Justice League Vol 6

14 Jul

The post Forever Evil world continued through volume 6 of Geoff John’s Justice League.  Now, I must confess, I have been a fan of Geoff’s since his Star Spangled Kid days.  I have also been a huge fan of the Justice League since watching Superfriends.  But for some reason, I have really been struggling through his Justice League series.  Some might suggest that it is due to the non-stop event status that has dominated the title, but honestly that doesn’t bother me.  I enjoy events as much, if not more, than the typical fan.  I buy comics because I want events!  But for some reasons, the Justice League title hasn’t worked for me.

But, I will say, that volume six: Injustice League was a lot of fun!  Lex in the Justice League is an idea that screams potential.  The new version of Amazo introduced could be great too, especially if they keep his mad on for Luthor even when Lex is out of the League.  The plague story was timely too as it was released in single issue form last year during the height of the Ebola scare.  And few creators can revitalize old concepts like the Doom Patrol like Geoff can.

The volume is far from perfect however.  The new Power Ring hasn’t really done much since being introduced.  In fact, she sat her second story (half the book) unconscious.  And if she ends up anything like Geoff’s last new Lantern, it will be a total waste.  Also, the volume goes through several artists, although all of the artists are talented.  I could definitely see why it might get on some people’s nerves.

The next volume promises to be huge, as the Darkseid War begins.  So perhaps this has been just the start to a renewed Geoff and a new start for the Justice League.  It’s going to be an amazing summer!

Gotham Academy

23 Jun

If there is a comic book that I wouldn’t think I would enjoy, it is Gotham Academy.  I am 34, a history teacher, and a father of 3.  Teenagers being overly dramatic is what my life revolves around and typically I want my entertainment to be about escaping those bounds.  I love Superman because he is the world’s greatest hero.  I love Green Lantern because he has a ring that can do anything and solve any problem.  Neither of those are options for me.  And yet, I have found, that a comic book about teachers in a school of crazy kids is one of the most original books out there and it really is as close to perfect as any other book on the market currently.

The book’s teachers are classic “B-rated” villains.  Bookworm was one of those crazy characters that could have only been in Adam West’s Bat-universe and yet he is the school librarian.  I can’t help but wonder when he will kidnap children in his quest to rule Gotham’s literary circles.  Aunt Harriet is the school ma’am responsible for the girls’ dormitory.  And yet, if you recall your Batman ’66, she is the woman who couldn’t figure out that special glowing red phone meant Bruce and Dick had a secret life (and not the type that Grant Morrison likes to allude to!).

And then there’s the kids.  One of the characters is named Maps! And she loves RPGs, one of my favorite gaming fixations.  And I am really not sure if she realizes life isn’t a big RPG, as she walks around and discusses her need for mail armor or lock picking skills.  The star reminds me of some of my favorite students: moody, bright, and obsessed with Batman. She has boyfriend drama and super-secretive teenage stalker issues.  And Killer Croc stalker issues, in one of the character’s most fun roles since Tiny Titans’ All Croc issue.

The entire book reads like a modern day Scooby adventure.  To help drive home that fact, there are fake ghosts hiding around every secret passage way you can find in the school.  The headmaster has that “is he the secret evil villain or just another red herring” personality that Scooby Do mastered in my childhood. And in closing, like my favorite Scooby episodes ever, Batman occasionally guest-stars.  I admit it: I am in love with a teenage angsty-drama!

Grayson Volume 1

9 Jun

I must confess when Grayson was launched, I really wasn’t all that interested.  The idea of Dick Grayson being a spy with a gun seemed to run counter to everything I liked about the character.  And honestly, I never really read many solo titles about him anyway.  I loved Snyder’s run with him as Batman in Detective Comics several years ago and I enjoyed the early volumes of his new 52 series but I hadn’t read much more than that.  And the promotional image telling fans we didn’t know Dick, just seemed……well, right up there with DC’s other promotional mishaps of late: the WTF covers from several years ago or the “Draw Harley naked and committing suicide” fiasco.  So imagine my surprise when I had the chance to read a promotional copy of Grayson volume 1 from Netgalley, and found that I really enjoyed the story.

Now, I do want to say, there were still parts of the book that I didn’t care for.  Although I am a huge fan of DC comics, I must confess I have never cared much for Grant Morrison’s writing, so I had no background information on Spyral and found the spy organization to be somewhat derivative of Chase, a wonderful and offbeat DC title from my youth.  Replace the mysterious leader with no face with Mr. Bones, the head of the DEO who has no face (just a skull) and you are good to go.  And I will say, at least in the digital promotional copy, the last chapter accidentally duplicates the prior chapter.  I hope they fix that in the print copy or regular digital copy.

Other than those two minor complaints, though, I will say the majority of the book was really fun.  The characters were fun to read.  Dick’s relationship with his partner (former Huntress) was interesting.  She is the classic spy who only sees the work and he is Dick Grayson, the hero with the heart of gold.  A brief romantic interest is introduced and handled in a way I didn’t see. Finally, the overarching mystery of “super body part implants” was a different type of threat than you normally see in the superhero comics I read.

From what I understand, Tom King, writer of the series, was in the CIA.  That fact is apparent when you read the series.  He writes the spy world the way I imagine it to be.  Cloaks and daggers are everywhere and outside of our title hero, probably no one can be trusted. I like that.  I believe this series has a great deal of potential and look forward to the second volume.

DC Deck Building Game

8 Feb

I have always enjoyed games.  I play computer games and video games as frequently as possible, which as a father, husband, and teacher is NOWHERE near as often as I would like.  But I also have always loved board games and card games.  Recently, I discovered a tiny store devoted to board games and card games in town.  It was an interesting trip which led me to purchasing an entertaining card game that I want to advertise. 

 

I came along at the right age to get into Pokemon, but I managed to avoid that compulsion somehow.  I did however find several collectable card games that I was interested in but rarely did my friends enjoy them.  Because two or more people need to be willing to invest for a collectable card game to be worth playing, I rarely bothered.  But little did I know the new card game style is the “deck building game.”  Deck building games are similar to collectable card games. You start a game with a small amount of weaker cards and spend points to buy more powerful cards.   These cards combine with one another in unique ways to create a veritable card army as you fight your way to victory.  The major difference, however, is that in a deck building game one master deck is bought for everyone to share from.  Instead of each person buying a sixty card deck and then expansion packs, the group buys one box of 200+ cards to share. 

 

Now, you might be wondering why I am writing about this on a site traditionally reserved for my musings on comic books.  Well, the game I recently discovered is “DC Deck Building Game” and I must confess, it is all kinds of fun.  The game is firmly entrenched in the “New 52” DCU but several pre-52 ideas are in the game.  At the start, you choose a hero based on the new Justice League: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg.  Each of these characters has their own special “power.” For example, Superman gets benefits for playing “power” cards, Wonder Woman gains benefits for beating villains, and Green Lanterns gets a benefit by creatively matching different types of cards together. 

 

Once you have that idea down, the game becomes interested in beating specific supervillains.  Each of those provides a penalty to players initially and when beaten are gained to the decks of the person who beat them.  They then provide extreme benefits to those players.  If you cannot beat a supervillain, you have the option to buy other types of cards: powers, equipment, locations, heroes, and “regular” villains.  Each of these cards provide a benefit to the person who buys them also. 

 

The game is fun in general.  Everyone in my house has enjoyed playing it, and although it claims it is for fifteen and up, my kids are 9, 12, and 14.  Although I occasionally have to remind them of simple rules or effects of cards, they have taken to the game like pros, and routinely beat me. Meanwhile, I get a kick out of how the different cards symbolically link to their “real” comic skill.  For example, Ra’s ah Ghul is placed at the bottom of your draw deck instead of into your discard pile when played.  This is because, in the comics, when he is killed he has a special chemical bath that brings him back to life.  Swamp Thing is worth much more power if the player has a location card in play because he is attached to the natural (location) world. 

 

If you are a fan of card games, I recommend you try it or a similar game.  If you are a comic fan, I recommend you try.  If you are a fan of both, I whole heartedly suggest you buy it quick and give it a shot!  And if you already have it, take heart! An expansion is coming at the end of the month!

Great news comics fans

5 Feb

Two exciting things happened to my comic collection this weekend.  First off, Comixology decided to add a want list to their app.  I really don’t know when it happened, as Apple now allows apps to update automatically, a fact I appreciate.  The “want list” option is now beside the purchase option which I believe is a long pass due idea, that I didn’t realize I missed.  Several times over the years, I have wanted to purchase a new digital book but had no money.  By the time I had cash, I would have forgotten which books I wanted and just focused on new ones.  Now, I can save them for later.  Good job Comixology! 

 

Probably more interesting though was my discovery of the CBI app.  It is the best way I can see to keep your comic book inventory together.  The app is free for the first 100 books you add to your list.  After that, it costs $2.99, the price of a new issue of most books.  At that point, though, you can list as many as you want. 

 

Now, you might question why you would pay for such a service?  Until two years ago, I didn’t keep any list of my comics.  My wife finally convinced me to type my comic list into Excel and I have kept a decent track of my collection ever since.  Still, the app offers numerous benefits, that I believe make it worthwhile. 

 

First off, the app works with comics.org, one of the best apps for comic book information around.  It automatically pulls writer, artist, etc information from the site and adds it to your list.  So now, I know which writer I have collected the most books by.  Not surprisingly, it is Geoff Johns who has written like 93 billion comics for DC in the last twenty years.  I know that Keith Giffen is the artist I have the most books by. You can also tag issues and track your collection that way.  The app downloads the covers from comics.org also and you can view your collection as a revolving cover database. 

 

But, probably my favorite feature of the app is that it also tracks issues you do not have in a series.  So now, when I find myself at a comic book convention, I can click on a title and it will tell me the issues I am missing.  It’s a simple but handy feature that I hope to be able to use soon. 

 

If your collection is small, I wouldn’t recommend downloading (or at least paying for) the app.  On the other hand, if you have a sizable collection, this app is indispensable.  The sheer amount of work it does for you is unbelievable.  And although it uses data to add comics and fetch the information initially, it is an app that can be used to view your list away from wi-fi which will prove useful while shopping.  Give it a shot! 

Top Five Runs

17 Jan

Yesterday I blogged about five runs in comics that I think are some of the best.  What follows is my five favorite runs in comic history.

5 J. M. Demattias’s Dr. Fate

Dr. Fate is one character I have always thought looked great.  It is such an elegant costume.  The backstory is neat but unfortunately I never really cared for the Fate minis or series that have come out since I began reading comics.  And then, this summer, at a convention I found Demattais’s classic run on the character.  It is a crazy series that is much deeper than your typical comic. It deals with the nature of reality, love, and God. Although I might not always agree with the theology, I can’t argue that it is a much more intelligent and thought provoking read than most comics.

4) Karl Kesel’s Superboy

As I previously said, I began reading comics with the death of Superman.  Karl Kesel wrote about a clone of Superman named Superboy and soon began writing a Superboy book.  The book had a high level of fun and great art for most of Kesel’s run.  To make it better, Karl also introduced me to much of Kirby’s DC work in the title.  I definitely recommend this book!

3) Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern

My favorite character in comics has always been Green Lantern. Geoff Johns’s run on the book is easily my favorite run on anything in the last fifteen years. Bringing Hal back from Emerald Twilight was a huge success. But the book continued getting better building to the Sinestro Corps War and then my personal favorite story in fifteen years, Blackest Night. It’s high octane and one crazy idea after another.

2) 5YL Legion

The 5 Years Later Legion is one of those runs that people love or hate. It is easy to see why if you have ever read. Beloved characters were irrevocably changed or killed. And that is before the series even began, as background for the title. Then, due to unforeseen problems with post-crisis continuity, the book had to go through several timeline changes. But if you can accept that, it is a rare chance to read a book where things REALLY change and characters REALLY died. It’s a chance to see a team slowly come together and rebuild. The 5YL Legion may not be the easiest read but is an unbelievable ride.

1) JLI

And the only book I would rate higher than that is Giffen’s other 80s and 90s era masterpiece. And like the Legion, the JLI is another book which relied heavily on collaboration (with Demattais and Maguire) and also involves the rebuilding of a classic team. Unlike the Legion though, the fun in the JLI is that most of the characters in this version of the Justice League were new characters to the franchise.  In fact, some like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom were fairly new to DC, having been introduced to the DCU through the Crisis.  It also featured new characters in general  like Rocket Red and Booster Gold. But the beauty of the international league is found in the characterization of the members of the league.  They acted like real people.  Jokes are aplenty; flirtation is essential.  Fights happen.  Life is what it is all about.  And although the book is most famous for the humor, serious story lines like the Despero saga and the Extremists were some of the best books I have ever read.  Seriously, give it a shot.  

Five of my favorite runs

14 Jan

It’s that time of year when people do top ten lists.  Because of this, I figured I would spend the next two blogs to tell about my favorite runs in comics.  There have been a lot of great runs in the twenty years I have been reading and then I have suffered through some runs do to a love of a character or previous love of the author.  But what follows are the best of the best to me.  

10 Classic Suicide Squad

This book actually came out before I began reading comics but it was such an interesting title that I went back and collected most of the series.  The book included B, C, and D list villains who were recruited by the government to solve problems.  It was “birthed” out of a fun crossover called Legends, one of my favorite crossovers ever.  Several characters died in the book and Deadshot and Rick Flag became two of my favorite characters ever.  Plus the early crossover with the JLI was too much fun.  

9 DNA Legion

I began reading comics right around the time the Legion rebooted.  Due to my love of sci-fi, I quickly began reading the adventures of the 30th century’s greatest heroes. After a while, the reboot began to fizzle but then suddenly Abnet and Lanning came on board and shook it all up with the dark “Legion of the Damned” and “Legion Lost” stories. They reminded me of what I loved about the Legion but also actually had consequences.  Characters died (seems to be a theme) and others eventually debuted.  Shikari became my second favorite reboot Legionnaire (nothing will take Gates’s place!).

8 Geoff Johns’s Flash

Mark Waid’s Flash had been one of my favorite runs of any book ever but had begun to fizzle (also a similar refrain).  When I heard he was leaving, I worried the new writer would drop the ball.  I then heard Geoff Johns (of then JSA fame) was coming in to the title.  This alleviated my fear a great deal.  His first two story lines were kind of slow but introduced several new police to Wally’s life.  They also slowly began to reintroduce the Rogues in a big way.  Over time, the Rogues became essential to the Flash in a way they had not been in years.  And his Zoom (Hunter Zolomon) is my favorite Flash villain.  

7 Kelly and Loeb’s Superman

I began reading comics with the death and return of Superman.  When the architects of that storyline left, I was worried I would be disappointed in Superman’s continuing adventures (twenty years too early to worry about that!). Instead, Loeb and Kelly began introducing new villains that breathed new life in a stagnant title.  They also added new concerns.  Would Lois and Clark break up?  No but as soon as that was settled, we find out Lois had been kidnapped and replaced.  When they found Lois, we hear Superman had been slipped a Kryptonite kiss (way before Trinity War!). And this continued thoughout their fun run.  

6 Gerard Jones’s Green Lantern

I have previously blogged of my love for this run in Green Lantern history.  But to recap: before he came along, the Green Lantern Corps had been destroyed.  Sinestro had died. Hal’s life had been in shambles.  And the Gaurdians and the power battery on Oa was gone.  And Jones brought it all back.  His run was so popular that the franchise grew to three regular titles and an auxillary title.  Sounds very similar Geoff Johns’s more recent run!