out. Williamson does shift our moral view of the Rogues. Many writers and fans of the Flash have tended to treat the Rogues as Flash's frenemies, cuddly crooks who really aren't so bad and will generally help out when the chips are down. Williamson tells that the rogues are first and foremost criminals, and that they've hurt people, which the Flash and the audience are reminded of. Being criminals also tests the nature of their code. They don't all full psychopath, but Williamson really establishes them as bad guys and real opponents of the Flash. It's a refreshing shift and the story works quite well.

Next up is the two part Sins of the Father story in which Kid Flash goes to Iron Heights Penitentiary to visit his dad (Reverse Flash Daniel West) only to find him missing and the key to the mystery is the Flash's old enemy Captain Boomerang who is tangling with some gun-runners. The story mixes a very fun comic book tale with a solid and powerful emotional story arc for Kid Flash. It's easy to connect with Young Wally's feelings as he's going through so much.

Finally, Issue 20 gives us a one-shot where Iris investigates the disappearance of the bodies of Godspeed's victims (the Flash's first big Rebirth storyline,) with Iris setting out to find out what's going on. This is a nice issue for giving Iris a bigger role and also giving her a reason to suspect Barry's true identity.

Overall, the stories are solid, if not perfect. This is an enjoyable read with three complete story arcs, however each story also features Easter eggs and hints of coming attractions (which I won't spoil), so not only do I think this is a good book as written but it's also going somewhere with Josh Williamson having some big ideas that I can't wait to see realized.

Disclosure: I received a free digital of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Published on July 31, 2017 19:38 Tags: barry-allen, dc-rebirth, the-flash

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 Super
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