Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Volume 3 (2019) Reprints Wonder Woman #218-226 & Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1-3 Written by Greg Rucka Art by Cliff Richards, Nicola Scott, Rags Morales, Tom Derenick, Georges Jeanty, Karl Kerschel, David Lopez, Eduardo Panisca, and Ron Randall
What started with great promise came to a rather messy and unsatisfying end. I loved the opening volume of Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman collection, but it appeared that editorial demands shifted the direction he started out with. By the time these issues were being published, DC Comics had made it clear they were headed towards Infinite Crisis, a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths. This meant every major superhero title would be roped into the event. Geoff Johns was writing Infinite Crisis, so if you were to read his titles, The Flash or JSA, they tied in much more neatly. For writers that were being folded into the event, like Rucka, you see slightly awkward inclusion.
At first glance, Doom Patrol may appear to be an attempt by DC Comics to create an X-Men knock-off. Doom Patrol first appeared in the pages of My Greatest Adventure #80 (June 1963). This was an adventure anthology that evolved over time from pulp stories to science fiction to finally becoming the home of Doom Patrol. Over at Marvel, the X-Men debuted in the pages of their own title in September 1963. Now that doesn’t mean the X-Men are a rip-off of Doom Patrol either. Due to the writing and production schedules, both ideas were already in the works before either company was aware of the other. It’s just one of those strange coincidences.
The next episode of the PopCult Podcast has dropped.
I open things up by talking about my personal views on the future of movie theaters and film distribution in the wake of COVID-19. This leads to our Top 5 list with Ariana where we share our Top 5 Book Adaptations. Then I go over the highlights of DC’s new Infinite Frontier initiative. The episode wraps with Ariana & I sharing some books we’ve recently read.
Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 2 (2021) Reprints Superman v2 #5-11, Action Comics #588-593, Adventures of Superman #429-435, and Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #37-38 Written by John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, & Paul Levitz Art by John Byrne, Jerry Ordway, Erik Larsen, and Terry Austin
One of the things that were always a bit confusing during this era of Superman was how much the character remembered the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis had been DC’s way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company and was used to condense the elements of the Multiverse into one cohesive reality. Part of that was John Byrne’s reboot of Superman, erasing certain sillier Silver Age elements from the characters and reducing his powers. A significant piece of Superman’s backstory that was axed was his early days in Smallville as Superboy. Under Byrne’s version, Clark Kent’s powers developed slowly, and only when he was an adult did he have them all. His costume wasn’t made until then, so Superboy never existed.
Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Volume 2 Reprints Wonder Woman v2 #206-217 & Flash v2 #219 Written by Greg Rucka with Geoff Johns Art by Drew Johnson, Rags Morales
This is an odd one because it shifts away from many of the storylines centered around Veronica Cale, Doctor Psycho, and Vanessa Kapetelis. Those stories sort of fade into the background as the action here is centered all around the conflict between Wonder Woman the Olympian Gods. The story is very good, and Rucka proves he’s a worthy successor to George Perez’s legendary opening run. I think he actually balances Man’s World and the mythological elements a little better than Perez. There’s time spent on both old villains and introducing new ones in the context of this run of Wonder Woman, Diana acting as a United Nations ambassador.
Well, I just endured the Snyder Cut of Justice League on HBOMax. I watched it in four one-hour chunks, referring to it as my series of vaccinations to my wife. Next week, I’ll be reviewing it on my podcast’s inaugural episode, so make sure to listen to that. Meanwhile, one thing I did like was that it introduced the Martian Manhunter into the DC Films. He’s been a mainstay in the DC Universe since his inclusion in the inaugural roster of the Justice League of America in 1960. However, Martian Manhunter has never been a superstar and didn’t appear outside of the comics books until 1997.
Superman by Grant Morrison Omnibus (2021) Reprints Action Comics v2 #0-18, Annual #1 Written by Grant Morrison (with Sholly Fisch) Art by Rags Morales, Andy Kubert, Brent Anderson, Gene Ha, Brad Walker, Cully Hamner, Ben Oliver, Cafu, Ryan Sook, Bob McLeod, Travel Foreman, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and more
It’s interesting to read these Grant Morrison stories alongside John Byrne’s Superman work. Byrne was tasked with rebooting Superman in the wake of the Crisis in 1986, reworking concepts and cutting away things considered to be too old-fashioned. Morrison was partially asked to do the same thing in 2011 when the New 52 initiative was rolled out. I don’t think Morrison was allowed as much leeway as Byrne because D.C. had become much more integrated alongside their parent company Warner Media. Like Byrne, Morrison is taken well-known concepts around Superman and trying to make them relevant for their time. However, they are a professed lover of the Silver Age, so Morrison isn’t entirely willing to make everything a modern parallel to our world. In true Morrison fashion, we get a tale of metaphors made reality, of meditations on fictional universes, and ultimately a vision of Superman that would be quickly discarded as editorial interference kept the New 52 from ever amounting to much.
Superman/Batman: Generations Omnibus (2021) Reprints Superman/Batman: Generations #1-4, Superman/Batman: Generations 2 #1-4, Superman/Batman: Generations 3 #1-12 Written & Illustrated by John Byrne
Superman debuted in the pages of Action Comics #1 in the summer of 1938, with Batman following closely behind in Detective Comics #27 in the winter of 1939. In 1999, comics legend John Byrne decided to write and draw an Elseworlds series that asked what would the DC Universe look like if these characters and their supporting casts aged in real-time? Immediately, this opens a lot of new ideas and story avenues, and the first volume is one of my personal favorites in the Elseworlds series. It’s not the most incredible story ever told in the DC Multiverse, but it’s a very fun one.
Superhero Spotlight – Green Lantern (John Stewart)
In 1971, it was clear things needed to change in the comics industry. Frankly, they had needed to change for decades, but things move at a snail’s pace with most American institutions. One of the most significant changes made at the end of 1971 was the introduction of DC Comics’ first black superhero with John Stewart. He was the newest Green Lantern, temporarily replacing the book’s main character Hal Jordan for a short bit. Stewart would become an integral figure in the Green Lantern title as well as the DC Universe.