Firestar 1 (June 2010)

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I’m used to poorly written first person female narration by a male writer (it’s called almost every comic book published today by either of the big two featuring a female character and lots of indie ones too). However, McKeever writing Captain Marvel (or Photon or whatever) to sound “black” is another story. I think he must have a “black woman” phrase book at his desk.

And don’t get me started on….

Oh, wow. McKeever equates surviving cancer to getting another life in a video game. What a brilliant observation. I usually like him well enough too, but this comic’s just terrible.

Rios’s artwork’s okay. It’s manga-influenced and very “girl power” in that flashy, meaningless Marvel way As I’ve always said, if Marvel or DC wants to make a strong bid for mature female readership, get a good female writer to write a female character, not a mediocre male one.

CREDITS

My New Life; writer, Sean McKeever; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Kristyn Ferretti; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Superman 242 (September 1971)

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The Pseudo-Superman story comes to its close with Superman choosing to be de-powered. It’s a strange move, since he’s still really, really powerful. Maybe not Silver Age powerful, but he hadn’t really been doing those feats during the rest of the issues… it’s a little confusing. It’s an effective scene, but it doesn’t hold up under much scrutiny.

Similarly, Superman’s decision to fight Pseudo-Superman to the death… again, shouldn’t he have tried to work something out with him.

It’s a good close though. O’Neil fits tons of story in–most of the issue focuses on these two bums slash crooks who “kidnap” an inter-dimensional being and use it to beat up Superman and terrorize the world in general. Some great art on those pages.

The beating up Superman scene is particularly rough to read, since it’s all so vicious.

The final scene’s a little anticlimactic though.

CREDITS

The Ultimate Battle!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. The Girl Who Didn’t Believe in Superman!; writer, Bill Finger; penciller, Wayne Boring; inker, Stan Kaye. The World’s Mightiest Weakling!; writer, Otto Binder; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bernard Sachs. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 241 (August 1971)

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I guess Wonder Woman wasn’t much of a draw back in the early 1970s because her guest appearance is a surprise (there’s no mention on the cover) and she’s practically in the issue more than Superman.

Following up on Superman’s epiphany from the previous issue (he’d prefer to live a normal life), Wonder Woman’s Indian sidekick convinces him otherwise. It’s only a couple pages, but it’s effective, maybe because O’Neil’s dialogue for Superman is so desperate.

But then there’s the subsequent problem (where Wonder Woman takes over). Superman has super-brain damage and is acting like a (well-intentioned) goofball. It’s almost like they have him do Silver Age things, then deal with the “real world” consequences.

The sand double gets a solid explanation here, along with a goofy name: Pseudo-Superman.

The reprint back-ups are cute, but out of place for the serious–if humorously handled–feature story.

CREDITS

The Shape of Fear!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. Superman’s Neighbors; writer, Bill Finger; penciller, Wayne Boring; inker, Stan Kaye. Superman’s Day of Truth!; writer, Leo Dorfman; penciller, Swan; inker, George Klein. Editors, E. Nelson Bridwell and Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 240 (July 1971)

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Superman’s powers finally go this issue, burning out as he uses them more and more. It’s a very awkward issue, with Supes coming across almost like Spider-Man at times, he’s so depressed. He discovers, for example, average people don’t really care about him. Without his powers, he’s an object for their scorn.

Given the Pre-Crisis Superman is without an immediate support system, he’s basically on his own… until Wonder Woman’s pet sufi shows up to offer a cure. It’s such a small story–Clark Kent gets tailed by bad guys who go after an impaired (human) Superman–and O’Neil’s frequent references to Superman’s Silver Age planet juggling abilities make it feel unique.

The conclusion is, though somewhat hackneyed (human Superman versus thugs), very effective.

Lots has to do with Swan’s art. His figures in action are great, but he also goes for viscerally involving panel layouts.

Good stuff.

CREDITS

To Save a Superman; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Dick Giordano. The Man Who Cheated Time; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Michael Kaluta. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 238 (June 1971)

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Superman finally decides he can’t go around on half-power–but there’s a great butt shot from Swan on the first page for the ladies when he’s leaping instead of flying–at the end of the issue. His sand-double has been sucking his powers away and worse, the sand-double isn’t willing to help as Superman has to save the planet.

It’s kind of a neat way to agitate a situation (it starts as a ransom demand, but then there’s the atom bomb being dropped into the earth’s core) and O’Neil’s of the crisis is excellent. His devices to distract from Superman when Superman’s off page getting his plan together… not so excellent. They’re okay, but basically just standard “Where is Superman?” scenes with the supporting cast.

The back-up Krypton story has nice art from Gray Morrow, but it’s a lame Adam and Eve as sci-fi story.

CREDITS

Menace at 1000 Degrees!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. A Name Is Born; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Gray Morrow. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 237 (May 1971)

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Here’s a packed issue. Superman even comments on it–he rescues a rocket, Lois crashes, there are killer ants, his sand-double is around, he’s a carrier of some strange space bug–it goes on and on. O’Neil fits it all in with barely any room for anything else. Only when Superman decides he’s going to leave Earth (it takes him a panel, not an interconnected eight issue story arc), does the story take a breather.

There’s a particular moment, with Superman sitting out in space, waiting, basically, for Lois to die. He’s sacrificing her for the greater good (fear of infecting the rest of the planet with the space bug). It’s a very strange moment, because Superman’s given up. The solution appears, deus ex machina, to Superman; he doesn’t even try to save Lois.

Add in Swan’s odd head shots (they all look taped on) and the issue’s problematic.

CREDITS

Enemy of Earth; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Battle Hymn 4 (September 2005)

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Full disclosure, Erik Larsen rejected my comic for Image. I feel a little better. He apparently just can’t read, since he published Battle Hymn.

This comic book might be the worst thing I’ve read in a long time. I’m actually going to make a note of Battle Hymn being the worst-written nonsense I’ve read so I don’t forget.

Moore’s a lousy, lousy writer. He’s actually not terrible at the dialogue, only painfully mediocre, but his plotting is seriously some of the worst I’ve ever read. It’s not just incompetent, it’s some adjective “competent” isn’t even a part of.

I think Moore thinks he’s being really cool by not telling a story, by not having a real narrative, just a hodgepodge of sensational, melodramatic scenes.

I’m surprised Jeremy Haun did this kind of series. Maybe he can’t read either. His art’s just so good and the comic’s so indescribably awful.

CREDITS

Over There; writer, B. Clay Moore; artist, Jeremy Haun; colorist, Dave Bryant; letterer, Greg Thompson; publisher, Image Comics.

Battle Hymn 3 (June 2005)

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Ah, yes, ok… the U.S. government–FDR’s administration–is killing superheroes for being cads. Wow, it’s so inspirational. I’m shocked Moore didn’t break the internet in half demonizing the U.S. government.

It’s sensational tripe, the kind no one would ever really notice because no one read Battle Hymn. I can’t figure if Moore hates FDR or if he thinks he’s somehow writing an anti-government piece not about the Bush administration (it’s from 2005, after all). I’m guessing Moore doesn’t know enough about FDR to even have an opinion. I imagine he just thinks he’s being really subversive. Even though Mark Millar basically already did all this stuff with The Ultimates, or at least hinted it could be done.

I’m also trying to figure out if Moore’s ever going to comment on his only female character being around as a sex toy for his superheroes. I doubt he ever noticed.

CREDITS

Writer, B. Clay Moore; artist, Jeremy Haun; colorist, Dave Bryant; letterer, Greg Thompson; publisher, Image Comics.

Battle Hymn 2 (April 2005)

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Oh, wow, give B. Clay Moore a honorary history degree from Bob Jones University… he uses “homeland” in a 1940s scene. Maybe he should have just used Vaterland.

I’m also not sure “blue movie” isn’t an anachronism as well.

What’s also interesting is how Moore’s demonizing the U.S. government. I mean, FDR comes off as a bad guy in this comic. While I’m a little curious how it’ll turn out and I’m all for dramatic license, it’s not particularly solid, in terms of its history. I’m wondering what Moore did for research? Watched the History Channel? On mute?

The art’s solid again, but the plotting is just as lousy as the first issue. Basically all this issue does is show the reader the government can’t be trusted and the superhero team, hte Watchguard (either Moores think alike or B. Clay is “homaging”), has internal problems.

It’s a lame, readable comic.

CREDITS

The Milk Run; writer, B. Clay Moore; artist, Jeremy Haun; colorist, Dave Bryant; letterer, Marshall Dillon; publisher, Image Comics.

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