Friday, 4 May 2018

May's Pull List: Black Science #35

So the May month has begun and this month I have nine issues on my pull list coming out, a much larger number than what April had (maybe this is a good sign).

Of course, five of these issues are for the new Star Trek: The Next Generation: Through the mirror series, which is being released weekly. Those issues I've decided to put to one side to be read as a single story.

But, for now, that still leaves me with four other comics to write about (if I so choose). Therefore, I've decided to start off on a positive and note down my thoughts about  one of those other four.

Black Science #35.
Photo taken from
Comixology.
So I've started with Black Science #35, which jumped ahead in time from the prior arc to find Grant and Sarah McKay having been summoned from their dimension jumping efforts to locate their universe, and with it their children, to meet with someone wanting them to do one simple thing: accept their children are gone.

In honesty, I don't have much more to say about the plot of this issue (not without spoiling it anyway) as, compared to the previous arc, issue 35 is a very quiet issue, one which focuses on the reflection by both Grant and Sarah on their lives and past mistakes. This issue is very much lacking on action compared to much of the series before it but I did enjoy reading it as, once again, it was nice to see Grant attempt to figure himself out while also learning infinitely more about how he has become the character we now have. This I enjoyed given my own talent as a screw up (although maybe not on Grant's level) because it ultimately shows that who Grant isn't so much obnoxious or arrogant but instead is just very badly damaged.

Of course, Sarah has her own story arc here as she is sent to another world to see how her life could have turned out differently. However, maybe because of her limit appearances in the series compared to her ex-husband, this part of the issue just didn't resonate with me, although it was enjoyable in a more passive sense.

Overall though, despite the quiet vibe, Remender still knocks this book out of the park with his writing (and a couple of 'whoa' revelations and cliffhangers to boot) and Scalara continues to give me the most gorgeous artwork. I really love Black Science, as much (if not more) now as I did when I first picked up an issue those three or four years ago (has it really been that long?).

That said, there is one problem with this issue which totally kills me and it's the note in the letters page where Remender claims the story ends in 7 issues time. This, for me, is heartbreaking given what I just said about this book and makes me hope that he means for the arc and not the title as a whole (although, if it is I did figure they'd last until issue 45 so they could hammer out three 15 issue omnibuses).

Regardless of this though, Black Science is still a fantastic comic series and I'm now really looking forward to seeing how this all ends. The next issue can't come soon enough.

But, in the meantime, I have May's other comics to read.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

April's Pull List - The Terrifics #3

I've just finished a review for Cognition #3 for Pipedream and, with twenty minutes left before my lunch break ends, I figured I'd write about something else (use my time efficiently).

In truth, I'd hoped for more time to write about The Terrifics #3 because, mainly this is an important issue for it. This third issue of this Fantastic Four homage/copy is (as I've said before) D-Day for the title. Either it's going to leave my pull list or stay.

Of course, this would be a little more finite if I'd actually planned ahead so I wouldn't have to pick up the next two months worth. But I didn't so I'll have two more issues at least.

But anyway, I digress.

The Terrifics #3. Photo
taken from Comixology.
So, the Terrifics #3 continued where issue 2 left off, with Mr Terrific crashing (literally) back down to Earth with a bump when he realised that he, Plastic Man, Metamorpho and Phantom Girl are now mysteriously bonded thanks to their trip to the Dark Multiverse. Now they must figure out how to separate themselves from each, while not being too far from each to cause the explosive consequences.

As I wrote that last paragraph and re-read it, all I could think is 'was that all that happened?' and, honestly, it was for the most part. However, there was also an attack by a War Wheel (literally a tank built into a wheel) as well as some kind of Metamorpho-related event in a small town elsewhere (I can't remember where) so some action happened, but otherwise I thought this issue was rather quiet.

Unfortunately, I just struggled getting on board with this issue and while I have no problem with a quiet issue, this issue did nothing to dissuade me from the concerns I had during the prior two issues about this series. The Terrifics, for all the greatness of its name, isn't really all that terrific.

I have to confess, the problem I had with the issue was the characters. Metamorpho, whether written that way or not, continued to sound like Ben Grimm in my head, even after watching the Metamorpho Justice League episode to try and change that for me. Meanwhile, Phantom Girl just felt flat and  lacking any real depth or personality (hopefully, this'll be something which changes in the future. Only Plastic Man has, for the most bit, grown on me a little bit and so I can't complain too much on him.

However, any problems of those three pales in comparison to the 'team leader'. The Mr Terrific of this issue I really struggled to connect with as he comes across as rude, obnoxious, uncaring, all at different times to a different supposed 'teammate. This is surprising given the way I've always assumed the character is and I do feel like the writing team (who I noticed this time was not solely Jeff Lemire) were trying to make him more of a Mr Fantastic-esque character, who is quite (famously) self absorbed . However, instead of getting the self-absorbed aspect, they ended up making Holt out to be just a real dick.

... Deep breathe....

Now, I feel I've been WAY too negative at this point and this is unfair because I've made it sound like a terrible comic when the Terrifics #3 does have some good points. First of all, I realised from this issue that the series gives off a real silver age vibe (albeit with a modern twist), something which I thought gave the comic a nice touch and made me feel silly or not noticing it sooner. Meanwhile, the art continued to be solid and so consistent with the prior issues that I didn't even realise that it was not by Ivan Reis (and I have to wonder if issue two was the same).

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, I struggled to find this comic overly compelling thanks to the characterisation of the leads as well as its 'meh' storyline. I think it's an ok title but, and maybe I'm being too picky, I thought that about the Terrifics for the first two issues and I don't really wanna spend my limited budget on something that's just 'ok'.

So, with that, the Terrifics will be leaving my pull list as of this coming Monday. Maybe the last couple of issues I'm obliged to pick up will change my mind but, if they don't I'm not sure I'll lose sleep over it if they don't.

Especially given that the Fantastic Four are returning to fill the team book void in my life!

Monday, 23 April 2018

April's Pull list - Action Comics #1000

So, my plan had been to write a single blog post about all four comics which I picked up over April and jot down my thoughts about each.

Then I wrote a near essay about Lazarus #27.

As a result, rather than write the other three together, I figured I'd split them all up and write my thoughts individually.

Action Comics #1000.
What an awesome cover.
Photo from Comixology.
So next up (given they came out on the same day) was the landmark issue of Action Comics #1000, which I picked up simply so I could say I had read it (it's a part of comics history after all). This book was released as an 80 page mega issue (presumably a page for every year of its existence) and offered many varied takes on Superman from a vast array of great creators, many of whom having had (or will have) a connection with the Man of Steel, each offering a story befitting the world's first superhero.

Full disclosure time, I had initially planned to read this first. However, after struggling through the first story late at night (so presumably due to tiredness), I gave up and decided to move on to Lazarus and come back after. Well, I'm glad I did this because, upon returning to Action Comics #1000, I loved all eighty pages of this issue as every single story was a fantastic read and incredibly relevant to Superman as each portrayed him in the way I certainly feel the character is (and, based on Twitter, I think others do too).

Of course, while I enjoyed every story offered here, there were some tales which resonated with me more than others. Chief among them had to be 'Faster than a Speeding Bullet', which saw Superman putting his all into reaching a woman before he is shot, despite knowing he won't make it. I absolutely Loved this story as Brad Meltzer not only nailed the idea that, despite knowing he'd fail, Superman never gives up but also that his influence appears to rub off as the victim doesn't appear to either. This story telling, coupled with Cassaday's gorgeous art just made this a joy for me to read.
 
And I noticed that, despite all other difference, the theme all these stories share is that Superman isn't just a crime fighter, he's someone who inspires people to be better. The Car, by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Oliver Coipel (whose usually glorious art looks truly fantastic here) is another great example as, after stopping a crook in his car, Superman appeals to the crook's better nature. I loved this story just as much as 'speeding bullet.'

The same occurred in the Fifth Season written by Scott Synder and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, where Superman confronts Lex Luthor regarding a new evil scheme. Again, much like in 'the Car', despite the animosity between the two characters, Superman still manages to bring the best out of his nemesis by the end. This goes on and on throughout the issue; from the City that has Everything, Actionland, and Enemy Within, all of these stories continue the idea that Superman's very presence and existence makes everyone, heroes, villains, regular bystanders, better.

The, there was Tom King and Clay Mann's 'Of Tomorrow' and Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway's 'Five Minutes', both of which I absolutely adored (probably Five Minutes a bit more than Of Tomorrow) because I think they gave some greater insight into what makes Superman tick and how he came to be the man we all know. His doing everything at once in a five minute interval wall really enjoyable and truly felt like Superman's life on an average day (you know, when he's not battling Kryptonian armies or giant robots or whatever). Meanwhile, Superman's bidding farewell to his parents in 'Of Tomorrow' just brought a tear to my eye.
 
In truth I could gush about this issue forever and a day. While I thought it would be good (because when you have A-class talent you have on this book, you are NOT buying an unknown quantity of writing and/or art), the fact is that Action Comics #1000 is a phenomenal, providing me with stories of the Superman I know and love, depicting him how he should be.
 
Which leads me into the final story, Truth, by Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Lee, which appears to be set up for the Man of Steel mini due out over June. While I was in two minds about what Bendis would with character when his run finally started, this 'preview' has me fully on board, so well written was the story and characters (the dialogue between the two women in the café were quite the highlight for me). In fact, I'm now seriously torn on whether to buy that mini-series, mainly due to the fact it would exceed my budget (first world comic buying problems).

All I can hope from this issues is that a lot were like me and bought it because it's the 1000th issue and, again like me, they now want to jump on board both Action and Superman (and any other comic for those new to the hobby). Superman deserves more attention and recognition than I ultimately think he gets and now we've been given absolute proof that creators at DC understand how the character ticks, maybe comic fans will be shown more often.

Because Superman is a great character and (in my opinion) far more relatable to Batman.

And this issue proves it!