Racing, Judging, Laughing And Chewing

Superman #709. I dropped the Superman monthly series last year when writer J. Michael Straczynski began the Grounded storyline, in which the Man of Steel walks across America. Yes it’s as boring and controversial as it sounds. Now that JMS has stepped back to focus on the sequel to the popular OGN Superman: Earth One, other writers have been taking over with his notes, and thankfully elevated the action and interest and all but dropped the boring bits.

This issue, co-written by JMS and Chris Roberson, with art by the reliable Eddy Barrows is an entertaining tale. I’m still wary of dedicating myself to this title again, but it’s full of promise once more. Supes, after trying to get a hold of his wife Lois, runs into The Flash (Barry Allen), after seeing the town he’s in quickly become a historic Kryptonian area, while parts of Krypton’s past ring in his ear. The Man of Steel realises it’s the Scarlet Speedster at the centre of all this, and saves him by lifting a golden headband off his forehead. The Flash admits that the headband fell to earth and his curiosity got the better of him, and he was all pretty much mind controlled when he put it on. Superman reveals that it’s a Kryptonian artefact, the two heroes go to a diner for a superspeed chat, (all in a second or two, while a waitress falls, but they save her after their discussion of course) about their respective proteges and who runs faster, and the headband situation disappears. I don’t know if its origin will be revisited in future issues, but this is a good story even without it.

There’s a flashback to a young Clark and Lex Luthor in detention (Clark was there for skipping school to save a burning town and Lex was there for stealing 40 cakes. Um…yeah, but it must be a reference to this classic kids’ book). That scene is unnecessary really, but at least it has one of those Superman quotes I’ve never forgotten, as spoken by Pa Kent – “There is right and wrong in this universe and the distinction isn’t hard to make.” I can’t recall when I first read that quote in a Superman comic, but it summarises what the Man of Steel is all about.

This was always going to be an ish with controversy, as Supes and Flash race (kind of) and it had so much that The Source, DC’s official blog had to disallow all comments from now on to try and stop the hate! Fanboys are passionate about such superhero matters.

Batman #708. Taking over from writer/artist Tony Daniel, David Hine and Guillem March do their thing in this 3 part tale that crosses over with Red Robin #22, before finishing in next month’s Batman.  Titled Judgement on Gotham, it has ex-cop Michael Lane, who’s the new Azrael calm down his new protégé Crusader, who has no nose, a scarred face and a knack for shouting Biblical passages. The third Robin Tim Drake, (Red Robin) and Catwoman showing up to help Dick Grayson (the new Batman) confront the zealot, and save some civilians who he almost purged with fire. With Dick Grayson suffering from side effects from Azrael’s burning sword in a previous ish, he sees false memories about childhood beatings, and gets fed up with the judgmental stance of Azrael and Crusader. It seems like this is a turning point in the relationship with the Bat family and the concept of Azrael as a righteous warrior.

March’s work has always dazzled me. I first saw it in Gotham City Sirens and I’ll grab anything that he’s involved with. More wispy and elongated than most superhero comics, March infuses his pages with the kind of dramatic emotion that Neal Adams can do so well, but with a P. Craig Russell-like sense of design. There’s a delicate approach when needed combined with a great sense of urgency and movement in the action scenes.

Iceman and Angel #1. This was such a fun read, which is no surprise really, as it’s written by Atomic Robo’s Brian Clevinger, who also put his comedic spin recently on Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet mini for Marvel. I’d like to spoil the jokes but I won’t as it’s so much fun to discover. Set in the First Class days of the X-Men, it has Iceman and Angel going on a holiday before a naked monster shows up looking for his son. Who’s in college. Hijinks, and great dialogue follow. Clevinger proves that superheroes don’t have to be all serious all the time and Juan Doe’s art is breezy and cool. Get this one-shot. It’s a refreshing change of pace from spandex melodrama and since it’s a done-in-one tale, it’s perfect for superhero newbies too. It has the best Namor cameo ever and some truly funny zingers.

Chew Script Book. Exactly what it says, but rather disappointing. It offers the entire script from the first issue and some sketches and that’s it. No insight into the origins of this hit Image series, no look at the initial proposal, just a script with a few pics thrown in. Grab this only if you’re a Chew completitst, or have no idea what a comic script should look like.

Then again, I’m neither and I bought this.

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