8/28/2016

Superwoman #1

Superwoman #1: Story/Art: Phil Jimenez Inks: Matt Santorelli Colors: Jeremy Cox Covers: Steve Downer, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson  Lois Lane created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Lana Lang created by Bill Finger and John Sikela.
Story/Art: Phil Jimenez
Inks: Matt Santorelli
Colors: Jeremy Cox
Covers: Steve Downer, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson

Lois Lane created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Lana Lang created by Bill Finger and John Sikela.

Superman and his supporting cast have always been at the center of every convoluted twist in DC’s shared universe. It wasn’t that long ago that the publisher brought back the Post-Crisis version of the character, then killed-of the newer New 52 version. The new Superwoman series is a homage to one aspect of the character’s history. As unexpected as was the announcement for this new comic, Lois Lane and her romantic rival Lana Lang have been known in the past to temporarily gain superpowers. The comic is rife with continuity nods that, depending on one’s perspective, is either a confusing mess that makes it very difficult for any new reader to understand what’s going on, or cleverly plays to nostalgic fans.

It’s great to see the underappreciated Phil Jimenez working in comics again. His densely packed pages with panels loaded with text is pretty much a throwback in today’s industry. And the first half of this comic is a bit of a headache to get through, which is devoted to explaining the current status quo. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure which version of Lois was actually in the comic. And Lana’s reinvention as a science/reporter type was a bit unusual. Oh, and Lex Luthor is again wearing another suit of armour and apparently suffering from Helicarrier envy. But the mid-story plot twist did at least end the heavy emphasis on exposition in order to concentrate on the seat-of-your-pants action sequence. And the plot twist did make Lana a much more interesting character in the series.

It’s difficult to say in what direction that much-discussed-on-the-internet cliffhanger ending is leading towards. My first guess was that it was a typical comic bookish misdirection. But most of online fandom seems to be taking it at face value.  If so, it’s not a particularly dignified way to send off a character that hasn’t been particularly well-served by the New 52 era. But unfortunately for that person, DC’s continuity does need a bit of uncluttering.

Superwoman #1: Story/Art: Phil Jimenez Inks: Matt Santorelli Colors: Jeremy Cox Covers: Steve Downer, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson  Lois Lane created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Lana Lang created by Bill Finger and John Sikela.

8/20/2016

Deathstroke: Rebirth #1

Deathstroke: Rebirth #1. Story: Christopher Priest Art: Carlo Pagulayan Inks: Jason Paz Colors: Jeremy Cox Letters: Willie Schubert Covers: Aco, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Stephen Platt, Peter Steigerwald  Deathstroke created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
Story: Christopher Priest
Art: Carlo Pagulayan
Inks: Jason Paz
Colors: Jeremy Cox
Letters: Willie Schubert
Covers: Aco, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Stephen Platt, Peter Steigerwald

Deathstroke created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.

Deathstroke is not a character I have any particular interest in reading about as the protagonist, and the New 52 relaunch purged most of the continuity elements that made him a fascinating villain for the Teen Titans. Without that history, he’s just another super soldier sporting a cynical attitude. But DC seems determined to revive the character’s short-lived, 90s-era popularity. So he’s been given the Rebirth treatment in a new series that’s less about superhero adventures, and more about gritty, violent tales featuring ruthless mercenaries. Fortunately, the writer hired to shepherd this latest relaunch is Christopher Priest, who’s perhaps best known for his critically-acclaimed run on Black Panther.

Like most Rebirth issues, the comic certainly works as a reintroduction to the character. The fragmentary storytelling moves back and forth between a younger Slade Wilson taking his two sons camping in the woods during the dead of winter, and the present-day version working on a job for an African warlord. The former is terrible human being. An absentee father figure who’s hellbent on teaching his kids life’s harshest lessons and moulding them into manly survivalists like himself, even if it means literally beating those lessons into them. The latter’s a soldier of fortune who follows a strict professional code of ethics. But an unexpected appearance of someone from his past complicates his loyalties.

Deathstroke: Rebirth #1. Story: Christopher Priest Art: Carlo Pagulayan Inks: Jason Paz Colors: Jeremy Cox Letters: Willie Schubert Covers: Aco, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Stephen Platt, Peter Steigerwald  Deathstroke created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.

Carlo Pagulayan draws a pretty cool looking update to the original design of George Perez. His style conforms to DC’s house style, which is to say that it’s good but not particularly unique to look at. What let’s the issue down are the muddy colors of Jeremy Cox. The usual bright blues and oranges of Deathstroke’s costume are replaced by more neutral hues that make it harder to read the character on the page. This is exacerbated by the African setting being drenched in dull earth tones.

The strangest part of the comic is the unexplained presence of an elderly Clock King. His advanced age and his Silver Age style costume are oddly out of place in this comic’s more down-to-earth milieu. He adds an element of intrigue in a competently told, but otherwise conventional comic.

8/15/2016

Comic-Con Album Pt 38

Lara Croft Tomb Raider Cosplayers, Comic-Con International, San Diego Convention Center, Marina District, San Diego, California. Nikon n90s SLR Camera. Fujifilm NPZ800 color negative 35mm film.
Lara Croft cosplayers, Comic-Con exhibit hall

I was vaguely aware at the time that Mark Hamill was filming Comic Book: The Movie at the exhibit hall.

Pt  29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37,

8/07/2016

Snotgirl #1

Snotgirl #1, Story: Bryan Lee O’Malley Art: Leslie Hung Colors:  Mickey Quinn Letters: Maré Odomo.
Story: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Art: Leslie Hung
Colors:  Mickey Quinn
Letters: Maré Odomo

Bryan Lee O’Malley is again delving into the lives of pretentious twenty-somethings facing down a personal crisis. But Snotgirl is his first major work being serialised in the pamphlet format. He’s also sharing co-creator credit with the lead artist, newcomer Leslie Hung. This might be why the comic exhibits an emotional edge not usually found in O'Malley's previous stories, particularly noticeable in a main protagonist who could probably be described by many as monstrous.

O’Malley and Hung also get to explore a field that millennials can legitimately claim to have grown up around and actively shaped, which is online social media. Lottie Person is a self-described 25 ¾ year-old fashion blogger, and extremely proud of her effortlessly chic style. “On my blog, I’m perfect. My nose never runs. Every hair on my head is exactly where it’s supposed to be.” This makes Lottie stereotypically judgemental about other people’s fashion sense, even secretly giving her supposed friends nicknames out of spite. Lottie even dubs her regular get togethers with them as “haters brunch.”

Naturally, this masks a number of deep-seated insecurities. Like many people with popular social media profiles, Lottie finds most of her online relationships very superficial. “...my friends are all horrible people. And my boyfriend decided we’re on a break.” But what she really fears is her perfect image being completely shattered by a not so pretty alter ego. When her allergies act up, she becomes a total mess as her eyes and nose run over with tears and snot.

Snotgirl #1, Story: Bryan Lee O’Malley Art: Leslie Hung Colors:  Mickey Quinn Letters: Maré Odomo.

Snotgirl constantly critiques how technology has changed social interaction. Lottie considers the perfect version she projects on her blog to be truer than her allergy-ridden secret identity. It’s an easy belief to maintain since she spends most of her time texting the people she knows on her phone rather than talking to them directly. Lottie stalks her ex-boyfriend and the girl he left her for online, only to dismiss her as not being pretty enough. She tries to impress another women she recently met (whom Lottie dubs “coolgirl”) by texting her from the kind of hip bar she would never patronize, then taking a selfie from that location.

It’s easy to see why O’Malley wrote around Hung’s artistic talents instead of trying to tackle the story with his usual chibi style. Hung’s characters are drawn to resemble the elegantly elongated figures of josei manga. It’s perfect for a story critiquing the empty lives of glamorous looking individuals. Colorist Mickey Quinn completes the look with a washed-out palette of unrealistic tones such as pinks and greens.

Where the art falls short is towards the end. Snotgirl starts to move beyond merely lampooning popular culture and moves into darker territory with a melodramatic twist and a late self-realization from Lottie that tears down her carefully constructed world. But Hung’s depiction feels too glossy and emotionally restrained to deliver on the full force of this scene.

Snotgirl #1, Story: Bryan Lee O’Malley Art: Leslie Hung Colors:  Mickey Quinn Letters: Maré Odomo.