Injustice: Gods Among Us #1 Reviewed

comic books, comics, culture, writing

I’m late to this party, but it gives me some perspective.  There are spoilers below, and I don’t mean Stephanie Brown.

If you’re reading this post, you likely already know that the Injustice comics run was a digital-first release by DC in 2013 and a prequel to the eponymous game.  I’ve never played the game, so this won’t be about that.

Issue #1 itself.

The strongest thing in this book was the interaction between Clark and Bruce on the rooftop when Clark tries to tell Bruce that Lois is pregnant and of course, ball buster that he is, Bruce beats him to the punch.  When Clark asks how he knows, you’ve already been down this Batman always knows road so many times  you sort of just want Bruce to mess with him.  The interaction ends beautifully, though, and perfectly.

As for the conceits that get Jimmy and Lois to the docks, I’m not buying.  Do reporters risk their lives to uncover the buying and selling of elected officials?  Have they ever?  Should they?  And if the journalist in question happens to be married to Superman, is it really a step back for feminism to maybe have him ride along on things like this?  Maybe, except for the fact that “I’ll have Jimmy with me.  Because I need a picture,” is offered as reason enough for Superman to go ahead and hang out with Bats instead.  Shoehorning aside, the message seems to be “I don’t need Superman to come with me.  Any man will do.”  So, that’s really a net loss for the cause.  If you hated The Killing Joke for all of the reasons we shouldn’t have read it as 4th graders, what goes down at the docks is hard to take.  Maybe its the Joker’s get up or his evil snark, but the death of Jimmy Olson, shocking as it is, also feels like a cameo from that book.

The biggest take away from this issue, for me, is how awful Superman’s New 52 costume really is.  All of the embellishments take so much away from the sheer grandeur of Superman as an icon.  In a book like this, that’s fine, telegraphing all kinds of complexities.  But as the default visual markings of he most iconic superhero ever, it’s a needless story-telling hurdle.  Two-and-a-half years into the design, I’m convinced it needs to go.   It’s too distracting, too busy, too much.  It gets in the visceral way.

If we’re going to embrace flying men anyway, embrace this.  There’s no reason not to.

Speaking of better versions of Superman costumes, have you seen Val-Zod?

Lawrence O’Donnell Takes Off The Gloves: National Defense Authorization Act, Soft Journalism, and the Spoonfed Two Party System

advocacy, election, politics

Taking a cue from the pages of Superman, Lawrence O’Donnell lambasted the mainstream media Wednesday night for their failure to cover the Third Parties debate and for failing to address this little nightmare:

Imagine if Congress passed a bill that the president signed that allowed indefinite detention without charge or trial. That would be issue one at any presidential debate, wouldn’t it? The media’s favorite debate moderator, Martha Raddatz, would have forced a full discussion of that one at the vice presidential debate, wouldn’t she? Well, Congress did pass that law last year and President Obama signed it and he never mentioned it on his list of his accomplishments in any of the debates. And he was never asked about it, not by the media’s second favorite debate moderator, Candy Crowley, and not by Mitt Romney. It never came up at the two-party presidential debates.

Watch the video here.  It starts with the drug war (I’m not for legalization, but am for reform), and if that bothers you, fast forward to the part about the National Defense Authorization Act.  I kind of like how someone on Examiner.com put it:

But in the most shocking segment, O’Donnell laid out a serious charge against President Obama and the failure of the media and the public to hold him responsible due to a certain law that he signed called the National Defense Authorization Act, which according to O’Donnell will allow the government to detain, interrogate, prosecute or just make people who it suspects to be terrorists disappear without a trial of any kind, and this includes American citizens! O’Donnell then blasted all of the moderators of the three presidential debates between Obama and Romney for not bringing this issue up, and then he blasted the cowardly Mitt Romney for also being to [sic] sheepish to ask President Obama about this issue, instead of crowing about how he would repeal Obamacare, when he should be repealing this monstrosity.”

O’Donnell encouraged people to vote for third party candidates, especially in swing states.

Good for you, Larry.  Even if you were a few hours late to the party:

That’s Why He’s Superman: Clark Kent Goes Johnny Paycheck

writing

“I was taught to believe you could use words to change the course of rivers — that even the darkest secrets would fall under the harsh light of the sun…But facts have been replaced by opinions. Information has been replaced by entertainment. Reporters have become stenographers. I can’t be the only one who’s sick of what passes for the news today.”

Clark Kent, quitting The Daily Planet in a well-earned huff.

Reporters have become stenographers.  Nice touch, Scott Lobdell.  That certainly seems true in the national setting of televised news cycles and corporate communications companies.  Thankfully, cities across the country (including Allentown) have great local reporting.  It’s a crying shame that so many of their papers are owned by huge conglomerates and that they’re struggling regardless.

As for the newly emancipated Kent,CNN shares this:  “I don’t think he’s going to be filling out an application anywhere,” Lobdell said. “He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report than he is to go find someone else to get assignments or draw a paycheck from.”

Ah, Superman. You keep finding new ways to fight for us.

DC Reboot: Superman #1, Batman #1, Flash #1

writing
Flash (vol. 2) #1 (June 1987). Wally West hold...

Like Bach once said, "I remember you."

As you might recall, I really liked the social justice superheroics of Action Comics #1.  Last night, I finally got around to reading Superman #1, Batman #1, and The Flash #1 and wanted to share my thoughts.

Superman #1:  Very ambitious.  We have the struggles of new vs. old media, the problems with media conglomerates in general, Superman as guardian of the past, Clark Kent rejecting a sweet cable news deal because 1) he despises cable news and 2) millions of people would see his face every day, like, forever, a Perry White full of vim and vigor, saying “let’s show them the hard-hitting analysis that only print can deliver!”  A lot of things like that, which I eat. right. up.   The conflict between Supes and the actually “villain” of the arc wasn’t as interesting to me, but I do like the fact that the book serves as a one-shot while giving us the seeds of some classic arcs.  Clark loves Lois like Dobie Gillis loved Tuesday Weld.  And there’s even a young (much nicer) Warren Beatty type between them.

Unfortunately, the content of Clark’s exclusive story about Superman and the big incident, which we get in caption boxes, doesn’t feel like the front-page work of a great reporter.  I’m eager to give George Perez the BOD on this because 1) I’m a writer, and yeah, it’s freaking hard, and 2) he’s George Perez. Maybe Clark’s unpolished style is part of his cover?  There’s also a very strange crossover page from Stormwatch that makes Ben 10 look like Beowulf.

Overall, a good read with a lot of interesting things to say in the first half about history, time, urban renewal, economic decay.  I want to give it a 7 out of 10, but Action was so good, Superman feels more like a 6.5.  I’m conflicted.  I’ll go 7.  That seems high on a ten-point scale, but not as good when you think about it as a percentage and covert that to an an academic grade.  (This is why I blog).

7.

Batman #1:  The best of the bunch.    Bruce’s new contact lens tech is great, the Batcave looks great, and the internal monologue that stitches most of the story together is top-notch.  Bruce’s love for Gotham, and his investment in its future, could be a template for the philosophies of hope surrounding some very pressing real-world reclamation projects.  He exudes a strong ethos, suggesting that forward-thinking and risk-taking for the common good are moral virtues.  I’m not saying this was a civics lessons disguised as a comic book, but it was uplifting and hopeful.  Not something you tend to expect from a Bat-book.  And did you notice that I keep saying “Bruce”?  That’s an effect of good writing and successful character development in a matter of pages.   This still isn’t a book for kids, as a crime scene near the end (central to the hook for issue 2) reminds us.  If you’re looking for a Batman title for younger readers,  The Brave and The Bold is good  if you don’t mind mostly slap-stick violence.

8.6

Flash #1:  There’s a very special place in my heart for the Flash.  But my Flash is and always will be Wally West.  Jay Garrick is my second favorite.  That’s not a comment on my feelings about Baby Boomers in general…Wally is the Flash I grew up with, an imperfect hero struggling with all kinds of emotional issues and mentored by an icon from the Golden Age.  What’s not to love?  I totally get that Wally’s favorite Flash is his uncle, original mentor, and former partner, Barry Allen.  I totally understand the overwhelming sense of loss that pervades Wally’s Flashness, especially in the 90s, is what makes his character so compelling.  I also love that he’s a screw up.  I’m not 100 percent sure where he’ll shake out in the new DCU, but I hope there’s a prominent place for him.  I hope he’s not de-aged like all the Robins, but I suppose he has to be if Barry and Iris aren’t married yet.

Onto the Barry-centric book at hand.  Loved the splash page.  Captured the Silver Age feel that brought us Barry in the first place.  The story moved quickly (ha) and ended on a cliff-hanger that has me interested.  It felt like a younger read, something akin to those titles from DC’s early-90’s Impact line.  (The Fly was my favorite).  Since Impact was meant to introduce new, mostly younger readers to old characters at an accessible level and the reboot is meant to do the same, mission accomplished.   The Flash has always been one of the most kid-friendly of the major DC heroes (emotional issues that we adults love aside), and I think that will continue.

It was a fun read, which is the point of a Barry book.  I don’t like the new suit.  Too panel-y.

8

A good mix, but nothing touches Action.

The Superheroics of Social Justice or “Action Comics #1: Awesome Then, Awesome Now.”

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Action Comics #1 (June 1938), page 1: Superman...

Image via Wikipedia

You probably know about the DC Comics relaunch.  I picked up the new Action Comics #1 and really, really liked it.  Supes looks like Woody Guthrie.  He can’t fly (yet?) and is a wrecking ball for social justice.  He trifles with authorities and struggles to pay rent.  A hero for our times if there was one.

Commentators have been talking about this as a return to Superman’s activist origins.  Indeed, a read through the original Action Comics #1 from 1938 reveals a bold American character, an immigrant, “champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who has sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!”

I love this guy.  Read the original Action #1 here, and cheer with me as Supes dispatches the governor’s butler in a last-minute attempt to save an innocent woman from state execution.  Like I said, a hero for our time if there was one.