Heroes in Crisis #1

Heroes in Crisis #1

Tom King seems to have really found his stride with the DC Comics world. He’s been given a lot of work recently, and it seems people respond well to his work. When DC canceled the 12 issue comic series Omega Men there was a massive outcry from the community, and King was able to finish the series. DC seems to have realized he has a dedicated following that won’t waver through thick and thin. The name sells now, similarly to Lemire or Snyder, and that’s enough for DC to give King this big ‘Crisis’ event – which is a very powerful term in the DC comics world. Heroes in Crisis screams Identity Crisis, a grounded 2004 comic book series centered around a more emotional, human level story. I consider Identity Crisis to be one of the best comic books of all time, and DC’s best comic book of all time. It’s hard to hold a flame to it, but if anyone can bring the sheer intensity and the weight of Identity Crisis, it’s Tom King. However, if anyone can totally fail to meet my expectations and create something far too clever for its own good, it’s also Tom King. Heroes in Crisis is promising in theory, but as long as King is as crazy as he is, I’m always skeptical, but I’m also always ready to be impressed by his work.

The first issue of Heroes is a bit of a mystery. Harley Quinn and Booster Gold are duking it out, why? Not so sure. These characters have some kind of unknown connection and appear to be blaming each other for a similar event that occurred sometime before. Said event was bloody, but that’s truly the extent of our current knowledge. Meanwhile the trio of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman are traveling place to place and finding, unbelievably, the bodies of various superheroes of renown, including Wally West and Arsenal. Considering there’s no way these characters are just dead, something particularly weird is going on. As it turns out – all dead heroes in question were receiving treatment from a group called Sanctuary, a hidden hospital created by the leaders of the Justice League to treat super heroes that had been traumatized during their heroism. Somehow, someone infiltrated Sanctuary, killed its purveyors and all of the heroes involved. Somehow, Booster Gold and Harley are connected, but still alive. So the question is raised, who did it?

To no surprise, Tom King’s style and tendencies show all over this comic book. It’s cryptic, people talk in riddles, and its incredibly stylized in its writing. When it comes to these stories, especially mysteries and psychological thrillers, King’s methods do shine. However, Identity Crisis was not only a beautifully dramatic and emotional story, its first issue alone sets up something that feels massive in scale but completely contained at the heart. Additionally, Identity Crisis made things feel real in ways that comic books usually don’t. Characters talked like people talked, they interacted like people interact, with or without superpowers. Heroes in Crisis already struggles to feel these ways by being wholly uninterpretable due to King’s proneness for the ambiguous and being extremely pattern-logged and stylistic in its dialogue. This is King’s signature writing method, I don’t think that’s terrible. However, issues going forward are more deterministic of the quality of this comic than I’d hoped, and that’s never a major win in my book. Heroes in Crisis has a hopeful, but questionable start. I’m eager to see where it goes, though ever skeptical.

(4 / 5)

Superman #1

Superman #1

All good things must come to an end, and Peter Tomasi’s run on Superman was a very, very good thing. Upon the release of New 52, Superman became a very different character. He was young, inexperienced, perhaps a little angsty. It was a massive shift from the type of Superman that had been so recognizable for the back 80 years. Kudos to DC for trying something different, for taking such a staple character and twisting him just enough to really shake things up, but it didn’t work, and for a few years we were left with a Superman that just wasn’t very likable. Nostalgia overtook us. Fans of Superman longed for the truth and justice boyscout to come back to the DC frontline once again. Haters of Superman realized they didn’t care what DC did, and as such, voices were heard. Rebirth Superman was whole again, and Tomasi took everything about that old Superman and ran with it, this time with his young son Jonathan to help him out. It was the most fun I’ve had with a comic book in a really long time, but Tomasi eventually was shifted out, and he moved on to other projects. Brian Michael Bendis, after his departure from Marvel Comics, took over the comic book, and as controversial as he is across the comic book industry, Superman would be his chance to show his skills on the comic page once again.

Superman #1 opens showing the superpowered Kryptonian in all his superhero glory – putting out fires, punching giant dinosaurs, exploring the unknown reaches of space. You know, the typical stuff. After realizing the true history of his planet (something I won’t spoil here), Kal is in a bit of a bind. Could he be doing more? And what is he raising his young superpowered son to be? A hero like him? Being perhaps the most powerful mortal in the entire universe had it benefits, but it came with some difficulties too, and perhaps Kal could provide something more for his son than just his legacy. J’onn J’onzz, a similarly powered being with a similar backstory has an option for Supes. Become the world’s leader. Hell, become the leader of the galaxy. Superman is a good person, a benevolent person. He could bring the people of Earth and others together. Uncountable amounts of needless turmoil would be put to rest. People would rally around him, desperate for change. Kal, for obvious reasons isn’t exactly convinced. Though perhaps on paper it was a good idea. Perhaps he could do more. He half heartedly says he’ll think about it, knowing the idea is pretty sketchy.

This comic is interesting, and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it overall. There are some points of contention. The comic borderline feels like it’s trying too hard. It has this very enjoyable 70’s vibe to it. An occasional narration overlord talking to the reader, which harkens back to the classic “Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom!” style of storytelling, but it skirts the line of being over the top. Luckily, it doesn’t cross it quite yet. The comic is humorous, and not afraid to use Superman’s overpowered nature to its fullest in an enjoyable way, but again, any further and it’ll feel ingenuine. Bendis’ criticisms about thinking he’s a bit more clever than he actually is peeks its head here, but Superman #1 remains lighthearted and entertaining enough to not ruin itself. My expectations after Tomasi are near unreachable, and that’s the unfortunate reality DC is going to have to face with a lot of people who have cherished this short comic book run up until this point. This new team and new series is, after 1 issue only, satisfactory. But the direction Bendis teeters in his writing style for the Man of Steel will make or break this comic book, and that’s a little scary. I’ll always stick with Superman regardless, and I’m excited to see where this comic book goes.

(3.5 / 5)

X-23 #1

X-23 #1

I stopped reading All New Wolverine half-way through. I felt like it was lacking an important aspect of what every comic book should have – an identity. Laura Kinney, better known as X-23 is a really cool and likable character. She’s an equally violent but less serious version of Wolverine and in the midst of the extremely well written but extremely dark comic Old Man Logan that was in its prime, All New Wolverine was an equally action packed but much lighter rendition of the clawed mutant. About halfway through, however, it began to falter in its storytelling. Many of the issues felt filler and boring to read. They weren’t leading anywhere, and the characters, say for Laura and her younger quippier sister Gabby, we’re uninteresting. The comic really began to lack in telling a story that mattered, and as such became somewhat of a shell of a comic. X-23 is a chance to revitalize the ongoing story of the young wolverine clone and give it some structure where it had lost it previously, and while I hold some of the same fears that this comic will take a similar path and fade into obscurity, these first issues may be worth the time and effort to hope.

It’s X-23’s birthday, but she’s pretty lukewarm on the whole thing. Her birth and upbringing aren’t really anything to celebrate, at least in her eyes. She’s a clone created out of a malicious science. Meant to be used as a dangerous weapon to kill countless lives at the command of some pretty bad people. On top of that, there’s hundreds, maybe even thousands of clones just like her, just like her sister Gabbie, all with the Weapon X serum running through their veins. All used as weapons and killers. Is X-23 different? She’s not so sure. Nevertheless her journey continues to find information, anyway she can, about the mutant scientific experiments constantly creating newer and more dangerous versions of the Wolverines. Those responsible are few and far between, and they’re hard to find. With a myriad of villains and Weapon X clones waiting to stop her at her every move, Laura fights tirelessly, though not without the upbeat company of her little clone sister, to uncover secrets of her life and the Weapon X programs.

X-23 #1 finds its footing pretty quickly here by throwing its readers back into the action and forgiving anyone who didn’t read the entirety of All New Wolverine by offering a few points of review. The reality is that A.N.W. really wasn’t that impactful from the story perspective say for the first maybe 15 issues so it’s easy to say a few lines to refresh or quickly catch everyone up to speed. Laura and Gabbie are sisters, they’re Wolverine clones, they have claws, there’s a lot of other Wolverine clones running around, they’re trying to stop them. That’s 35 issues read, here we are. X-23 offers both a good, clean opening story and some great inner dialogue from X-23. Life can be a little difficult when you’re born and raised as a clone and a killer drone, and this first issue, by using Laura’s birthday, does a really great job of delving into her thoughts about the whole thing. Not only that, the mystery and investigation aspect of trying to uncover the secrets of the Weapon X programs makes for a compelling read. With the inclusion of the X Mansion and a bunch of other X-Men to boot, this comic was surprisingly easy and fun to read. Now the question remains: will this comic retain its interesting story and maintain its theme? Or will it go off the rails similarly to how All New Wolverine did. I think we have a great, strong start here. Now we just wait, and read.

(4 / 5)

Hawkman #1

Hawkman #1

It’s been a long few years for the age old Hawman. Since his introduction back in the 1940s, it had seemed that the character had a very solid and unbreakable origin and storyline up until the 2011 New 52 reboot of DC comics. Many heroes and villains changed in this reboot, and many seemingly disappeared from the universe completely, waiting to have another story to be told about them, sometimes waiting for years. Hawkman has had a completely unique path to other characters in the comic book universe however. The winged hero reappeared quite quickly in 2011 in an ongoing title called Savage Hawkman, a completely different origin and character from the well known original with Rob Liefeld, most famous for his creation of Deadpool, heading the comic book as writer. However, this new and more disgruntled Hawkman didn’t go over very well with the fan base and at around the same time Liefeld had a falling out with both the DC Editorial team and Scott Snyder, who was writing Batman at the time. Soon after the Hawkman comic book was dead, and fans wondered what would happen with the character.

Fast forward to 2013 where Hawkman would make his second appearance in this rebooted universe as the quiet and violent member of the new JLA comic book, a superteam comprised of less well known but still extremely powerful characters. It was an awesome team in concept, but again the comic book didn’t work for long and eventually JLA would be canceled by DC execs. Hawkman was gone again and this time with no real signs of reappearing any time soon. Fast forward again to 2018 and you have Dark Knights Metal, the major DC event this year headed by Scott Snyder, ohho, flashback to Snyder and Liefeld’s falling out some years back. Snyder took a few liberties and completely retconned everything from the past 7 years of DC Comics regarding Hawkman and completely rewrote the character, ignoring everything Liefeld and the JLA had done with him. He reconstructed Hawkman’s old and familiar origin in his own vision during the major events of his comic and voilà, here we are with Hawkman #1, the welcomed return to familiar after many years.

Carter Hall is an archeologist first and Hawkman second, though his past plagues him. Cursed with infinite reincarnation, Hall struggles to forget the weight of his past lives and struggles to remember the history of them. He is obsessed with the past, uncovering the truths of the universe and keeping it protected from threats others have yet to see. Hawkman #1 focuses on one of the many expeditions Hall undertakes, a journey into a cave system holding hidden secrets of Gorilla Kingdom, an ancient and very mystical civilization holding many secrets Hall’s looking for. When he brings his findings to Madame Xanadu, one of the most powerful sorcerers in the universe, he uncovers an otherworldly threat that he and the heroes of the world may be too late to stop. Cliffhanger abounds.

Hawkman #1 knows what it is and what it’s trying to be: something different than the violent and bloody version that the New 52 tried to be. Hawkman is more about Carter Hall the archeologist than Hawkman the savage, and it’s an awesome read for that reason.  The DC comic universe has an unlimited amount of explorable lore and Carter Hall is the perfect person for uncovering and explaining those unanswered questions. Perhaps that’s not exactly what people are expecting, and the comic book wasn’t the most jaw dropping or entertaining read of all time, but I think long time fans of Hawkman are going to enjoy this partial return to form here and perhaps the first true iteration of the character since 2011. All that’s really missing is his arguably more popular partner Hawkgirl, and I suspect that combo isn’t far off into the future.

 

(4 / 5)

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