Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes, page 6

December 25, 2020

Book Review: Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands

Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands by Geoff Johns

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the Seven Magic Lands , Billy Batson and his foster siblings return to the Rock of Eternity where their whisked into the seven magic lands and find they've unleashed many dangers on the world that they have to protect the Earth from. Meanwhile, Billy has to deal with teh sudden re-emergence of his father.

This book is epic. Essentially, it collects an entire year...all of Geoff Johns run on the 2018 series and it tells one unified story. It includes visits to Magic Lands, introduces Tawny Tiger, as well as featuring Shazam's biggest bads, while sprinkling in a lot of family drama.

It manages to have fun, provide wacky situations, and have enough action and heart to keep the book engaging. It's rare that I get this entertained by a modern ongoing series, but this oen rings the bell. I heartily reccomend.

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Published on December 25, 2020 23:25 Tags: captain-marvel, dc-comics, shazam

December 22, 2020

Book Review: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III by James Tynion IV

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For James Tynion's Third outing of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we arrive in a strange world where Bruce Wayne has been raised by Splinter along with the Turtles and they fight the Smile Clan which includes Harley Quinn and is led by a ninja version of the Turtles.

Krang is behind this and the Turtles and Batman have to figure out what's going on and how to stop it.

This is the third time that Tynion's returned to this pairing and the result is still pleasing. The plot plays into basic DC Multiverse Crisis stories while also having a bit of a nod to the decades long history of the Ninja Turtles.

These books don't tend to deliver mindblowing plots, but they suceed by making characters from these two different universes connect and delivering fan-pleasing moments and making them work nicely in a narrative rather than just being pointless fan service. This book does that and if you have any affinity for these franchises and want a fun read, this is another winner that's well worth your time.

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Published on December 22, 2020 22:57 Tags: batman, teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles

December 20, 2020

Book Review: Champions, Volume 1: Change the World

Champions, Volume 1: Change the World Champions, Volume 1: Change the World by Mark Waid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the aftermath of Civil War II, Ms. Marvel, Spider-man (Miles Morales), Nova, etc. are disillusioned by the Avengers and adult heroes, so decided to establish their own team.

Coming in, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this book. It could be a very super preachy and self-righteous screed that it takes itself way too seriously? My answer is no. In many ways, this reminded me of the First Season of the Supergirl TV series. While there were political undertones to that series, it was still fun to watch because they found ways to make the lead character likable and someone you'd actually care about.

The Champions does that. Waid does a nice job establishing this team and give them motivation to join the Champions. Who in comicdom isn't disappointed in the adult heroes. That's a good motivator right there. The stories also are fun and have them deal with real world problems, sometimes controversially. And still managing to balance that with fun.

The weirdest thing in this book is that apparently Cyclops had turned evil but a kid version was here in the present and joined the Champions. They also did that with Jean Grey. That's striking me as exceedingly lazy, but I don't know whether bringing him back was a Waid decision or not. He does seem to be a bit of a contrivance at this point.

While I don't know if it will continue to work, this volume does shine through and while I don't agree with all of Mark Waid's politics, he's a darn good writer and that helps him turn this into something that's actually interesting.

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Published on December 20, 2020 22:38 Tags: champions, marvel-comics, young-heroes

December 19, 2020

Book Review: Marvel Superheroes Contest of Champions

Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions by Mark Gruenwald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Contest of Champions has a lot of interesting backstory. In fact, I found myself a bit more interested to read Tom DeFalco's explanation of how the story came to be than the story itself.

Contest of Champions is really the first big superhero crossover event bringing together a massive number of Marvel's heroes.

Yet, the book is weird. Despite bringing so many heroes together, the two cosmic beings battling it out only choose twenty-four, so the rest of the characters are only there as spectators.

And the way the Challenge works, it's heroes battling heroes but there's no reason to cheer for one side, and everyone (except Wolverine who tries to kill Black Panther) takes this as a bit of a game. This feels very much like the Spring Training of Superhero events. It all ends up in a bit of an embarassing mix up because Marvel lost track of who was on what teams in what events, and given that there were only four events, this is a big error. Also, their attempts to feature international heroes leads to some awkward moments.

That said, this is not a bad book. It's fun to see these characters together and there are some fight scenes that are fun to reading and some interesting ways powers are used. I also did love the Thing telling Wolverine to not murder T'Challa.

Overall, this is okay, it's short, and if you want to read what can rightly be labeled as the first comic event, this is worth checking out for that reason alone.

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Published on December 19, 2020 23:00 Tags: contest-of-champions, crossover-event

December 15, 2020

Book Review: Supergirl, Vol. 3: Infectious

Supergirl Vol. 3: Infectious Supergirl Vol. 3: Infectious by Jody Houser

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This one is...all over the place. This one goes very hurriedly into some dark stuff happening in Supergirl's world to her being infected by the Batman Who Laughs and going on a bit of a edgy rampage in stories like, "I'm the Bad Guy."

It's really not fun reading and it's a hot mess with most of it "character insights" coming off as a bit weak and nonsensical. Given that they had their choice of who would become "infected," it seems that someone didn't really have a plan of what was going to happen with Kara in this book.

The reason it's not 1-star is because of Krypto. He's seriously given some good characterization. It's all very subtle, but we manage to get his reaction and involvement to Kara's change in a way that's believable for a dog and actually made me care about what was going on. It's a shame that such great characterization for Krypto would be in such an otherwise dreadful book. It shouldn't happen to a dog.

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Published on December 15, 2020 22:59 Tags: supergirl-infectious

December 5, 2020

Book Review: Spider-Man: The Graphic Novels"

Spider-Man: The Graphic Novels Spider-Man: The Graphic Novels by Susan K. Putney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects four Spider-man graphic novels:

"Hooky" finds Spider-man being drawn into a fantasy world to help a young woman who is trying to reclaim her place and defeat a creature of ultimate power. This is not a typical Spider-man story and that's part of what makes it work. The dialog is great, the art is superb, and the story is a moving classic. Grade: A

"Parrallel Lives" tells the story of Mary Jane and what she was doing as Peter was growing up. This book expands a bit on the origin of Spider-man and adds some controversial elements to Mary Jane's but I think works...for the most part. The inclusion of Doc Ock felt more obligatory than anything else. (i.e. Well, this is a Spider-man story, we need to fight a supervillain.) It wasn't bad, but it was out of place. Grade: B

"Spirits of Earth" finds Spidey and Mary Jane going to Scotland where Mary Jane has received an inheritance. However, there's some strange goings on, and the young son of the local laird is missing so Spidey goes into action. Writer/author Chales Vess has a real love for Scotland and it comes across in the writing. The art is gorgeous, absolutely stunning and just like in "Hooky," it's very fun to see Spider-man in an atypical location. I don't think the story was quite as good, but still this one was solid. Grade: A-

"Fear Itself" features Silver Sable and involves the White Ninja, hijinxs with Nazis, and a fear gas. This isn't bad, but it's not particularly good either. It also just doesn't seem to fit as a graphic novel as it's just a typical Spider-man story. Probably, it'd been published a few years later, it'd be a three issue mini-series like so many Spidey had back in the 1990s. It'd be mediocre, but at least it wouldnt' be out of place. Grade: C-

Overall, I thought three of these were all good and worth reading, and the third is kind of mediocre, but can't make this collection anything but a must buy for Spider-man fans.

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Published on December 05, 2020 22:52 Tags: graphic-novels, spider-man

December 4, 2020

Book Review: JLA, Vol. 1

JLA, Vol. 1 JLA, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects the first nine issues of Grant Morrison's run on the Justice League of America as well as JLA: Secret Files #1.

The first four issues has the Justice League of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman going up against a team of self-styled alien heroes who quickly are shown to have ulterior motives. Morrison does a good job crafting this story. At four issues long, it's actually very well-paced. Today, it'd be padded out ridiculously to get to six issues. But what we get instead is a nice engaging story that introduces the team and gives them a real threat.

Issue Five sees a new look for Superman, which seems more foisted on them than anything else by the writers of the Superman book. Morrison acknowledges it and rolls with it and then we get a story of the Justice League seeking new members. They find one but she has a secret. This one was a pretty well-done one-shot. It surprised me and packed a punch.

Issues 6 and 7 finds the Justice League caught into a fight between a couple different groups of angels. While I thought there were some interesting ideas in the story, it felt a little too convoluted.

Issues 8 and 9 sees the team captured by an alien who finds a way to manipulate their mind and challenge their view of reality. The story actually does see our heroes getting into some places that have strong Gold and Silver age meanings which makes for some nice Easter eggs.

The Secret Files book has two stories in it. First up is a story of Starro invading and taking over the body of the Flash, and the JLA having to figure out how to stop them and the Spectre making a guest appearance to encourage them not to interfere. This is a pretty engaging story and a nice nod to the very first Justice League story. Then the second story is "A Day in the Life" which follows around Martian Manhunter. This one is a decent enough back up story.

Overall, this is a pretty strong start for Morrison and you can get hints at why his run on this book is considered so historic.

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Published on December 04, 2020 22:48 Tags: jla-grant-morrison

November 21, 2020

Book Review: Superman: The Golden Age Dailies-1944-1947

Superman: The Golden Age Dailies-1944-1947 Superman: The Golden Age Dailies-1944-1947 by Alvin Schwartz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Collecting Superman daily news strips from October 1944-July 1947, this series captures Superman at a point when the strips had become (mostly) more lighthearted, with most storylines having a strong comedic element. We get see things happen like Lois being left a fortune, her being engaged to Superman, and two talented elderly female cooks trying to make a man out of Mister Mxyzptlk. It's Superman as lighthearted fun before everything went all nuts in comics during the Silver Age. We get appearances by the Prankster, two by Mister Mxyzptlk, and one by Lex Luthor.

I will say that the second appearance of Mister Mxyzptlk was not as good, with his being a romantic rival for Superman being just a little too silly. I also thought Luthor's evil plan was a little too unambitious for him and not up to his usual standards.

The last story is a bit more serious as it addresses the Post-War concern of Juvenile delinquency by telling a story that focuses on two delinquents who are pals from different sides of the track. This one is pretty good for what it is. It featured, "Community House." The radio series would feature Unity House during its fights with the clan. I wonder if this was somehow related.

Overall, this is one of the more solid volumes of comic strips and well worth a read for those who like a lighter touch on the man of steel.

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Published on November 21, 2020 23:48 Tags: golden-age, newspaper-strips, superman

November 20, 2020

Book Review: Firefly: The Unification War Vol. 3

Firefly: The Unification War Vol. 3 Firefly: The Unification War Vol. 3 by Greg Pak

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Unification War saga draws to a close as Browncoats who joined forces to rescue Mal and those trying to bring him in reveal what they truly want and many are wanting to restart the War, including Mal's mother.

As a conclusion, this is decent enough with a lot of good twists. It's clever enough as far as it goes. The problem is that the book illustrates the challenge of tryign to set books in between the end of the TV series and the movie Serenity. At the end of the book, it's clearly gotten into events that seem beyond implauisble, given what we know of where the characters went.

Again, this isn't bad but it's really straining credulity at this point, which is why I'd love to see more Firefly stories set after the movie.

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Published on November 20, 2020 22:34 Tags: firefly, unification-war

November 16, 2020

Book Review: Batman, Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs

Batman, Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs Batman, Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs by James Tynion IV

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Batman is grieving the death of Alfred but that's interrupted by a major shake-up. Gotham is under siege as are many of its supervillains, as the plans of the Designer begin to come to fruition.

In the interest of full disclosure, I picked up this after having dropped Tom King's run on Batman after the volume after the "wedding," so was aware of the events of City of Bane mainly through coverage.

As a jumping on point, this book does fairly well. There are still some gaps unexplained. But if you accept that Bruce and Selena are back together and Alfred's gone, you can enjoy this book with minimal knowledge of what's come before.

Tynion uncorks an epic story to open his run. He doesn't waste time, but gives us Batman's Big 4 of Rogues (Catwoman, Joker, the Riddler, and Penguin), Harley Quinn, plus add in Deathstorke and a Squad of Assassins on a mission, and this whole idea of the Designer and you've got a story that works.

Ever since DC Rebirth, writers have been obsessed with introducing randos we've never seen before as massive menaces to Batman. However, Tynion's take works because the concept is interesting and this isn't some lone rando, but someone who is tied into Batman intimately in a way that's believable. Add on that, a massive mystery that actually allows Batman to be a detective.

The stories from Batman Secret Files are pretty good and showcase a variety of styles, but the main attraction is Their Dark Designs, which manages to be a thoroughly engaging, must-read Batman epic.

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Published on November 16, 2020 20:57 Tags: batman, james-tynion

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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