Batman/Superman: SuperGirl

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Superman Batman Supergirl Cover, Image Source: DC Fanbase

Last week I finished rereading a graphic novel in the DC Universe.  It was in the Batman/Superman universe and it told (or more accurately) retold the SuperGirl origin story and the first meeting of Kara Zor-El.

I really liked this Graphic Novel a lot–although I think it one me over in large part due to Michael Turner’s artwork (an artist from Crossville, TN who died way too soon & who will be missed).

STORY
I like the way that the story was told and I also liked the dual-inner monologue that allowed the reader to see the story from both Batman’s and Superman’s point of view.  I also liked the actual narrative of the plot and the way that the story unfolded.  Kara’s “capture” and subsequent turn to the dark side seemed a little forced, but considering the time constraints of the story and the compressed nature of the narrative, I was able to look past this minor flaw.  I did think that they made too much of the dislike of Krypto (the Super-Dog) of Kara as it seemed to be going somewhere, but doesn’t actually pay-off.  I think it could have been rectified had their just been a panel or two showing a reconciliation or acceptance of Kara by Krypto at the end.  It wasn’t major, but no resolution of it did bother me a small bit.

ART
Michael Turner was an extremely talented artist.  I have another graphic novel by him that I will also be rereading and responding to later, but I enjoy reading stories that have his artwork.  His style is very bold and expressive and he reminds me of my favorite comic/graphic artists–Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee.  His style was very mature and I’m glad that his work became popular and got a wider exposure before his untimely death.  His style has that element of vivaciousness without devolving into “cartoony” that some artists seem to slip into when they draw.  His two page spreads were among the best in the business as they seemed among the most readable–either visually or when paired with words.

GRADE
A+.  If it isn’t apparent, I really like this story and this graphic novel.  The art and the story come together and produce a very strong narrative that I could (and have) read over and over again.

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ReReading: Dungeons & Dragons: Shadowplague (Graphic Novel)

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Book Cover: Five fantasy adventures ready to do battle.  Image Source: OgreCave.com

So, I’m in the process of moving all my academic books to a bookshelf (looks like it actually be a bookshelf and a half or perhaps two bookshelves total) with me as I work on my degree.  However, this leaves me with a fairly large gap of three to four shelves that I probably should fill.  I already have my graphic novels (& comic books) on my main bookcase, but I’ve decided to reread my graphic novels (& comics) and place them on those free shelves.  I have several fairly large graphic novels that don’t fit on the shelf with the other graphic novels on my main bookcase, but this secondary bookcase has more than enough room for them.  If I can remember, I will try to take a picture at the end of the project and post it here.

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: SHADOWPLAGUE

This is the first of a “new” series of graphic novels with original characters in the Dungeons and Dragons universe.  I say new because this was tried in the late 80s/early 90s with a different group of characters written by Jeff Grubb, a prolific writer of D&D novelizations of the time.  This book is written by Jim Rogers and is full of post Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson) adventure/banter.  While not a comedy, Rogers does the “witty banter” so often found in comics and comic book movies that irked my late creative writing professor, Ken Smith when I tried to present stories in his fiction class with this same type of banter.  For Ken, the banter trivialized the drama and lowered the emotional stakes for the characters.  His argument (loosely speaking) was that if the characters are joking around during a life-or-death situation, then we get the feeling that the characters aren’t really in any danger.  I can plainly see that here as I didn’t get the sense that any of the characters (protagonists) were any in real danger, per se.

This sounds like I don’t like the story and that’s not true–I do like the book, but this is a fun, rip-roaring comic book adventure, but it doesn’t have a sense that the characters are ever really in jeopardy.  This book introduces and follows a team of intrepid adventurers of the mostly standard races (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, and newcomer race, Tiefling) as they go through various adventures to discover the secret of the Shadowplague, a magical plague that turns ordinary people into zombies.  Abundant fight scenes, magic, and characters who all display a penchant for witty banter and sometimes painful backstories make this a fun and interesting story.

I did not happen to buy the other graphic novels that make up the rest of this series, but you can bet that I’ll definitely try to grab them as time and money allow.  The cover price of 24.99 is a bit steep for the product.  It is hardcover, but still it is really only worth about 14.99 to 17.99.  If I can find it for under 9.99, then I’ll definitely pull the trigger.  The problem is, the last I checked, it had gone out of print and Amazon 3rd party “scalpers” had driven the cost to above $30 dollars.  Sad days, indeed.  This is a fun little series that I wouldn’t mind getting a complete collection for myself–but if the remaining volumes stay out of reach, then this one volume will have to suffice, witty banter and all.

 

Comic-Con Week: Thor Ragnarok

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So, just like DC, Marvel also released a trailer for Comic-Con.  Their big focus this year, now that Spider-Man: Homecoming has been released, is Thor.  Thor Ragnarok seems like it is going for fun over a dark gritty storyline (which was the mistake that Thor: Dark World made).

As you can see in the trailer–Thor Ragnarok Trailermuch of the action is peppered with quips and fun set-pieces.  This trailer seems to bring back the fun characterization that made the first Thor movie such a surprise.

The only problem (if you can call it a problem) is that it releases in November (the same month that Justice League releases) so both of these movies are going to be fighting for much of the same audience.  Assuming that school and classes go well, I’m most certainly going to try to see both movies.

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Comic-Con Week: Justice League Trailer

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Image Source: SDCC Blog

Readers of the blog will remember that I didn’t dislike Batman v. Superman like many other reviewers did.  I was engaged and thought that, while darker than the Marvel movies in both tone and style, it was a worthwhile movie-going experience.  DC released a new trailer for their upcoming Justice League movie and it has me excited.

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Image Source: NME.com

The trailer–The Justice League Trailer–seems to contain much of the same gravitas as BvS, but it works to lighten the mood through quips.  There are quite a few lines that are either amusing or laugh-out-loud funny, whereas BvS was light on those elements.  For this reason alone, I’m cautiously optimistic that this movie will be received better than BvS.  I’m also interested in seeing the interaction of various super-heroes on-screen together.  The idea of the ensemble is not new, but the idea of clashing personalities along with clashing powers is what, I think, makes the superhero genre so compelling (well, that and the cool special effects that help aid in the “suspension of disbelief.”)

I’m hoping that this movie will be as good as Wonder Woman in terms of both story, characterization, and visual effects.  A great Justice League will a shot in the arm, I hope, for a public that is beginning to tire of the “comic book movie” as a genre.  Me, I’d like this genre to continue as long as possible and hopefully, JL can help continue the trend.

Comic-Con Week–Stranger Things Season 2

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Image Source: SDCC Blog

So the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) or Comic-Con as it is usually referred to, happened this week and this is a celebration of all things comic book related, but also it is a huge intersection for Science Fiction and Fantasy.  While I’m not really a “con” guy myself, I still have found myself drawn to Comic-con because of all the announcements and trailers of upcoming Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Comic Book movie properties in the past few years.

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Stranger Things Season 2 (Image Source: CNN)

So this week, like E3, I’m going to take a moment to highlight some of my favorite announcements/trailers from the convention.  Today it’s going to be Stranger Things, Season 2.  My understanding is that this series (Netflix only) appears on Halloween (Oct. 31) and I’m pretty stoked about it.

Even though I’m linking the trailer in this blog post–Stranger Things, Season 2 Trailer–I haven’t watched it all the way through.  In fact, I’ve only seen about the first 10 seconds (the very first scene in the trailer).  If you watch those 10 seconds, you’ll see the kids peering into an arcade cabinet and playing a video game, Dragon’s Lair (pictured above).  That video game is one that I played when I was a kid (& bought on my PS3 when it was offered for sale digitally). To steal a line from popular culture, “They had me at Dragon’s Lair.”  I’m in.  I’m hoping that it won’t veer too far into the realm of horror and that it will stay creepy and thrilling without getting to gory, but we’ll see.

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Image Source: Steam

I’m excited for show and based on just the first 10 seconds of the trailer.  Job well done, Netflix marketing department.  Well done.  *Slow clap.*

Black Panther vs. Spider-Man: Learning How to Navigate Social Interactions through Comic Book Trading

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Image Source: Heroic Universe

So, in high school, I developed a passion for comics (heroic, mostly).  This was just before the time of Graphic Novels exploded in popularity where individual comic book issues were still the dominant form of comic book collecting/reading.  In my freshman year, I found several acquaintances who shared my passion and I watched as they traded issues amongst themselves.

Eventually, I joined their group and began to become involved in reading and trading comics.  As noted before, Spider-Man was my favorite hero at the time and I traded whenever possible for Spider-Man comics.  However, one of my friends bought and read a four-issue mini-series of Black Panther.  He traded it to me and I read it and enjoyed it, but again, wanted as many issues of Spider-Man as possible, so then I traded it for four Spider-Man comics.  My friend found out about it and confronted me and said that if I wanted to trade them to “X” person, I would have done so, but I traded them to you.  Luckily, our friendship survived that “rocky” incident, and flourished during our junior and senior years (but unfortunately, we lost touch during college), but I’ve always regretted trading away those comics.

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Image Source: Comic Vine (GameSpot)

Black Panther is such a “unique” character in that he (along with Storm) represent a non-traditional representation of a character of African descent.  While I like Cyborg (yes, I know, different publisher than Black Panther and Storm), I’ve always found that his characterization (like most African-American, African-descendent characters) relied on too much stereotype (esp. in the late 80s/early 90s).  Cyborg (and other characters of color) during that time period would often drop endings on words (such as I’m goin’, I’m goin’).  In the late 90s, early 2000s, this morphed to “cool” catchphrases such as “Booyah!”  Black Panther and Storm are both articulate and well-spoken, highly moral (often surpassing Captain America in terms of “Goodness”), and highly educated.  They are often aspirational and represent the “best” of the culture of African/African Americans/Those of Color.

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Image Source: Pinterest

With the upcoming Black Panther movie, I really wish that I’d kept that particular mini-series.  While I’m familiar with the Black Panther, I’d love a “refresher course” on the character to see what changes Marvel has made.  I’d also love to be able to compare comic and movie changes to Black Panther in the same way that I could do a comparison with Spider-Man’s movies and comics.  I will try to find out if that storyline was adapted/reprinted in a Graphic Novel, but somehow it won’t be the same.  To have the actual issues in hand to refer back to as well as the nostalgia of the issues and the trade and the friendship–that is something older me would tell younger me is far more important than the ephemeral satisfaction of “making the trade.”