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

Book Review: Superman: Lois and Clark

Superman: Lois and Clark Superman: Lois and Clark by Dan Jurgens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book that's really about the characters. Lois, Clark, and Little Jonathan are the last survivors of their universe after the events of Convergence. Now, they are the New 52 Earth where there's another Superman and another Lois Lane, both younger than them. What do they do?
They move on and find a way to help on their New Earth. Clark still saves people, though anonymously and in a special black costume while Lois adopts the name of Author X and sets out to right wrongs and expose evil as a true crime writer. The idea of Superman misplaced into a difficult circumstance has been done in comics, and several written of an eternally mopey or petty Man of Steel, yet I think Jurgens really captures both Lois and Clark as people who have gifts to help people and they will find a way to do that, sooner or later, no matter what circumstance their put into. They move on, and get back up. Clark doesn't try to get in the other Superman's way or even make himself known. He doesn't want to interfere with how that Superman acts and develops. It's a picture of simple grace and humility that's just so appealing.

Beyond this simple virtue, Lois, Clark, and Jonathan make this wonderfully cute family. There's a lot of love and care in the family and it just radiates off the page.

There's not much use writing about the plots. Lois gets into danger with Intergang and Clark faces some epic villains. Neither issue comes to a major final resolution. In fact, the book leaves things open for further expansion. That's fine because this is really a character based book and I really loved these three characters and how Jurgens writes them. I got into the book hungry for more of them, and the stories only served to whet my appetite in that regards. This is one of my absolute favorite books made in 2016.

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Published on January 09, 2017 19:11 Tags: lois-and-clark, rebirth, superman

Book Review: "Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham

Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham by Tom King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am Gotham collects that Batman: Rebirth story and six part storyline where two new heroes with powers come to town to save Gotham.

Batman is superbly written. He's tough, mysterious, but also has compassion and is self-sacrificing. He's also aware that the city could use a superpowered hero as there are some disasters he would only be able to stop once. He also operates as a bit of symbol of hope in a way I haven't seen before. But he looks into their past and finds the surprising truth about them and why they chose to fight crime.

Gotham and Gotham Girl are idealistic and powerful beings wanting to save Gotham even at a big personal price to themselves and it turns out they were inspired by Batman. What happens to them is tragic, but it gives the story a bit of noirish feeling to it, and it does keep me interested enough, I'd be curious to read the second volume.

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Published on January 21, 2017 08:45 Tags: batman, rebirth

Book Review: Aquaman, Volume 1: The Drowning

Aquaman, Volume 1: The Drowning Aquaman, Volume 1: The Drowning by Dan Abnett

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found this Aquaman book to be disappointing, though it wasn’t without its good points. The relationship between Aquaman and Mera was fun. The art was decent and there were some epic battles. When they took on the whole Army in Issues four and five, there are some epic moments.

On the other hand, some characters just act really inexplicably and the story just didn’t engage me. More than that, it was the book’s whininess. Aquaman is the Rodney Dangerfield of Superheroes. He gets no respect and that’s not right because he has some really amazing powers. However, the book hammers the point home and worse than that and harps on it. It tells us about how Aquaman isn’t respected. This is a comic book, the show don’t tell rule is especially applicable. Don’t tell us how awesome and noble Aquaman is and how he gets no respect in return, show us. And then don’t tell us how to feel about it, trust us to get what you’re saying.

Public perception and public image isn’t only something the book obsesses with, it’s something the heroes seem to go on about. In some ways, this makes sense because part of the boo is about efforts at diplomacy and it’s easier to be at peace if the people of America like and respect Aquaman, but sometimes it comes off petty and self-obsessed and petty. When Mera complains to Superman about He, Batman, and Wonder Woman being viewed better than Aquaman, it’s about the limit.

Superman’s appearance in Issue 6 is my last big complaint. Superman was acting out of character, the battle was absurd, and the book doesn’t even seem to acknowledge the events around Rebirth. This Superman is the Post-Crisis Superman who returned from his Universe and replaced the New 52 Superman and doesn’t know this Aquaman at all which makes the events of that issue not make sense.

This isn’t the worst graphic novel I’ve read, but there were too many problems for me to enjoy it.

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Published on January 28, 2017 08:03 Tags: aquaman, rebirth

Book Review: Superman, Volume 1: Son of Superman

Superman, Volume 1: Son of Superman Superman, Volume 1: Son of Superman by Peter J. Tomasi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects the Superman Rebirth One Shot along with Issues 1-6 of the new Series as the Post-Crisis Superman once again becomes the main Superman.

The rebirth One Shot has Superman dealing with the death of the New 52 Superman. While it's an Issue of transition, it's much more about Superman than his predecessor on this Earth. Superman's behavior is heroic and it reflects the type of person he is. He's not in a hurry to be "The Superman." And even if he can't, he seeks to honor this younger Superman and show respect for his legacy. The story reflects the utter class of the Man of Steel.

The main story deals with Lois and Clark coming to terms with their son Jonthan's emerging power n with the Eradicator, who was was foe on post-Crisis Earth but could help Jonathan quite a bit on this one.

The story works on many levels. Superman having a family was featured as imaginary stories in the 1960s and 70s, but always seemed silly. Ironic, that it's the 21st Century, that comics can be adult enough to talk about what it's really like to be a kid. The emotional journey Jonathan on really makes him an interesting characters. He feels a lack of belonging, lied to, scared, and also resentful about the lies he's going to have to tell to keep these secrets. It's also believable and very deep.

So often the argument against having Superheroes marry is that it closes off a lot of possibilities of romances and plots that you can do. This book shows that marriage creates opportunities for the right writers. In the 4th and 5th Issues, there's a coming together as a Superfamily that's really quite marvelous and beautiful. It's just a joy to read. There's also some conflict that very subtly working its way in between Lois and Clark over how much training Jon should have. Neither want him off fighting Darkseid but Superman wants to get him exposure that's kind of akin to a ball player having his kid in the clubhouse.

The book isn't perfect and I think it's biggest flaw is that sometimes it uses cool visuals that don't benefit the story. My favorite example of this is at the end of Issue #1, Superman stands framed against Jon's bedroom doorway in a very intimidating way frowning and says, "You're coming with me." It's a cool way to end the issue but it doesn't really work with the st ory. I also think that while Tomasi does a solid job handling the Superman family, there are a few week moments. I don't think he's quite at Dan Jurgents level on that point.

Still, overall, I'm quite pleased with this book and this first volume left me excited for what comes next.

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Published on January 29, 2017 23:17 Tags: rebirth, superman

Book Review: The Flash: Lightning Strikes Twice

The Flash, Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice The Flash, Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice by Joshua Williamson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects the Flash: Rebirth and the first eight issues of the new Flash series.

The book is a couple issues longer than the usual rebirth book has been but with good reason. It's an exploration of the Flash as a character. The Rebirth event brings Wally West back into the DC Universe and this event is more personal for the Flash and it tugs on what's been missing from him. Barry Allen is portrayed as a man who is the fastest man alive but is always late, always behind, never able to be where he needs to be in time...and alone.

Over time, the Flash became more than just a single hero...It became a brotherhood, a tradition, with speedsters like Jay Garrick, Wally West, and Bart Allen part of something larger and always there for each other. In Flash's own book, he has pretty much been on his own since the new 52.

But he's not on his own for long in this book. An old friend gets speed powers after being hit by lightning and then it happens to people all over Central City. Meanwhile, the other Wally West is developing powers of his own but not telling his Aunt or the Flash. We get to see Barry as teacher and mentor and he rediscovers joy and a bit of love.

This story is incredibly effective with some solid new characters and a great emotional journey. There's also several mysteries beyond the big one involving Doctor Manhattan. There's the question of whose behind giving so many people speed powers which is never answered. As well as a search for a killer speedster named Godspeed who shows up towards the middle of the book. In addition, there are some very cool speedster scenes which are just a joy to read.

The book is a great jumping on point for new readers to the Flash, although there are a few Easter eggs for old fans as well. Taken together with the solid action, great characters, and fundamental examination of Barry Allen as a character, this is a great book to check out for fans curious about the Rebirth event.

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Published on February 11, 2017 15:34 Tags: flash, rebirth

Book Review: Nightwing, Volume 1: Better than Batman

Nightwing, Volume 1: Better Than Batman Nightwing, Volume 1: Better Than Batman by Tim Seeley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects Nightwing: Rebirth, Nightwing 1-4 and 7 and 8. This book started off somewhat awkwardly in the Rebirth story and Issue 1. While each story has had a lot of narration to establish the status quo for new readers, this book it felt a tad excessive, even over-indulgent and egocentric on Dick Grayson's behalf. In addition, some art seems a bit off, particularly on Doctor Leviticus.

But then the story gets going. Dick has agreed to work for the Court of Owls as Nightwing because they they have implanted a bomb in Robin (which he has secretly removed), but he wants to play things his own way, not killing or walking on the dark side. However, the Court of Owls wants to bend him to their way, so they give him a partner in the thief Raptor, a man who isn't what he seems, insists that everything Batman has taught him is wrong.

The rest of the book is very interesting as Dick tries to take down the court of Owls and figure out Raptor. Dick is put through the ringer and the nature of Raptor, and the Raptor's true identity takes the book into some deep waters and probes questions like how far should you tow the line between light and darkness, whether you do short term harm to play the long game, the nature of justice (should it be focused on law or on "Robin Hood" style robbing from the rich to give to the poor), as well as the idea of family and adoption. It's about those things, but it doesn't stop being a superhero saga either, which makes it work.

If you like a deeper story or Dick Grayson, this is a good one to check out. It is worth noting that this book unlike other DC Rebirth books doesn't have some ongoing puzzle or hook to keep you reading, but I think the overall quality of the writing is sufficient is for that after the first couple of issues.

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Published on March 11, 2017 08:06 Tags: dc-comics, nightwing, rebirth

Book Review: Superman: Action Comics, Volume 1: Path of Doom

Superman: Action Comics, Volume 1: Path of Doom Superman: Action Comics, Volume 1: Path of Doom by Dan Jurgens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book collects Action Comics 967-972 with the return of Post-Crisis Superman in the DC rebirth event.

The book has Superman in a rematch against Doomsday, the creature who famously killed him in the 1990s. Prior to the battle, he meets the New 52 Lex Luthor who is calling himself Superman. Superman doesn't believe it but Doomsday shows up and stops that. Also, in the battle, a Clark Kent shows up who's not Superman and there's a cameo by Superwoman. Wonder Woman appears and gives her blessing to the new Superman and meets Lois and Jon and is okay with them which is a good nod to fans of the New 52 Superman who was an item with Wonder WOman.

There are a few solid moments with Superman and his family that are moving, but mostly this book is a big battle book. It's a giant fight that stretches over six issues and that leads to quite a bit of padding. Wonder Woman's actions in the latter half of the book are confusing.

The book does best at its set up. It raises several key question. What is Luthor's motivation in taking up the "S"? Who is this Clark Kent? And what game are these mysterious cloaked aliens playing. While this book won't blow you away with its story, the characters are written well enough that you will want to find out answers to these questions. So overall, it's worthwhile for all the stage setting.

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Published on March 15, 2017 04:34 Tags: rebirth, superman

Book Review: Titans: The Return of Wally West

Titans, Volume 1: The Return of Wally West Titans, Volume 1: The Return of Wally West by Dan Abnett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

DC Rebirth's key plot was the return of the original Wally West, one of DC's most beloved characters who was sidelined with the launch of the New 52. This book continues his story as he is able to get his best friends , The Titans to remember him and then face off against the man who made him disappear.

This is a solid story. The writing really taps into the emotion of Wally West, who has lost so much and the ideas of friendship, love, and heroism make this a compelling story from start to finish. It ranks up with the Superman stories for really capturing the emotion of this admittedly fantastic situation.

If the book has any pitfalls, it may be that for a team book, it's too Wally West focused. You only get vague impressions of the rest of the Titans and who they are. Hopefully, they'll be fleshed out more in future volumes. Overall, this is still a very impressive and enjoyable read.

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Published on April 11, 2017 05:06 Tags: dc-comics, rebirth, titans, wally-west

Book Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Who Is Oracle?

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Who Is Oracle? Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Who Is Oracle? by Shawna Benson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Rebirth relaunch of Birds and Prey begins with Batgirl calling in Black Canary to find out who has co-opted her old Oracle identity and started using it to help out organized crime. One of their leads is also targeted by the Huntress, the daughter of a mafia family whose whole family was killed in a single night and is seeking deadly vengeance. Batgirls invites her to an uneasy alliance.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I'll admit that the actual solution to the mystery of Oracle was a bit underwhelming, however the key is the character interaction and journey. Batgirl deals with a big question of identity and her feelings about this theft, while Huntress has to decide whether she can align with the Birds of Prey's non-lethal ways and find a new family. Black Canary is much more a supporting character in this and really a fun one with a lot of sass and sarcasm.

We also find out what Batgirl was doing drifting through Asia in her solo book (apparently she was training.) We also are left with a question as to what her realtors are trying to do in breaking in. Hopefully, that will be addressed in the next book. I'll definitely be reading.

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Published on April 27, 2017 04:06 Tags: barbara-gordon, batgirl, rebirth

Book Review: Trinity, Volume 1: Better Together

Trinity, Volume 1: Better Together Trinity, Volume 1: Better Together by Francis Manapul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects the first six issues of the Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman series, "Trinity." It begins with Lois deciding to invite Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince over for a barbecue and it ends up with them in costume and on journey through their own pasts. What's going on and who's behind it?

Writer/artist Francis Manapul sets out to make a team of this trio and to do that, the story focuses on letting them see each other at their most vulnerable moments, while at the same time keeping alive the mystery of what's going on. The art is incredible. It's far more beautiful and well done than the vast majority of comic book art being done today.

The challenge of the book is that it's working through some well-worn territory. The origins and backstories of these heroes are so well-worn and have been revisited so many times that it can feel like old hat to go back to that well. But, I think that the book shows that part of the reason why we revisit them so often is that these stories have emotional connections with readers and Manopoul pulls those connections out.

Batman in this book is a bit one dimensional compared to how he's appeared in other Rebirth books. He's constantly there to be the skeptic and discount other people's emotions. It’s easy to pigeonhole that way in an attempt to balance the other two, but it’s really not consistent with his character in other books.

The other issue is that the story of this new Superman is being told over so many books that it can be hard to keep track. If you read the Superman trades, Bruce's comments on Clark's son Jon's inability to control his powers seem weird as this was addressed in the second Superman trade. Trinity is a monthly series while Superman and Batman are among those that publish twice a month, so the trades are a bit out of sync. Even still, it does seem like much of the Superman embracing this world's heroes storyline has been covered in Superman, Action Comics, Justice League, and now Trinity. (And those are just the ones I've read.)

Still, the book manages to take familiar stories and create a compelling emotional narrative to draw our heroes together and features some of the best art work I've seen in any trade I've seen released this year.

***Disclosure: I Received a free digital copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review***

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Published on June 12, 2017 18:31 Tags: batman, rebirth, superman, trinity

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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