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Posts Tagged ‘Eddie Berganza’

Action Comics (1938 Series) #775

June 12, 2012 Leave a comment

June 12, 2012

Title: What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?

Writer: Joe Kelly
Pencils:
Doug Mahnke & Lee Bermejo
Inks:
Tom Nguyen, Dexter Vines, Jim Royal, Jose Marzan, Wade Von Grawbadger, Wayne Faucher
Letters:
Comicraft
Colors:
Rob Schwager
Cover Art:
Tim Bradstreet
Editor:
Eddie Berganza
Publisher:
DC Comics

With the new DC animated film Superman Vs. the Elite coming out today, I thought I would go back and reread the comic book that inspired it. This 2001 story by Joe Kelly was one that I remembered really enjoying when it was first released. Now, over ten years later, does it still hold up?

Hell, it’s more relevant than ever.

In “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” Superman is shocked when a new group of metahumans arrives on the scene. The Elite, led by Manchester Black, is a quartet of extremely powerful individuals who hand out their own form of brutal, murderous justice to criminals, often with no concern about civilian casualties or collateral damage. Public opinion of the group, remarkably, begins to rise, and Superman is suddenly faced with the question of his own relevancy.

This book was written as a response of sort to the growing popularity of comics like Wildstorm’s The Authority, itself a book initially conceived as the Justice League taken to brutal extremes. Then, like now, people questioned whether Superman could fit or belong in a darker, harder world. The thing that Joe Kelly did so perfectly in 38 short pages was show just why it was vital that a character like Superman refuse to cross the line the Elite trod upon. The final sequence of the story, the showdown between Superman and the Elite, is one of the hardest, most gut-wrenching sequences I’ve ever seen in a DC Universe comic book, but it isn’t gratuitous or shallow. It makes the point, it reminds us who Superman really is and why he’s important, and why characters like Black and the Elite are, ultimately, taking the easy way out.

The artwork here isn’t bad, with two strong pencillers and a tag team of talented inkers, but it does lack a bit of consistency, shunting from one style to another with more frequency than one would want. It tells the story well, though, and that story is strong enough that any glitches moving from one art style to the next can be easily forgiven.

If you’ve never read this comic before, it is currently available from the Comixology store (and if you’re reading this review on the date it’s published, it’s currently part of a 99-cent Superman Vs. the Elite sale). It’s well worth checking out before you watch the movie. It’s truly one of my picks for the greatest Superman stories of all time.

Rating: 10/10

DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

August 30, 2008

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Conversions

What would you do the night before the end of the world?

Writer: Brad Meltzer
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell & Joe Kubert
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editors: Eddie Berganza & Dan Didio
Cover Art: Adam Kubert, Joe Kubert & Nei Rufino (Cover A); Adam Kubert, John Dell & Laura Martin (Cover B)
Publisher: DC Comics

Since Brad Meltzer is the one who started the DC Universe in its current direction way back in Identity Crisis, it’s only fitting that he come back to make his case as line reaches the end of that road with Final Crisis. It’s the night before the last battle, the night before the heroes of the DC Universe expect the world to end, and everyone is preparing in their own way. What they do, who they choose to be with, how they spend their final night… these are the choices who make the characters who they are.

Much of the book is made up of short vignettes. Powerful father-son moments with Clark and Jonathan Kent and Batman and his two true sons, sister moments with Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl, and tender moments between husbands and wives are plentiful, and are to be expected. There are unexpected moments, too. A villain almost chooses to be a hero, a hero almost chooses to be a villain. Those heroes who seek spiritual guidance find it in a surprising but highly satisfying place. One hero spends the night pining for a lost love, while others spend it with their soul mates.

The core of the book, however, is Geo-Force. In his Justice League of America run, Meltzer established Geo-Force’s drive to get revenge against Deathstroke for the death of his sister. On his last night on Earth, he chooses to make good on that vow. Even at the height of the Outsiders’ popularity, Geo-Force has never been more than a B-list hero, but this issue he’s a B-lister who steps up and delivers a powerful, emotional punch that even the top heroes in the DC Universe would have trouble matching.

Adam Kubert’s pencils are good as well, and John Dell’s inks compliment them very well. The real shocker on this book, however, comes in when several of the pages (as well as the variant over) are inked by the legendary Joe Kubert. His pages have a wonderfully classic look to them, as though they fell right out of the war comics of the silver age… and for a book like this one, a war story look feels wonderfully appropriate.

It’s not entirely clear why this isn’t specifically labeled as a Final Crisis crossover. Although they don’t specifically refer to the events of that book, the thumbprint of the series is obvious. I can only think of two real reasons the book is marketed the way it was. First off, there’s a clear effort in the company to make DC Universe a brand in and of itself (as evidenced by the zero issue from a few months ago, the several reprint specials we’ve seen, and the upcoming Decisions miniseries). Second, although the book clearly deals with the Crisis, you don’t really need any knowledge of that larger crossover to understand, appreciate, and get absorbed by this wonderfully emotional story. It’s part of something larger – something that goes back to Identity Crisis itself – but it stands on its own. And it’s well worth the read.

Rating: 8/10

Justice League (2011 Series) #1

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

September 4, 2011

Title: Justice League Part One

Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils:
Jim Lee
Inks:
Scott Williams
Colorist:
Alex Sinclair
Letterer:
Patrick Brosseau
Cover Artist:
Jim Lee
Editor:
Eddie Berganza
Publisher:
DC Comics

The new DC Universe begins here! Five years in the past, the world has recently experienced the unveiling of its first public superhero, Superman. Suddenly, superhumans are crawling out of the woodwork, and Hal Jordan – Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814 – is summoned to Gotham City to hunt for an alien threat. He winds up encountering the mysterious figure known as the Batman, and together they begin the hunt for an alien that flees with an ominous cry… “For Darkseid!”

What we get here is great. The interaction between Batman and Green Lantern really feels fresh and new, while still being true to character. The scene where Hal realizes Batman doesn’t actually have any powers is really funny as well. It’s easy to read and accept this story as the first encounter of the greatest heroes of the DC Universe.

The problem with this issue is in the case of what we don’t get: namely, “enough.” It’s the first issue of an all-new Justice League and, in fact, the beginning of a whole new era for DC Comics, but all we really see here are Batman and Green Lantern. Sure, there’s a Superman cameo, and there’s a minor B-plot involving the boy we all know will become Cyborg, but there’s not a sense of scale here yet. If this had been an issue of Brave and the Bold it would have worked just as well. It seems like Johns could have tried to work in at least small moments for the other members of the team, something to give us a sense that they’re all coming together (like we know they are) instead of this merely being a chance encounter between two heroes.

It’s hard to believe Jim Lee has been turning out such great work for such a long time, but that’s certainly the case here. The book looks fantastic. I’ve always liked his rendition of Batman, and he does a very good Green Lantern as well. The last page of this book is the first time I’ve seen Superman in his new armor where it doesn’t really look out of place, and I hope other artists follow his lead.

I did like this issue, and I liked it quite a lot, but it felt like it was missing a little bit. I’m sure the next few issues will change all of that.

Rating: 7/10

Ion #2

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

May 30, 2006

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Torch Bearer Part Two

Kyle fights for his life – but what has he been doing with that life?

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Greg Tocchini
Inks: Jay Leisten
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Eddie Berganza & Ivan Cohen
Cover Art: Kalman Andrasofszky
Publisher: DC Comics

As word reaches Oa of the destruction allegedly caused by Kyle Rayner, Kyle finds himself face-to-face with a Thanagarian bounty hunter out for his blood. The battle reveals some unpleasant questions to Kyle, and he’s forced to wonder about the true nature of his new powers.

This issue goes by really quickly – the battle is swift and the things Kyle finds after he leaves go by just as quickly. It’s issue two and it still feels very much like setup. The good news is, the setup is intriguing. The questions about who really destroyed an entire world are lingering, and even Kyle has to question whether he could possibly be guilty. The nature of his new powers gets a little more explanation this issue, about what exactly the merging of Jade’s powers with his own Green Lantern abilities means, and it’s that merger that seems to be throwing things into question.

Last issue, Greg Tocchini handled the artwork solo. This issue he’s joined by inker Jay Leisten, and the improvement is dramatic. A lot of the problems Tocchini had with muddy characters and unclear forms are done away with. The art still isn’t perfect, however – in particular, Kyle’s face still isn’t working. Tocchini swings back and forth between a sort of cosmic effect and Kyle having a strange, “melting” mask, and neither look really works all that well. I find myself wishing they would just settle on a traditional mask.

As this is still the second issue of this 12-issue maxiseries, I can forgive it for being setup heavy – but that’s a card that the writer can’t play much longer. It’s imperative that Ron Marz get into the meat of the story, and soon, if he wants to keep his readers with him to the end.

Rating: 7/10

Adventures of Superman #634

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

November 15, 2004

Quick Rating: A qualified “Good”
Title: That Healing Touch (Narrative Interruptus Secondus)

When the Parasite twins attack Superman he gets help from a most unexpected quarter – Mr. Mxyzptlk!

Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Matthew Clark
Inks: Andy Lanning
Colors: Tanya & Richard Horie
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Art: Gene Ha
Publisher: DC Comics

As he did in the “Battery” story arc, Greg Rucka does a half-sidebar issue when Mr. Mxyzptlk shows up in the midst of a major throwdown. This issue doesn’t work quite as well as that first one, though.

I’m a fan of Mxyzptlk. I think he’s great for comic relief, and Rucka himself clearly has a great deal of affection for the character. This book is divided between goofy bits with Mxy interacting with the villains and the cast (and occasionally even with the DC Comics staff), and more serious bits of battle where the Parasites show more intelligent use of their powers than the previous keeper of the name ever seemed to do.

The problem is that this issue is trying to be two comic books – a comedy and a superhero action adventure. Both of these comics would work very well on their own, but the way Rucka intercuts between the two of them is extremely jarring and winds up hurting the story in the long run.

Matthew Clark’s artwork is always a treat. He has a very interesting take on Mxy, and his Superman is second-to-none. He handles the action and the comedy equally well, even humanizing the male Parasite to a degree. The script calls for him to have doubts about their little crusade – Clark does a fine job putting those doubts on the character’s face.

The issue ends with a very disturbing portent for the future, which is a nice touch. It’s a good issue overall, but not as strong as it would have been if Rucka had separated the two elements of the story instead of attempting to weave them together.

Rating: 7/10

Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #2

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment

July 21, 2011

Title: Emperor Aquaman Part Two                           

Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils:
Vicente Cifuentes
Inks:
Diana Egea & Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist:
Kyle Ritter
Letterer:
Jared K. Fletcher
Cover:
Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes
Editor:
Eddie Berganza    
Publisher:
DC Comics

With the isle of Britain thrust into the sky to be used as an Amazon fortress, Aquaman gathers Siren and Ocean Master to plan for an attack. This issue lays out much more of the Flashpoint universe, really helping to connect the dots. We see how Terra and Geo-Force became pawns in the Atlantis/Amazon war, how Mera’s death changed Arthur, and how Arthur’s own origin was twisted around in this universe. More and more, the theory that this world isn’t simply the result of Professor Zoom’s vendetta against Barry Allen is gaining ground, as each of the core Justice League members seems to have been targeted. This issue also helps to establish more of the timeline of this world, which seems to coincide with comments that the “New 52” will feature younger versions of the characters. We already know from Project: Superman that Kal-El crashed to Earth 28 years ago, and from the core miniseries we learn that Martha Wayne was pregnant with Bruce at the time (Superman and Batman are both just 28 in this world?), while this issue establishes Aquaman at about 25 years of age. It’s strange to think of these classic heroes as being younger than me, frankly, but at least in terms of the Flashpoint world, it’s working. Vicente Cifuentes is a great choice for the artwork, doing nice stuff underwater. Again, Kyle Ritter steps up, using his different color palettes not only to differentiate between the underwater and surface scenes, but other colors entirely for the flashbacks to Aquaman’s origin. It’s a nice package that entertains and pushes the world forward.

Rating: 7/10

Action Comics #820

August 3, 2011 Leave a comment

October 10, 2004

Quick Rating: Average
Title: Wail of the Banshee

The Silver Banshee returns for a face-off with the Creeper.

Writer: Chuck Austen
Art: Carlos D’Anda
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Comicraft
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Art: Joyce Chin & Arthur Adams
Publisher: DC Comics

First, the good news: this is not nearly as bad as the last several issues of Action Comics have been. The bad news, though, is that the reason it’s not as bad is because Superman barely appears in it. This is a Creeper story, with Superman making a cameo appearance as a deus ex machina which, when you consider the number of cancelled series the Creeper has left in his wake, is clearly what the readers were clamoring for.

The Silver Banshee returns this issue, securing a new human host. For some reason, this gives her a tongue longer than Gene Simmons, which she uses for various attempts at sexual innuendo, which has never exactly been a character trait she has exhibited before. She has no particular plan in this return, she just distracts Superman enough that he won’t be bothering her then walks around asking people to be afraid of her, at which point the Creeper shows up and obliges her.

Carlos D’Anda’s guest artwork works fairly well for this issue. He and Guy Major cast a dark, disturbing pallor across the comic that works with the frightening atmosphere the Banshee is intended to convey. They even manage to put Superman in this world without compromising the visual integrity of the character, which isn’t easy. As usual, it’s the artwork that elevates this issue.

In the end we get an epilogue that promises the return of a villain most readers were sick and tired of about ten years ago, and although there appears to be an attempt at putting a twist on him, it’s a twist that has been tried before and failed to make him any more interesting.

I imagine this was the Superman crew’s effort at a Halloween story this year. It could have been worse, but it could have been a lot better, too, which is something I find myself saying quite a bit these days.

Rating: 5/10