Comic Review: Super Powers by Jack Kirby

Published: 1984-1985
Written by: Jack Kirby, Joey Cavalieri, Paul Kupperberg
Art by: Jack Kirby, Mike Royer, Greg Theakston, Mike Thibodeaux

DC Comics, 268 Pages

Review:

When I was a kid and super into G.I. Joe and Transformers, my cousin Billy was super into Super Powers and Marvel’s Secret Wars action figures. In a lot of ways, those two toylines were my introduction to many of the comic book heroes and villains outside of what a six year-old would know.

Playing with Billy’s toys and playsets, I was pretty captivated by them and it is probably a major factor in what got me to read superhero comics, as opposed to just G.I. JoeTransformers and Star Wars.

I never read either of the two Super Powers miniseries, however, so I was pretty excited to pick this up. Also, since this was primarily done by the legendary Jack Kirby, I thought that reading this was long overdue and that not having read this sooner was a major crime against my own soul.

This edition collects both of the miniseries, the first being five issues and the second being six.

Overall, this is a really fun time and other than Mister Miracle, it’s my favorite stuff that Kirby has done for DC. Essentially, this is Kirby writing and drawing the Justice League. It features many of the core League members while also using some of their main villains.

I really like what Kirby did with these characters and I really would’ve liked to have seen this spin off into a Kirbyverse for DC, as his style and charm worked well with these characters. This feels very ’60sish but it works even though this is an ’80s comic.

While Frank Miller and Alan Moore would drastically alter the tone at DC, just after Kirby’s Super Powers, this is a nice contrast to what DC became synonymous with in that decade. 

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Jack Kirby’s other work at DC Comics, as well as ’80s Justice League comics.

Comic Review: Crisis On Infinite Earths

Published: 1985-1986
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Art by: George Perez

DC Comics, 359 Pages

Review:

Crisis On Infinite Earths is one of DC Comics’ sacred cows. Yet, I’ve never had much urge to read it because my experience reading massive DC Comics crossovers has never been that great.

But now I have read it because I felt like it was long overdue and because this is a storyline that is referenced a lot, still to this day, thirty-five years later.

The first problem with this story might be apparent by the number of tags at the top of this post. It’s overloaded with so many characters that it is mostly a convoluted clusterfuck of biblical proportions.

In fact, this post may be the record holder for the number of tags I had to add to it. And frankly, that’s not all the characters, just the ones I know because two-thirds of the characters here are generic one-offs or so minute to the DC universe that they aren’t worth noting.

Now I know that some people love the splash pages from this series, as they showcase dozens (if not over a hundred) different characters all in one giant image. If I’m being honest, I’ve always disliked them and they are why I never really wanted to read this. Most of the action is minimal and many of these scenes are just characters standing around. They lack the energy that a splash page needs and look more like they belong in a Where’s Waldo? book. And I don’t say that to come off as a dick because I almost always love George Perez’s art. This just seems like DC management telling Perez to squeeze in as many characters as artistically possible. It’s hard on the eyes and it’s shit.

Another big problem with this twelve issue story arc is that every moment feels larger than life. Well, when everything is so big and grandiose, that becomes normal and status quo. You can’t possibly go bigger and with everything being so big from start to finish, none of it is memorable. It’s just a busy, stressful read without allowing the reader to catch their breath and reflect on what’s happened. It’s kind of like a Michael Bay movie. Throw so much intense shit at the audience, don’t let them stop and think and they’ll just move from point A to point B to point C and so on, forgetting everything that happened two points prior.

This event was made in an effort to sort of reset the DC universe. Honestly, all it does is make a giant fucking mess of things and splatters the mess all over everything it touches.

The plot doesn’t make sense, I’m not sure what exactly changed and with so many universes crashing together into one, it’s not properly organized and then re-established in any sort of way that a reader can follow. If this was supposed to be a jumping on point for readers in 1986, I don’t know how they made sense out of any of it and then knew which characters to follow.

The main reason for the previous sentence is that this is so overloaded with people that you don’t get to really know any of them. There is no character development and this is written in a way that it assumes the reader knows all about every character in the story. For a seasoned comic book reader like myself, who has been reading comics for three and a half decades, I was lost and didn’t know who half of the low tier characters were.

Crisis On Infinite Earths should have been written as a Justice League story with some inclusion of the Fawcett Comics characters and the Golden Age DC heroes. All the third tier and lower characters could have made cameos but even then, they don’t really need to.

I really hoped that this was going to pleasantly surprise me but it hurt my head.

It was too much, too big and too long.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: mid-’80s DC Comics titles, as well as all the other massive DC crossover events.

Comic Review: Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, Issue #134 – First Appearance of Darkseid

Published: December 2nd, 1970
Written by: Jack Kirby
Art by: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta, Neal Adams (cover)

DC Comics, 22 Pages

Review:

Man, this was a weird ass comic book! But it was also done by Jack Kirby during his stint at DC Comic, where he did some really outside of the box stuff that led to the creation of his Fourth World universe within the larger DC Universe.

This issue of Jimmy Olsen was tied to all of that, as this is the first appearance of Darkseid, one of the greatest villains in the entire history of DC Comics.

I wanted to read this, as I’ve been reading a lot of the first appearances of some of my favorite villains. That being said, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this comic but it was pretty insane.

This issue is trippy as hell! I’m not sure if that was normal with Jimmy Olsen but I really dug it, even if it was hard to make sense of the proceedings, as I don’t have the issues around this to give it more context.

Superman even shows up in this but he was a pretty regular fixture in this title. Sadly, we don’t get to see Supes square off with Darkseid. In fact, we only get a peek at Darkside in one panel. That’s it, his big debut was just in a single panel where he was a talking head in a TV set, giving commands to one of his minions.

This is creative, kind of nuts and it flew by. I can’t say that it’s a solid comic as a standalone issue but reading it was interesting, as it was a quick, small sample of Kirby’s earliest work at DC.

For Jack Kirby fans, this is worth checking out.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: any of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World titles at DC Comics.

Comic Review: Justice League Odyssey: Ghost Sector

Published: September 26th, 2018 – January 30th, 2019
Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Stjepan Sejic, Phil Briones, Jeromy Cox, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia

DC Comics, 137 Pages

Review:

I was a bit saddened when Green Lanterns ended its run a few months back, as I was really digging Jessica Cruz’s story arc over the duration of 50-plus issues. But luckily for me, she joined this team, which is actually a really cool mash up of characters that currently don’t have much else going on.

This teams up Cruz with Cyborg, Starfire and Azrael. It also brings in Darkseid, who has a hand in the events that transpire. Is he a protagonist or an antagonist? You do find out by the end of this five issue story but it all plays out really well and this has been one of the more engaging comic books currently being published.

This story doesn’t have a definitive conclusion but it helps to build up this series and it looks to be promising something bigger on the horizon. It does have a nice cliffhanger reveal which opens the door for a more serious threat than what was first apparent.

I like this mix of characters, they have a good dynamic and I will continue to keep reading this, assuming it doesn’t go off the rails at some point.

The art is solid, even if it does have different people working on it issue to issue. It needs to find a consistent art team but at least the styles have meshed well thus far.

I love cosmic stories, which is why I have been a big Green Lantern fan since the beginning of the Geoff Johns era. This continues that tradition well, even if Cruz is the only Lantern here. But seeing her removed from the Corps and working with a new group of allies is also pretty intriguing and it is something that her character needed if she is going to evolve into something more than just another human Lantern.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other recent DC Comics cosmic stuff like the recently ended Green Lanterns series.

Comic Review: Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe

Published: July 18th, 2018 – January 2nd, 2019
Written by: Tim Seeley
Art by: Freddie E. Williams II, Jeremy Colwell
Based on: Masters of the Universe by Mattel, Injustice by NetherRealm Studios

DC Comics, 153 Pages

Review:

I haven’t played the Injustice video games or read the comic books. I get the gist of it though, so being a long-time fan of Masters of the Universe, I thought that the idea of seeing He-Man and his world mix it up with the DC Comics universe was a cool idea.

However, I did have to go into this with some skepticism, as most comic book crossovers of unrelated intellectual properties usually don’t leave us with great results.

This one was pretty good though. I can’t say that it was completely compelling but the story did a good job of wedging in a lot of characters while managing multiple plot threads. This had many layers to it and all of them kept me engaged.

I think the thing that I liked most about this was the art. It just felt perfect for a Masters of the Universe story, as it reminded me of the art of the old comics they used to package with the toys. It just drummed up nostalgia on a pretty high level and it was very effective.

This lasted for six issues but I feel like it could have been better if it was a bit longer. While it works well in the space it was given, I felt like some confrontations were rushed through and some of the action suffered a bit. There were just some cool ideas here that could have been explored just a little bit more than they were but I don’t want to spoil the story details for those who want to read this.

Overall, this was pretty damn good. Tim Seeley told a fun story within two very different worlds that I love and the art was perfect for what this project was trying to convey.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Masters of the Universe crossovers and the Injustice comics, as well as regular Justice League stories.

Comic Review: Mister Miracle (2017-2018 Series)

Published: August 9th, 2017 – November 14th, 2018
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Mitch Gerads, Nick Derington (covers)

DC Comics, 320 Pages

Review:

I’m done with Tom King. So fucking done.

Mister Miracle finally broke me. And if I’m being frank, my experience reading this was a damn tragedy.

I have collected every issue since it started coming out well over a year ago. I loved the covers by Nick Derington and Mister Miracle is, hands down, my favorite Jack Kirby creation under the DC Comics banner.

Just seeing Mister Miracle usually lifts my spirits, makes me incredibly happy and makes a comic worth the cover price just because I get to spend some time with one of the coolest and inspiring DC Comics characters there is. Mister Miracle is for me, what Superman is for many others.

For those who don’t know, Mister Miracle is a guy that was figuratively raised in Hell and spent his entire childhood trying to escape. He failed, again and again, but he never stopped trying, crawling through Hell itself just to escape. Eventually, his ability to never give up, to never quit, finally saw him escape and reach Earth where he started a new life, a much better life. Mister Miracle persevered, conquered his demons and achieved the American Dream, even as an alien from another world. That is who Mister Miracle is!

But apparently, if Mister Miracle is written by Tom King, he’s none of those things. Instead, he’s just a sad, depressed bitch that starts this series by slitting his wrists and bleeding out on the bathroom floor. A guy who finally had everything, after escaping a true Hell, now decides to quit.

The thing is, this isn’t Scott Free under the Mister Miracle mask, it’s Tom King. Yes, King put himself in the role of Scott Free a.k.a. Mister Miracle and showed us exactly what not to do when you are given a beloved character to write. King does not understand Scott Free in the slightest, just as he doesn’t understand Batman and has also turned him into a complete pussy.

So Tom King, the most depressing high profile comic book writer I’ve seen in ages, has gone on to completely misrepresent two major DC characters because he apparently is working through his own demons through his art. Art which really doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to Warner Bros. and the millions of fans who have supported these characters for decades. But not in Tom King’s eyes. He would rather bring all of us down to his level, strip away all the positivity and inspiration while shitting on us and the great creators before him.

Tom King’s Mister Miracle is a gross bastardization of this incredible character created by Jack Kirby, one of the biggest legends in comic book history.

Tom King needs therapy and he can afford it, at this point. He needs to get professional help and not project his inner terror and depression on his audience. I mean, is he a creator or a destroyer? And while he needs to pay for some therapy, he also needs to pay me back the $48 I wasted on this terrible series. Plus, the price of gas I needed to drive 45 minutes to my comic shop 12 times.

And I’m not being insensitive. I have battled major depression my entire life. I’m adult enough, however, to know that it’s not my place to take a beloved intellectual property and transform it into an extension of my darkest thoughts. No one wants to read about my depression, they want to read something that is heroic escapism and leaves them inspired or at least, a little bit happier than they were before they picked up the comic.

Somehow this book won an Eisner Award for writing and art. Well, the Eisners are a joke, at this point. They’re pretty much like the Oscars and just hand out awards for social justice virtue signal points. Here’s the kicker, no one is actually keeping score of those points because they’re not real. And that game is more about “What have you done for my social justice, lately?”

But this won an Eisner for art as well. So how was that part of this series?

Well, as I said earlier, the covers are mostly great. However, beyond that, this is one of the laziest comics I’ve seen in awhile for being heralded as being so artistically impressive. I really don’t know what these Eisner people look at anymore.

Every page of Mister Miracle is the same. I don’t recall a single splash page because nearly every page is just 9 panels. 3 across, 3 down, all panels being the same shape on every single page. It’s like flipping through a binder of someone’s baseball card collection. The book looks like it was made in InDesign by a first semester graphic design student.

Additionally, there is barely any action in any of the 12 issues and it’s just basic bullshit of Scott Free lying on a couch, buying a birthday cake, joking about veggie trays and sitting on the couch again, because watching a lazy millennial be a terrible father is more interesting to Tom King than the vast mythos that comes with a character like Mister Miracle.

And the whole time, there is a major war going on between New Genesis and Apokolips. Mister Miracle and his wife, Big Barda, are both drafted into this war as generals but we barely see any of it. In fact, we don’t see them do any sort of action until issue 6 and then, once we get action, it’s bogged down by them talking about how to arrange furniture in the house. And that goes on for several pages.

On top of that, the action in this sucks. Did Mitch Gerads never read How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way? I mean, I know that this is DC Comics but Stan Lee and John Buscema wrote the original bible on this art form. Gerads, at least in Mister Miracle, doesn’t seem to understand the importance of dynamic motion. All his action panels look like a 2D side scrolling Nintendo game from the ’80s but drawn as boring as possible.

Plus, Big Barda has never been more unattractive than she is in this series. Big Barda is a tall, athletic, badass woman that has melted the hearts of boys and men for decades. Gerads’ Big Barda looks like a pale version of the modern jacked up She-Hulk, with a man bod and facial expressions that look like half a turd is creeping out in her tiny spandex shorts.

I love Mister Miracle but I absolutely loathe this series. I’m done with Tom King. He was the first person to make me cancel Batman from my pull list and now he’s ruined another favorite character of mine.

Also, murdering Funky Flashman quite violently, a character that was based on Stan Lee (granted, as a jab by Kirby), was pretty grotesque and uncalled for. But I guess he’s really not dead as he reappears and then this whole thing is just a death dream anyway. But Tom King, as a comic “creator”, needs to check his fucking privilege. He’s not a modern legend and I don’t know why he keeps getting these high profile gigs.

Rating: 2.5/10
Pairs well with: anti-depressants, flavored vodka and runny mascara.

Comic Review: Dark Nights: Metal

Published: June 12th, 2018
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Greg Capullo

DC Comics, 204 Pages

Review:

I didn’t read this as it came out. I also was much more frugal about how much I spent on comics at the time. I’m less frugal now, as I’m spending more time reviewing them. And to be honest, while this is $30 for the collected edition at my local comic shop, I found this on a brief Comixology sale for $5.99. So at that price, I figured I’d give it a go. If I ended up really liking it, I would’ve gone back to buy the single issues. But I didn’t really like it all that much. I’ll explain.

To start, I typically like Scott Snyder’s writing, especially in regards to anything with Batman in it. As far as Greg Capullo goes, he is one of my favorite artists of the last few decades. So seeing them reunite for this was definitely a selling point, even if what I knew about the project’s story didn’t peak my interest.

The biggest problem with Metal is the same problem with most mega events in comics, it is chock full of so many characters that the plot loses fluidity and the story seems to placate more to wedging in as many cameos as possible, as opposed to keeping the train on the rails.

This wasn’t a bad idea for a story but it should have been kept fairly simple. People just kept showing up on nearly every page, though, and it becomes distracting. New twists and turns are thrown in as often as characters and this just loses its focus. It also introduces a whole horde of villains, most of whom will just be one-offs in this story anyway. But this reads more like a sketchbook than a coherent story. What I mean by that, is that this feels like Capullo trying to fit in every cool design that he wasn’t able to wedge into Spawn throughout his run on the book in the ’90s.

Another thing I didn’t like was how wordy this was. While there are good action scenes, sometimes these characters felt like they weren’t surrounded by villains but instead, were surrounded by word balloons, trying to wedge their way into the panels and asphyxiate the characters. The word balloons were the real villains of the story. At least, that should be a twist whenever this gets a sequel.

I did like how the ending looked into the future as a way to tell you what stories would be coming out from DC Comics over the following year. But, at the same time, this was disappointing to some degree, as a main reason why I picked this up was to see the introduction of DC’s “New Age of Heroes”. I always see mentions that this is where they debuted but their appearance here is limited to one panel where we see into the future.

Anyway, this at least kept my attention over the six issues, even if they felt like twelve due to the dialogue and having so much detail to drink in. I wouldn’t say that this is a waste of time and I can see where this will be a lot of people’s cup of tea. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, really. But I also don’t regret reading it simply because I liked seeing Capullo have fun and get really creative with the art and character design.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Any other DC Comics mega event of the last decade or so.

Comic Review: Mister Miracle by Jack Kirby

Published: September 26th, 2017 (this collected edition)
Written by: Jack Kirby
Art by: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta, Mike Royer

DC Comics, 442 Pages

Review:

I used to pick up issues of Mister Miracle during his run in the late ’80s/early ’90s. I never read the original Jack Kirby stuff though but I always wanted to check them out. Now that they have all been collected into this awesome, thick volume, I had to pick it up and give it a read. Also, I enjoyed the first issue of Tom King’s current run on Mister Miracle and wanted to finally read the original stories to have better context and more understanding of the character and his universe.

One thing that stands out the most on the classic run is the story. Yes, every comic book fan should know that Jack Kirby is a bonafide legend for a reason. But this here is some of the best Kirby stuff I have read during his DC Comics run. Man, I just love these stories and it actually took a lot of time for me to get through this, as I didn’t want to rush through these great tales. I sort of just read this slowly, soaking in the great art along with the magnificent story, letting this series marinate in my mind.

In the end, I love Mister Miracle as a character and the whole mythos he brings to the table for the entirety of DC Comics. Without Kirby’s work here and on similar titles around the same time, New Gods and Fourth World especially, the DC universe would have evolved much differently. Without these creations, Superman and Justice League stories would have been drastically different. There would have been no Darkseid or Apokolips, DC’s biggest villain and his treacherous homeworld that has been the focal point of many major stories (and now movies).

Mister Miracle along with Kirby’s other early ’70s titles are what made the DC universe what it is today and out of these multiple titles, this one is my favorite. There is something magical and wholesome about Mister Miracle. And even though he was born on Apokolips, the character taps into old school Americana and is a throwback to yesteryear icons like Harry Houdini and P.T. Barnum.

Adding to the magic of this series is the use of colors. Kirby’s art was as magnificent as his characters but the use of vibrant and vivid colors, especially in the character designs, made this comic visually enchanting and it still maintains its allure today, even when modern comic book art has evolved into the digital realm where anything is possible.

This collection is truly a must own. That is, unless you don’t like superhero comics, Jack Kirby, imagination, creativity and beautiful art. If you don’t like those things then why did you even read this far?

This is a masterpiece and this collection is beautiful.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: Other Jack Kirby works while he was at DC Comics, as well as other runs of Mister Mircale, excluding the terrible run Tom King had from 2017-2018.