Comic Review: Superman: Doomsday

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens
Art by: Brett Breeding, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund

DC Comics, 332 Pages

Review:

Well, Superman is already alive and we’ve reached the fifth and final part of the Death/Return of Superman saga. With that, this story takes care of the last thing that needs to be dealt with and that’s Superman finally defeating Doomsday without dying and thus, restoring balance the the DC universe.

Generally, I like Dan Jurgens writing but overall, I wasn’t blown away by this saga. However, I did find this to be better than all the big DC Comics Crisis events, which always read like overloaded, convoluted messes to me.

While these stories had a lot of characters in them, Superman was always really the focus and for the most part, this stayed on that thread, even if there were some distractions with new “Supermen” and with checking in on individuals after Superman’s death.

I felt like the art, here, was a bit more fine-tuned and better than the rest of the chapters in this massive saga.

Additionally, the writing felt tighter and more focused, as Jurgens pretty much handled it all and the work wasn’t spread out over a handful of people.

The highlights of this are that Superman is definitely back, we get to see Darkseid mix it up with Doomsday, Cyborg Superman cements his place as a major villain, and Doomsday finally gets some receipts cashed in on his ass.

In the end, I’m glad that I finally experienced this saga in its entirety. It was long but by the end, the total body of work made all of the smaller parts come together, giving them deeper meaning and relevance to the overall DC universe. 

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: The Return of Superman

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Gerard Jones, Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, M.D. Bright, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice

DC Comics, 464 Pages

Review:

Well, this is a step up from the previous two volumes in the larger The Death/Return of Superman saga. This is also the fourth of the five big chapters but now that Superman is back, we can stop spending time on mediocre replacements and get back to business.

The four replacements are still here, however, but now they have to find their place in the world with Superman reclaiming his mantle.

Two of these replacements remain heroes and two let their villain flags finally fly for all to see. Where these characters would end up wasn’t a surprise, though.

I think that the most impactful thing about this story isn’t simply Superman’s return, as much as it was seeing him return to Lois after all she had been through in the previous three chapters of this multi-year saga.

Once Superman actually returns, you’re not totally sure it’s him but as a reader, you hope it is and it’s really a breath of fresh air, as the replacements just didn’t cut it. I also think that DC Comics knew this and brought the famed hero back earlier than they probably wanted to.

Regardless, it’s good that he did return, as it was like a shot in the arm to this story, which I found myself losing interest in. Had I been buying these and reading them back when they were current, I know that I would’ve stopped before we even got to the return.

In the end, I’m not super keen on these books, beyond the pretty emotional battle that ended with Superman’s death. Although, this did make up for some of the lower points a bit and it sets up the next showdown between Supes and Doomsday, the jerk that killed him.

Rating: 6.5/10

Comic Review: Reign of the Supermen

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens, Gerard Jones, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, M.D. Bright, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice

DC Comics, 325 Pages

Review:

I’m not going to lie, even though I slept on this big event back in the early ’90s, I went into this with some real enthusiasm, hoping it would be interesting and have a real purpose.

Sadly, this started out kind of neat but quickly devolved into a clusterfuck without any real sort of cohesive narrative trajectory.

With Superman dead, four new figures pop-up and try to fill the void. Three of the four believe themselves to be Superman while the fourth was simply inspired by him.

As we know now, years later, two of these Supermen would go on to be villains: Cyborg Superman and Eradicator. As for the other two, Steel would just continue to be Steel and Superboy would just stay Superboy and go on to be a really popular character in his own right.

Ultimately, I just didn’t care about any of this and even though I can see how some of the new characters may have resonated with some people, none of them have ever really grabbed me.

I guess, in the end, I can say that I’ve now actually experienced this once important major comic book event. But honestly, fuck these characters. I can see why they brought Superman back almost immediately after this experiment.

Rating: 5.25/10

Comic Review: Superman: Funeral for a Friend

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, Brett Breeding, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Doug Hazlewood

DC Comics, 366 Pages

Review:

There are five acts to the death and rebirth of Superman. This is the second act, which follows The Death of Superman and sets up the third act, Reign of the Supermen.

Funeral for a Friend is definitely emotional in spots and it does show how great of an impact that Superman had on the DC Comics universe. However, even with every major hero coming out and paying their respects, this collection is bogged down by some smaller, side stories that don’t really need to be there.

This reads more like an anthology, as opposed to one coherent narrative and that hurts the overall flow of this chapter in the larger saga.

I did like the parts that dealt with the fallout of Superman’s death in regards to those who were actually closest to him from Lois Lane, the Kents, Jimmy Olsen and even Lana Lang. I also liked seeing how his former friends and allies in the Justice Leagues of the past and present came together to honor him and reminisce.

Overall, this isn’t bad, it’s just somewhat of a mess that tries to wedge in short stories of D-level characters that don’t need to be there.

Rating: 6/10

Comic Review: The Death of Superman (2016 Edition)

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, Brett Breeding, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Dan Jurgens

DC Comics, 212 Pages

Review:

I have read the Death of Superman issue several times over the years. However, I have never read the full story with everything leading up to that iconic issue, which took the world by storm at the end of 1992.

The story is pretty good, even if it’s really just several issues of the weakest Justice League lineup in history trying to stop Doomsday until Superman shows up. Every issue is action-packed as this entire story is just one massive fight between several heroes and one, seemingly unstoppable enemy.

And that’s certainly not a bad thing, as this did a superb job of telling an action-filled story and keeping each chapter interesting and new. It also adds in some subplots around the larger story, so that it can be broken up a bit.

Some subplots creep in, though, where I didn’t know what was really going on, like the stuff with Lex Luthor II and Supergirl. I wasn’t reading Superman in this era, so I was at first confused as to why Supergirl was with him and why Lex had ginger hair and a beard.

I thought that the art in this was good and the pacing of the story was pretty superb.

All in all, this was a pretty good read, better than I thought it’d be, and it features one of the greatest Superman throwdowns in the history of the character. And it was a hell of an introduction to Doomsday. 

Rating: 8/10

Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 2: Sympathy For the Devil

Published: December 29th, 2015
Written by: Marv Wolfman, Dan Jurgens
Art by: Steve Erwin, Dan Jurgens, George Perez

DC Comics, 190 Pages

Review:

I loved the first volume of this series but crazily enough, I found this one to be even a wee bit better, as the story of Deathstroke takes shape and becomes more fleshed out, allowing him to evolve beyond just a simple anti-hero that looks cool and shows up once in awhile in other characters’ books.

This also spends some time on developing Pat Trayce, another version of the Vigilante character. While I wasn’t totally sold on her, I really grew to like her in this volume and I hope her run as a character and a major part of this series isn’t short-lived. I know that she’s pretty much been nonexistent since this series in the early ’90s but I don’t know her fate and don’t want it spoiled. I just hope she isn’t killed off before she really comes into her own.

This volume collects a few stories but the one I liked most had to deal with Deathstroke accidentally hurting Lois Lane’s sister, which brought out Superman and opened up the story to show us the personal relationship that Deathstroke had with Lois’ father, an ally during his time at war.

We also see Deathstroke face off against some of the Justice League while Nightwing also gets involved towards the end of this volume.

This volume really solidified Wintergreen as one of my favorite minor DC characters. He’s essentially Deathstroke’s Alfred and while I’ve always seen him that way, this collection of issues really made me appreciate him and the two men’s relationship a lot more than I already did.

All in all, this was superb. Now on to volume three!

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.

Comic Review: He-Man/ThunderCats

Published: July 11th, 2017
Written by: Rob David, Lloyd Goldfine
Art by: Freddie E. Williams II
Based on: Masters of the Universe by Mattel, ThunderCats by Tobin Wolf

DC Comics, 148 Pages

Review:

I was late to the party in knowing that this even existed. It came out in a time where I didn’t have a local comic shop, otherwise I would’ve been all over it in 2017.

I’m glad that I checked it out now and even if IP crossovers are a dime a dozen lately, this one just felt like it could fit really well together and for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.

It includes all the key characters and brings them together in a cool way that isn’t just a story about opening a random portal.

This was fairly clever and I liked some of the daring things that they tried, like making He-Man’s trusted partner Battle Cat into a humanoid ThunderCat character, even if it was pretty brief.

I also liked how it tried to merge Mumm-Ra and Skeletor into a single entity and how their personalities clashed.

The illustrations, ink and colors were also really good and this was just an incredible work of art from page-to-page.

Fans of either or both franchises should enjoy this quite a bit.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other comics DC has put out based off of Masters of the Universe.

Comic Review: Superman: Last Son of Krypton

Published: October 8th, 2013
Written by: Geoff Johns, Richard Donner
Art by: Adam Kubert

DC Comics, 252 Pages

Review:

I wanted to read this because it was the first official comic book appearance of General Zod, the made-for-the-big-screen villain from the first two Superman movies by Richard Donner.

What makes this even cooler is that Donner worked on this story with Geoff Johns.

This collection is actually two separate stories. However, they both feature Zod with the first one being primarily about the character and his introduction into DC Comics canon. The second story primarily features Brainiac as the antagonist.

Ultimately, this was a really good read and one of my favorite Superman trade paperbacks of recent memory. Both stories were solid and they actually connect in a way that makes wedging both of them together, a more enjoyable, overall narrative.

I thought that Donner and Johns came up with a pretty satisfying story to introduce Zod and his family. I also thought that the Adam Kubert art was top notch but I’ve also always loved all the Kuberts.

If you grew up with the two Donner Superman films like I did, this should definitely peak your interest. It’s a worthwhile story that was both engaging and entertaining while also being a great homage to Donner’s Superman film work.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Superman comics featuring General Zod.

Comic Review: Doomsday Clock

Published: November 22nd, 2017 – December 18th, 2019
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Gary Frank, Brad Anderson
Based on: Watchmen by Alan Moore

DC Comics, 456 Pages

Review:

Well, Doomsday Clock has finally ended! This twelve issue series wasn’t supposed to stretch out for over two years but it did. I’m glad that I didn’t start reading it until it was over, as I would’ve forgotten all the details due to the delays and the dozens of other comics I would’ve read between each issue.

Now that it’s all out, I finally read it: binging through it in two days.

I guess my first thoughts on it are that it is underwhelming and that it doesn’t justify its need to exist.

I had always been against new Watchmen stories without the involvement of Alan Moore. My mind changed, however, when I read some of the Before Watchmen stories from a couple years ago.

They made me see Watchmen the same way I see other comic book properties and that’s as a sort of modern mythology that is told and retold by countless others, each bringing something new and unique to the table. Superman and Batman have had countless writers and many of them have evolved and grown the character in great ways beyond their original concept. Granted, some writers have gravely failed too.

Generally, I like Geoff Johns’ work, so I wan’t against the idea of him tackling the Watchmen property.

Ultimately, though, this took too long to come out, especially with how sloppily put together it feels.

This is one of those stories where it feels like a lot happened but also like nothing happened.

It tries to merge the Watchmen universe with the DC universe but it doesn’t work. But I’m also over the crossover trope of using inter-dimensional portals or a superbeing that basically acts as a super-dimensional portal. That being said, I don’t know how else to bring these universes together but that also makes me ask why they had to try it in the first place?

Watchmen is very much its own thing, as is DC. Hell, Marvel is also its own thing in that same regard and whenever they tried to crossover Marvel and DC, which happened multiple times, it always felt forced, clunky and weird.

The only real highlight of this was seeing how certain characters from different universes would interact with one another but honestly, none of it was as cool as I felt it should have been and it all felt pretty pointless and made me realize how bad the Rebirth era of DC Comics has been – well, for the most part, as I liked some titles in the last few years.

In the end, this doesn’t feel any different than one of any of the dozen indie publisher crossovers that pit Green Lanterns against Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Star Trek crews or the apes from Planet of the Apes. While those crazy crossovers are neat to a point, they’ve been done to death in recent years. And despite this being better written and having better art than the other franchise mashups, it feels like DC Comics were really late to the party and didn’t even realize that it was over.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Watchmen and the Before Watchmen stuff, as well as just about everything under the DC Rebirth banner.

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.