Weekly Comic-Book Roundup #1

As a writer, I am always looking towards other creative fields for inspiration. Growing up and well into adulthood now, one of my biggest sources of creative inspiration has been comic books. Whether it was all powerful heroes like Superman or everyday vigilantes like Batman, I’ve loved reading the stories of DC Comics, Marvel and more. The incredible world building, mythology and character development are part of the inspiration for me as a writer when I look to build my own fictional universes. For me and many others out there, comic books serve as the modern day version of Greek mythology, not to mention the other various mythologies of our world.

With that in mind, I want to try and start a new weekly series where I review the comics I read in that given week. Not all of these will be brand new releases. However I think comic books can stand the test of time, and I want to keep that storytelling power alive by sharing with you all what I read in the world of comics. So with that in mind, here is the first comic book roundup.

Thor, Volume 1: The Goddess of Thunder (Thor (2014) #1)

Written by Jason Aaron

Illustrated by: Jorge Molina, Russell Dauterman 

Synopsis

Who is the Goddess of Thunder?

The secrets of Original Sin have laid low one of Marvel’s greatest heroes. The God of Thunder is unworthy, and Mjolnir lies on the moon, unable to be lifted! But when Frost Giants invade Earth, a new hand will grasp the hammer–and a mysterious woman will take up the mantle of the mighty Thor! Her identity is secret to even Odin, but she may be Earth’s only hope against the Frost Giants. Get ready for a Thor like you’ve never seen before as this all-new heroine takes Midgard by storm! Plus: The Odinson clearly doesn’t like that someone else is holding his hammer–it’s Thor vs. Thor! And Odin, desperate to see Mjolnir returned, will call on some very dangerous, very unexpected allies. It’s a bold new chapter in the storied history of Thor! 

CollectingThor 1-5

Verdict

As a longtime fan of Thor, I have to say that I personally was loving this new twist on the mythology. Already playing off the classic Norse mythology of Asgard, Odin and Thor himself, this new story showcases the god of thunder in a whole new light, as his power is bestowed onto a new hero, the goddess of thunder herself Thor. Playing with the mystery of this woman’s true identity, it allowed the Thor we know to take a hard look at himself and decide whether he was a hero without the hammer or not. Meanwhile, the narrative played well with the modern day social problems many women face. Told they can’t do the same job as a man and aren’t as powerful, the new Thor shows that she is just as worthy of Mjolnir and the power of Thor as the original Odinson, and more so than any other man in the universe. A hero in her own right, the artwork captures her raw power and the almost fantasy-like quality of classic mythology we’ve seen for ages in art. This is a must read story of female empowerment, heroism and adversity against all odds. 

Rating: 10/10

Convergence (Convergence 0-8)

Written by: Jeff King

Illustrated by: Carlo Pagulayan 

Synopsis

This is it! The entire DC Universe from the dawn of time through the New 52 stars in CONVERGENCE, an unprecedented event that brings together your favorite characters from every era and series—and none of them will ever be the same.

The evil alien intelligence known as Brainiac has stolen 50 doomed cities from throughout time and space and brought them to a place beyond the Multiverse—a sentient planet of his own design, a world with the power of a god. As heroes and villains from dozens of worlds battle each other for their very existence, it’s up to a ragtag band of warriors from a slain Earth to put an end to this threat that bends the Multiverse to its will. Reality itself hangs in the balance…

Existence comes to end and a beginning with writers JEFF KING (USA’s White Collar), SCOTT LOBDELL (SUPERMAN: DOOMED) and DAN JURGENS (BATMAN BEYOND), and artists CARLO PAGULAYAN (Incredible Hulk), STEPHEN SEGOVIA (GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS), ANDY KUBERT (DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN) and ETHAN VAN SCIVER (GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH). Collects CONVERGENCE #0-8.

Verdict

A fantastic delve into the concept of the multiverse, DC Comics unleashed a whirlwind story of sentient planets, monstrous AI villains who sought to control, and a madman who’s quest for power nearly leads to the destruction of the multiverse. Meant to end the New 52 branding (not necessarily the stories themselves), this crossover event featured the heroes of Earth 2 as they sought allies across the other captured realities of Brainiac in hopes of returning home. The blend of stories and universes was well thought out and gave fans an opportunity to follow a group of heroes not always featured prominently such as Jay Garrick’s The Flash or the Flashpoint Batman. Now one critique I would have is if fans are unfamiliar with the New 52’S Earth 2 heroes or storyline, or the multiverse as a whole, it might be a bit confusing to follow the overall plot. Not as much time was spent exploring the character’s backstories (especially due to the sheer volume of various incarnations of characters), but overall the story still shined and laid the groundwork for the coming of the Rebirth storyline in the years to come.

Rating: 8/10

Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham

(Batman (2016) #1)

Written by Tom King and Illustrated by David Finch

The Synopsis

Part of the most critically acclaimed, best-selling, all-new line of volume one graphic novels, DC Universe Rebirth!

He is Gotham City’s hero, its Dark Knight, its greatest protector. He is Batman. And he is not alone.

There are two new heroes in town-a pair of masked metahumans with the powers of Superman and a devotion to preserving all that is good about this twisted city. Calling themselves Gotham and Gotham Girl, they’ve saved Batman’s life, fought by his side and learned from his example.

But what happens if Gotham’s new guardians go bad? What if they blame the Dark Knight for the darkness that threatens to drown their city?

When sinister forces are unleashed that can warp the minds of men and make heroes into monsters, the time will come for Batman and his allies to decide once and for all: Is Gotham a force for good…or an engine of evil?

From the blockbuster DC Universe Rebirth event comes BATMAN VOL. 1: I AM GOTHAM-the beginning of an all-new saga in the life of the Dark Knight from superstars Tom King (GRAYSON) and David Finch (WONDER WOMAN), featuring an all-star cast of creators such as Scott Snyder (BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS), Ivan Reis (JUSTICE LEAGUE) and Mikel Janín (JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK)! This great starting-point graphic novel collects BATMAN: REBIRTH #1 and BATMAN #1-6. 

The Verdict

Writer Tom King and illustrator/artist David Finch expertly bring the gritty world of Gotham to life in this first volume of Batman’s Rebirth story. Exploring the influence and inspiration that the legend of the Batman has on the citizens of Gotham, (whether it’s a young boy and girl inspired to become heroes or low-level criminals spurned into becoming deadly villains), this volume does a marvelous job of showcasing Batman’s hope for a Gotham that is always protected, even if he were no longer there. It also does a great job of showing how the most noble and heroic person is susceptible to negative influences, and could easily fall to the dark side, so to speak. It’s a haunting and poetic story of good versus evil, and the dangers that come from stepping into the role of a city’s hero. 

Rating: 10/10

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Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save The World; Which One Do We Need Most Now? By Travis Smith | REVIEW

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Superheroes are one of the biggest money grabbers of the twenty-first century. Fans around the world love flocking to the world’s of Marvel, DC and other comic book publishers who make the most popular comic books, films, television programs and more. Yet there has been one question that has always been on fans minds since the comic book industry began: who is the best of all the heroes? While this has always been a matter of popularity, but author Travis Smith has done something truly spectacular by focusing not on their popularity, but the ethics of each character and comparing it to our society today and what we truly need in a hero. That’s what makes Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save The World; Which One Do We Need Most Now? such an incredible read. Here’s the synopsis:

Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.

Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.

How, then, shall we live?

How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)

How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)

What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)

Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)

Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over. 

This is truly one of the most unique books I’ve read this year. The deep analysis of each of these well known heroes and the complexities of each character’s heroic actions and their motivations is something that’s always fascinated me. Yet never before has someone so articulately brought these issues to the forefront of the comic book industry and given audiences a deeper connection to these heroes as Travis Smith has done.

The book allows audiences to really analyze the motivations these characters have for taking on the mantle of hero, and whether or not their actions are completely selfless or not. It also compares these heroes and their ethics to our current political climate and gives historical context to these hero’s actions as well. It’s a really interesting and wonderfully different perspective that allows a wider audience as well as die hard comic book fans an opportunity to really understand the heroes they love in a whole new way.

Overall I loved this book. It was entertaining yet educational all at once, delving into political, intellectual, philosophical and of course ethical questions no one usually bothers to ask about the superhero community. Yet the author does a superb job of bringing these issues to light and giving us a chance to look deep within ourselves and determine which hero represents our best, brightest and most ethical hero in the twenty-first century. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Superhero Ethics by Travis Smith today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author:

Smith_Travis

Travis Smith is the author of Superhero Ethics (Templeton Press). He received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of political science at Concordia University. He has been collecting comic books since he bought Uncanny X-Men #207 with his allowance in 1986. His writing has appeared in the Weekly Standard and Convivium Magazine. For more information, please visit https://www.templetonpress.org/books/superhero-ethics

The New 52: Futures End, Vol. 1 Review

A horrific future filled with mechanical bugs and cyborg heroes terrorizing the world lead one man to take the fight into the past in DC Comic’s very own The New 52: Futures End, Vol. 1! Created by  Brian AzzarelloJeff LemireDan JurgensKeith GiffenPatrick Zircher (Illustrator), Aaron Lopresti (Illustrator), Jesús Merino (Illustrator), the first volume shows the groundwork for this apocalyptic future where the evil program Brother Eye has decimated the DC Universe as we know it, and the fight for the future rests on the shoulders of everyone’s favorite future Batman, Terry McGinnis. Here’s the synopsis:

Five years from now, the DC Universe is reeling from a war with another Earth, leaving the world unprepared for an approaching evil that threatens to destroy the future. As heroes are turned into mindless villains, the planet as we know it is no more. The only salvation lies in the past, where this future apocalypse must be averted. Can a time-traveling Batman Beyond help a massive cast of the DCU’s finest avert the impending apocalypse? 

Written by a cast of the industry’s best talents, including Jeff Lemire, Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens, this new epic series will expose the secrets of the New 52 universe!

Collects issues #0-17.

The artwork and story of this DC Comics event is both breathtaking and haunting all at once. The first pages hit the reader hard with a monstrous future. Seeing the likes of Wonder Woman, Constantine and other beloved heroes transformed into mechanical cyborgs programmed to kill or assimilate the heroes of the world, seeing these iconic heroes bodies torn asunder by these machines is heartbreaking to watch, and really sets the stage for this life or death fight that Batman Beyond has to make.

The trip back to the past shows a world torn apart by politics, war and conflicting ideologies. A more relevant reflection of our current society, this story shows what happens when people fear refugees that hail from the same region as known enemies, and the hardship these refugees face because of narrow minded politics. We also see the beginnings of a major conspiracy, with a new Superman who wears a mask and becomes more and more violent, a Firestorm divided amongst themselves and Frankenstein traveling into space to find the cause of a superhero team’s demise. It’s everything you want in a huge DC Comics event, exploring both the cosmic and mystical realms of the DC universe.

Overall this was a fantastic start to an intense comic book event. By the first volumes end, the true enemy will be revealed, and the fight for the future will truly begin. Can Terry stop Brother Eye from gaining power before it’s too late? Will the heroes of the DC universe be able to stop the coming threat? Find out by picking up your copies of The New 52: Future’s End today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/New-52-Futures-End-Vol-ebook/dp/B00MV1O02U/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523852018&sr=1-10&keywords=The+New+52

Forever Evil (Justice League, Volume II) by Geoff Johns Review

For this installment of comic book reviews, we are diving head first into the DC Comics event Forever Evil by writer Geoff Johns. A story of a world without it’s heroic protectors, and the people who rise above themselves to battle a world conquering evil. In a world filled with villains, will a hero arise? Here’s the synopsis:

The Justice League is DEAD! And the villains shall INHERIT the Earth! In a flash of light, the world’s most powerful heroes vanish as the Crime Syndicate arrives from Earth-3! As this evil version of the Justice League takes over the DC Universe, no one stands in the way of them and complete domination … no one except for Lex Luthor. By New York Times #1 best-selling creators Geoff Johns and David Finch, FOREVER EVIL is the first universe-wide crossover of The New 52.

Collects FOREVER EVIL #1-7.

This was a truly unique story. Exploring the DC Comics universe without a Justice League to protect it was a marvelous story for the writer to explore here. Are there villains strong enough or willing enough to step up to the plate and become heroes when the OG heroes are gone or worse, dead? The big highlight of this story to me are the characters Lex Luthor and Captain Cold. Luthor is a fantastic character because he showcases selfish motivations throughout his criminal career, and the beginning of this tale is no different. However we also see another side to the villain when a new life is bound to his, and the fate of the world hangs in his hands. Captain Cold meanwhile is the perfect anti-hero, as he is a Flash villain with a code of honor, not willing to sacrifice the fate of innocent people for his own needs. Going up against the ruthless version of the Justice League, these two and other villains rise to face the Syndicate, which showcases the mirror image of our favorite heroes.

The artwork for this collection was amazing, showing the gritty and brutal nature of the Syndicate and the real life or death stakes that these characters face against this all powerful enemy. The shocking deaths of certain characters and the heroes that work from the shadows to fight the enemy make this an incredible read, but the beautiful use of color in this story highlights the shocking turn of events this DC Comics event represents.

Overall this was an amazing story. Filled with humor, action and unbelievable character development, the story of Forever Evil is one that deserves to be read over and over again. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Forever Evil by Geoff Johns today!

Rating: 10/10

Infinity: Volume 1 by Jonathan Hickman Review

In honor of the upcoming blockbuster event of the year, (Avengers: Infinity War), it’s time to check out one of the influences for the film, Infinity by writer Jonathan Hickman. The story explores a major Marvel event, where Thanos begins a galactic war as the Avengers fight both in space and on Earth. Here’s the synopsis:

The year’s most anticipated blockbuster cosmic event is here, as the Marvel Universe marches towards Infinity! The mad titan Thanos makes his world-shattering return, and his armies fire the opening shots of a galactic war that will be fought both on Earth and in deep space – with our heroes caught between both battles! As Thanos’ secrets are revealed, the Inhumans’ city of Attilan falls, and the Illuminati find themselves on the front line! And as every Origin Site on Earth goes active, the Builders enter the Marvel Universe. But can the Avengers return to Earth in ti me to save it, when betrayal in the Galactic Council has left them prisoners of war? Galactic empires will fall as Thanos’ crazed plans come to fruition!

Collecting Infinity #1-3, Avengers #18-20, New Avengers 9-10.

The graphic novel does an excellent job of bringing the larger than life scale of the threat of Thanos to life. The story of Thanos and his Black Order is a unique addition to the Infinity saga, adding new threats and a much more powerful army to Thanos that the Avengers must face. The artwork is beautiful, integrating the various factions of the Marvel Universe. We see the beginning of the fall of Attilan, the Inhumans Kingdom after Thanos begins his conquest of Earth. We get a taste of the influences for the upcoming film in the MCU, and got to witness the ruthlessness and villainy of Thanos.

Overall I loved this comic book. The maturity and graphic nature of this particular story kind of helped establish the stakes of the fight between the Avengers and Thanos. A story of manipulation, power and hope, this was an amazing story to read. If you guys haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Infinity: Volume 1 by Jonathan Hickman today!

Rating: 10/10

 

Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka (Writer) Review

The powerful Amazon warrior Wonder Woman returns in her first DC Rebirth graphic novel, Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Lies. Written by Greg Rucka, the graphic novel finds Wonder Woman with two sets of memories, and in search for the truth. Here is the official synopsis:

A part of DC Universe: Rebirth!

New York Times best-selling writer Greg Rucka returns to Wonder Woman! After suffering an unimaginable loss, Diana must rebuild her mission as Earth’s ultimate protector and champion. However, in the midst of her grief, her Lasso of Truth stopped working! Start down the rabbit hole as dark secrets from Wonder Woman’s past unravel her present!

From the ashes of DC Universe: Rebirth, critically acclaimed writer Greg Rucka along with illustrator Liam Sharpunveil a tale that will forever alter the DC icon in Wonder Woman, Volume 1: The Lies!

Collecting: Wonder Woman 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, Rebirth

The incredible work done in this graphic novel is truly breathtaking. The strength and courage Diana displays as Wonder Woman showcases both the emotion and power women can emulate all at once, while also exploring the larger DC Universe as a whole. The latest incarnation of the DC Multiverse introduces the dark new version of The Cheetah, Wonder Woman’s friend turned hated enemy. Showing the horrors of her origin, Cheetah may be Wonder Woman’s only hope of finding her home. The way the writer showcases the affect of the multiversal changes to DC Comics on Wonder Woman is a brilliant stroke of storytelling, and the art is incredibly vivid. The lush environments seem to just pop off of the pages, and the wider conspiracy teased in the pages of this graphic novel make for a compelling and edge of your seat story.

Overall this was an incredible read. Filled with classic Wonder Woman and DC Comic goodness, the story highlights the strength and wisdom of the character, all while showing off the long standing affects of multiverse changes. If you have’t yet pick up your copy of Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka today!

Rating: 10/10

Greg Rucka (Writer), Liam Sharp (Artist), Jodi Wynne (Letterer), Matthew Clark (Penciller), Sean Parsons (Inker), Laura Martin (Colorist), Jeremy Colwell (Colorist)

 

Jessica Jones Vol 1: Uncaged by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer) Review

A gritty graphic novel showing the darker side of the Marvel Universe, writer Brian Michael Bendis brings to life one of the world’s most beloved characters in recent years, Jessica Jones. The story of a woman with a haunted past and a dark secret comes to life in this amazing noir style graphic novel. Here is the synopsis:

After a decade, Jessica Jones is back in her own solo series! A lot has changed in the Marvel Universe and there are many secrets hiding in the shadows – secrets only a special woman like Jessica Jones can hope to uncover. Alias Investigations is open for business, and of all the many mysteries to discover, her new case may be the most dangerous one! This blistering new series is filled with haunting revelations from Jessica’s past, and answers to some of the biggest questions about the new Marvel NOW! universe! From Jessica Jones’ original creators comes an all-new chapter in the world-famous private eye’s ongoing adventures!

COLLECTING: JESSICA JONES 1-6

I loved this graphic novel. The series brings the gritty nature so many fans have fallen in love with over the course of two seasons on the Netflix series of the same name, while also incorporating the larger Marvel Universe in new and unexpected ways. Twists and turns take Jessica on a lonely journey, alienating not only her friends and allies, but the man she loves as well. Filled with humor, action and a budding mystery within the Marvel Universe, this comic brings the story like only Jessica Jones could. Arguably one of the most complex and strong female characters in the Marvel Comics Universe, the artists and writers did a fantastic job of breathing life into the hero. Exploring a multiversal mystery uncovered by Jessica and a complicated family dispute all while working on her latest case, Jessica is shown in a very real, volatile and emotional state that readers will instantly fall in love with.

Overall this was a wonderful story, filled with passion, superhero goodness and a powerful character you can really invest in. If you guys haven’t pick up this incredible graphic novel Jessica Jones Vol 1: Uncaged by Brian Michael Bendis today!

Rating: 10/10

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Michael Gaydos (Artist), Matt Hollingsworth (Colourist), Cory Petit (Letterer), David W. Mack (Cover Artist)