Superman #7 (DC)

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CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 5/5 – It’s Family First in Superman.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

It would be tough for me to pick my favorite of the DC Rebirth titles, but If I had to, Superman would be in the running, if not my actual favorite. Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of the New 52 interpretation of the character and was thrilled when they brought back this Superman in DC’s Convergence event. Since then, I’ve been even more thrilled with the way he’s been handled and his role as not only a hero, but a father. Now that the first arc is over, Superman number seven takes a look at a day in the life of the most powerful man in the world spending some down time with his family.

Writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have really made Clark, Lois, and son Jon such likable characters.  As soon as a three page opening that shows Superman helping out individual Justice League team members wraps up, the family heads out to the local county fair. There’s no major villains, no threats that could potentially destroy the earth, and no heavy dramatics between characters. It’s an “off” issue that shows just how well Superman works with a son. It absolutely defies the somewhat misguided belief that these iconic characters like Superman or Spider-Man can’t “grow up”. Where the New 52 Superman was de-aged, this one embraces an older Clark’s journey and the changes that go along with it, and shows why his family can add just as much potential for powerful storytelling.

The art is just as strong and the combination of Patrick Gleason and Jorge Jimenez have been a great one-two punch on this series. Jimenez takes the lead in this issue and makes the most of this quiet tale. I especially love his drawing of young Jon as he looks the age he should, and adds so much character by infusing plenty of personality into his facial expressions. This issue was such a joy to read and despite having no typical super-heroics, was maybe the best issue in what I feel is one of DC’s best series.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Superwoman #2 (DC)

superwoman2

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 5/5 – With Great Power Will Come Great Consequences.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Brunell

One of the many titles released in DC’s Rebirth is Superwoman. This comic for me brings a nice new spin and something I can really get into. The heroes are not Kryptonian, they are human, but received their powers from the New52 Superman when he died at the end of that run. They absorbed his power release, but with that great power comes great consequences.

Though the power of Superman was released into these heroes, it’s too much for their bodies to handle and they are feeling it take its toll. Recently I’ve been asking myself, “What makes me extremely interested in a particular comic?” Suspense, some original ideas, humor, and an interesting plot are what I like. Writer Phil Jimenez has delivered all of these in Superwoman. With his overly emotional and traumatic story plot, Jimenez brings us Lois Lane with super powers just like Superman, but she’s not alone. Lana Lang also took some power from Superman during his downfall, and though Lois and Lana received different powers, they are running as a dynamic duo. With the recent fade of Lois Lane from the first issue, Lana Lang is now alone taking on an entire second issue to try and realize what really happened to Lois. Lana Lang is traumatized by everything she has experienced recently, but that’s not stopping her from wanting to be Superwoman. Lex Luthor has deemed himself a new Superman with a nice blue power suit and cape, though Lex is putting himself out as a hero he is also the target for this new villain mastermind. The comic is filled with action, a mystery, humor and fresh ideas and I’m glad I jumped on board.

Though many Rebirth comics are bi-weekly this comic is monthly, which made me think that it may not swap out artists regularly like is done on the bi-weekly books. Unfortunately, that is not the case.   Phil Jimenez was writing and penciling on issues 1 and 2 (with Matt Santorelli inking, and Joe Prado assisting on inks in #2), but Emanuela Lupacchino will be taking over the pencils on #3, with Ray McCarthy on inks.  I’ve been enjoying Jimenez’ art, whether portraying a traumatic dream or Superwoman flying in the save the day, things are bold, colorful and intense. When I see a rather red and angry Superwoman gazing down upon a villain I can’t help but know that chaos will reign. Lana Lang is drawn more aggressive and emotional, regardless of being mostly in a red energy like form with glazed over eyes her facial expressions speak volumes. Lois is drawn looking like something out of the old days, with her short but full hair with traditional blue and red body suit.

I’m not a regular DC reader, but this is the third DC comic that has made it onto my pull list.  I never read the issue where the New52 Superman died and I have been picking up on that story element as I go along in this series that explains what happened a little bit, but if I want the big picture I’ll have to find a copy of that comic.  That said, Superwoman is probably the 2nd title I read immediately once I get it in my hands. I like how Lois has more of a traditional Superman look to her, and Lana brings me back to when Superman had his red energy form.  The changes DC has implemented with Rebirth have got me reading a few titles and I’m really enjoying this one a lot!

Reviewed by: Adam Brunell
(adamb@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Seven To Eternity #1 (Image)

seven-to-eternity1

CREDIT: Image

Rating: 4/5 – Visuals, Characters and Story Potential Make For A Very Exciting Read.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Howard Woolfolk

First off let me say that there was once a time when I bought a book based solely on who the artist was. I never worried much about the story or anything else. I, like most my friends, was more into style than actual substance. As I’ve gotten older I have flip flopped positions, now wanting more story than eye catching art.

I knew absolutely nothing about this title a few weeks ago, then I saw the cover that looked like a movie poster and sure enough, I was hooked. Not knowing or even wanting to know the story, I didn’t try to find out too much about it. I wanted to be surprised. Another thing it had going for it was that I enjoyed past work by series creators Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña.

The book starts off fast paced, which to me for these types of stories is a good thing. One thing I instantly noticed is that this title is filled with very interesting looking characters, creatures and weaponry.  The story opens on a hunt with Adam and Katie Osidis. I will not reveal too much to spoil anything but let’s just say that I can see that Katie is going to most likely play a huge role in this story before it’s all over. She instantly became my favorite character with a cool look, attitude, and interesting choice of weaponry.  The meat of the story lies with Zebadiah Osidis, the family patriarch, refusing to listen to an offer made by the “Mud King”. But they never allude to what the offer actually is, and that’s a good thing for now. The next several pages have a lot of beautiful imagery and a pretty decent battle sequence before the story slows down tremendously which is good considering how fast it started.  Even with the pace of the book slowing down, I was drawn in by the overall beauty of the artwork.

There isn’t a lot going on in the issue, 3 basic scenes and a reveal at the end, that’s really it. There’s enough there for me visually and in the story and character setup to get me coming back for future issues. Katie, who didn’t get much time in this first issue is intriguing enough for me to actually care about as a character, and the same for Adam. But really, the main thing I want to know is “What does the Mud King have to offer?”  It’s enough to get me to come back!

Reviewed by: Howard Woolfolk
(howard@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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The Forevers #1 (Black Mask)

forevers1

CREDIT: Black Mask

Rating: 3/5 – Lack of Story Clarity Overshadows All Else.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

There’s a description in the solicits and on the back cover to this book that explains the “high concept”:

Seven friends struggling on the brink of stardom sacrifice everything in a black magic pact that brings them all the wealth and glamour they ever wanted. But now, years later, the glow is fading. When one of them is killed in an accident, they each feel a pulse of magic rise in them. They realize the glow is spread evenly among the group, and if one dies that power is passed along to the rest. Suddenly, they are being hunted. One of them has decided to kill the rest and harness the remaining power.

It’s an interesting concept and one that I’ve seen before in a number of other comics, as well as (to some extent) in the Highlander movie/TV franchise.  That doesn’t make it an invalid concept to explore again, but it does mean that I want to see how writer Curt Pires puts a different and engaging spin on it to make it his own.  That is where The Forevers fell down for me.  Maybe I’m just not as perceptive as a reader needs to be to get the most out of this comic, but the ‘high concept’ from the blurb above is not really communicated to the reader very well inside the comic, in my opinion.  Maybe Pires felt that by stating the concept outside the story itself he could just touch on elements and themes in the story and the reader would fill in the blanks.  That certainly happened, it needed to because I’d never have gotten the info imparted in the quote above had I just read the interior pages of this comic.

We start out with the ‘black magic pact’.  Nothing about the 3 pages used to depict this give any indication WHY the characters are performing the ritual or what they hope to gain from it.  A bit of expository dialogue would have been nice.  We’re also introduced to the seven characters, ‘introduced’ in the lightest way possible as we get a picture of them uttering a few words and their name is provided in a caption.  Then we jump to ten years later and someone named Mort has died.  He’s not one of the seven, but seems to have had a relationship with them that is hinted at but not stated outright.  He also knew about the pact (called ‘the event’) and was the only one outside the seven who did.  ‘The Event’ is still not clearly identified as having given any specific benefit to the seven, that’s a blank left to be filled in by the readers.

The general lack of clarity is extended throughout the issue as we are presented with a number of scenes that are seemingly disjoint… but if I step back, armed with the knowledge presented in the solicitation quote, I can sort of piece it all together and start figuring out what the story is starting to be about.  The clarity is further impeded by excessively dark/murky coloring utilized by artist Eric Scott Pfeiffer that obscures the details in many of the scenes. I’m not sure if this is the production of the book or if the book is supposed to be very shadowy.  It certainly sets a mood, but even in scenes set indoors, I kept wishing someone would just turn on a light.

There’s a lot of promise in this series that just was not realized for me in the pages of this first issue.  Had I not had the solicitation text (helpfully printed on the back cover) to guide my way, I’d have been utterly lost about what was going on and why.  As it stands, I think Pires is weaving a mystery but has gone a bit too far in making it mysterious to the point that not enough actual information is put in the pages of the story to grab me as a reader.  I’m not saying he has to spoon-feed me, but the information is out there, a few key concepts could have been easily inserted into the storytelling, but that isn’t the way Pires wants to tell his story.

In the end, there were no characters in this issue that I got enough information about to form any kind of attachment to.  There was not a single character that I formed a bond with and care about continuing on to see what happens to them.  In the absence of a character that I like or identify with and want to follow, the other thing that will get me to come back for more issues is a really engaging story where I just have to see what happens next.  This also didn’t happen for me, as the story as presented in the pages of the comic was really vague on too many points for me to get invested in it at all.  Ultimately, this had too many problems with story and art for me to want to come back for a second issue.  This may read better as a collected edition where the whole thing is there to explore at a single time.  I’m going to pass on this as a serialized story, there was really nothing I could latch on to and that means I’ll have a hard time picking up and following the story thread after a month long absence.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Silk #12 (Marvel)

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CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 3.5/5 – Great Art, but a Strange New Feel.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Silk has taken a strange turn. Since the “Spider-Women”crossover with Spider-Woman and Spider-Gwen, this book hasn’t felt the same to me. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just a shift in tone that feels different from what’s come before even though we’re getting the same creative team of Robbie Thompson and Tana Ford. In issue number twelve, Silk and her two friends have entered the Negative Zone to try and find her parents. That doesn’t sound so strange on its own, but the fact that Cindy Moon would take her friends who have no powers whatsoever into a dangerous alien dimension is just one example of where the writing had me scratching my head.

Let’s talk about what’s great in this issue first, and that’s the art. With each issue Tana Ford works on, I’m liking her art more and more. Her style is very organic with plenty of soft edges. Her character work and backgrounds are wonderful in this issue and her style works for the Negative Zone. There’s a great opening double-page splash that has Silk and her friends walking over a path of floating rocks with an eerie green background and kirby-dots filling the empty space. It really is a fantastic piece of art. The group eventually comes across a fantasy world within the Negative Zone where Ford gets to draw knights, dragons and more, so she definitely got to show off her range.

While the art was great, the fact that there is a fantasy world full of dragons within the Negative Zone also seemed strange, but it doesn’t stop there. Add in the fact that her friends seemed not only OK with it, but excited about, and it felt even stranger to me. There’s also a part in the story where Silk is able to weave costumes out of her webbing for her two friends. If the costumes looked like webbing that’d be one thing, but it looked like normal clothing with insignias and all. It just seemed as though if she could do this, she’d almost have powers similar to a Clayface or Chameleon since the created costumes were so real looking.

I know this is a comic, but there were several things about it that broke my suspension of disbelief and made the whole thing seem unrealistic, even though I’m fully aware that it’s a comic. With Silk number twelve the direction has changed, not necessarily for the worse, but not for the better for me as a reader. I’ll have to see where this book goes in the next issue or so to see if it’s something I still want to read. I’m hoping it gets back on track since I don’t want to miss out on Ford’s art.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Skybourne #1 (BOOM!)

skybourne1

Rating: 5/5 – Awesome Action as Immortals Clash Over Excalibur!
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

Skybourne is created, written, and drawn by Frank Cho.  A lot of people have strong opinions about Cho, mostly familiar with and judging him for his cheesecake variant covers.  No cheesecake in Skybourne, just action.  Violent action.  The high concept (from the inside front cover) is: Lazarus, after his miraculous resurrection, fathered three children; Abraham, Thomas, and Grace Skybourne.  All three children were blessed with superhuman strength, impenetrable skin, and immortality.  This is their story.

After a brief introduction with one of the three falling from a plane over China, 25 years ago, the scene moves to present day Istanbul as Grace Skybourne is attempting to complete a deal for a sword with a shady guy named Ahmed.  This devolves into violent action.  Squeamish readers might call it over-the-top violence, I’m more inclined to just proclaim it to be “cool”, as things quickly escalate in a fashion I was not expecting, but once they did, they set the tone and the ensuing chase gives ample demonstration if the abilities possessed by the Skybourne siblings.  I’m a huge fan of Cho’s art style and storytelling.  He uses minimal backgrounds, but they’re sufficient to set the scene and ground the action.  The whole issue was over very quickly but that was because I was devouring it and the flow was so quick, like an action movie.  I went back and read it a second time, slower, and took more time to absorb what was going on in more detail.

It’s rare that I give a comic a second read through, except when it lacks clarity and I’m trying to figure out what’s going on.  No lack of clarity here, I read it the second time for the sheer enjoyment of it.  Frank Cho is, in my opinion, a masterful storyteller, and this super-powered fantasy thriller is a great example that he can tell a gripping story without scantily clad women in it.  Grace Skybourne kicks ass, and does it fully clothed.  And NOBODY should want to get on her bad side.  Life expectancy on her bad side is very short indeed.  Cho has an engaging cliffhanger, but there is a built-in out for it, so I expect the action to continue on next issue as Cho kicks it up a notch.  I’m looking forward to watching the rest of this story play out over the next few months, this is a 5 issue series, and it’s great to see Cho back doing sequential storytelling after just seeing him on covers and sketches for so long.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Hadrian’s Wall #1 (Image)

hadrianswall_01-1

CREDIT: Image

Rating: 4.5/5 – Investigating a Murder and His Ex-Wife in Space.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

In the back of the first issue of Hadrian’s Wall, writer Kyle Higgins discusses where the “emotional core” of the story came from, and that’s a bad breakup. Not just the breakup itself, but all of the emotional ties that go with it, whether it be anger, sadness or even longing, and then adding the fact that you could actually just be a phone call away from that person who causes so much emotional turmoil. Higgins and the creative team behind C.O.W.L. take that inspiration into an all new science fiction series from Image, and they’re off to a great start.

The synopsis page gives you enough to understand the world we’re in, and shortly after that we meet the main character Simon Moore. Simon is an investigator hired to look into the death of an astronaut aboard a huge spaceship called the Hadrian’s Wall. The job pays well, but there’s plenty of emotional baggage, including the fact that his ex-wife could be a suspect. Writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel are able to not only get into the challenged relationship Simon and his ex have, but also provide enough mystery and tension with the other supporting cast to keep me interested from the first page until the very end.

The art by Rod Reis is beautiful, and much brighter than his work on C.O.W.L. There’s definitely a sci-fi feel to the work with plenty of green and white glows, and when he goes into the darks, it’s never dark enough to muddy the visuals. His cover is also a brilliant interpretation of what occurs on the inside pages, and that will always gain extra points with me!

There seems to be plenty of story waiting to be told with Hadrian’s Wall based not only on the larger world that’s being set up, but also within the small confrontations between Simon and his ex. This is a wonderful first issue from a proven team of creators and the second issue will move to the top of my stack next month!

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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