Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CBW #2: The Rocketeer, Superman 707 - 711, Supergirl 64, Richie Rich #1, Jimmy Olsen one shot

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #2

Rocketeer Adventures #1

Okay, so I’m totally going to avoid the whole “this book is a blast” pun. Because that would be cheesy.

IDW’s ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #1 is a collection of short stories and pin-ups by some of the industry’s most talented creators. The stories are cut to the chase fun. There’s no build up, no repercussions that we get to see. Just 100% the juicy center of the stories. The first story serves to introduce Cliff Secord (the Rocketeer) and Betty, the girl he spends his life saving and loving. John Cassaday wrote and drew this story, and it’s clear that his talent has just gotten more potent since his series defining ASTONISHING X-MEN run. While the story is a clever start to the book, things just keep getting better. Mike and Laura Allred, the husband/wife art team behind iZOMBIE, helmed the next story, “Home Again,” which features the most dynamic art in the book. The final story by Kurt Busiek with art by Michael Kaluta serves to humanize Betty, showing how she copes with waiting for Cliff to return while he’s off fighting the war.

Overall, fans of the Rocketeer and classic comic books in general will want to pick this up. It’s a good read from the always awesome IDW.

Superman #707 - 711

J. Michael Straczynski, besides having a name that I wouldn’t even try to pronounce, is a pretty famous dude. He’s written countless excellent comics, created and wrote an astonishing (seriously—look at the numbers… what other showrunner does this?) amount of Babylon 5. Outside of Joss Whedon and J. J. Abrams, he’s the reigning king of geekery. However, his story arc on SUPERMAN has been reviled by many fans and review sites, with said critics citing how out of character SUPERMAN is acting. I can’t say if this was JMS’s intention all along, but writer Chris Roberson, one of my favorite comic book writers, took over writing duties with SUPERMAN #707 (halfway through JMS’s controversial “Grounded” arc) and made Superman’s OOC behavior a central part of the story arc. I haven’t read the pre-Roberson grounded stuff so I definitely won’t make a personal judgment on that story, but the character arc that JMS’s plotting and Roberson’s scripting sets up is immensely intriguing.

The best part about the Roberson (pictured above) run is how fun it is. I devoured 707 – 711 over the weekend, and now I can’t wait to see what Roberson’s Supes is up to next. The issues have been mostly one-off adventures that show Superman teaming up with fellow heroes who help push him in the right direction. Superman, who has been depressed since the New Krypton incident, begins to realize that his emotional state has affected who he is as a hero and a person. However, that doesn’t stop the book from being an explosion of fun. So far, Roberson’s run has brought us a Clark/Bruce flashback (and no, Clark/Bruce does not imply that it’s also a slashback), a race between Supes and Flash, a Wonder Woman cameo that confused the bajeezus out of me until I read up on Wonder Woman’s current story in her on-going, a fight with Livewire, and—best of all—an appearance by the Superman Squad, which is by far the highlight of his arc so far. The Squad showed Superman that his actions on Earth influenced countless individuals of many difference species to wear the S and rise to the challenge—to fight for truth, justice, and the American way.

I’ve loved all the stories so far, and I can’t wait to see how Roberson concludes this series. Each issue hints at a larger story (there’s a mysterious woman that keeps following Superman), and it seems as if all the threads of this twelve part “Grounded” story arc are about to be woven together into a big time climax. If the final three issues are anything like the rest of Roberson’s run, they will be as packed with character exploration as they are with action.

And man just look at those covers. This arc has seen the talents of John Cassaday, Dave Johnson, and Jo Chen, who is one of my personal favorites. For the past few months, SUPERMAN has been an absolute must read.

Richie Rich #1

APE Entertainment’s RICHIE RICH gets off to a good start with their first issue. It’s a collection of stories that serve to (re)introduce Rich Rescue, the supporting characters, and the tone of the book—which is full on adventure. The highlights of the book are Bill Williams’ (ANGEL, SPIKE, SIDECHICKS) “The Boon Under the Bay,” a technology heavy story about the hunt for some good old fashioned pirate treasure, and the final page-long story which features KeenBean trying to talk about his fancy new ship while Reggie hilariously keeps comparing it to a hot dog. The art is top notch, and made me think back to some of the best Saturday morning cartoons.

Supergirl #64

James Peaty’s “Good Looking Corpse” arc comes to a satisfying end in this issue. The villainous Alex (he sounds so much less intimidating when you can’t see him) gets defeated in classic DC fashion—heroes outsmart the villain, villain gets knocked out, villain goes off to be rehabilitated, and heroes reflect. It’s a classic model, but it’s done so well here. The plot itself ties together nicely, and the way that Supergirl and Miss Martian take Alex down is great; it’s a smart idea, but I wouldn’t expect less from this team. The meat of the issue is the conversation between Supergirl and Lois at the end, where Lois brings up the elephant that constantly lives in every room Supergirl enters: “So, still feel like you’re not in his league?”

Former writer Sterling Gates made a hero and a confident girl out of the once lost Kara Zor-El, and James Peaty’s arc respects that. In fact, his arc is sort of all about that. His Supergirl is sure of herself, but not cocky. She says, “Kal-El is in a league of his own, Lois. But if anything should ever happen to him… I’ll be ready and waiting to step up to the majors.” Satisfied, Lois invites Supergirl out to celebrate, but the Maid of Might has already zeroed in on some other folks in need of her help. As she flies off, Lois looks after her and says the line that made me go from really liking to loving this arc…

“And so it goes.”

Can’t really beat a Slaughterhouse Five reference, especially when it works as well as this one. Writer James Peaty and artist Bernard Chang did a great job with this book, so I hope that next month’s team of Kelly Sue DeConnick (OSBORN: EVIL INCARCERATED) and ChrisCross (SPIKE, SUPERMAN/BATMAN) can keep this book a must-read!

Jimmy Olsen’s Big Week one-shot

This comic has gotten crazy hype, and that’s because it’s crazy good. Not only is this the most satisfying book I’ve picked up all year, it’s one of the funniest and most heart-warming stories in the DCU I’ve ever read.

In this gorgeously drawn book, writer Nick Spencer and artist R. B. Silva take us on an adventure through space, alternate futures (of sorts), and Jimmy’s wild personal life after Superman left Metropolis. At its core, it’s a story about a dude trying to win his girlfriend back, but it’s also about aliens who want to party on Earth after seeing Jersey Shore, a plot to take over the world with a video game, Jimmy’s tenure as Co-Superman, and so much more excellence than I can contain in one tiny review.

In two words, read this. Every page has more hilarity and heart than any other book on the stands. Nick Spencer is a certified writerly genius. I can’t wait to read everything he has ever written. I’ll end with a quote from the book.

Jimmy Olsen on Lexicorp’s Sebastien Mallory: “He hates me, I hate him. Yeah, it has a nice symmetry—the guy who hangs out with Superman not getting on with the guy who sucks up to Luthor all day—but trust me, it’s 100 percent genuine. He is the Biff to my Marty, the Leno to my Conan, the parents to my just don’t understand.”

Do you need any more than that?

NEXT WEEK: My first comic book hits the stands next week, so I'm gonna be super self-indulgent and interrupt regularly scheduled program for a blog entry devoted to the book in question, IDW's ANGEL: YEARBOOK.

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