Weekly Comic Book Round-Up #2: April 2nd, 2019

Venom: Space Knight, Vol. 1: Agent of the Cosmos

Written by: Robbie Thompson (Writer),

Illustrated by: Ariel Olivetti (Artist), 

Cory Petit (Letterer), Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

Synopsis:

Flash Thompson is many things. Soldier. Veteran. Double amputee. Guardian of the Galaxy. Host to a powerful yet newly tamed alien symbiote. Now Flash is tasked with being an intergalactic ambassador of Earth and an Agent of the Cosmos! Join Flash for high adventure in deep space as he swashbuckles his way across the universe! But as Venom travels the galaxy, helping the helpless and punishing the violent, he will go from Guardian to gladiator when he’s made to fight in an alien arena. And when facing an emergency on a planet of volcanoes, how can he serve as a Space Knight when his symbiote suit of armor is afraid of fire? And when an enemy seeks to corrupt the symbiote, will this mark the return of the big bad Venom?

CollectingVenom: Space Knight 1-6

Verdict:

While casual fans will more than likely know the story of Eddie Brock and his villain/antihero story as Venom. However modern day fans will love this story that brings Flash Thompson’s time with the Venom symbiote into the forefront, showcasing the character’s potential for heroism in a whole new light. Delving more into the mythology surrounding the symbiotes, otherwise known as Klyntar, the first volume of this series brings Agent Venom’s space adventures to a whole new platform. Heeding a natural call to help those in distress across the galaxy, Venom soon learns that not only are there others like him in the universe, but there are those seeking to use Venom as a weapon, and both Flash and Venom must use their symbiotic nature to stop this new galactic threat before it’s too late. Fantastic artwork and a great new story make Venom shine brightly in the Marvel universe once more. 

Venom: Space Knight Vol. 2: Enemies And Allies

Written By: Robbie Thompson (Writer), 

Illustrated By: Ariel Olivetti (Artist), Kim Jacinto (Artist), R.B. Silva (Artist), Ario Anindito (Artist), Java Tartaglia (Colourist), Andrew Crossley (Colourist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer) ,Gerardo Sandoval (Artist), Dono Sánchez Almara(Colourist)

Synopsis:

Venom’s new career as an Agent of the Cosmos continues with the hunt for Black October! Flash Thompson has been learning quickly on the job as a space knight in symbiote armor, helping the hopeless and impressing the oppressed across the galaxy. He’s even picked up a few new friends along the way, like sad cyborg 803, serpent-tressed Iqa, and mercenary panda Pik Rollo! But even they might not be enough to stop what’s coming. A fearsome new foe has set sights on the Agents of the Cosmos, and that means Flash’s training is about to get intensive. The reinvention of Venom continues!

CollectingVenom: Space Knight 7-13

Verdict

After the galactic battle that brought Venom into the Agent of the Cosmos ranks, the saga of Venom takes a whole new turn. The amazing storytelling here delves into Venom’s nature as a whole, exploring the darkness that consumed the symbiote early on in its life and showcasing Flash’s heroism and dedication to his symbiotic friend. Exploring the psychology of the symbiote and Flash brings this story to life in a whole new way. Plus, fans will love to see the brief crossover into the Civil War II Marvel storyline and highlights the deep animosity between the symbiote and everyone’s favorite web-slinger Peter Parker. A truly must read for any fan of Venom and a great ending to the Space Knight story for the character. 

The Life of Captain Marvel

Written by Margaret Stohl 

Illustrated by: Carlos Pacheco (Illustrator), Marguerite Sauvage (Illustrator), Artgerm (Illustrator)

Synopsis:

Collects The Life Of Captain Marvel #1-5.

She’s one of the mightiest heroes not just on Earth but in the entire galaxy! Now learn exactly how Carol Danvers became the woman she is — the Avenger she is — in the definitive origin of Captain Marvel! When sudden, crippling anxiety attacks sideline Carol in the middle of a fight, she finds herself reliving memories of a life she thought was far behind her. You can’t outrun where you’re from — and sometimes, you have to go home again. But while Carol takes a temporary leave from duty to unravel her past, trouble comes looking for her. A weapon has been unleashed, and Carol’s sleepy coastal town is about to become the center of its world. But there are skeletons in Captain Marvel’s closet — and what she discovers will change her entire life!

Verdict: 

A fantastic new chapter in the story of Carol Danvers, one of Marvel Comics greatest heroes. Author Margaret Stohl brilliantly brings the new era of Captain Marvel to life, showcasing the superb writing talent that saw Black Widow regain her spot in the limelight with the Black Widow YA novel series. Delving into Carol’s family history with her alcoholic father, and the strained relationship with her brother and mother, was a great way of showcasing Carol’s humanity and the person behind the costume. The shocking twists and turns in Carol’s family history sheds a whole new light on the hero, and will leave fans on the edge of their seat as the new era of Captain Marvel begins. A great story and perfect read as Marvel’s Captain Marvel continues to dominate the box office. 

Superman, Vol. 1: Son of Superman

Written by: by Peter J. TomasiPatrick Gleason

Illustrated by: Doug Mahnke (Artist), Jorge Jimenez (Artist)

Synopsis:

WE ARE KRYPTON

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

When the Man of Steel died defending his adopted home, it seemed that the spirit of truth and justice he represented was extinguished forever. But watching from the sidelines was another Superman-older, wiser, more experienced-with his wife, Lois Lane, and their son, Jonathan Kent.

Now this refugee from a vanished universe is stepping out of the shadows, ready to assume the mantle of his fallen counterpart and take to the skies once more as Earth’s greatest hero.

But he is not the only survivor of Krypton to make the journey to this reality.

The machine mind known as the Eradicator is on the trail of the House of El, and its hardwired directive to protect the Kryptonian genome permits no consideration for any other forms of life-not even those that share Kal-El’s blood.

Can the son of Superman harness his newly emerging powers in time to resist the annihilation of his humanity? Or will he be reborn into a new Krypton forged from the ashes of his mother’s world?

Exploding out of DC’s blockbuster Rebirth event, SUPERMAN VOL. 1: SON OF SUPERMAN marks the beginning of a new era for the Man of Tomorrow and a great jumping-on point for new fans-brought to you by acclaimed storytellers Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke, Jorge Jimenez, Mick Gray, Jaime Mendoza, John Kalisz, Will Quintana and Alejandro Sanchez! Collects issues #1-6 and the SUPERMAN: REBIRTH one-shot.

Verdict

A truly fresh and original addition to the Superman saga. Brilliant storytelling showcases a world mourning the loss of its original Superman, and reintroduces comic book fans to the original Superman as he makes his debut in the Rebirth era. Showcasing the Superman we all knew years ago adapting to this new world while still trying to be a good husband and father is a unique way of bringing the story of Kal-El to life once more. From the deceased Superman’s allies trying to understand who the “new” Superman is and what is intentions are, to foes of the past showcasing the harsh nature of the former Krypton, this is a one of a kind story that really does a great job of kicking off the new era of Superman. The artwork brilliantly captures the non-stop action and heart-pounding drama as Superman fights to protect his family from a brutal threat that is both old and new. Truly great storytelling and Superman at his best. A must read narrative for longtime Superman fans. 

Teen Titans, Vol. 1: Damian Knows Best: 

Written by: Benjamin Percy (Goodreads Author),

Illustrated by:  Khoi Pham (Artist), Jonboy Meyers (Artist), Diogenes Neves (Artist)

Synopsis: 

Exploding from the blockbuster DC Rebirth event, it’s an action-packed new spin on one of the most famous superhero teams of all time, from writer Benjamin Percy (GREEN ARROW) and a titanic team of talented artists including Jonboy Meyers (Spawn), Diogenes Neves (GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS) and Khoi Pham (The Mighty Avengers) comes TEEN TITANS VOL. 1: DAMIAN KNOWS BEST.

His father is the world’s greatest detective. His grandfather is the world’s deadliest terrorist. He is Damian Wayne, a.k.a. Robin, Son of Batman-and he now commands the Teen Titans.

Whether they like it or not.

When Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Kid Flash answer this brash new Boy Wonder’s call for help, they find themselves on the front lines of a war between Damian and his immortal grandfather, Ra’s al Ghul. The entire League of Assassins and the elite Demon’s Fist are prepared to move against these young heroes, all to claim Robin for their own. And if these new Titans are toppled, so be it.

The stakes are crystal clear: if they win, they live. If they lose, Robin will join the forces of evil-and the rest of them are history. But with Damian in charge, sometimes death doesn’t look so bad…

It’s a culture clash for the ages in TEEN TITANS VOL. 1: DAMIAN KNOWS BEST. Collects TEEN TITANS #1-5 and TEEN TITANS: REBIRTH #1. 

Verdict:

This is a fantastic new take on the Teen Titans saga. The dual nature of Damian Wayne shines brightly in this story as his years of training and experience clashes with the need to define himself and the desire for something most kids take for granted: friendship. The artwork is brilliant, capturing the bright nature of the team versus the dark reality they find themselves in. While this is the team’s origin story in the Rebirth era, this first volume is definitely Damian Wayne’s spotlight, and begins a new era of the Teen Titans that fans will definitely love. The writing is fast paced and challenges the reader to define friendship, identity and family, a great direction to take this series. This is definitely a must read for any Teen Titans or DC Comics fan. 

Justice League, Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines

Written by: by Bryan Hitch

Illustrated by: Tony S. Daniel (Artist), Sandu Florea (Artist)

Synopsis:

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

Superman has fallen. The Man of Steel died protecting his adopted home, leaving his allies in the Justice League to fight on without him-and leaving the older, wiser Superman of a vanished universe to pick up the torch.

But to Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the League, this new “Superman” is a stranger. And just like Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, the rookie Green Lanterns left by Hal Jordan to guard the globe in his absence, the replacement Superman has a lot to prove.

He’d better do it quickly. Because a godlike threat unlike any the League has ever fought is coming. Vast engines of destruction are about to be unleashed, remaking the planete s surface and forging its people into living weapons.

They are the extinction machines. And it will take every member of the Justice League to shut them down…

Comics superstars Bryan Hitch (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA) and Tony S. Daniel (SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN) join forces to launch a bold new era for comics’ greatest superhero team in JUSTICE LEAGUE VOL. 1: THE EXTINCTION MACHINES-exploding from the blockbuster DC Universe Rebirth event! Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE #1-5 as well as the JUSTICE LEAGUE: REBIRTH one-shot.

Verdict:

A story that holds no punches, readers are thrust into a world where one Superman has died, and the Justice League struggles not only with whether or not to trust the new Superman amongst them, but faces a catastrophic crisis as millions of people around the world are consumed by an unstoppable force of a cosmic scale, and the world threatens to tear itself apart. With some of the hero’s powers suddenly failing them and the team scrambling to find a way to stop this destructive force of nature, trust will have to be earned quickly and the team will have to recover from their loss before it’s too late. The artwork is eye catching and beautiful, and the story begins a new era for the Justice League that teases a looming threat and brings new heroes into the fold. A fun, gritty and fantastic read for Justice League fans. 

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Interview with Travis Smith

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I got into writing about superheroes and philosophy after reading an article by Adam Barkman published in Comment magazine. I could give that a try, I thought. Why not? Barkman looked at superheroes from a “mythological” point of view; I would prefer to look at them from a somewhat more human perspective. When I discovered an article by Jonathan V. Last in The Weekly Standard that I disagreed with I took it as an opportunity to respond. Last argued for the timeliness of the Christopher Nolan trilogy of Batman films; I argued that Spider-Man was a better hero for our times, in commemoration of what was then the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man’s first appearance. Little did I know that this one article would lead to an entire book on the subject.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

University professors are asked to find ways to engage in the public dissemination of knowledge. Most of our research is written for an academic audience. How does someone like myself take what I study and teach in the history of political philosophy and make it relevant for a wider audience? Well, if Plato can discuss the popular heroes of his time, whose adventures are depicted in the epic poems of Homer, then why can’t I look into superheroes, whose stories have become popularized lately in so many feature films? I look at them to find out what they might teach us about ourselves and our ideals—who we imagine ourselves to be at our best, or who we would become if only we could be better than we are?

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I’d point to the value of thinking critically about the things we happen to enjoy, and the possibility of thinking critically about ourselves in the process. This is something we can do even with respect to our amusements—the music we like, the TV shows we binge on, the athletes we admire, the vloggers we subscribe to. Focusing on questions of ethics when doing so leads us to wonder: How does thinking about the character of this or that person, whether real or fictional, help me to better understand the worldview and motivations of people similar to them—whether that’s someone I’ve encountered in my private life, or public figures like politicians, leading professionals, or outspoken celebrities? What answers to life’s problems do they represent, and should we heed them? What does whether I like or dislike some particular person or character tell me about myself?

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

In the classroom, I draw on a lot of examples from popular culture in order to make old ideas and arguments seem relevant and familiar to my students. With respect to superhero stories in particular, I’ve read plenty of comic books over the years and re-watched the movies based on them more than enough. I put that hobby to use in Superhero Ethics.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would like to know why Tony Stark doesn’t share his most advanced technologies with everyone—whether they want him to or not. Why not save people from ever needing saving again through upgrades and alterations to the human condition? Not that I would want him to—but I don’t really understand why he doesn’t. That said, I’d be concerned that by pushing him on it I might inadvertently convince him to give it a try, or else stop playing the hero entirely. Either way, better to keep my mouth shut, really. The most interesting line of dialogue to me in Avengers: Infinity War occurs when Thanos tells Iron Man, “You are not the only one cursed with knowledge.” In Superhero Ethics I argue that Tony Stark willfully refrains from drawing the furthermost consequences of his views regarding human nature and our place in the cosmos—including, ultimately, that he himself is insignificant. He struggles with a nagging suspicion that his pride—which is substantial—is vanity, and all of his efforts and sacrifices are offered in vain.

I’d also like to hear Wolverine explain his fascination with Japan. I think it’s because culturally, feudal Japan is practically the exact opposite of present-day Canada. We can be glad that imperial Japan at its worst was ended non-fictionally and still romanticize traditional Japanese society in fiction as representing honor-based society at its best. Still, I’d like to hear Logan’s perspective on it over a few bottles of beer, hoping he’ll call me “bub” at least once—and that I’ll be able to sneak out the back door of the dive bar before the inevitable brawl gets underway.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Personally, I avoid using social media. I worry that it’s an engine of incivility.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read. A lot. Read a lot of good books. Even books you imagine you’ll dislike by authors you expect to disagree with. For starters, read about Achilles sulking in his tent in the Iliad if you haven’t already. Also, learn to take criticism well, and be your own harshest critic. Reread everything you write, out loud, and ask yourself if it actually says what you want it to say in the best possible way. Always be revising but recognize that your words will never be perfect. Nothing that you decide today is good enough for now will seem good enough later in retrospect—and that’s okay.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Some people have asked me whether I’ll write about Superheroine Ethics next. Or perhaps Supervillain Ethics. What about something fandom-adjacent, like Pro Wrestling Ethics? Within this genre, I haven’t decided yet. As a professor of political theory, I intend to publish more on the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, including pieces informed by my analyses of superhero stories, on subjects such as bravery, magic, and the imagination. I’m convinced that Thomas Hobbes himself thinks he’s like a superhero or something.

Bonus/Fun Questions:

Who was your favorite superhero growing up?

On Saturday morning cartoons, I liked Green Lantern best, mainly because of Sinestro. As a teen, I connected most with Rogue. For over a dozen years now though, Ms./Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) has been my favorite. I await her feature film debut in 2019 with great anticipation.

Do you prefer Marvel or DC? Or do you find them to be on equal footing overall?

When I wrote Superhero Ethics, I didn’t just focus on my favorite characters. I wanted the book to be accessible to casual fans and a general readership. I didn’t want it to be accessible only to those of us who have read a hundred thousand comic books. My book might give the impression that I prefer Marvel, but my analyses weren’t decided by my subjective preferences. I tried to give more generous readings to characters who interest me less and be tougher on characters I like most. Speaking personally, I am a fan of both universe’s characters. I started reading comic books as a pre-teen at the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and DC successfully persuaded me to disregard the pre-Crisis multiverse as no longer relevant and too confusing and supposedly unsophisticated. As I have gotten older, however, I have discovered how fantastic Silver Age Superman, Flash, Legion, and Earth-Two stories are. I have also enjoyed exploring DC’s western and war genre comics, too, such as Jonah Hex and Haunted Tank.

Which non-Marvel or -DC hero do you think would fit into the ethical discussion of superheroes? 

Sailor Moon and The Tick were favorites of mine when I was young. Captain Planet probably deserves some critical analysis, too, but I don’t think I could sit through enough episodes to assess the character fully.

If you were to create your own hero based on the ethical discussions raised in your book, what would that hero’s name be, what powers would they have (if any), and what villain/threat would they face to mirror the challenges of our world?

I already have a hero in my wife. [Awwww!] Putting up with me and my hobbies has got to be challenge enough. And who knows what kind of villainy I’d be up to if she wasn’t always asking me, “What are you doing?!?” I try to keep in mind how Aristotle would have told Ajax to listen to Tecmessa.

Thank you, Anthony, for the opportunity to discuss Superhero Ethics with you. I’m glad that you enjoyed the book!

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

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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

Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond Book Review

Everyone knows the story of Clark Kent and his rise to becoming the world’s most popular superhero, Superman. Yet not everyone has gotten a chance
to know the other hero in that story, and that is the infamous Lois Lane. Before she was a hard-nosed journalist, she was just an army brat who
had trouble fitting in, and sought a place to call home. That is what author Gwenda Bond explores in her YA novel, Lois Lane: Fallout. Here is
the official synopsis:

Lois Lane steps out from behind Superman’s shadow in this fast-paced, high-adrenaline tale of intrigue and bravery.

Army brat Lois Lane has moved more times than she can count—and has caused just as much trouble righting wrongs no one else seems to notice.
Now that her family is in Metropolis for good, though, she’s decided to fly straight. Unfortunately, it won’t be that easy. A group known as the
Warheads is tormenting a girl at school, messing with her mind via an immersive video game they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and
snazzy new job as a reporter, Lois is determined to help. But this isn’t just a case of cyberbullying—something seriously creepy and dangerous
is going on. Thank goodness she can always count on her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy…

This book gives the character of Lois Lane a strong, independent voice that she shown in the comics but never to this extent. Finally this
powerful, strong female comic book character is given a chance in the spotlight, and in this novel she shines brightly. Getting to see the
struggles this young girl goes through while still driving forward fearlessly to protect the innocent students at her new school is refreshing
to see unfold, and by the end of the book readers will be left wanting more from this incredible take on the character. The book is evenly
paced in it’s action and character development, and getting to see the early relationships between Lois and her father, General Lane, as well as
her younger sister Lucy Lane, is a phenomenal character study that is not often explored as heavily in the comics as Superman’s backstory is.

Overall this is a fantastic story that every DC Comics/Lois Lane fan should read. Gwenda Bond has eloquently captured the essence of one of my
favorite DC characters, and everyone should check out this amazing YA novel about one of the best comic book journalists in the world, Lois Lane.
Be sure to check out Lois Lane: Fallout now!

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