Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Superwoman 2, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan M.: If I read a novel in one sitting, I retain next to nothing. The plots, characters, and relationships all start to run together in my mind. I read an entire new adult series about college football players and the girls who love them in the past week and I couldn’t tell you any of the character’s names. I think one was Dallas? Too much story in a finite space leads to nothing making much of an impact. That’s how I feel about Superwoman 2, an issue with so much happening, that nothing has very much meaning. Continue reading →
Today, Shane and Michael are discussing Superman Rebirth 1, originally released June 1st, 2015.
Shane: It can be incredibly difficult to lose a hero. This year has seen a lot of notable role models pass — David Bowie, Prince, Mohammed Ali, and others. To be entirely honest, though? I know that they meant a lot to a lot of people — many close friends were crushed with Bowie’s passing, as an example — but although I appreciate them all, they weren’t as influential to my own life. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of any real-life famous figure who notably inspired me…but Superman? He was my hero. Reading his adventures during my formative years genuinely helped impart a true sense of right and wrong, to try to not just take the easy route, to genuinely do better and make a difference if possible. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Michael are discussing Superman: American Alien 7, originally released May 18th, 2016.
Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the face.
Ryan D: Superman is known for having epic, city-leveling battles. That’s just status quo. But imagine one of these super-superpowered brawls with a Clark Kent who can bleed, one who still feels emotionally and physically vulnerable despite his abilities? Even better: while we’ve seen this Superman deal with mindless monsters and scheming billionaire magnates, imagine his first encounter with a being of deep moral apathy, with whom the Man of Steel may have more in common with than he does with the people of Earth. Max Landis and Jock tell an ambitious story in the ultimate issue of American Alien, concluding my favorite run with the character since Morrison’s All-Star Superman. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Superman: American Alien 3, originally released January 13, 2016.
Michael: Here are two words for you: Max Landis. It’s likely that you have one of the two following reactions: A) “I heard that guy is a conceited ass” or B) “I have no idea who that is.” Consequently, I’d bet that Max Landis himself would say that neither of those reactions bother him all that much. Nevertheless, when it comes to Max Landis I can assure you of this: the man knows Superman. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Superman: American Alien 2, originally released December 16th, 2015.
Spencer: As a rule, Superman is the last character I want to see explored in a “realistic” fashion. Superman is at his best when he’s larger than life, inspiring others by word and deed, making us believe a man can fly, not when getting bogged down by explanations of how he can fly or arguments about his inherent goodness being unrealistic. That said, there’s an exception to every rule, and I think Superman: American Alien is my exception to this rule. It helps, though, that in his exploration of a how a more down-to-Earth Clark Kent grows up to be Superman, writer Max Landis discovers that normalcy and Clark Kent just don’t mix — he transcends the reality of Smallville itself. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne and Drew are discussing Action Comics 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Suzanne: Have you ever read a story arc that you didn’t quite connect with? A few years back, I picked up Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night and was disappointed that it didn’t have the emotional punch for me that so many other readers felt. Maybe I was at a disadvantage — I was unfamiliar with the pre-New 52 universe and this was my introduction to many of the characters. Then I read the first few issues of Johns’ Justice League when the members confront the ghosts of their dead loves ones. For example, Thomas and Martha Wayne appeared and told Bruce how disappointed they were in his choices in life. Again, I didn’t have a strong reaction to the story because the stakes didn’t feel as real. Action Comics 38 includes a horror zombie version of Jonathan and Martha Kent. So can Greg Pak revive what has become a (somewhat) tired trope and also bring renewed focus to a series overshadowed by the recent “Superman: Doomed” crossover? Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Action Comics 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014. Patrick: The opening to Jaws is just about perfect. A beautiful young woman indulges herself in a (probably drunken) morning swim. It’d be an idyllic scene but for the foreboding sense that this moment is somehow too precious for a movie with a giant shark on the poster. When the inevitable shark attack happens, the audience is briskly snapped away from the pleasant scene and tossed back and forth like the film’s first victim. The violence is jarring, not because it’s particularly graphic or believable (there’s no reason a shark would drag someone around the surface of the water for so long), but because we’re able to feel the loss of the pleasantly banal moment that came before. Action Comics 37 plays a similar trick, insisting on a Smallville that’s apparently very serene, until that very serenity ends up be just as creepy as any external threat Superman can face. Continue reading →
Today, Shane and Taylor are discussing Action Comics 36, originally released November 5th, 2014.
Shane: Horror in comics has recently hit a major revitalization. Heralded by the meteoric success of The Walking Dead, we’ve seen such titles as American Vampire, Uzumaki and Locke & Key emerge to terrify the market. Even mainstream superhero books like Animal Man and X-Men have made real attempts to embrace the horror genre, but, honestly, answer me a question: If you had to pick an iconic superhero, one of the real icons, to have a major horror arc…would Superman be your first choice? No. Not at all. Batman, sure — he fits right into the dark world. Even Wonder Woman, with her mythological connections, could gravitate towards a number of unsettling stories. But Superman, the paragon of hope? Not a chance. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Action Comics 32, originally released June 4th, 2014.
Drew: How do you beat the unbeatable man? Normally, Superman writers struggle with this question in trying to create any real tension — the conventions of comics dictate that Superman is the most powerful being on Earth and that the good guy always wins, so how do you manage to wring a compelling story out of that? “Doomed” solves this problem by turning it on its head: what if Superman was the bad guy? Then the fact that he’s the most powerful being on Earth lies in direct conflict with the fact that the good guys always win, making the question of how to beat Superman no longer a trivial detail, but a key to the resolution of the conflict. Of course, years of the other kind of conflict have given writers an arsenal of weapons to use against Superman — they’ve never quite worked on their own, but maybe they can get the job done together. Action Comics 32 explores this idea in earnest, but reminds us that for all the ways we have to beat Superman, he was always our only solution to beating Doomsday. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Action Comics 30, originally released April 2nd, 2014.
Scott: Segues: you either love ’em or you hate ’em. I’ve listened to enough standup comedy to know that I’m a fan of the clean break, the abrupt change of topic. Lengthy transitions are just a waste of time. In longer storytelling formats, such as monthly comic books, there’s more of a virtue in spinning many plates at once. Even though stories are broken into defined arcs, some elements carry over from one arc to the next, making the clean break impossible. It results in issues like Action Comics 30, where writer Greg Pak’s first major arc comes to an end while also introducing important pieces of the story to come. The issue looks fantastic, but the story gets a little messy as it tries to connect the old with the new, making me wonder if Pak might have been better off nixing the segue.