Veteran’s Day Review/Tribute: Superman Up In the Sky #3 Story-Just A Little Farther

Superman Up In the Sky#3-Just A Little Farther

Writer: Tom King

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Artist: Andy Kubert

I have always enjoyed the stories my Grandma had told me about my Grandad. I never met him but he was a hero who answered the call to enlist in the United States Army during World War II. Grandma also told me that Grandad fought in the Battle of the Bulge which was a huge battle that escalated the end of the War in Europe.

Sometimes, I tell people that Grandad was Captain America. When doing so, people often give me funny expressions and I just smile. I tell them what my Grandma told me: he fought in the war and returned a hero. Maybe my Grandma and her storytelling was why I love stories about heroes or superheroes. Heroes like Superman. Heroes like Captain America. Heroes like my Grandad.

But on this Veteran’s Day, as I think about Superman: Up in the Sky-Just A Little Further, I begin to wonder if Grandad was perhaps, Sgt. Rock? My mom told me a story where he had gotten shot at like any other soldier, seen many of his buddies die, and probably seen a whole lot of narly shit that only could be birthed from war. As Rock narrates his meeting with the guy in the red cape, he explains how “when you’re in the hurt of it, you don’t have time to think.” I am certain that Grandad thought the same thing after seeing the men he likely considered his brothers get hurt.

When I think of Just A Little Further, I think of two generations meeting in a time of uncertainty. I am also reminded of those stories my Grandma and Mom had told me. Now that I think about it, this story is similar to just that but with one of my favorite heroes added in it.

Just A Little Further is the meeting between a hero from the 21 century and a grizzled American soldier in the 20th century. It is a part of the Superman: Up in the Sky issue where Superman goes on a quest to find a young girl name Alice who was kidnapped by an unknown alien.

The very first scene of Further was moving. It showed Sgt. Rock carrying a knocked out Superman while shooting Nazis. A real bad ass drawing and one of my favorites next to Superman taking a green car and smashing it on a boulder in Action Comics #1 or Spider-Man saving a man on the cover of Amazing Fantasy #!5 (Just to name a few).

As Superman comes about, Rock asks who he is and where he is from. Superman response that he does not know who he is but that he is from Kansas. What is so funny in this comic is Rock calling the Man of Steel “Kansas” and gives him an army uniform to hide his costume and “long underwear” plus a pair of glasses.  The sargeant was probably thinking “who the hell says they are from Kansas and dresses like a circus person in a red cape?”  Nonetheless, Clark Kent becomes a memeber of Easy Company and takes part in the Company’s mission to take St. Ruth’s church.

What I enjoyed about this story is that Tom King wrote Sgt. Rock as this man who, despite obviously not having superpowers, is hellbent on completing the mission by going further. Rock even saves Clark’s life of several occassions until Clark becomes Superman again and helps out Sarge whoop some Nazi ass.

Tom King’s Rock narration had a lot of references to comic books and even Action Comics. I also loved how King wrote Rock and Superman being respectful toward each other as men and as heroes. Sarge’s narration of Clark telling him that he had read a lot about the war reminded me of my high school self reading a lot about the U.S. involvement in the war when wanting to learn what it was like for my Grandad. Another cool thing about the narration was when Rock said that he believed in the mantra of Truth, Justice, and the Amercian Way and that he also believed in Superman. The story ends with Rock bidding farwell to the Man of Steel, or Kansas and Superman thanks Sarge for saving the world.

To all the veterans, past and present (Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel and definitely Grandad), men and women, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neices and nephews and also to Tom King (who served in the CIA)…this day is for you. Like Superman, I want to thank all of you for answering the call to fight for our country and for saving the world. You guys have a special place in my heart.

Thank You.

Happy Veteran’s Day

Review: Tales From the Dark Multiverse-The Death of Superman

Tales From the Dark Multiverse-The Death of Superman

Writer: Jeff Loveness

Pencils: Brad Walker

Inks: Drew Hennessy &Norm Rapmund

Colors: John Kalisz

Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover: Lee Weeks & Brad Anderson

 

Warning Spoilers Ahead:

Could you imagine a love interest of your favorite superhero taking matters in her own hands after the death of the former? And when I mean take matters in her own hands, I am talking obtaining near cosmic powers that can potentially kill someone. Well, a Dark Multiverse version of Lois Lane has done just that in Tales of the Dark Multiverse :The Death of Superman.

There have been several comics or other mediums that depicted Clark Kent’s love interest as a Superwoman, In All-Star Superman, she temporarily had the same powers as Superman and fought crime alongside him. In Earth-3, Lois is an evil version of Superwoman who is the wife of Superman’s evil counterpart Ultraman. In the New-52, she was also Superwoman until Lana Lang took on the role. But in this twisted and dark Earth where the events of The Death of Superman play out, she does become a Superwoman but she takes it up a notch when she becomes the Eradicator after absorbing the powers from the Kryptonian Eradicator entity.

Jeff Loveness truly made the story that was penned by Dan Jurgens in a twisted dark story. I honestly did not see this twist coming but Loveness makes the reader understand why Lois had her reasons for becoming the Eradicator. He wrote a greiving, vulnerable, and angry Lois Lane hellbent and getting back at the world she felt let the love of her life down. At this point, we begin to see Lois’ gradual transition from the fearless journalist to a woman on edge.

Loveness also wrote Lois’ narration of the events in a poignant manner. In her nattation, Lois points out the hypocrisy of the Justice League when they are present at Superman’s funeral. She also notes that Luthor creating a golden statue of the Man of Steel would disgust Superman. What makes this sadder is that she is talking to Superman as if he were still alive and listening to her. She mentions that despite Superman having loved the world so much, the human race did not “try to be better.” We also see a scene where Lois is looking at Clark’s empty desk. Even more deep is the scene where Lois visits Martha Kent who has already become widowed after losing her husband Jonathan.

When Lois becomes the Eradicator (or EradiLois as I like to call her) she is more enrage and blood thirsty. Loveness writes a Lois who has no boundaries and is willing to protect the world by any means neccessary. Lois feeds the hungry, ends corruption, fights crime in a brutal and lethal manner which is very contrary to Superman’s less brutal method.

I also found the character of Tempus Fuginat very interesting. He is like a watcher of sorts who keeps track of the Mulitverse. His questioning on why the dark is growing and his lamenting of the light being warmth. Perhaps this is the allusion to the growing darkness within Lois as she grieves for Superman’s death. The use of Tempus at the beginning and the end of the comic was a great touch since he is used to question the darkness in the beginning and to justify it as a lesson in the ending.

In addition to Loveness’ writing, Brad Walker’s art also gave the Death of Superman story a dark twist. Lois’ Eradicator is drawn as a grieving and enraged Lois who is wearing Superman’s battle worn cape and symbol as a shroud. The cape and House of El symbol, usually symbols of hope, are now symbols of loss. The Eradicator Lois is a complete 180 from the firebrand journalist we all know and love. The art used to depict Lois’ powers are more darker than the original Eradicator’s. And let not forget the coloring of the darkness metasizing onto the Multiverse as Tempus looks on. The darkness is a black and purple mesh that is enveloping the many Earths in all the Multiverse.

As a huge Superman fan, I enjoyed the story and it makes me want to read the Death of Superman. Reading a comic like Tales from the Dark Multiverse- Death of Superman has made me wonder if other love interest would have done the same exact thing Lois did. Could you imagine Mary Jane Watson going crazier beyond Superior Spider-Man (minus the body swap with Doc Ock) and killing the Green Goblin after Peter Parker dying? Or how about Princess Leia embracing the Dark Side and confronting her son Kylo Ren after Han Solo’s death. Or (for Image Comics fans), if Mark “Invincible” Grayson died and Atom Eve became Invincible and killed Thragg and all the Viltrumites. Or in the Walking Dead, after the death of Rick Grimes, Michonne killing Negan in full view in front of all the communities of Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom looking on in horror?

It’s one thing for a hero to go bad when things get dark but a hero’s love interest going bad? That is a rather new crazy twist and Lois Lane sure pulled it off.

Smallville: An Awesome Superman Story

I am beyond stoked about news of the bosses behind the CW Network’s Arrowverse revealing yet another surprise for the Crisis on Infinite Earth’s five episode event. As I look up to the sky…

It’s bird….it’s a plane…it’s Tom Welling, reprising his iconic role as Clark Kent/Superman from the CW’s Smallville TV series.

Tom Welling’s portrayal of Clark Kent is one of my favorite incarnations of the Man of Steel  and it made me watch Smallville almost religiously when I was a teenager. As you, constant reader, must know, I am a huge mark for Superman.

Smallville debuted on 2001 and it was a story about a young Clark Kent trying to make sense of his who he is and the man he will grow up to be. The thing I enjoyed about the show was that Welling had showed a more vulnerable and human side to the future Man of Steel. Under the guidance of Martha and Jonathan Kent, Clark had to face what every teenager faced (puberty, high school crushes, drama, etc) while discovering his Kryptonian heritage and developing his abilities. In addition, it took awhile for Clark to learn how to fly due to him being afraid of heights.

In addition to being brave, selfless, and loyal to his parents and friends, Clark was also mild-mannered. I mean, how can he be Clark Kent and not be mild-mannered?

There are several scenes where Clark is a complete goof ball when many women show interest in him while he is oblivious as to what is going on much to the humor of the audience or whoever Clark was with.

Another cool thing about Tom Welling’s portrayal of Clark was that some people saw this it as an analogue to Jesus Christ. One scene showed Clark falling from a building after a brutal fight with General Zod. While falling, Clark had his arms stretched out which made him look as if he was being crucified. There was an episode where Clark discovered that his blood could possible cure a disease.

Like any Superman story, Smallville had an ensemble of  supporting characters including: Ma and Pa Kent, played by Annette O’toole and John Schneider; Pete Ross, played by Sam Jones III; Lana Lang, played by Kristin Kruek; Chloe Sullivan, played by Allison Mack (currently awaiting a trial which will be another story for another time); Jimmy Olsen, played by Aaron Ashmore; and Lois Lane, played by Erica Durance. We also eventually meet other charaters like Kara Zor El, played by Laura Vandervoort; Dr. Emil Hamilton, played by Alessandro Juliani; Tess Mercer, played by Cassidy Freeman; and Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, played by Justin Hartley.

Smallville also had an ensemble of villains that were original. Several notable villains were: Bugboy was a reclusive and creepy teenager who spied on Lana Lang; Desiree Atkins, a attractive and ravishing looking biology teacher that caused Clark’s sexual urges to intensify and his  heat vision to manifest; and Curtis Knox, played by Dean Cain (Who portrayed Superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), who was immortal and exchanged blows with Clark. Later on, we meet other villains like Davis Bloome, played by Sam Witer, who eventually becomes Doomsday.

A unique take on this show that I was a fan of was Clark’s friendship with his future nemesis Lex Luthor, played by Michael Rosenbaum (who also voiced the Flash on the animated Justice League). Their friendship began when Lex accidentally hit Clark with a car and they both fell over a bridge and into a river bank. Clark ended up rescuing Luthor and the took had become good friends. The two were like brothers and often helped each other much to the ire of Jonathan Kent who despised the Luthors.  Clark and Lex’s destined and inevitable rivalry was foreshadowed several times. Notable prophecies were made by an elderly woman who could see into the future and several Native American paintings that were emblazoned on the walls of the caves in the outskirts of Smallville.

Eventually, the animosity between the two intensified when the former a love triangle due to their shared love for Lana Lang. And it was further established when Lex’s once ruthless father Lionel Luthor, played by John Glover, found enlightenment, after being used as a vessel for Jor-El, and began bonding with Clark. Luthor was presumed dead for two seasons but not before finding out that Clark Kent was Kal-El. He returned in the final episode of  Season 10, being put back together by various cloned body parts by the Earth-2 counterpart of Lionel Luthor.

The last meeting between Clark and Lex took place  in a broken Luthor Mansion. At this point, the Earth was experiencing an apocalypse unleashed by Darkseid and the meeting between the former friends showed that their rivalry had come full circle. Clark was shocked that Lex was alive while Lex criticized Clark for not using his powers to their fullest potential. Lex commented that Clark being his enemy was what made him and that they would be great men.

“I will be there to stop you,” Clark promised Lex.

Another thing that was intriguing about Smallville was that it made me question the idea of our destiny. The question that popped into my head was: do we have a destiny or are we allowed to create our own destiny? Clark had made me ask that question whenever he struggled to come to grips with his heritage and his role on Earth. His adopted parents often assured him that he could create his own destiny while Jor El, the entity in the Fortress of Solitude, seemed more rigid or strict.

The show took place in Superman’s hometown of Smallville, Kansas. The town is a rural town that embodies Middle America and has an All-American vibe (though it was filmed in Vancover, Canada). We are also introduced to several notable places including: The Kent Farm, Smallville High School, the Kawache Caves (which lead to the Fortress of Solitude in the Antarctic), the Talon (a coffeeshop operated by Lana), and the Luthor Mansion. As the series progressed and Clark matured, we begin to see more of Metropolis and the iconic Daily Planet. We also see the Ace of Clubs and (the already mentioned) Fortress of Solitude.

Smallville holds a special place in my heart. It is not only a Superman story. It is a story about a young man with special abilities who wanted to live a normal and simple life. But even when that was not possible, that young man took it upon himself to become a hero because his adopted parents instilled values of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. But I think that the young man who would become the Man of Tomorrow did achieve much more than what he dreamed. He made some friends who were understanding and loving toward him, he became admired by the many he saved, and he fell in love with a beautiful and intrepid firebrand journalist name Lois Lane.

And the story wouldn’t end with Season 10. The Smallville saga continued in the form of a comic book which was titled: Smallville: Season 11. The comic introduced us to that universe’s version of Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, Barbara Gordon, Jay Garrick, John Stewart, and many other familiar characters.

Clark Kent - Smallville
Tom Welling as Clark Kent. Credit: DC Comics

This show and Tom Welling really made Clark Kent more human and relatable to viewers and myself.

As I write this, I am beginning to realize that this show has been telling me to accept and love myself for who I am. It realize that it has been telling me to accept my Aspergers Syndrome and to not push it away. Or perhaps, it was Clark Kent who was telling me to accept that part of myself. After all, ever since I was six years old, I had always wanted to be Superman.

I want to thank Tom Welling and the people behind Smallville for playing a role in my childhood. I also want to thank Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel for creating an awesome superhero who not only teaches us to fight for Truth, Justice, and the American way but to also love and accept ourselves and others. That is what makes Smallville an awesome Superman story.

Relaunching The Boy Wonder Press Podcast and Blogsite!!!

Hello everyone!

It has been awhile since I have blogged on this site but, it was due to doing a lot of meditating. Right now,  I realized that I want to have fun by doing what I love and that is writing and talking about comic books. That’s right peeps, I am going to be relaunching the Boy Wonder Press!

What inspired me to relaunch my site is my current stint on the DC Comics Geeks Nation Podcast (Not affiliated with DC Comics). I currently host the Flashcast where I discuss everything related to the Flash including the comics and the CW Network TV Series. As I did more segments, I realize that there is so much more to write and talk about when it comes to comics and geekdom. The late Will Eisner, the creator of The Spirit, and writer J. Michael Straczynski, inspired me to revamp the Boy Wonder Press.  In addition the Boy Wonder Press relaunching, I will still be doing the Flashcast and DC Discussion on Geeks Nation Podcast.

In the Boy Wonder Press, I will be doing written and audio comic book reviews. I will also provide honest and objective commentary on the news surrounding all things related to DC, Marvel, Image, TV shows, and anime.

Commentating on comics and all thing geek is so fun. Analyzing characters whether heroic or villainous is pure joy. Comparing the unique worlds to ours is an awesome and sobering experience. Whenever I delve into any topic I talk about, I always learn something new and that is a really cool experience. I have the Creative Writing department at UC Riverside and an AP English teacher at high school to credit for helping me develop my penchant for learning from reading an analyzing the stories and characters. I am looking forward to doing more of this on the Boy Wonder Press and also the DC Comics Geeks Nation.

You can find me on WordPress, Youtube, Anchor, and Podbean. Very soon, I will be launching my Patreon account and many other accounts.

I am excited for this new chapter in my life and looking forward to sharing it with you, constant readers and listeners alike! Until then and as I always say….

Stay ever so awesome!

-Brian reporting from the Boy Wonder Press on Earth-16

Krypton’s Cancellation and My Love for the Show

After learning that Krypon would be cancelled yesterday on Aug. 17, I feel that an opportunity to tell and complete a great story was lost. What I loved about Krypton was that it was not just an origin story before the origin story of Superman. With it’s characters and writing, Krypton was a story about struggle, hope, redemption, and revolution that could have went very far before the arrival of baby Kal-El.

Seg-El (played by Cameron Cuffe) may have not been Superman but he did evoke that same spirit of the Man of Steel. Seg was selfless, kind, and resilient like his future grandson. One scene involving Seg that I liked was that of a young Kryptonian man struggling to make ends meet. With the help of his bartender friend Kem, Seg is bare knuckle fighting only to make ends meet for his family that was once noble but now destitute. Another thing I found cool about Seg is that even after his parents were killed by his girlfriend Lyta Zod’s mother, Jayna Zod, he still stuck his neck out for her and the many others he cares for. If that isn’t heroic, then I don’t know what else is.

If you watched the show through out its two seasons and followed Cuffe on Twitter, you could tell that he really put a lot into the Seg-El character and was a student of all things Superman. In some epsidoes, he made several references to the past actors that played Superman: Henry Cavil’s boxing stance from Mission Impossible, the George Reeves wink, and Christopher Reeve’s quote “General, care to step outside?”

Val-El (played by Ian McElhinney) symbolized the indomitable hope that everyone, characters and viewers alike, had for Seg’s eventually return and Krypton’s freedom from the tyranical General Dru Zod (Lyta and Seg’s future son), played by Colin Salmon.

Both Lyta Zod (played by Georgina Camobell) and Jayna Zod (played by Ann Ogbomo) represented redemption from their upbringings and actions which were evoked by the events that were caused by Brainiac’s (played by Blake Ritson) arrival and General Zod’s accesion as ruler of Krypton. Nyssa Vex (played by Wallis Day) also had a redemption arc which was evoked by her maturity from a manipulative and opportunistic politician like her father Darron Vex (played by Elliot Cowan) to a loving and supportive character. The theory that she is Superman’s and Supergirl’s grandmother was further solidifed when her and Seg’s son Cor Vex was renammed Jor-El which was one of my favorite scenes of Season Two.

Adam Strange (played by Shaun Sipos) became one of my favoritee characters on the show. He was seen as a down-on-his-luck hero who he felt was a failure despite being sent by Superman to warn of Brainaic arriving on Krypton. He is the one that tells Seg that his future grandson will become Superman and give him a crystal that would open the Fortress of Solitude on Kryton. Seg is initally distrustful of Adam and doesn’t like him. Over the course of Season One, we see a man struggling to become a hero in his own right but despite his failures, he remains persevered. Adam finally becomes more heroic after saving Seg and Kem from an bomb rigged and Brainaic controlled Ona. This earns Seg’s respect and eventually, the two become close comrades when Adam zeta beams to the Collu to help bring Seg back to Krypon to stop Zod while hilariously being chase by Lobo (played by Emmett J Scanlan).

I would say that Dev Em (played by Aaron Pierre) and Kem (played by Rasmus Hardiker) also went through some changes. Dev went from a loyal and patriotic Sagatari to a man who was a voice of wisdom to Jayna Zod, Seg, and the rest of Team El. Kem went from a bartender who evoked comedic relief to a hardened soldier that retained his sense of humor even in the face of Doomsday before dying heroically.

The show had a lot of influences that evoked revolutionary and political undertones. While the Voice of Rao was seen as a theocratic figurehead, General Dru Zod was seen as a fascist and a conquer who wanted to take over alien planets. The Voice of Rao ruled Krypton with a velvet glove whereas Zod ruled with an iron fist while using the El manta of a better tommorrow as a political slogan. Black Zero led by Jax Ur  (played by Hannah Waddingham) and the Kryptonian resistance led by Val El  were obviously seen as the outcasts, idealists, and freedom fighters. In addition to this, we also saw that even a cause to overthrow tyranny had its own division due to Jax Ur’s extreme militarism versus Val El’s arahaic sense of justice that is similar to that of his future great grandson’s.

Krypton also introduced us to a society that is not too different from our own. When under the rule of the Voice of Rao, Kandor City was a fragmented society that had several elite guilds and a group call the rankless. The guilds lived in luxury while the rankless had lived in poverty. When Zod came to power, the fragmentation was dissolved due to Zod putting the rankless into military service.

As I write this, watching Krypton made me feel once more like that six year old kid who grew up believing that a man could fly. I was a scrawny kid who was barely gaining weight and not struggling with eating but it was Superman who got me through all that. After watching Krypton, it was as if I was reminded that I should never give up on my goals or myself for that matter. After watching the show, whenever someone asks me how I am doing, I always tell them: “I am doing well and working for a better tomorrow.” And I have everyone who worked on Krypton to thank for that. And of course, the special thanks go to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for creating an awesome story that made all of this possible.

I hope that Warner Bros. vouches to get Krypton back on the air. As I have written in the beginning, I feel that an opportunity to tell and complete a great story was lost. But it doesn’t have to be. I hope that someone picks this show up and continues to tell it because it is a great story about a young man struggling to fight for his family’s honor while fighting to save his home.  And it is a story of those who will help shape that man who will become the grandfather of the greatest superhero who believes in a better tomorrow and who inspires us to do the same.

I believe that Krypton will be picked up again. I believe that the show has more great stories to tell. And, I believe that if we tell the world to #savekrypton, the show will have a better tomorrow.

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Review The Flash#72-Year One Chapter Three

The Flash #72-Year One Chapter Three

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Color:HI-FI

We are already half way done with the 6-issue series of The Flash Year One saga. The retelling of Barry Allen’s origin story continues to unravel some aspects of the legend of the Flash that was born during the Silver Age of Comics. In the third chapter which is called the Rise of the Rouges, we see the young speedster take on the Turtle, the romantic relationship between him and Iris West develop, the prototype Flash costume, and the debut of a familiar villain from the Flash’s rogues gallery which doesn’t end well for Barry at the end of the comic.

Williamson’s writing continues to show the present-day Barry Allen develop into the hero that he will one day become. The scene where Barry takes on the Turtle shows the speedster alluding back to his childhood when he was bullied. It is in this scene that thanks to travelling to the future and meeting his olderself, Barry has chosen to once again cling on to hope like he did before his mother died. Despite Turtle rendering Barry powerless, it is with luck that Barry is able to phase through a brick wall and defeat the Turtle. The Central City Police Department arrests the villain and as a double victory, Barry and Iris begin to date.

Throughout the comic, we see Barry’s life become more balanced thanks to his speed. The comic book panels drawn and colored by HI-FI show the soon-to-be-Flash going out on dates with Iris, spending time with August Heart (the future Godspeed), visiting his father Henry Allen in prison, developing his costume further (which consists of a hoodie and red glasses), and being a hero by saving lives. The colors here used are have bolder but lighter hues which to me, evokes hope rather than the dreary colors of the dreaded future Barry ended up in.

It is not until after the scene where Iris visits Barry at his apartment, we get to the climax of the comic. After speaking with Iris about a criminal name Clive Yorkin (he was involved with the dead body during the investigation in Flash #70, Year One Chapter One). Barry investigates the case that involved Yorkin and John Banks (the dead man at the crime scene) and discovers that there is powder on Bank shoe. Barry suits up and rushes to the Central City Pharmaceuticals where he see’s  Yorkin and a group of criminals lead by one Leonard Snart, the future Captain Cold. Iris also witnesses Iris confronting Yorkin who threatens her. York pulls a gun on Iris to the point Barrry springs to action to use his speed save her from getting shot. But things go worse when the comic ends with Barry running away from the scene only to reveal that he took a bullet for Iris and is now near death at the end of the comic.

While I enjoyed the continuing story of Barry’s hero’s journey, I felt that the comic alone should have been more focused on how the Rogues came to be before showing the fight against Turtle. I am not saying that it should have had focused on all the Rogues necessarily but maybe it should have been centered around Leonard Snart and how be would eventually become Captain Cold. We only see several Captain Cold references with Snart, Yorkin, and the criminals wearing the blue glasses that Cold wears and that’s all we get.

Then again, this is The Flash Year One. However, I was hoping to see a little more about the Rogues than Barry in this one since the comic was title Rise of the Rouges. Then again, that’s just me. At least, we see the man who will one day become Captain Cold.

Overall, this was still a cool story which I give 3.8 Flash rings out of 5. The reason behind the 1.2 loss was it could have had made the comic a little Rogue centric before resuming Flash vs. Turtle. But again, that’s just me.

If you like this review, please feel free to follow my blog and hit the like button. Also if you agree of disagree with this review, feel free to comment. Flash72

Review: Batman-Last Knight on Earth

 

Alfred and Bruce's Cowl
Batman the Arkham Knight? Credit: DC Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Greg Capullo

Inks: Jonathan Glapion

Color: FCO Plascencia

I have read several Batman stories that have some science fiction element to them. The first series I read was Grant Morrison’s Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne where the world’s greatest detective travels back through several time periods to return the present day while his memory is Swiss cheese (queue the Quantum Leap reference). Recently, Bruce had to battle alternate evil versions of himself from the Dark Multiverse in Dark Nights: Metal. Now I have to say that Scott Synder’s Batman: The Last Knight On Earth, which is under the DC Comics Black Label, has piqued my interest and might actually become one of my favorite Batman stories next to Synder’s other work, the Court of Owls.

After reading the preview, I knew that I had to purchase my own copy and read the first issue. And I have to say, the story is crazy good.

I do not want to spoil the story toO much but it is interesting how it starts off with a case where, as the narrator puts it, there is “no grandstanding villain, no corpse, no real victim at all.” This made the story very suspenseful to me because that was when I knew something was up and that Synder was going to set something up in a big way.

And it went from that case to Batman waking up as Arkham Asylum patient Bruce Wayne.  We also see that several of Batman villains including the Joker are doctors or personnel at Arkham. Joker is Dr. Redmund Hudd, Ras al Ghul is Agol, a gym coach, and Thomas Elliot/Hush is a librarian. We also see Harley Quinn, Penguin, Bane, and Two Face.  In this world, Alfred says that Batman is a “bloody stage drama” However, Bruce figures out that Alfred is a frail old man and that this reality is as a world created by Alfred with the help of Toyman.

Here, we learn that Alfred wanted to hide what happened in to the real world knowing that Bruce would go out of his own way to find out what happen and do something about it. Alfred tells Bruce that the world was basically destroyed. And we see several references including the toy T-Rex and Penny which alluded to the Batcave and the Batman cowl attached to the straight jacket.  And we cannot forget about Gotham’s finest, James Gordon and Harvey Bullock being police officers trying to take down the mental patient Bruce.

Then we go to the scene were Bruce and Joker (without his body) stumble upon Wonder Woman and her band of Amazons which consist of Supergirl, Poison Ivy, Vixen, and Wonder Girl. Here, we and Bruce learn what caused the world to go to hell and who caused it. Omega is the new big bad who, according to Wonder Woman, is a former disciple of Bruce’s and has the anti-life equation. We only see a silhouette of the guy holding what looks to be Darkseid’s head.

One of my favorite scenes had to be Batman finding Joker’s head in a jar. What came to my mind in that scene was the Tom Hanks movie Castaway. In that movie, Hanks character is stranded on an island after a plain crash and he finds a Wilson volleyball he names “Wilson.” So, Joker’s head is basically Wilson but he talks and annoys Batman. What’s even funny is that Vixen and Poison Ivy don’t seem too phased by a talking Joker head.

The art done by Greg Capullo was very sharp and detailed. I have always enjoyed seeing Capullo’s art since it brings out more defined and bolder features of the characters especially Batman and Wonder Woman.The colors done by FCO Plascencia also compliment Capullo’s art and do a better job at giving the story meaning. My favorite panel would have to be when Alfred’s true appearance is revealed. To me, this symbolizes the years of struggle Alfred endured while joining Bruce on his war against crime.

The only thing that got me scratching my head was the narrator. I was wondering if it was Alfred doing the narration or perhaps if it was the Joker. The first and last pages of the story kind of threw me off a little in that regard. I don’t know…that’s just me. Or maybe that is Synder’s aim. To throw us, the constant readers, off the scent. Who is the the narrator? Alfred? Joker? Or, is it Omega?

And just who is Omega? We know that he was once a disciple of Bruce. But who is he or she? Dick Grayson? Jason Todd? Tim Drake? Stephanie Brown? Damian Wayne? Jean Paul Valley? Or even Alfred? Only time and the next two issues are going to answer those questions.

I am looking forward to the next issues. This book is definitely going to be one of my big reads this summer.

What do you constant readers think of the first issue of Last Knight on Earth? Please feel free to share a comment and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

Review: The Flash#71-The Flash of Two Timelines

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Artist: Hi-Fi

Cover: Hi-Fi and Howard Porter

Just imagine ending up in a dystopian future in which your home town is being run by a lunatic naming himself after an animal. Also imagine coming face to face with a more older and grizzled version of yourself. In The Flash #71, the continuation of the Flash: Year One storyline, the young speedster Barry Allen does just that.

Warning: There are spoilers. If you haven’t read The Flash #71, I advise you to not read the review. Otherwise, lets read on, shall we?

The issue begins with Barry thinking back to the night his mother was killed while he was a kid. He mentions having nightmares of a future without his mother but, the future that he (pun intended) ran into was far worse. Barry meets his older self who we learn is into hiding from the Turtle who siphons speed from the living. We also learn from older Barry that the Turtle wants his speed.

As opposed to the last issue, both we and young Barry see that older Barry is actually hopeful despite the situation in Central City. When young Barry is on the run with future Barry from the Turtle’s men, the latter reprimands his younger counterpart for being pessimistic and advising him that he has to move forward. Older Barry also reminisces about being a superhero and his adventures alongside other heroes. However, older Barry is very careful not to divulge about present Barry’s future. But he does something to confirm which timeline present Barry is from.

Future Barry quizzes young Barry about the many people in his life: Iris West, Wally West, Wallace West, and his mother. It is the question about his mother that gets present Barry piqued. Barry tries to ask his future-self who killed his mother (Anyone who knows or follows the Flash knows this answer) but Future Barry is quick to pull a River Song and does not want to give out spoilers. While on the run from the Turtle and his followers, future Barry admonishes Barry about the dangers of time travel. The two come across the Cosmic Treadmill which Future Barry says that will help present Barry get back to his own time. As the Turtle’s men close in on the two speedsters, Future Barry urges present Barry to ran back in time and that if Iris ever asks, Barry should “say yes, dammit.” Older Barry gets restrained by Turtles cronies as present Barry runs in the treadmill and returns to the present time.

After returning to the present, Barry, feeling spooked by his experience, vows to never use his speed and goes back to living life as normal as he can. However, he tries to come up with a way to create the Cosmic Treadmill and even his own Flash costume. He also cannot help but feel nervous but his nerves are calmed when he thinks of his date with Iris. As he is about to meet Iris, Barry sees Central City Police officers taking on the present day Turtle. After seeing Iris run into danger and without thinking, Barry runs to save her and decides to take on Turtle while wearing his prototype Flash suit.

I enjoyed the writing that Williamson and Porter brought to this issue. I liked that in the beginning of the story, they compared Barry’s fear of a future without his mother to the dark future he found himself in. In addition, I felt that the storytellers made Old Man Flash as hopeful and positive as pre-adolescent Barry despite that he was “maybe a few years closer to the finish line.” An example of this is when the older Barry grumbles about how pessimistic his younger self is after the former laments on failing.  Another example of this is when future Barry tells his younger-self that the life he has will become awesome.

This writing showed that Barry was learning not only that he will become the Flash but that he will be that same Barry Allen he was before his mother’s death. We see a slow but gradual transition from a jaded man to a hero. And I also feel that we see the beginning of Barry becoming who he is meant to be when he decides to take a stand against Turtle.

Speaking of the Turtle, the villain is a lot like his Pre-Crisis counterpart where he siphons speed for anyone. I don’t know if Williamson and Porter channeled the Mummy movies but the scene where Turtle sucks the speed out of the victim reminds me of how Arnold Vosloo’s Imhotep would suck the life out of his victims and leave them as husks. The writers wrote the Turtle, originally a villain who used slowness as a strategy to combat the Flash, as a power and speed hungry tyrant who was not one to be messed with.  After all, lets not forget the newspaper clipping mentioning that Barry lost Central City and even future Barry admitting his defeat.

The art done by Hi-Fi and Porter in this story was detailed and went along with the story. In a splash page, we see the meeting of the two Barrys in the middle of Turtle conquered Central City. In ths splash, we see a dystopian version of Barry’s hometown full of Turtle’s men and flags bearing the Turtle’s symbol. This Central City has more of a eerie green color that represents Turtle’s iron grip. The present-day Central City is bright and hopeful and pre-adolescent Barry Allen and the Flash as we know him to be.

Another cool thing about the art was how the artists used the colors to adorn the abilities of both Flashes and Turtle. The colors red and yellow were obviously used for both Barrys as they ran. However, future Barry had a darker red which I felt symbolized his Speed Force mastery whereas younger Barry’s red is slightly lighter . The scenes where Turtle sucks the speed out of a victim showed the victim turning into a white dried up husk while Turtle’s powers are bright green light orbs that emit out of him.

While this story was awesome, I felt that we should have spent more time with Old Man Barry. What was his story? We obviously know that he was the Flash but was he from a different time line? It would have been cool to see more of how he lives hiding from the Turtle. And what about Iris? Is she in this future? Perhaps we might have some if not all of those questions answered.

Overall, I enjoyed the scenes with the two Barrys and I am looking forward to issue #72 as present day Barry Allen or Proto-Flash takes on the Turtle.

 

Rating 4.1/5

Flash #71
Barry Allen Credit:DC Comics

Review: The Flash #70-The Flash Year One

 

 

The Flash#70-Year One-Chapter One: He Will Be the Fastest Man Alive

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Colorist: Hi-Fi

Cover: Porter & Hi-Fi

The 70th issue of “The Flash” is the start of the Flash: Year One arc. The issue presents a spin on the origin story of Barry Allen becoming the Fastest Man Alive. Like in the original origin story, Barry does get his powers by getting struck by lightning while doused with chemicals from his forensic laboratory. In addition to that however, we see several events that surround that fateful night. Constant readers be warned, if you have not read this issue of “The Flash,” I encourage you to go read the issue before reading this review. Otherwise, lets delve into Flash: Year One.

One thing that I like about the comic is how Barry’s mother Nora Allen serves as an inspiration to Barry from his childhood to adulthood. We see this in the first scene where he is reading the Flash comics with his mother in the dark attic during a stormy night. The comic also reminds us that it was the death of his mother that spurred Barry to studying forensic science so that he could exonerate his father Henry Allen who was framed for the murder.  And we also see Barry reminiscing about his mother telling him to keep on trying despite his setbacks when testing out his newfound connection to the Speed Force.

Another thing I liked about the comic is how it presents three versions of Barry Allen.

As a kid, Barry is seen as an idealistic boy who is hopeful despite adversity. This is apparent when he shows his mother the black eye that he received after defending a group of his classmates from a bully at school. Young Barry is also inspired from reading his mother’s old comics which are based on the Jay Garrick Flash. It is here where we see a glimpse of the Flash being a more hopeful hero despite the trials and tribulations he has to go through.

However, the second version of Barry Allen, the present-day Barry, is grown up but he is more hyper-focused and jaded due to witnessing his mother’s death and the growing crime in Central City. This is the Barry before he gets hit by lighting. We learn that the night in the attic was Barry’s last moment with his mother before she was murdered. This Barry is a CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) for the Central City Police Department who is too obsessed with work to pay attention to the reporter and his future love interest Iris West despite encouragement from friend and the future Godspeed, August Heart. Additionally, there is a poignant scene where Barry bumps into a man and his family. After Barry apologizes to the man, the latter forgives him and tells his wife and children that “we shouldn’t be out in the streets after dark anyway. But y’know what? The sun will come out tomorrow.” It is with this quote that makes Barry wish that he had the man’s optimism but after all that he has experienced in his life including the rising crime in Central City, he cannot help but remain jaded.

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The third version of Barry we see is a future version of Barry past his prime and a grizzled and hardened hero. This Barry Allen is obviously the Flash but he is living in a future Central City ruled by the Turtle. In this Central City, the Turtle is a self-proclaimed tyrannical king and the future version of Barry may be a freedom fighter or someone in hiding. There is also a newspaper clipping that present Barry sees which reads that the Flash had lost Central City.  Future Barry seems more jaded and angrier than present day Barry due to him losing Central City. This is apparent when he reprimands present Barry for time traveling forward in time.

The origin story shows an awesome scene of Barry getting struck by lightning and getting thrown back toward the chemicals used in his laboratory. In the first scene, the ominous-looking lightning is shown while young Barry is looking out at the window in the attic. We also see the lightning when Barry is headed back to his lab after working on a crime scene with Heart. To me, those scenes tell me that the lightning was wanting to strike Barry and it was waiting for the right moment to do so. There are also several Flash stories that allude to Barry himself being the very lightning that strikes him.

There are some panels that show Barry being in a coma for months and eventually waking up from the coma and testing out his powers. In those scenes, he treats his body like a crime scene by using his skills as a forensic scientist to make sense of his new found powers. There are panels that hilariously show an accumulation of Barry’s worn out running shoes before acquiring yellow boots meant for fire fighters (given to the Central City Fire Department by Wayne-Tech).  The yellow boots will become part of the Flash’s iconic crimson suit. There are other scenes that show Barry eating huge amounts of food due to his metabolism and training himself to use different abilities with his speed.

The graphic narrative done by Howard Porter and HI-FI matches up with story written by Williamson. Going back to the attic scene, the sky was a crimson color similar to the Flash’s suit. The art expressed in this scene makes the lightning look omnipotently fateful. The art projects Barry’s ascension to the Flash as an omen. I also felt that Williamson and HI-FI ripped a page out of orginal Flash creator Carmine Infantino’s book on how to draw the Flash. I learned from a documentary that Infantino drew the Flash with a two-dimensional delineation of speed. We see this in several scenes where Barry starts running when waking from a coma and when learning how to harness his connection to the Speed Force.

This was a cool start to the Year One arc and I am looking forward to reading the next chapter which is titled:” The Man Who Broke the Time Barrier!”

If you have any thoughts about “The Flash” #70 or the review, please feel free to comment. And if you like this review or my blog, don’t forget to subscribe to the Boy Wonder Press on WordPress. You can also follow me on Twitter @Boywonderpress.

My Review of “The Car” and how the Action Comics#1000 Story Appealed to Me

Almost any comic book junkie or Superman fan would know about the famous cover to the 1938 Action Comics #1. The cover shows Superman holding a green car over his shoulders and crashing it into a boulder while three guys are looking on and freaking out. And one of those guys is the center of the short story, “The Car.”

“The Car” was written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner and illustrated by Oliver Coipel. Johns is known for his run on the Green Lantern series as well as Blackest Night and Brightest Day. Richard Donner is known for directing the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. When I purchased the comic, I had read several cool stories but this particular story had a profound effect on me.

The short comic book story takes place at a 1930’s era auto body shop right after the events of the Action Comics #1 cover. The green car is a total wreck from the front and the first page shows two mechanics examining it. One of them asks what happened to the car and the other mechanic replies that he would have to ask the owner.

It is in this scene where we are introduced to the main character of the story and one of the guys on the cover of Action Comics #1. The man’s name is Butch. The mechanic asks Butch if an elephant hit his car and there is a flashback scene of Butch and his cronies in the car with a kidnapped Lois Lane running into Superman. Butch replies:

“A man wearing red underwear.”

He then also tells the mechanic that the man in the red underwear hung him on a telephone pole. With its art, the story does a great job at showing how he mechanic is in disbelief at Butch’s claim. The mechanic smirks and implies that Butch has had too much to drink and advises him that he will have the repairs to his car quoted. He also advised that if it were up to him and given the state that the car is in, he would junk the car. Butch asks for a ride home but the mechanic rhetorically asks him if his place looks like a taxi service.

In the next scene, the comic panel shows Butch walking alone in the middle the junkyard outside the shop. This scene is a homage to the quote: “look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” When Butch looks up, at first thinks he sees a bird and then a plane only to see Superman ascending above him.

“It’s you,” he responds.

Superman calls the man by his name and chastises that he is a criminal who “gets away with just about everything” and “pushes the little guy around” and “dancing with whichever girl he picks out in a crowd.” Superman also notes to Butch that some people would that he “deserved to be back on that telephone pole. Or something higher.”

But Superman also informs Butch that he did some research on him and tells him that he knows that his father had died in World War I and that he had to look after his ailing mother. Superman also informs Butch that he knows that he became an orphan after his mother passed away. It is this scene that makes this story get interesting.

It is her that we see that Superman, being an orphan himself after his parents died on the doomed planet of Krypton, could relate to Butch.

Butch tells Superman that he was 13-years old when his mother died and whenever it got hot, he and the orphans had always wanted to go swimming but couldn’t due to having no pool.

The Man of Steel advises Butch to be a better person and advises that despite having “had your fair share of knocks” and “knocking the world back like you’ve done” he could make a decision. Superman encourages Butch to “be that person who wasn’t there for you for someone else.” And in poetic fashion, Superman gives Butch one piece of sage advise:

“It’s your life Butch, you can fix it…or you can junk it.”

Superman flies away from Butch and tells him that he would see him around.  After Superman flies away, we see Butch letting Superman’s wisdom marinate in his head. In the very last panel, we see a smiling and peaceful Butch, next to the newly repaired green car, opening up a fire hydrant for children who want to go swimming but can’t due to having no pool.

To me, Butch’s life was just like the green car that Superman crashed onto the boulder after rescuing Lois from the criminal and his cronies. The car was heavily damaged to the point where the mechanic advised to junk it since repairs on it would be expensive.

I talked to my sister about this scene and the year it took place and she noted that Butch must have had it tough getting by especially since he was living around the time of the Great Depression which had affected the lives of many Americans, especially those living in the Midwest.

Superman could have let Butch hang on the telephone pole but the Man of Steel knew Butch had a choice to change his life for the better or…like the car, he could just junk it since the cost would be too heavy. But the former criminal turned his life around and it can be assumed that after his encounter with Superman, he devoted his life to helping orphaned children and maybe even adopted one himself.  After all, Superman did advise Butch to “be that person who wasn’t there for you”, presumably a father or father-like figure, “for someone else.” Mind you, this probably didn’t happen overnight.

This story really appealed to me because Johns and Donner do an awesome job at writing how we are all like Butch. We feel that to get by in life, our adversity gives us the permission to act, or not act, and we ultimately pay the price. We have a Superman who would grab our cars and crash them into boulders and we are left with the choice to make our lives for the better or for the worse. I would be lying to you if I said that I did not have moments where I was Butch.

One notable Butch moment came when I was going through one of the hardest years at the University of California, Riverside. It was in a Journalism classes during the winter and spring quarters and I was struggling.  I felt that the 2008-09 school year  was plagued  with personal issues and with criticism of my writing when people were actually trying to help me. The not-so-sweet cherry on top was when a girl I had a crush on was dating another guy and even worse, she invited me to hang out with him, his cousin and her at the 2009 UCR Heat Block Party.

During Spring Semester, I was at my lowest and I spoke to my journalism professor who put me on blast for not doing my readings and that I often raised my hand too much instead of just listening to the lecture. My heart sank when she implied that she knew I was slacking off because she commented earlier that I was a smart guy and my writing had been improving the previous quarter. Like Superman, she grabbed my green car and rammed it into a boulder. And like Butch, I had a choice to either do better or continue to do worse.

I told my professor what I had been going through and she sat across from me and listened. I told her about my personal issues that were gnawing at me and about the girl I had a crush on. My professor smiled and advised me that to let the girl go and that she was not worth my time. She also advised me to listen more and to seek counselling. I think she also implied that she wanted me to be the writer I wanted to be instead of being the dude trying to prove to the world that he was a smart guy by raising his hand all the time. As a result, I rebounded and did good in the class which in turn helped me with my writing and adopt a more descriptive writing style.

That  day with my professor is one of the days that I cherish because, it taught me how to be more committed to my goals and less prideful and it also garnered an admiration for my professor. And when it came to the girl I had a crush on, I had finally accepted the fact that she was not interested in me and let her go after trying to work it out.

I know that the day is going to come where I run into a Butch who is only trying to get by in this world. And like my journalism professor and Superman, I am going to have grab that Butch’s green car and smash it into a boulder and advise him or her that he or she had a choice to make life for better or for worse. We all experience those moments whether from the point-of-view of a Butch or a Superman.

If there is anything that “The Car” taught me, it is that when it comes to our lives, we always have a choice to “fix it…or you can junk it.”