Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes, page 5

December 21, 2018

Book Review: Batman Beyond, Volume 3: The Long Payback

Batman Beyond, Volume 3: The Long PaybackBatman Beyond, Volume 3: The Long Payback by Dan Jurgens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book collects seven issues of Batman Beyond.

The first six issues are a classic Dan Jurgens “six-issue fight scene” for the most part mixed with callbacks to the TV show. It’s all about a vendetta against Terry as he fights three villains who are attacking because one villain has a grudge against him.

The other big plot development is that one character takes up a crimefighting mantle and it’s telegraphed throughout all six issues that this is going to happen, so there’s no real surprise.
Personally, I think that three volumes in, Terry’s just got to have a story where he’s just Batman doing crimefighting and crime-solving rather than each storyline being a big focus on establishing Batman and dropping villain names from the TV series like there’s no tomorrow.

The art by Bernard Chang is a big highlight of the book and does elevate the quality. He also contributes a one issue story that finds Terry (in the past) trying to stop a bomb from going off and encountering key foes from the past but in a fun and fast-paced way. The story is a tad confusing but it’s still better than most of the rest of the book.

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Published on December 21, 2018 23:37 Tags: batman-beond, dc-rebirth

December 18, 2018

Book Review: Green Lanterns, Vol. 6: A World of Our Own

Green Lanterns, Vol. 6: A World of Our OwnGreen Lanterns, Vol. 6: A World of Our Own by Tim Seeley

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first volume after Sam Humphries' great run on this series and it's not good.

It starts off okay in the first story with the Green Lanterns rescuing a piece of underground dwelling aliens, bur this is balanced against the plot of Jessica and Simon each seeking out crummy jobs and offering full disclosure in the interview about gaps in their resume in the least flattering way possible. Jessica explains that she and Simon have a hard time because they're brown people with bad resumes even though they're heroes in space, a line that felt totally out of place.

The second story is about a bounty hunter coming to Earth fleeing a contract by a mysterious space woman who is actually somewhat intriguing though never really explored.

The final story finds Jessica and Simon returning to help the aliens they rescued in the first story because they are on a world that doesn't want or trust them. It's essentially, a ham-fisted political analogy about refugees and immigration with several non-sensical plot twists.

Overall, new writer Tim Seeley doesn't get these characters and fails to tell a compelling narrative, transforming the two Green Lanterns odd couple buddy cups into flying tropes that aren't near as compelling as the characters Sam Humphries made so good.

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Published on December 18, 2018 23:36 Tags: green-lanterns, tim-seeley

December 14, 2018

Book Review: Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Secret Invasion

Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Secret InvasionMs. Marvel, Volume 5: Secret Invasion by Brian Reed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ms. Marvel is a natural match for this event with her Kree powers.

In the first half of the book, there's a Skrull replacement for Miss Marvel running around and her own team is set to bring her in. I think this is very well-handled. There's also a really cool bit in the first issue where we get to see Carol Danvers' first meeting with the Skrull done in vintage 1960s style. Things don't go well and she ends the first half of the book in a pathetic state.

But then we get into the proper tie-in to Secret Invasion and Ms. Marvel returns to deal with the Skrull invasion of Manhattan. Not only does the story have a very good bit of action, it also shows Miss Marvel at her best and she's at her best when she's hitting things and being able to be a warrior. This book works because it allows her to shine while also setting up some mystery for the next volume.

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Published on December 14, 2018 21:55 Tags: carol-danvers, miss-marvel

December 13, 2018

Book Review: Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor, Time Trials Vol 3: A Confusion of Angels

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor, Time Trials Vol 3: A Confusion of AngelsDoctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor, Time Trials Vol 3: A Confusion of Angels by Richard Dinnick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects a single story in Issues 10-13 of Year Three of the Twelfth Doctor Adventures. The Doctor, Nardole, and Bill land on a ship owned by Tenth Doctor foe Max Capricorn. The ship is full of the Hosts, the robot "Hosts" (shaped like angels0 from the Doctor Who story, "The Voyage of the Damned," and the Weeping Angels also appear in the story, and if that's not enough continuity for you, an old foe of the Ninth Doctor re-appears in a form that it makes no sense for her to be in.

This sounds like a recipe for bad fan fiction, however writer Richard Dinnick deserves credit for knowing what some Doctor Who writers don't know. You can have all the fun toys you want, but at the end of the day, you have to buckle down and tell a good story. Dinnick does just that. We have multiple mysteries, some action scenes, and a couple good old fashioned cliffhangers.

The art is also a lot of fun. The Hosts and the Weeping are visually very good together and the art is top notch. Some of the fan service is a little silly, but this is a nice read for fans of the 12th Doctor and Doctor Who in general.

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Published on December 13, 2018 17:36 Tags: 12th-doctor, doctor-who

December 7, 2018

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Monster Smash: Monster Smash

Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Monster Smash: Monster Smash v. 4 (Ms. Marvel (2006-2010))Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Monster Smash: Monster Smash v. 4 (Ms. Marvel by Brian Reed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We get seven issues and two stories.

First up is the three-part story Puppets. Puppets does some nice things. It really strengthens Operation Lightning Storm by introducing Robotman and the the giant stalking character of the Sleepwalker. They (particularly Machine Man) have a solid time. With Miss Marvel, we get to see the level of concern to Anya. The Puppet Master makes a sick villain.

The four-part "Monster and the Marvel" story finds Carol dragged off by the Cru to Monster Island as Carol retained a part of the Cru which explains her high healing factor. However, their powers are turned off and they find the Brood are on the island. This is a decent action story with a lot of madacap moments.

Overall, this is the best Miss Marvel so far with two strong stories that provide some key insight into Carol's character.

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Published on December 07, 2018 21:57 Tags: captain-marvel, martha, miss-marvel

November 29, 2018

Book Review: Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Original Marvel Years, Vol. 1

Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Original Marvel Years, Vol. 1Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Original Marvel Years, Vol. 1 by Roy Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects the original Marvel Star Wars comics from the 1970s with Issues 1-23 of the US Marvel comics and serialized stories originally printed in the UK Comic.

The book can be divided into several sections:

Issues 1-6: The original film adaptation. Early issues came out before the film was released and is different in several places from the theatrical version. The story shows that Hans shot the bounty hunter remorselessly and we get to see how Jaba the Hutt was originally imagined. On the negative side, there are several lines of dialogue that lack the oomph of the film version. I lean towards blaming the fact that the final script wasn't used than writer Roy Thomas.

The art by Howard Chaykin is not all that great, and in some cases, he ruins scenes with weird expression and poor artistic choices. This doesn't capture the grandeur of A New Hope. The issues aren't bad but they are far more middling than they should be.

Issues 7-10: Hans and Chewie leave the rebellion to settle up their debts, only to be robbed by a space pirate. They then lay low, but find work gathering a team of mercaneries to protect a bunch of peasants being harassed by bandits. Essentially, this is the Magnificent Seven meets Star Wars. The plot is a decent idea and several of the character are interesting, although the Don Quixote homage is silly.

The writing has some rough moments as Hans references not having been to Sunday School, which is an odd thing to say in another galaxy. The art is a bit uneven, but not as disappointing as in the opener.

Issues 11-15: Hans captured by the same space pirate. Hans want to take the pirate's ship (which is a captured Emperial cruiser) and turn it over to the rebellion but his plans go awry when he discovers Leia is a prisoner on the ship. Leia left the rebellion to find Luke, who had gone on a recon mission and finds himself fighting in a war against the Dragon Riders. The story is written by Archie Goodwin with the art by Carmine Infantino (with Walt Simonsen spotting Infantino every now and again.) This story and the next big one were very well-written and exactly the sort of thing I expect the Star Wars heroes between movies.

Issue 16: A one-shot that features none of the movie characters. Valance, a bounty hunter, goes after members of Hans and Chewie's team from Issues 7-10, hoping to learn about Luke. The story has a clever twist at the end that leaves me hoping Valance re-appears.

Issue 17: A tale of Luke before A New Hope. Far better than I thought it would be as it holds your interest without too much fan service.

Issues 18-23: Luke goes into a coma and Hans and Leia take him to the Wheel, a gambling space station that's not under the Empire's jurisdiction, but the Empire's trying to change that by staging robberies and framing the Rebellion. At the same time, Darth Vader re-emerges hunting for Luke. There are a number of parallels to Empire Strikes Back as they're on a station run by an unscrupulous gambler who's willing to sell them out for his own benefit while the Empire closes in.

Pizazz #1-#9: From the UK magazine Pizazz, these three-page serialized stories focused on Luke and Leia going out to bring other groups into the Rebel Alliance but they're forced out of space by the Empire and land on a planet with mysterious children on it. Not bad, but felt more "Star Trek" than "Star Wars."

Pizazz #10-16 and Star Wars Weekly #60: Three page continue until Pizazz was cancelled with the rest of the story being published in Star Wars Weekly. Luke and Leia arrive on an ice planet where creatures called Snow Demons steal the Droids. However, it appears Luke and Leia will be fine, but unfortunately for them, everything's not as it seems. A very fun adventure.

Overall, despite a few rough issues, this is a fun collection filled with great swashbuckling stories in between movies and requires next to no extra continuity knowledge. Well worth reading.

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Published on November 29, 2018 23:49 Tags: 1970s-comics, marvel, star-wars

November 27, 2018

Book Review: Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Volume 2

Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Vol. 2Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Vol. 2 by Marv Wolfman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's Clobberin' time in this massive collection of Ben Grimm comic stories from the late 1970s, featuring Issues 26-52 and Annuals #2 and #3. A summary of each issue:

Issues 26 and 27: Nick Fury warns the Thing that Mentallo and the Fixer are going to kidnap him and the two succeed in doing so in a plan where kidnapping Ben leads to attempting to assassinate Jimmy Carter and that's not even their main goal. Issue #27 is essentially a Fantastic Four comic rather than a Thing comic.

Issue 28: The Thing's en route to London and gets drawn into an undersea battle with Pirahnna, fighting along the Sub-mariner.

Issues 29-33: The Thing in London to find a scientist to help Deathlok. Key stories in establishing Spider-woman (Jessica Drew) as a hero. Pretty well-done and shows Ben's concern for Alicia Masters.

Issue 34: One last London comic as Ben teams up with Nighthawk after an apparently monstrous alien is freed from a rock. The alien is not as monstrous as he looks, but tell mankind that. A classic Sci-Fi story.

Issues 35 and 36: As often happens in these stories, the Thing is cleaning up an old plot line. In this case, he goes into the Bermuda Triangle to deal with an anomaly and gets dragged back in time to another dimension and meets Skull the Slayer (from a discontinued Marvel Comic series) and they have to get home. The Thing battles dinosaurs and the comic is a lot of fun.

Annual #2: Spider-man is summoned in a dream by Moondragon to help the Avengers who are being imprisoned by Thanos and Spidey turns to the Thing because he needs a spaceship and that's the sort of thing Reed Richards leaves lying around. Good story, even though it feels more like a Spider-man story than a Thing story.

Issues 37-39: The FF was dissolved and the Thing finds himself going on rampages that destroy property and is thrown in jail. His attorney Matt Murdoch (aka Daredevil) suspects something's wrong when he hears a noise around the Thing. A supervillain is behind it and it takes a couple more guest stars to straighten things out.

Issues 40 and 41: Prominent black citizens are being kidnapped. A so-so story featuring Black Panther and Doctor Voodoo.

Issues 42 and 43: Ben follows up on his ex-ward Wundar, who's being studied as part of Project Pegasus. He fights with and teams up with Captain America. The story features a no-name villain and the second story features Man-Thing and ends how most Man-Thing stories do.

Annual #3: Monitors come to Earth to "judge" it and they find every planet imperfect. It's up to the Thing and Nova to save the day.

Issue 44: The Thing tells kids of his team up with Hercules to figght in Mount Olympus. A little ambiguity if it's true (or Ben's trying to impress the kids), but still fun.

Issue 45: The story begins with the Thing shot up by a '20s gangster which annoys him. Convoluted story featuring Skrulls and Captain Marvel.

Issue 46: Meta story where the Thing is jealous of the Hulk's TV show and goes to Hollywood to get his own show and ends up facing off against the Hulk who hates the show.

Issues 47 and 48: Team up with the Yancy Street Gang (really?) but they're all overcome by the Machinesmith and it's up to that new hero, the Jack of Hearts, to save the day. Yeah, I don't know anything about him either.

Issue 49: Writer Mary Jo Duffy puts Ben in the middle of a Dark Shows homage. A good idea for a story guest starring Doctor Strange.

Issue 50: Writer/Artist John Byrne features a story where the Thing goes back in time to cure his past self of being the Thing. Ludicrous plot, nice look at how the character changed from Fantastic Four #1.

Issue 51: Ben and Nick Fury head for a poker game at the Avengers Mansion for a poker game with Wonder Man and Miss Marvel. Some great art by Frank Miller on the game and some smack talk from Ben Grimm. Villains show up and our fought but that's secondary to establishing this poker game exists.

Issue 52: A man is killed right in front of the Thing and Ben insists he doesn't need the help of "Johnny come lately" hero Moon Knight. He gets it anyway. Features one of the best villains in the book.

Overall, a solid book despite some weaker issues. The book has a lot of fun stories even though few of the co-stars are Marvel A-listers, Ben manages to save the world a few times while rapping up a few stray storylines, and getting brainwashed three times. Good Bronze Age fun.

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Published on November 27, 2018 23:02 Tags: marvel, marvel-two-in-one, the-thing

November 15, 2018

Book Review: Batman: Detective Comics, Vol. 6: Fall of the Batmen

Batman: Detective Comics, Vol. 6: Fall of the BatmenBatman: Detective Comics, Vol. 6: Fall of the Batmen by James Tynion IV

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects Detective Comics #969-974 and the Annual #1.

Tim Drake is back and determined not to become future crazy Tim Drake and willing to do anything to strengthen his Batmen program. Meanwhile, the Victim Syndicate returns with a plan that begins by kidnapping Clayface inside Arkham Asylum and the Mayor wants Batman alone to deal with him.

This is the type of story that makes it worth it having stuck through the more mediocre second to fourth Volumes. This has a lot of great action and wonderful visuals but at the same time, it tells a great story and it's full of emotional moments that address who the lead characters are and who they're becoming.

In addition, this story explores some ideas or questions such as forgiveness and the possibility of redemption, but does it an open and subtle way.

Overall, this is a splendid story, well worth a read.

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Published on November 15, 2018 22:41 Tags: batman, dc-rebirth

November 14, 2018

Titans, Volume 4: Titans Apart

Titans, Vol. 4: Titans ApartTitans, Vol. 4: Titans Apart by Dan Abnett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 19-22 of the Titans and Annual #1.

This editorially-mandated story begins with an issue with the Justice League arriving to bust up the Titans because they're potentially dangerous. The reasons given in the first issue of the book are weak, mainly because the Justice League doesn't have the authority to do it, and the things they're saying about the Titans could apply most easily to them. Because everyone is acting out of characters, Dick Grayson caves to Batman easily.

After that, we get three good issues looking at the aftermath which are mostly pretty good. They focus on what happens when team members like Roy Harper have to work alone and ends up affirming the value of friendship. Abnett does such a great job with the rest of the book, I can almost forgive the rest of the book, but the stupid idea at the core of the book is pretty problematic. In addition, the villains didn't impress me.

So overall, this could have been awful but Dan Abnett made it fair to decent. That said, there are too many problems to give this more than three stars.

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Published on November 14, 2018 23:44 Tags: dc-rebirth, titans

November 13, 2018

Book Review: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Operation Lightning Storm

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Operation Lightning StormMs. Marvel, Vol. 3: Operation Lightning Storm by Brian Reed

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 11-17 of Miss Marvel.

It contains three stories: First off in Issues 11 and 12, Miss Marvel faces off against a villain she defeated back she was at the Avengers. Interesting story, particularly loved the villain Doomsday Ma throwing off on the Avengers for failing to keep track of him so that AIM was able to snag him.

Issues 13 and 14: The Deal: Carol agrees to lead the Mighty Avengers in exchange for Tony Stark (currently director of SHIELD in this book) giving her her own detachment of superheroes and SHIELD agents (not actually reporting to SHIELD) to prevent major crimes before they start. After taking out an AIM sight, she decides to use this to help Julia Carpenter, who in the previous volume, she captured and dragged off to secret prison with her daughter watching and described bringing her in as "her pleasure." Carol's efforts to help Julia are meant to soften that image a bit, but instead the characterization is so off that the story instead makes me wonder whether she's a fit mother as she has little concern for her daughter's welfare and commits a parental kidnapping from the grandparents with SHIELD help.

Issues 15-17: The book ends with a big AIM story and it's a blast. It involves an AIM Civil War, witha variety of factions that include MODOK and different alternatives to him. It contains the cheesiest scene in the book , but is still a ride.

I thought both the first and last stories were pretty good. Carol also showed herself to be relatable. Not only does she feel regret over what she did to Julia, she also begins to question the wisdom of the entire Superhero registration movement in light of AIM being able to carry ou tattacks due to Tony spending an inordinate amount of time enforcing them.

Teenage superhero Anya Corazon was likable and this book made me curious to read her solo stories.

On the other hand, most characters in this book are either unlikable or flat. Tony Stark and Maria Hill come off as particularly unlikable. In one scene, Carol references "debriefing Tony Stark" and Maria asks if that's "the only time you debriefed him?" What is she? In High school?

The story tries to add in romantic subplot, maybe a bit of a triangle. However, both Wonderman and the non-hero potential love interest are dull, so it's hard to get into them.

In the end, this isn't bad, but there's a lot bad about this book. Hoping Volume 4 gets better.

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Published on November 13, 2018 23:47 Tags: civil-war, miss-marvel

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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