Friday, September 30, 2016

Random Thoughts On... Grant Morrison's Action Comics Run

So, I’m at the end of another Superman Month. I’ve read/seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. When I mean ugly, I kind of mean “For Tomorrow” since that story just… let's just say I’m not a fan. I rather watch Steel again than read that. I thought I’d end the month on a bit of a high note by talking about Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics.

Now looking on it in the Rebirth era of DC, Superman got the short of the stick with the New 52. I’m not saying that weren’t good stories (there were), but some of them weren’t the best. Luckily, it did start out well with Grant Morrison’s Action Comics. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on the Superman book that much. I know what came afterwards with Scott Lobdell was… okay? Maybe I’ll find out one day when I read more of what he did post “H’El On Earth.” I heard Greg Pak’s stuff was good and I even have his part of the recent “Truth” arc.

Morrison stayed with Action Comics from #1-#18 with a #0 thrown in for Zero Month. The artists varied throughout but the main one was Rags Morales. Others were Brad Walker, Gene Ha, Brent Anderson, Ben Oliver, Andy Kubert, Travel Foreman, and CAFU. Starting with Action Comics #4, there were also 8-page back-up stories and that lasted for Morrison’s run. Those were written by Sholly Fisch. He also did the annual for this series. The artists also varied with Brad Walker, Chris Sprouse, CAFU, and others contributing.

The idea, at first, was to show Superman at the beginning. As I’ve said before this month, it’s the thing to do with the character these days. What Morrison and Morales did was throw a lot of the Golden Age into Superman’s new beginning. He wasn’t the nice guy we’ve known for years. Well, he was nice to everyone else but criminals which is something I really liked. If you’ve read those old Golden Age comics, Superman was a rough guy. He even killed some criminals or he at least left some to die. This new Superman also had the same power set he had in the Golden Age, so he couldn’t fly yet. His parents were back to being dead and died when he was in high school.
Nothing to say here. Just Superman doing the impossible.

Tales From The $3.99 Bin! - Action Comics #14-#18

Next up in this final week of Superman Month, I thought I might as well finish off Grant Morrison's Action Comics run. I’ve more or less talked about every aspect of that run here except for #0 from Zero Month. Morrison’s run was pretty good and I will do another post about the run as a whole. The ones I'm talking about today are Action Comics #14-#18.

When we last left off, Clark Kent had died… kind of. Basically, Superman had to let “Clark Kent” die when an accident happened. Anyway, Superman tried on a new identity but he missed being Clark Kent. Mrs. Nyxly revealed herself to be from the 5th Dimension and basically wished Clark Kent back to life. Yeah, it gets weird and it’s going to get much weirder. This is Grant Morrison, after all.
Grant Morrison handled all of the main stories while Sholly Fisch handled the back-ups. The artwork gets varied up a lot in this one. Rag Morales and Brad Walker handle the pencils for the main stories while Chris Sprouse handles the pencils for the backups.

Action Comics #14-#18
Writers: Grant Morrison and Sholly Fisch (back-ups)
Pencils: Rags Morales (main), Brad Walker (main), and Chris Sprouse (backups)
Inks: Mark Prospt and Andrew Hennessy (main); Karl Story (backups)
Colors: Brad Anderson (main); Jordie Bellaire (backup)
Letters: Steve Wands, Carlos M. Mangual, and Taylor Esposito
Editor: Matt Idelson and Wil Moss

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Movie Talk - Supergirl (1984) and Steel

Well, I knew it had to come to this. I’ve looked at all the modern live-action Superman movies, but there are two “spin-offs” that got to be mentioned. While the new Supergirl show is going well for the most part, there are other live-action things that might have missed the mark. I know they missed the mark with critics and most fans. Did they do that with me as well? You shall see when I talk about the 1984 Supergirl movie and 1997’s Steel. Yes, you read that right. They made a Steel movie and it starred “The Diesel” himself, Shaquille O’Neal.

Supergirl was made to cash in on the popularity of the Superman movies at the time. It was supposed to be released in 1983, the same year Superman 3 was released. For whatever reason (probably the poor reception of Superman 3), it got released in 1984 instead. It came out and was pretty much panned from the beginning. Helen Slater did get nominated for a Saturn Award, so it has that at least. I ended up seeing it on TV when I was younger but I don’t think I ever rented it.

As for Steel, it was released in 1997 which was pretty much a bad year for comic book movies in general. It too got panned when it was released. For those who don’t know, John Henry Irons was a supporting character in the Superman books at the time. He was one of the Superman clones who appeared during the Death and Return of Superman storyline from the 90’s. He even had his own series at the time the movie was released. I ended up seeing the movie on VHS and I even read (and still own) the junior novelization of the movie.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TV Talk - Supergirl Season 1

Next up for this month is something I wasn’t expecting. While I was looking on Netflix for something to watch, I suddenly noticed this in the “New” section. Since it is September and Supergirl is related to the subject of the month, I decided to watch the first season of the show. I had watched a couple of episodes during the season’s run and I did keep up with it online. I just didn’t watch it all until now, so I finally have something to say on this show. For those who may not know, Supergirl first aired on CBS on the 2015-2016 schedule. It’s now on the CW which is a better fit for the show since it had “the attractive yet non-threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show.” It was also a nice fit since most of the creative force for the show is also behind Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow.

As the title suggests, the show is about Kara Zor-El aka Kara Danvers, Superman’s cousin. She was launched along with Kal-El as a teenager and was ordered to take care of him. Unfortunately, her ship fell into the Phantom Zone where it remained for 24 years. When she made to Earth, she was still young and Kal-El had grown up to be Superman. Since she had to acclimate to Earth, Clark let her be adopted by the Danvers. 12 years pass and we find Kara living a normal life in National City as Cat Grant’s assistant. When a plane almost crashes, she comes out as a super-powered person. After the people in her life give her some help, she comes onto the scene as Supergirl and works for the DEO.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Random Thoughts On… Superman: American Alien

I thought I’d change it up a little for this post. Next up for the month is a pretty recent miniseries called Superman: American Alien. The book is more or less a look at the early days of Clark Kent before he became The Man of Steel. If that sounds familiar to you, then join the club. As I said before, it seems like the thing to do with Superman now is to look at his early days. Secret Origin, Birthright, the Earth One universe, and the movies have done it. Heck, there was a hit TV show that centered on them! It’s gotten to the point where I might as well pull out my notebook and do an origin for the guy.

So, here comes Max Landis with his own version what made Clark Kent into… Clark Kent? Well, that’s what he said in an interview about the miniseries. For those who don’t know, Max Landis is a writer in Hollywood. He’s well known for writing the script for Chronicle, a found-footage movie with superpowers. It’s sitting in my collection unseen but I've heard good things about it. He’s also known for a short film/parody where he talks about The Death and Return of Superman. Some Superman fans were peeved about that film. I saw it myself, laughed little, and thought his message was a little flawed. Landis then made his way into comics by writing a few stories for the character. He’s even been online talking about the character, so I see why DC decided to let him do his own take on Superman’s myth.
With the way some folk are, I can see this happening.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trade Tales! - Superman: Earth One Volume 2

Next up on Superman Month is something I have been meaning to get back to. Back in 2010, DC released Superman: Earth One Volume 1. It was basically another retelling of Superman’s origin but in a different universe. The idea of the Earth One series was to give the heroes more modern origins. If there’s something DC is good (or “meh”) at in the 21st century, it’s retelling Superman’s origins. It took me a couple of years to get around to reading it. I thought it was fine and even reviewed it here in 2012. The whole Earth One series is something I’m still behind on. DC decided to do a couple of more sequels in this new Superman and followed it up with Volume 2.

The second volume to Superman: Earth One was released in October 2012. It’s supposed to take place sometime after the events of the last volume. J. Michael Straczynski came back to continue the story he’s been writing on this new Superman. Shane Davis is also back handling the pencils. Sandra Hope also returns to do the inks. The coloring is a little different this time around. But it is still being handled by Barbara Ciardo.

Superman: Earth One Vol. 2 
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski 
Pencils: Shane Davis 
Inks: Sandra Hope 
Colors: Barbara Ciardo 
Letters: Rob Leigh 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trade Tales! - Superman: Secret Identity

Next on the list of stories is one I’ve heard good things about. Superman: Secret Identity was a mini-series that was released in 2004. It's an Elseworlds while not actually being labelled as that. Kurt Busiek took inspiration from the Superboy of Earth-Prime to make this story. For those uninformed, Earth-Prime was supposed to be the real world and it had no superheroes except for “PRIME”. It was destroyed during Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Busiek’s story more or less asks what if the Crisis never happened and Clark kept on living on that world. I doubt he even knew that the character who I call “PRIME” for really no reason would come back the way he did.

I never really sought it out until a few months ago though. My thing about some stories is that if I see it and it’s really cheap, my curiosity monkey will start to itch.  That was how it was for this one.  Busiek, who wasn’t a stranger to comics, wrote all four issues. Reading this made me see why he was ultimately brought onto the Superman books a couple of years later. All of the artwork (pencils, inks, and even colors) were handled by Stuart Immonen. Immonen’s no stranger to comics nor Superman. He drew and even wrote the character for DC in the 1990’s.

Superman: Secret Identity
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Letters: Todd Klein

Friday, September 16, 2016

Trade Tales! - Smallville Season 11: Guardian

Next up for this month, it’s time to revisit something cool. Smallville may not be one of my favorite TV shows, but it is at least in the top 20. The show went from showcasing the early days of Clark Kent to almost becoming a Superman show in itself. It definitely felt like that in the last few seasons when Clark actually got his crap together. I know the series finale disappointed some and I was a little underwhelmed as well. It was less “where is the suit” and more “this should be a little better” for me. I still enjoyed it in the end.

In 2012, DC was getting its digital release schedule together and one of the new series put out there was Smallville Season 11. The comic was released weekly digitally in parts and the whole story would be put into print the next month. The comic ended up getting written by Bryan Q. Miller, one of the show’s executive story editors. He pretty much stuck with the series until its end in 2015. The pencils and inks for this volume was provided by Pere Perez.

Here’s a quick recap or those who don’t remember the finale.  The forces of Apokalips were staging an invasion on Earth. Clark ultimately saved the day when he finally donned the traditional costume and literally pushed Apokalips out of Earth’s orbit. How he did that and how Apokalips was able to do that, I don’t remember. Also, Lex Luthor returned to the land of the living via cloning, Darkseid, and a Lionel Luthor from the alternate Earth. Unfortunately (for him since he knew Clark’s identity), his memories were somehow erased when he killed his illegitimate sister, Tess Mercer. Wow, that show got convoluted in the end. The comic series would take place six months after those events.

Smallville Season 11 Volume 1: Guardian
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Artist: Pere Perez
Letters: Saida Temofonte
Colors: Chris Beckett and Randy Mayor
Cover Artist: Cat Scaggs

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tales From the Trade! - Superman: For Tomorrow

Next up on the list of stories I want to look at is this one. This was one I was always curious about mostly because it’s not exactly well-liked by most. I kind of remember seeing this out on stands whenever I’d go to a book store like Waldenbooks. The covers to the issues looked cool but that was all I really saw of it. I’ve seen the artwork just about everywhere online. I mean, it’s some good Jim Lee artwork. Recently, I finally decided to check it out by getting the two trades that contains the story.

“For Tomorrow” was a storyline that took place in Superman #204-#215. Jim Lee was the big artist for this one. He was fresh off from his time on Batman. I guess he decided he wanted to tackle DC’s other big hero. The inks are mostly handled by Lee’s regular inker, Scott Williams. More did come on though as the arc went along.  Along for the ride is writer Brian Azzarello. I mostly know for his later work like Wonder Woman and some other stuff. I know he was on a Vertigo book called 100 Bullets at the time and I’ve heard it’s not bad. So, sit back as I try to synopsize this story where Superman gets philosophical.

Superman: For Tomorrow
Writer: Brian Azzarrello
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams and others
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh and Nick J. Napolitano

Friday, September 9, 2016

Movie Talk - Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition

It’s September, so you know what that means: I get older! That’s right, my age officially gets higher and those few specks of white hair in my beard start to multiply… oh yeah, it’s Superman Month. This month really has no theme since I really couldn’t come up with one. I guess if there is a theme, it’s that I’m mostly looking at out-of-continuity stories. Anything’s really on the docket this time. Today’s quick look is definitely an example.

Back in March, I did a review on the theatrical version of Zack Snyder’s court drama, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Even when I saw it, I knew things got cut out and that hurt my enjoyment of the film even though I liked it. When word of an “Ultimate” edition started to crop up, I knew I was going to check it out. Before I got it, I had heard that it was better than the theater cut but not by much. Eventually, I got it and saw it over the span of a few days. Hey, I was watching it before work, so I had an excuse to split it up. So, is it indeed better than the theater cut? By the way, "there be spoilers here, arrr!" Also, if you want to know at I originally said in March, click here.

Friday, September 2, 2016

25 Favorite Star Trek Characters

Now that I’ve gone through my favorite antagonists of Star Trek, it’s finally time to quickly talk about some of my favorite characters from the franchise. I’m sort of going all out on this one. I decided 25 was a nice number considering we’re in Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Of course, I’ll be listing my favorites from the main casts of all shows. I’ll also include some recurring characters that I thought were pretty cool. I won’t be including villains though. I already went through that.

25. Kes - Yes, Kes made it to the list. I did like her over some of the other characters on the show especially Neelix. I will say that her species kind of sucks in the evolutionary hierarchy. A 9-year life span? What’s up with that? Anyway, I liked her for a couple of reasons. She had a nice personality that made her easy to talk to anyone on the crew. I also liked that she had telepathic abilities and that she wasn’t always in control of them. It sucks that she got let go from the show. To me, her character had more potential on the show than a couple others.

24. Deanna Troi - Yeah, I got her on the list too. Even though Counsoler Troi’s role on the Enterprise-D was a little useless at times, I did like her. There were some episodes that revolved around her that I thought were nice. The one where she was surgically altered to be a Romulan (“Face of the Enemy”) was pretty cool. I also liked her rapport and relationship with Will Riker.

23. Jonathan Archer - While Archer was my least favorite captain, he did have some moments to shine for me. By the way, Archer was captain the NX-01 Enterprise. Most of those moments were in the third season during the Xindi arc. He also had some standout moments during the fourth season. Besides, it’s Dr. Sam Beckett in the role. That’ll automatically get me to like the guy somewhat!

22. Martok - Martok was a Klingon commander on DS9. While we got introduced to him in the fourth season, we didn’t get to really know him until the fifth season and afterwards. If there was a Klingon I would say was legitimately cool, it would be Martok. He even beats Worf in that aspect. He was probably also one of the more likable Klingons since he wasn’t too uptight in honor.