Published: June 24th, 2014
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Dale Eaglesham
DC Comics, 128 Pages
After watching the first season of Stargirl on HBO Max, I figured that I’d give some of her more notable comics a read. Being that I really like Justice Society stuff and hadn’t read any in quite awhile, I figured I’d start with this.
The story starts with old Justice Society members trying to recruit new heroes, most of whom are descendants of previous members and have inherited their powers.
Because of that, Vandal Savage is using a team of Nazi supervillains to kill superheroes and their families in an effort to snuff out these bloodlines. However, he doesn’t see the bigger picture, which reveals itself by the end of this short story arc.
I’m a fan of Geoff Johns and dig so much of his DC Comics work. His Green Lantern run brought me back to comics on the DC side after a hiatus of about a decade, back in the mid-’00s.
Keeping with Johns’ style, this was a hell of a lot of fun to read and he once again showed that he’s really good at balancing a large ensemble of characters and letting them all develop and grow, despite having limited time to focus on each one.
This was an energetic and cool comic.
Frankly, I liked it enough to buy the next three volumes to read in the very near future.
Original Run: May 18th, 2020 – current
Created by: Geoff Johns
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Courtney Whitmore by Geoff Johns, Lee Moder
Music by: Pinar Toprak
Cast: Brec Bassinger, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Trae Romano, Jake Austin Walker, Meg DeLacy, Neil Jackson, Christopher James Baker, Amy Smart, Luke Wilson, Hunter Sansone, Nick Tarabay
Berlanti Productions, Mad Ghost Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television Studios, DC Universe, The CW, 26 Episodes (so far), 42-53 Minutes (per episode)
So this show starts off fantastically! The opening sequence is pretty damn incredible and really fucking cool! Branching off of that, this has some cool villains it throws at you from the get go and you’re immediately invested in the story.
Beyond that, the show is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, not really sure what it even is and not really able to find its footing before the end of the thirteen episode first season.
For the positives, I really like Luke Wilson in this and Amy Smart is pretty good too but she also doesn’t get to do much in the first season, which I hope changes somewhat going into seasons two and three. And while season two has already aired, it’s not on HBO Max yet, so I haven’t seen it.
The other adult actors are all pretty good in this too, even if they have to often times embrace the cheese in the way these Greg Berlanti DC Comics shows embrace the cheese.
I thought some of the villains were actually exceptional and legitimately awesome. I especially loved Dragon King, who looked like Cobra Commander if he were leading Hydra instead of Cobra. His costume was outstanding and he was intimidating, specifically in the scene where he has to knock his asshole daughter back down to Earth.
I also love the S.T.R.I.P.E. suit, which is basically a badass mecha that Luke Wilson pilots in battle. It resembles a patriotic Iron Giant.
Beyond all that comes the problems with the show.
The teen characters are all pretty annoying at times and Stargirl comes across as a reckless idiot until she learns some hard lessons. They all just seem one-dimensional and basic and that’s not necessarily a problem with the actors, as much as it’s a problem with the writing, directing and overall production.
Each teen is simply a trope or caricature. Now I hope that they get to build off of these basic templates but none of them get the time they need to really develop, except for Stargirl and to a certain extent, the villain teen Shiv.
The girl who plays Doctor Mid-Nite II is there to be the obvious “heart and soul” of the team, as she lacks powers and is just kind of stuck in the middle of all this. The problem is that she never really connects with the audience and she’s written to be annoying as hell, which wasn’t what they intended. I don’t blame the actress, I blame the lame material. In fact, she is somewhat charismatic and you kind of want her to develop into something but every time you start to dig her, she does something irritating.
The boy who plays Hourman II is also someone you kind of want to cheer for but then he acts like a total ass at the wrong moments.
Now maybe this is the writers trying to express these newfound heroes lack of experience in life and crimefighting but it’s just bad and there is a lot of awkwardness that doesn’t jive right.
Also, this takes place in Nebraska. The high school of this small town is incredibly diverse for a state that has 87 percent white people. Granted, I don’t care that much, as this is the norm in entertainment, but it’s just blatantly obvious Hollywood bullshit.
Additionally, Stargirl has never been a fighter but by the end of just thirteen episodes, she’s kicking the shit out of ninjas that have probably trained their whole lives. Also, Wildcat is basically a ninja but all she does is get angry and hit a punching bag. You never see her actually spar with opponents or have Catwoman-like reflexes and agility. It’s this type of shit that really turns me off about modern “nerd” entertainment. Where’s the struggle? The hero’s real journey?
At least this show allows its female hero to fail, pick herself up and learn from those mistakes, though. So that’s at least a step forward when compared to the brainless storytelling of modern Hollywood.
In the end, I mostly liked this. I want the show to be good. I feel like it’ll probably lean to much into its negatives, though, as just about everything else does these days.
If my opinion drastically changes one way or another after seeing season two, I’ll update this review and the score.
Published: November 17th, 2020
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Jason Fabok
DC Comics, 161 Pages
I enjoyed this story and its concept quite a bit. But generally, I’ve been a fan of Geoff Johns’ writing since he took over Green Lantern in the mid-’00s.
This isn’t really a canonical story but then again, nothing that’s modern DC really is to me anymore because they’ve rebooted their universe more times than my Uncle Terry has created children out of wedlock.
The story does directly build off of the events of classic Batman stories The Killing Joke and A Death In the Family. With that, it also utilizes Batgirl and Red Hood in the story, as it brings their issues with the Joker full circle and provides some closure to him crippling Batgirl and “killing” Red Hood when he was Robin.
The reason why the story is called “The Three Jokers” is because there are three Jokers. Each one represents a different version of the character, as he’s been used historically. One is the “criminal” Joker, another is the “comedian” Joker and the last is the “clown” Joker. The story plays off of their differences and the heroes aren’t sure which one is the real Joker or if possibly there’s been more than one all along. However, by the end, we see that there’s a much bigger, more sinister scheme at play and it’s revealed that Batman has always known who the real Joker is, all the way down to his real identity.
The story was very noir-esque, which isn’t uncommon for a Batman story but this one had so many curveballs that it just fits within that genre’s framework quite well.
Admittedly, I got to a point in the story where I started to think that the whole thing was ridiculous. By the end, though, it all came together in a really cool way and it seemed a lot less ridiculous and like something that would fit within the Joker’s larger worldview and his and Batman’s place in it.
I also really, really liked the art. I don’t know much about Jason Fabok but he captivated me, here, and I’ll be on the lookout for some of his other work. Frankly, I’d like to see him and Johns maybe work on a follow up to this and create their own unique continuity within Batman, similar to what Sean Gordon Murphy has been doing the last few years.
Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens
Art by: Brett Breeding, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund
DC Comics, 332 Pages
Well, Superman is already alive and we’ve reached the fifth and final part of the Death/Return of Superman saga. With that, this story takes care of the last thing that needs to be dealt with and that’s Superman finally defeating Doomsday without dying and thus, restoring balance the the DC universe.
Generally, I like Dan Jurgens writing but overall, I wasn’t blown away by this saga. However, I did find this to be better than all the big DC Comics Crisis events, which always read like overloaded, convoluted messes to me.
While these stories had a lot of characters in them, Superman was always really the focus and for the most part, this stayed on that thread, even if there were some distractions with new “Supermen” and with checking in on individuals after Superman’s death.
I felt like the art, here, was a bit more fine-tuned and better than the rest of the chapters in this massive saga.
Additionally, the writing felt tighter and more focused, as Jurgens pretty much handled it all and the work wasn’t spread out over a handful of people.
The highlights of this are that Superman is definitely back, we get to see Darkseid mix it up with Doomsday, Cyborg Superman cements his place as a major villain, and Doomsday finally gets some receipts cashed in on his ass.
In the end, I’m glad that I finally experienced this saga in its entirety. It was long but by the end, the total body of work made all of the smaller parts come together, giving them deeper meaning and relevance to the overall DC universe.
Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Gerard Jones, Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, M.D. Bright, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice
DC Comics, 464 Pages
Well, this is a step up from the previous two volumes in the larger The Death/Return of Superman saga. This is also the fourth of the five big chapters but now that Superman is back, we can stop spending time on mediocre replacements and get back to business.
The four replacements are still here, however, but now they have to find their place in the world with Superman reclaiming his mantle.
Two of these replacements remain heroes and two let their villain flags finally fly for all to see. Where these characters would end up wasn’t a surprise, though.
I think that the most impactful thing about this story isn’t simply Superman’s return, as much as it was seeing him return to Lois after all she had been through in the previous three chapters of this multi-year saga.
Once Superman actually returns, you’re not totally sure it’s him but as a reader, you hope it is and it’s really a breath of fresh air, as the replacements just didn’t cut it. I also think that DC Comics knew this and brought the famed hero back earlier than they probably wanted to.
Regardless, it’s good that he did return, as it was like a shot in the arm to this story, which I found myself losing interest in. Had I been buying these and reading them back when they were current, I know that I would’ve stopped before we even got to the return.
In the end, I’m not super keen on these books, beyond the pretty emotional battle that ended with Superman’s death. Although, this did make up for some of the lower points a bit and it sets up the next showdown between Supes and Doomsday, the jerk that killed him.
Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens, Gerard Jones, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, M.D. Bright, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice
DC Comics, 325 Pages
I’m not going to lie, even though I slept on this big event back in the early ’90s, I went into this with some real enthusiasm, hoping it would be interesting and have a real purpose.
Sadly, this started out kind of neat but quickly devolved into a clusterfuck without any real sort of cohesive narrative trajectory.
With Superman dead, four new figures pop-up and try to fill the void. Three of the four believe themselves to be Superman while the fourth was simply inspired by him.
As we know now, years later, two of these Supermen would go on to be villains: Cyborg Superman and Eradicator. As for the other two, Steel would just continue to be Steel and Superboy would just stay Superboy and go on to be a really popular character in his own right.
Ultimately, I just didn’t care about any of this and even though I can see how some of the new characters may have resonated with some people, none of them have ever really grabbed me.
I guess, in the end, I can say that I’ve now actually experienced this once important major comic book event. But honestly, fuck these characters. I can see why they brought Superman back almost immediately after this experiment.
This was a paperback book I had when I was a kid and it may have actually been the first Batman comic that I read, as I got this when I was really young.
This paperback is a collection of a three-issue comic book miniseries of the same name. Except, here, the comic is in black and white and reformatted to fit this medium, having just one-to-three panels per page.
The Untold Legend of the Batman is a bit strange, as its details differ from the continuity of the actual comic book series. Events in Batman’s past are slightly altered but it was still a fun read and the origin of the Caped Crusader wasn’t so different that it wrecked anything. At worst, it’s still more accurate than many of the film and television versions of the hero’s backstory.
I really dug the art in this, especially with it being presented in black and white, as it allowed the linework of both John Byrne and Jim Aparo to really standout on its own.
This was a really fast read but it was still worth hunting down and giving it a look again.
Published: November 20th, 2018
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Rick Burchett, Staz Johnson, Trevor McCarthy, William Rosado
DC Comics, 243 Pages
Well, this is the end of the lengthy Chuck Dixon Nightwing run.
With that, I was a little underwhelmed by this. The reason for that is because I anticipated some of the major plot threads being wrapped up, such as the stuff surrounding the Blockbuster character but he doesn’t even appear in the issues collected, here.
Still, I did mostly enjoy this.
It all just felt kind of random, though, and there wasn’t a thread that tied this all up like in previous volumes.
Like some of the other volumes, this also has the problem of too many artists, which makes the book visually inconsistent, throughout. It’s not as jarring as it was in some of the earlier volumes but it’s still noticeable.
In the end, this just felt like the series had become directionless. I’m not sure if the blame for that lies on Chuck Dixon’s shoulders or the brass at DC Comics, who were going to keep the Nightwing title going while handing it off to other people.