Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes, page 2

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

September 4, 2020

Book Review: Doctor Who: The Road To The Thirteenth Doctor

Doctor Who: The Road To The Thirteenth Doctor Doctor Who: The Road To The Thirteenth Doctor by James Peaty

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Road to the Thirteenth Doctor collects three stories: one with the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Doctor in advance of Titan Doctor Who output becoming primarily about the 13th Doctor only.

In, "The Ghost Ship," The Doctor, Gabby, and Cindy arrive on a spaceship where things are going downhill fast. The artwork is decent, though the Doctor's outfit is a bit different.

It's got a few spooky moments, but is otherwise a bit bog standard sendoff for the Tenth Doctor Comics team.

Must like the previou storys, "Steamship Conundrum" is a pretty generic Doctor Who story. The Eleventh Doctor and Alice arrive in San Francisco to find it overrun by robots and have to figure out what's going on. This one had good action, some decent artwork and for a strange reason, Alice's Victorian-era dress has a Dalek pattern. It's perfectly okay, but doesn't really capture any of the fun and wonder that this TARDIS team produced in their comic run.

In Tulpa, the Doctor is called by Kate Stewart and UNIT to deal monsters attacking London and it's up to him and Bill to sort things out.

Overall, this is the best story of the three in the series, even though it's not particularly original (it bears a striking resemblance to the first year twelfth Doctor comic Hyperion Empire.) Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable read. The artwork itself is a very strong selling point as it not only captures the Doctor and Clara but the monsters pop off the pages.

All three of the stories in the book include cut scenes from the Doctor's adventures on television and this one has the best (and really only one worth mentioning) as we get a scene with Nardole, Missy, and the Doctor talking going down the elevator in World Enough and Time. It's fun just to see them interact and it's probably the highlight of the mini-series.

Overall, this isn't a bad book and there are no bad stories in here, but it's also not all that remarkable either. If you want to read quick one-short adventures with the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctor, then this will do fine, but don't expect to be blown away.

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Published on September 04, 2020 19:36 Tags: doctor-who, eleventh-doctor, tenth-doctor, twelfth-doctor

September 3, 2020

Book Review: Spider-man: The Daily Bugle

Spider-Man: The Daily Bugle Spider-Man: The Daily Bugle by Paul Grist

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This collects a bunch of Daily Bugle-related comics.

First up is the three issue Daily Bugle mini-series, which is done in Black and White art. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the book. We follow Daily Bugle regulars like Betty Brant and Phil Ulrich, and a drunk down on his luck journalist named Charlie, while they investigate stories. In one story, with the paper stretched then, Jonah volunteers to investigate a case. It's a lot of fun, with good writing, nice characterization, and the black and white nature is really appropriate for the newspaper feel.

Then we get the Deadline Mini-series. A reporter is on the superhero beat but wants to get off of it and onto crime and she investigates a case where a judge is becoming an avenging vigilante...after apparently dying. This isn't bad, although I'd be lying if I said I liked the character. The biggest problem is that this isn't a story that needs told in the MCU. The MCU elements feel shoehorned in. Betty and Phil play roles in the story but could be placed by any generic characters. And the fact that a story like this happens in the MCU actually makes it less believable that something like this is going on near where Doctor Strange lives and it's up to a reporter to suss it out.

There's a back-up story from three issues of Spectacular Spider-man where Jonah is thrown into an existential crisis when he learns some randos think his newspaper is tabloid trash...mainly because it is. The end of this crisis is...not really satisfying.

Spider-man's Tangled Web #20 sees Jonah on the couch due to some anger issues and forced to confront and examine his past. While some of the interactions with the psychiatrist seem silly and over the top and most of the revelations of Jonah's past (i.e. overbearing/abusive father. Shocker!), I do think its mostly well-executed and its a decent read.

Next up we have Jonah's appear in Holiday Special 2004 where he experiences his own version of the Christmas Carol. It's kind of meh. Most of the jokes don't work and there's little emotional resonance. Plus the Marvel Universe being what it is, Jonah's not going to transform his character because of something that happened in a Holiday special.

Overall, nothing in the collection is bad, but only the three-issue mini-series is actually good, making for an overall mediocre reading experience.

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Published on September 03, 2020 22:25 Tags: daily-bugle, jonah-jameson, spider-man

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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