Comic Book Review – Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later Omnibus Volume 1

Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later Omnibus Volume 1 (2020)
Reprints Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #1-39, Annual #1-4, Timber Wolf #1-5, Adventures of Superman #478, and Who’s Who #1-11, 13, 14, 16
Written by Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, Dan Jurgens, and Al Gordon
Art by Keith Giffen, Doug Braithwaite, Dusty Abell, Brandon Peterson, Jason Pearson, Rob Haynes, Ian Montgomery, Joe Phillips, Stuart Immonen, Colleen Doran, Curt Swan, June Brigman, David A. Williams, Chris Sprouse

I have not read many omnibus collections though there is a larger type of trade paperback collection that gets pretty close. It used to be when comics got bound together for a reprint, you got about 6-8 issues a book. Now we are seeing year-long arcs being collected and, in the case of omnibuses, entire creator-focused runs. Everything about Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later feels epic in scale. The cast is beyond sprawling, and the story arcs touch on brand-new elements and established bits of Legionnaires lore going back decades. These issues were originally published in 1989, and the influence of Watchmen and that British new wave of storytelling is also present throughout. 

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Comic Book Review – Young Justice Book Four

Young Justice Book Four (2019)
Reprints Young Justice #20 – 32
Written by Peter David, Jay Faerber, Chuck Dixon, Brian K. Vaughn, and Todd Dezago
Art by Todd Nauck, Sunny Lee, Coy Turnbull, Eric Battle, Patrick Zircher, and Scott Kolins

One of the problems I think Peter David encountered as the writer of Young Justice was his inability to develop or change his flagship characters because he was borrowing them from other titles. Superboy has his own ongoing series, which wouldn’t end until 2002. Robin had a very popular ongoing written by Chuck Dixon that ran from 1996 to 2009. Impulse was under the umbrella of Mark Waid’s Flash family with a solo book. Wonder Girl was a recurring cast member in the Wonder Woman title. That left Waid with characters like The Secret, Empress, and Arrowette to have the freedom to develop. However, the book wasn’t going to sell if those were the people on the covers. Yet, by continuing to spotlight characters outside of David’s control, the book never really felt like it went anywhere.

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Comic Book Review – Basketful of Heads

Basketful of Heads (2020)
Written by Joe Hill
Art by Leomacs

It helps to have a famous dad, I suppose. In 2019, DC Comics announced a horror comics imprint, Hill Comics, that would be overseen by horror novelist Joe Hill, son of Stephen King. I have never read any of Hill’s prose, but I did read his previous comics series, Locke & Key, which is quite a fun & disturbing horror mystery with all sorts of twists and turns along the way. Hill Comics’s opening salvo would include Hill’s own Basketful of Heads, The Dollhouse Family by Peter Carey, The Low Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado, and more. I plan to read through these as the trades are released, and we have some great horror comics that bridge the gap between the pulpy comic anthologies of old and more modern horror sensibilities.

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Superhero Spotlight – Black Canary

Black Canary is the name used by two different women in the DC Universe, a mother & daughter, the partial inspiration for the Silk Spectre in Alan Moore’s Watchmen. She was one of DC Comics’ earliest super-heroines introduced post-World War II. In the New 52 reboot, elements of both mother & daughter were combined into a single version. Black Canary has been part of the Golden Age Justice Society, the Justice League, partnered with Green Arrow and been part of the all-female Birds of Prey. Four different actresses have portrayed her in film & television thus far with some markedly different interpretations. Let’s learn more about Black Canary.

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Comic Book Review – The Power of Shazam! Book 1: In the Beginning…

The Power of Shazam! Book 1: In the Beginning… (2020)
Reprints The Power of Shazam! graphic novel, The Power of Shazam! #1-12, a story from Superman/Batman Magazine #4
Written by Jerry Ordway
Art by Jerry Ordway, Peter Krause, and Mike Parobeck

Of the collections I’ve read and reviewed on this site, I believe this is the first where I bought each individual issue as it was published. I cannot explain what drew me to the Captain Marvel character since I was a kid, but I just was. The first thing to get out of the way, yes, this character was called Captain Marvel, he was the original created in 1939 at Fawcett Comics. Fawcett went out of business, DC bought Captain Marvel, but by the time they wanted to use him in the 1960s, Marvel Comics was around with their own Captain Marvel. DC’s version legally could not use his name in the title of books, so Shazam became the commonly used moniker. By the 2000s, DC was tired of the name confusion, so with the New 52 reboot, he was renamed Shazam.

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Superhero Spotlight – Plastic Man

Plastic Man has been a character with extreme popularity in the mainstream culture at points but has an extraordinarily muddled and irregular comic book presence. He started as the creation of another company before being bought by DC Comics. In the 1990s, he experienced a spike in appearances in the DC Universe only to disappear when the New 52 reboot happened. He finally returned but only as part of a pastiche of Marvel’s Fantastic Four in a comic that just recently got canceled.

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Comic Book Review – Wonder Woman by Mike Deodato

Wonder Woman by Mike Deodato (2016)
Reprints Wonder Woman #85, 90-100, 0
Written by William Messner-Loebs
Art by Mike Deodato

Not many collections I’ve reviewed spotlight the artist, but in my journey through Wonder Woman’s post-Crisis career, we have reached the era where things get weird. These comics were published in the mid-1990s when Image Comics had a profound effect on the industry. Image was founded by a collective of artists who left the big two companies and created imprints under this single umbrella. They were people like Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, and Rob Liefeld, who had very distinct and oft-criticized art styles. Deodato is very much a student of these artists, and it shows in his work, which we will get into later.

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Comic Book Review – Booster Gold: The Big Fall

Booster Gold: The Big Fall (2019)
Reprints Booster Gold V1 #1-12
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Dan Jurgens & Mike DeCarlo

The 1980s are remembered as a decade of gross corporate excess in the United States. Ronald Reagan became president and opened the doors to deregulating the financial sector. American Psycho is a great satirical take on the results of letting Wall Street run wild on American wealth. In DC Comics, they indulged in the excess with the most massive comic book crossover to date, Crisis on Infinite Earths. This featured heroes from across the multiverse in a battle beyond time and space. The result was a condensed timeline where they managed (or in some cases failed to accomplish) populating the single remaining Earth with legions of heroes. The character considered to be the first post-Crisis one is Booster Gold, a mystery man who encompasses all the corporate greed.

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Comic Book Review – Young Justice Book Three

Young Justice Book Three (2018)
Reprints Young Justice #18-19, Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1-2, Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files and Origins #1, Superboy #74, Sins of Youth: JLA Jr. #1, Sins of Youth: Aquababy/Lagoon Man #1, Sins of Youth: Batboy and Robin #1, Sins of Youth: Kid Flash/Impulse #1, Sins of Youth: Starwoman and the JSA Jr. #1, Sins of Youth: Superman Jr/Superboy Sr #1, Sins of Youth: Wonder Girls #1, and Sins of Youth: The Secret/Deadboy #1
Written by Peter David, Todd Dezago, Chuck Dixon, Geoff Johns, D. Curtis Johnson, Karl Kesel, Dwayne McDuffie, Ben Raab, Brian K. Vaughn, Jay Faerber, Lary Stucker, Scotty Beatty, and Jim Alexander
Art by Todd Nauck, Carlo Barberi, Sunny Lee, Tom Grummett, Rob Haynes, Drew Johnson, Scott Kolins, Cary Nord, Michael Avon Oeming, Angel Unzueta, Mike S. Miller, Norm Breyfogle, Pasqual Ferry, and Cully Hamner

It all started with making Superman a weekly character. In the 1990s, the Man of Steel had four monthly series making it so that you could pick up the next chapter in the Superman saga every week of the month. This led to DC Comics shaping their publishing schedule around this four-week model. However, this ran into a problem when you had a month with a fifth Wednesday (traditionally New Comic Book Day). In 1997, DC introduced fifth-week events, a filler week where a collection of themed one-shots would be published. That grew into a space to have a mini-event, nothing world-shattering but a longer story, the type you might typically have seen in the summer annuals. This is how we got Sins of Youth.

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Comic Book Review – Wonder Woman: The Last True Hero Book One

Wonder Woman: The Last True Hero Book One (2020)
Reprints Wonder Woman Special #1, Wonder Woman #63, 64, 66-75, and Wonder Woman Annual #3
Written by William Messner-Loebs
Art by Jill Thompson, Paris Cullens, Lee Moder, and Brian Bolland

In the wake of War of the Gods and the conclusion of George Perez’s Wonder Woman run, DC had a fresh start. Around the same time, Giffen & DeMatteis were wrapping up their tenure on Justice League, so several books were getting a fresh coat of paint. William Messner-Loebs was brought on to write the Amazon. His most prominent work to this point had been a lukewarmly received run on The Flash, where he emphasized the working class elements of the speedster. He brought this same element to Wonder Woman while still trying to bring in fantastic details.

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