Friday, August 29, 2014

Superman, Teen Titans, Avengers trade reviews

Admittedly, I have more graphic novels, individual comic books, novels and celebrity biographies to read that even the most dedicated fan could handle. Regardless, I find myself still buying comics at conventions and checking out more trade paperbacks/hardbacks from the local library.

Here are reviews of six sentences or less of one graphic novel, SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE — VOLUME TWO, and two trades, TEEN TITANS: VOLUME TWO — THE CULLING and a Marvel Now collection, UNCANNY AVENGERS: THE RED SHADOW:

SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE — VOLUME TWO: In essence, this is the first appearance of Parasite in J. Michael Straczynski's EARTH ONE universe. The subplots include Lois Lane investigating her DAILY PLANET co-worker Clark Kent (only to find out he's intentionally set himself apart from others and tried to blend in ever since high school), Kent struggling with intimacy and the military beginning to take a stand on "aggressive countermeasures" to use against Superman — if the need arises. JMS does a fine job of writing Kent, but his Man of Steel comes off rather flat and uninspiring for some reason — and one of those reasons is the path of massive destruction Superman leaves in his fight with Parasite. Artist Shane Davis draws attractive people, especially Kent's va-va-voom neighbor Lisa Lasalle (Metropolis can't have enough alliterative L-names I guess!), but I still detest Kent's hairstyle.

There's a lot going on in this story and by the time JMS introduces Lex Luthor and his devious wife Alexandra into the mix, it's clear EARTH ONE lacks focus. Much like its predecessor, there's a lot of "eh" — waaaay too much of it. Grade: B

TEEN TITANS: VOLUME TWO — THE CULLING  (collecting TEEN TITANS Nos. 8-14): Too many characters, too many local shifts and not enough focus. The first portion wraps up the storyline started in the first volume and the rest of the trade is kinda all over the place.

The most interesting subplot involves the origin of Wonder Girl's "silent armor" and somehow through all this melodrama we're supposed to believe Red Robin (aka Tim Drake) has a thing for Wonder Girl and the still obnoxious Kid Flash and Solstice are a couple. I should have listened to my inner fanboy and left this trade on the shelf. Grade: C

UNCANNY AVENGERS: THE RED SHADOW (the first five issues of that series, first published in 2012): Everyone handles a loved one's death differently — and it's no different for the Avengers or X-Men.

In the aftermath of the massive, must-read "Avengers vs. X-Men" storyline and Professor Charles Xavier's murder, the two teams have joined forces in part to show the rest of the world that mutants shouldn't be feared. Given all that, Captain America's choice to lead the new superhero team is a controversial one, Havok — the brother of the very man responsible for Xavier's death. To add to the tension, Rogue still despises Scarlet Witch over the ramifications she caused during the "House of M" storyline.

Writer Rick Remender has a great handle on each character, but I'm not thrilled with John Cassady's art this time. With the Red Skull inciting the general populace into a frenzy of hate and this trade ending with Rogue borrowing Wonder Man's super-strength to wallop one of the baddies, this series is a doozie. Grade: B+

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