AICN COMICS REVIEWS: BATMAN! AVENGERS! PIRATE EYE! GUARDING THE GLOBE! & MORE!
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: BATMAN #17
GUARDING THE GLOBE #6
Indie Jones presents PIRATE EYE: A PIRATES LIFE IS NOT FOR ME #1
Indie Jones presents DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS Webcomic
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3
Indie Jones presents BIGFOOT: SWORD OF THE EARTHMAN #1-2
ANIMAL MAN #17/SWAMP THING #17
Advance Review: DEATH OF SUPERMAN (remastered) Vol.1
Advance Review: In stores today!
BATMAN #17Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
The frenzied pace that has been “Death of the Family” doesn’t stop for the opening pages of its final chapter. The eyes are wide open, the narcotics and concussions have worn off, and at last the platters are ready to be revealed. What follows will be one of most divisive moments in comics this year.
The “reveal” that we’ve all been waiting for, the thing that was theorized so much it approached Godwin’s law seconds after the series was announced (and no the Joker is not Hitler, just in case those folks thought they were right), is a delight of massive morbidity. It’s an atrocity exactly on par…I mean exactly….with the fate that befell the Joker at the start for the New 52.
Face…it’s what’s for dinner. Dick, Damian, Jason, Tim and Babs are all served a hearty helping of their own puddum puddin. It was a moment of horror, insight into the true face of evil, and a poignant, if batshit crazy poem to Batman’s one Achilles’ heel as Joker uses this to moment to show just how soft the family literally is beneath their respective masks.
And then we find it’s all just a fugazi, a falsehood meant to satisfy the sensationalists of the world who needed this to culminate in physical, not emotional entropy. The truth is The Reveal has been in front of our faces all along. I would say, “No pun intended,” but I’m honestly not sure there isn’t some kind of meta level joke in all this being played on us as well.
The true purpose of The Joker’s plans in “Death of the Family” was revealed two months ago when the clan found out the Joker had been in the cave and Bruce never told them. “Death in the Family” was all about deconstructing trust. It’s ultimate purpose was to separate all of the Bat titles so each character can find a light to grow outside of Bruce’s shadow. And more importantly add much needed continuity distance from the carryover Flash brought back with him from the FLASHPOINT universe.
So, no one’s dead, the atrocity is that of the sprit: Babs’ limbs all function, Jason didn’t take another crowbar to the face, and Damian still faces more danger from his mother in BATMAN INC. than he does inside the Bat-Cave. I know there will be fans who will cry foul in the fact the worst thing to happen to any character is a waft of ultra potent Joker toxin. But, when I’m asked the inevitable question of whether I liked “Death of the Family” the answer will be, “Yes, but only if…
Only if Bruce truly has to fight his way back into the family’s hearts and souls (including Damian). Only if once Snyder sets his sights on Metropolis we see other writers truly embrace the foundation Snyder laid before them. Only if DC commits to taking a break from Bat cross-overs for a while to let each character develop independently. This last point is most important. Snyder did what he does best, he built mythos through history. Now its time to honor this path and tread it truly, press forward with more tales of detective work in the now and let history come organically moving forward.
“Death of the Family” is a tragic story of love unrequited. This is the Joker’s tragedy. Even though he knew who Bruce was all along, it was never about exposing Batman, it was about keeping him hidden so the game could on and on and on….
Optimous Douche has successfully blackmailed BottleImp to draw purty pictures for his graphic novel AVERAGE JOE coming out in 2013 from COM.X. When not on Ain’t It Cool, Optimous can be found talking comics and marketing on robpatey.com and just marketing on MaaS360.com.
GUARDING THE GLOBE #6Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Benito Cereno, Ransom Getty
Publisher: Skybound/Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
I miss getting books like this, which is odd to say considering we get a “this” every month (mostly) in the pages of INVINCIBLE. What I mean by “this” is a book that is really willing to get personal with the effects that being a superhero and what that entails can have on a person in those extreme circumstances.
Last issue we caught some of the aftermath of Outrun’s having been possessed and the forced promiscuity that resulted from it, this issue we get more harrowing with what transpires in the battle between Set and his brother Thoth and the ensuing body count of that conflict. It takes a toll on those involved and I think that is something that we readers can become jaded toward after years of seeing countries blown up and cities toppled over and over and over again in capes and tights books.
The only downside, though, is that there is a metric shitton of people in those outfits in this book and it is extraordinarily crammed to the point where these personal problems tend to either drown each other out or we just plain do not get enough time with the characters to really become attached to them and build that rapport to care more about their issues.
Hopefully as the book makes the transition to becoming INVINCIBLE UNIVERSE a more narrow focus becomes the norm, but with a title such as that I would assume one should prepare for the opposite to rear its head. That would be unfortunate as there’s a lot of potential here between what INVINCIBLE has built for itself as a universe while playing in the remnants of the old school Imageverse, but I guess we’re going to have to go the “wait and see” route until the book hits to find out what it becomes.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
PIRATE EYE: A PIRATES LIFE IS NOT FOR ME #1Writer: Joe Grahn
Art: Carl Yonder
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
You Got Your Swashbuckler In My Noir! You Got Your Noir In My Swashbuckler!
It’s a very simple premise, one of those ides you can’t believe no one thought up before. A detective pirate. How do you not think of that? How do none of us think of that? Grahn and Yonder have not only done it, but they’ve done it twice. PIRATE EYE: A PIRATES LIFE IS NOT FOR ME is actually the second one shot centered around Smitty, former pirate turned private investigator. Centering around a search for a treasure map, the story deftly blends swashbuckling and noir tropes, but is less focused on the actual story happening around Smitty, more on the atmosphere.
Credit where credit is due, the atmosphere for this title is spot on. While the pirate setting is slightly more obvious than the noir, the story itself owes more to the classic detective stories; The story opens with Smitty being beaten by an irate cutthroat, miffed at Smitty for revealing his adulterous way to his wife. The whole time, Smitty’s inner monologue plays and sums up his character. Smitty then finds himself forcibly recruited by an old accomplice to help find a man with delicate knowledge, regarding the knowledge of a treasure trove. The story moves through the regular beats of a noir story, and an entertaining one at that. The mystery is an enjoyable one, with Smitty never in control of his situation but never overwhelmed by it. By the end of the story, Smitty has moved through and around various threats, and all his characteristics are simple and effectively done. His distaste for pirates and general aloofness help paint him as a traditional noir detective. Yonder gives him a permascowl, evoking a good mix of noir detective and cutthroat. It’s very well done, and instantly evocative.
If anything, the commitment to mining both genres for character and look can sometimes effect the plot. A times, it becomes slightly convoluted, losing sight of what’s going on to show a flashback to Smitty’s exile from a pirates life. It’s well constructed, but doesn’t add anything to the story. The book jumps from setting to setting, never exploring the other characters at all or really having any memorable events. There are lots of good ideas in the comic, but its all too short to really explore the world. It’s an incredibly cool world, but lacks real adventure to show us that; Really, there’s more to the world that we just imagine, but never get to see. The comic is able to mix differing genres effectively, but it lacks any real proof of the world.
Best Moment: Yonder’s great mix of noir and pirate designs.
Worst Moment: I just wish we saw a bolder adventure into this world.
A very solid design, idea, and world, but it’s just too short to really be worth it all.
AVENGERS #5Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Adam Kubert
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Well I’ve been holding off on talking about AVENGERS for a while now, and you can probably guess why- not a big fan. This isn’t to say I think the book is as weak as the Justice League or AvsX. It’s just not particularly interesting.
To start, Hickman has this bold new concept of expanding the Avengers with some kind of roster wheel that I can’t make sense of. If anyone can explain to me how this is different than the typical reserve team members please do. The Avengers then faced off with godlike beings looking to re-genesis the planet, but thankfully Captain Universe was there to save the day. Nothing more interesting than watching an omnipotent being save the world from omnipotent beings with just a finger tap. Now we’ve been given two spotlight issues on new outer circle members Hyperion and Smasher. Thankfully Hickman has continued with the main plot during these almost needless spotlights.
Now as I’ve said many times before, it’s often more important how a story is told than the plot of the story. Because we all know the girl is going to get the guy and the hero going to save the day. And this is where the AVENGERS is really failing for me, the pacing and tone have been downright boring. To be fair Hickman has had some clever moments and good character bits, but interest in the story seems to be solely based on the wtf of Ex Nihilo’s work. Which is interesting but it’s coming across rather clinical with no sense of dread or wonder to it.
To this issue itself, we get the lowdown on Smasher, but I don’t feel it really explained what the heck a Smasher class subguardian does. I mean, is punching things that go ‘smash’ like on page 21 really all there is? Because the rest of her, Green Lantern swiped origin isn’t at interesting either. As for the main action in the story, I was little surprised to see the Avengers just jump in and start laying waste to aliens (I assume a truck load of them died when their starships were blown up) because the Shi’ar Empire asks them too. I don’t recall Earth being so chummy with the Shi’ar- but I could be wrong. I did like the part of Smasher’s grandfather being an old friend of Captain America and the bit about the aliens being on the run from something and not trying to attack the Shi’ar. The first real good sense of anticipation in the book- see, Hickman has good moments. But it also means the Avengers killed a bunch of refugees because they decided not to figure out what was going on before they tore spaceships in half. Something I would expect from the Shi’ar (which I assume is what caused the fight in the first place) but not the Avengers.
So I feel this book has become a MARVEL NO- THANKS!, but that’s ok, because I having a much better time with the UNCANNY AVENGERS.
Learn more about the Masked Man and feel free to critic his own comicbook endeavors at www.Toonocity.com
DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS (webcomic)Writers: Matt Heistand, Dan Fifield, Evan Dempsey
Artist: Danilo Guida & Smilton Klaassen
Publisher: 315 DeepDiveDaredevils.com
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Projects like DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS baffle me. I receive sub-par material all week in my inbox for review consideration on Ain’t It Cool. First there’s the modicum of Drek from the big houses charging $2.99 to $8.99 for the price of anemic admission. Then there are the self-published indies that are even drekier, yet believe their MSRP should be on par for bad story and even worse execution. Then there’s DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS, a pulpy sci-fi adventure with amazing art and an even better story that will give you 50 pages of awesome fun completely and utterly pro bono.
This industry baffles me more and more each day. Our litigious society of idea stealing forces guys like this to fester in web obscurity until they can be anointed with an initial sit down. It’s a fucking tragedy, because DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS should be a published work. For now though, I guess we all can simply keep stealing from the DDD team until they can set-up a money train to get compensated for their talented hard work.
There’s more pulp in these pages than Florida and California combined. From writing to art, DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS embodies the excitement of the serial high-action era of the 30’s, while using modern sensibilities to correct the hokeyness of the time period. The Captain, whose prosthetic is the submarine stage of adventure; his 10 year old first mate and his loyal 3 legged one eyed dog; and Doctor McCarver the scientist who makes all this happen are ripped straight out of a bygone era.
Before I enjoyed the plot though, I put DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS through my Web comic checklist. Yes, I’m a prick comic reviewer, but I’m an even bigger prick when it comes to digital presence. As a 15 year digital marketer for billion dollar brands, I quake with anger at the laziness of what some call Web comics (and sites). 3 .jpg files does not a web comic make. Likewise, no idea is so grand and great that you can sidestep Web best practices for UX & UI. Before I will even read a story, in 3 seconds, the same amount of time anyone will give to your site, I want three questions answered:
Did you build an intuitive website, can I find your content and purpose easily?
Did you optimize reading of the comic for the web, across browsers and platform OS?
Is there a dedication to your serial, do you have an actual comic or merely the smattering of an idea?
I like to see a dedication to Search Engine Optimization as well, but I let this slide because I’m not Gartner. I’m not judging your business prowess. OK, I judge, but I don’t shave off points.
DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS meets all of my criteria. From the home page you can start from the beginning, pick one of the two adventures, or go page by page. Nice work gents. Reading is an ease and a joy for the two adventures. Most “Web” comics are a migraine inducing experience of clustfuckery. Everything is a mess and your fingers will surely cramp from CTRL – scrolling in and out to see the words then see the art, then again to see the words then back out to see the art. It’s infuriating and makes me abandon the page quicker than a teenage mom dumping off a crack baby.
Finally, commitment. You can kill an easy hour on DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS simply imbibing the gloriously painted art, the weirdly engaging story and fun dialog. You can kill even more time if you love the comic creation process because the 50 + pages come with their own blog with writer and artist insights. Again, choose whichever of the two adventures you please because it as easy as visiting the home page, but IO recommend starting with the already completed 40 page + Secret of the Beaufort Sea. Our three protagonist I mentioned earlier unfold a mystery 100 years old that involves tiem travel, mysticism, steampunk science and it all takes place in the gorgeously rendered Arctic Circle, circa a few years before Hitler made the world a very very bad place.
The currently on-going second adventure didn’t engage me as much. I was partial to the art in the first story and it kicked up the excitement a lot clicker. Don’t get me wrong, I know drydocking and shore leave is necessary for submarines and stories alike, but I was so floored by the first tale the second does seem tepid by comparison. And Klaassen isn’t a bad artist, he’s just far more cartoony compared to Guida’s amazing reality in the first story.
It’s pulp, it’s free, and it’s awesome. There isn’t one reason not to take a ride with the DEEP DIVE DAREDEVILS.
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mad Mercutio
I have not read every Spider-Man comic from the past fifty years. I have read a lot of them, though. I enjoy the movies and a lot of the cartoons. I know the character well and love him. In many ways, I feel like I grew up with him.
A lot of people are ticked about the current Spider-Man storyline. So much so, that they are avoiding reading the new spider title SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN. Number three came out last week, and I have to say, if you are not reading this, you are missing out. Number three is a fantastic and fun read. As I’ve mentioned, I love this character, but seeing it go in a new direction is refreshing. Peter is still there in some capacity. The supporting cast is still hanging around. Now, however, there are new elements added to the spider story: suspicion, suspense, twists, turns, and new perspectives.
Let’s start with the cover. I love the silhouetted Spider-Man against the backdrop of the “spider-signal.” It’s eye catching and visually very striking. The art does not fall short when we get to the interior, either. Simply put, Ryan Stegman is a great Spider-Man artist. His take on the character reminds me of the quirky and kinetic look that McFarlane gave us years ago. The colors jump off the page and only serve to highlight Stegman’s art. One of the great things about this art is that it makes it feel like a different book. Something about Stegman’s page layouts give the book a slightly darker tone which makes sense since it is a “darker” Spider-Man.
The writing is as good as the art. I was ready to give this book a try for curiosity’s sake, quietly sit it aside, and then twiddle my thumbs until they brought Spidey back. That didn’t happen. I’m totally hooked into the story. Getting a glimpse in to Doc Ock’s past, seeing him try to be a hero, watching his interactions with the supporting cast, and observing as Carly gets ever closer to figuring it all out has proved to be highly entertaining. I was ready for the darker tone to provide very little humor. While it is definitely not our normal Spidey making quips, it is quite amusing watching this Superior Spider-Man make a fool out of Jameson. Jameson’s spider signal thing is shut down quickly by Spidey-Ock with some simple logic. Spidey-Ock out maneuvers Jameson at every turn, and oddly enough, it is quite rewarding.
So here is my take on the whole Spidey-Ock thing. Interesting characters make for interesting reading. I do not like to read about static or flat characters that never change and never has an upset to the status quo. This new storyline for Spidey is exciting. It feels fresh, original, and attention-grabbing. I love Spidey and his world, but if nothing ever changed, I would not read it anymore. The writing is excellent, and the art is fantastic. I say enjoy this storyline as something different before the status quo comes back (whenever that may be). Besides, it’s storylines like this that make us appreciate the status quo.
BIGFOOT: SWORD OF THE EARTHMAN #1-2Writer: Josh S. Henaman
Artist: Andy Taylor
Publisher: Brew House Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
So imagine all those sci-fi fantasies of a typical Earthman making his way, usually not of his own planning to another planet and becoming the hero of said planet (i.e. John Carter, Flash Gordon, Adam Strange ). Now what if instead of a typical white American man- it was Bigfoot? You now get the idea behind BIGFOOT: SWORD OF THE EARTHMAN. With a healthy dose of Conan as well, it all comes off a little like PLANET HULK. The unnamed planet Bigfoot finds himself on is the typical mix of a fantasy world with sci-fi gadgets. And like many heroes of this genre, Bigfoot starts off as a slave but has a heroic future ahead of him.
Getting more into the nuts and bolts of the story, everyone refers to Bigfoot as ‘the Earthman’. You see Bigfoot is mute and can’t explain anything about himself or Earth- so everyone assumes he is a typical Earthman. Which makes sense but is kind of a shame, losing the name Bigfoot in a Bigfoot story. Anyway as these stories go, since Bigfoot is mute he of course has a partner in crime, Castor, who never stops talking. And in the vein of typical fantasy adventure, Castor is your rouge/thief character who is always on the lookout for himself. Circumstances have led him to believe Bigfoot is his best option for protect and profit. The world they live in seems to be ruled by two sides, Lord Jeoffa and Queen Mara, both of whom have held Bigfoot and Castor against their will. Mind you, the big picture hasn’t been touched upon too much as the first two issues have focused more on personal concerns like imprisonment and survival.
This issue has our boys working at some kind of giant bug zapper, at the edge of Queen Mara’s kingdom. Of course something goes wrong with the bug zapper and now they are neck deep in giant bugs looking to eat them. In good fashion, Castor learns of a way to make some profit out of this forced work, but the fates seem to have other ideas. Meanwhile, Bigfoot seems to be happy to just stew in his own thoughts while events unfold around him. The story has a wry sense of humor to it as well, which makes me wonder if the whole epic is a farce, but I don’t believe so.
Writer Josh S. Henaman definitely has a fun concept here and tells a good story. It’s one weakness so far is that the story has yet to become as intriguing as the title suggest. So far it’s a bit too typical of a sci-fi fantasy adventure. You could easily replace Bigfoot with Conan or Thundar or Blackstar or John Carter and not much in the story would change. Hopefully this is just a function of world building as the story starts and Bigfoot himself will become the bigger than life character we all want to see him become. So it’s a fine adventure story so far, but I’d like to see Henaman give it more Bigfoot moxie to really deliver on the promised title.
The artist Andy Taylor is definitely a talented fellow. He does a really good job of drawing Bigfoot and all the other alien creatures. His work has a nice blend of cartoony and seriousness to it which work well in the title. When he has time to draw, which it seems he didn’t have in the second issue. Too many figures were left as sketches causing some confusion to who was speaking. The first issue was much stronger and hopefully future issues will be too.
So while I don’t think they have pushed the concept quite far enough yet, it’s a good start and I’m curious how it plays out. BIGFOOT: SWORD OF THE EARTHMAN is on the verge of kick @$$ and hope it makes it.
ANIMAL MAN #17Writer: Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder
Art: Steve Pugh, Timothy Green II, Joseph Silver
SWAMP THING #17Writer: Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire
Art: Andrew Belanger
Publisher: DC Comics
As this “Rotworld” Saga rolls to a close two things really strike me about what has been done with this horrifying corner of the DCU; one, Lemire, Snyder and crew have done a really fantastic job in recreating this universe in their sick and twisted light for this arc and, two, my god am I tired of Anton Arcane.
The past handful of months I think we’ve really felt the weight and despair of the world as The Rot has taken over, as the ragtag remnants of the world’s heroes (and villains who have thrown in with their lot) prepared – and in these two issues do – throw everything they have left at the Rot forces and Arcane’s stronghold. Characters have had their moments, whether alive or as a “voice from the grave”, the action has been brutal and gory, and in SWAMP THING #17 the losses both these titular characters suffered were palpable.
But, fuck, Anton Arcane. I was already tired of this guy after reading Alan Moore’s run on Swampy twenty-some years ago (well, okay, I read them for the first time about ten years ago) and he still annoys me in his one-dimensionality. Great, he’s perverse, has a weird obsession with his daughter, and wants to see the world dead and gone. That’s the only downside to any major storyline involving the Swamp Thing is that it usually/probably runs through him, so I’m not blaming the writing duo here or anything, this had to go this way.
I’m just saying, as excellent as this storyline has been, as rejuvenated as these characters have been at the hands of Lemire and Snyder, as much as I really am going to hate seeing Snyder leave his half of this project, by jove I’ll be ecstatic to (hopefully) see Anton Arcane sidelined for a while/for an ever as these Avatars find themselves other obstacles to overcome, especially in the wake of the final parts we’ll be seeing next month.
It’s obvious there’s going to be quite a few pieces to be picked up once we’re done, let alone having any clue what shape these characters themselves and the worlds they share will look like once they’re back out of this hellish future landscape.
Advance Review: In stores today!
DEATH OF SUPERMAN (REMASTERED) Vol.1Writers: Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Artists: Jon Bogdanove, Tom Grummet, Jackson Guice, Dan Jurgens
Publisher: DC Comics
reviewer: Optimous Douche
20 years. Wow.
Were Don McLean writing his homage to our collective demise, American Pie, in the 90s instead of the 70s, I have no doubt this cryptic poem of innocence lost would have reserved a verse for this now remastered DEATH OF SUPERMAN tome:
There is no rhyme or reason why
We fell our savior from the sky
Leaving little room for further grace.
Broken hearts and burning steel,
The culprit didn’t need revealed
Doomsday wore your very face
DEATH OF SUPERMAN not only ushered in the death of comics, or at the very least, crippling of the genre, it also reflected we will never again abide sacred calves. Blame Booth, blame Nixon, blame the loss of religion, blame your neighbor; we begged for the DEATH OF SUPERMAN because the virtues he stood for were no longer a reflection of ourselves. And what are comics, at least good comics, if not the hyperbole of our imagination grounded in reflective moments of the current human condition.
Now, the maggots that crawled from SUPERMAN’S carcass were splash pages without purpose, anatomical monstrosities, die-cut S shield covers, and polybags that now feel like my Grandmother’s skin after 20 years of storage. Again though, these trappings weren’t the often attributed 90’s death of comics, simply the last Hail Mary to keep a few extra zeroes on print runs.
DEATH OF SUPERMAN was the true event that put all comics on a respirator and feeding tube. Where else could you go from here? This mammoth storyline that crossed the multitude of SUPERMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE titles was like a modern retelling of the bible. You had the ultimate fight for good and evil as the cacophony of colorfully clad disciples watched unable to deter destiny. It was a prophetic march that we all knew couldn’t last and in that knowledge we learned continuity was a mantra for a forgotten era. We also learned there is no such thing as consequence when billions of dollars in toys, movies and video game revenue rests on a hero’s shoulders. Death, true death, has no room for awakenings. Comic s has no tolerance for true death, at least in 1992 they didn’t.
It’s hard not to read this book and reflect on the aftermath. But there was no doubt it captured our hearts, minds and the news cycle at the time. The last point was a true rarity in the pre-Internet days when news was actually still a somewhat precious commodity and not vomited out on blogs and web pages en masse.
1992 was my senior year of High School. I was accepted into my 3 colleges of choice by October, so all I had left to do for the year was make lots of money at Merrill Lynch after school, buy weed with that money, get girls with that weed…and revel in comics. Back in those days we had to revel face-to-face, the comic store was a destination not a retail transaction. For hours, fanboys like myself would debate the virtues of comics with our predecessor fanmen. DEATH OF SUPERMAN kept us talking from Doomsdays’ first appearance out of the ground until the final panel of Kal in Lois’ arms. We were all mesmerized. Again, we knew even then it wouldn’t last, but the excitement of the event back when events weren’t a commodity made it a glorious time to be a collector. I didn’t realize how much the Internet has exponentially increased the quantity of comic conversations, but also exponentially decreased the quality of those interactions. It took me this reread to truly realize what made this series special.
Pacing! Plain and simple pacing. Doomsday wasn’t a stark reveal, like Monarch in ARMAGEDDON 2001. We also had no clue what was coming next. As Doomsdays visage became clearer, his swath of destruction across America became more brutal and bombastic. Starting with one armed tied behind his back, Doomsday became more than the bloke who killed SUPERMAN, he became the embodiment of fear for well over a year. In one page these artists and writers of yore told us everything we needed to know about this villain, as he first crushes a bird, then a tree, then a house and a family. Even for all of Darkseid’s evil ways, he would never sell out so-called “life” on Apokolips. Doomsday though, as the name implies, was hell bent on the death of everything. And he succeeded in spades.
I’m not a fan of nostalgia or lamenting remember when, I believe human evolution is a building experience that leverages the old and transforms it for the modern age. We’ve lost something since this time period though, and that something is called story. Writers words once flourished when the pacing didn’t have to meet the “Image” model of 3 panel pages and every other page splashes. Jurgens, Stern, Simonson…these folks delivered character moments that had impact despite their cramped panels. I was an even bigger fan of JLA during this time then Supes himself. Seeing Ice protect a family against Doomsday in a 9 panel page delivered more emotional impact than the entire first arc of the New 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE.
This might all sound like a now Fangeezers lament, but it’s truly not. I still love comics; I love the hyper detail that the new teams of artists deliver. But I will fight tooth and nail any fool who doesn’t say this story is impactful. Not only for the words on the page, but for the way it forever changed comics…and if I can be so bold the perception of the American dream.
Read DEATH OF SUPERMAN again to remember a time when stories truly surprised us before Internet spoilers ruined our sense of wonderment when we first opened a book. Read it for the first time to understand a forgotten craftsmanship in comics. Read it for the new coloring if you choose, I didn’t see a stark difference from my muddled memories. But read it, it’s important.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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