Comic Book Review – The Flash by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar

The Flash by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar
Reprints The Flash #130-141, Green Lantern #96, Green Arrow #130
Written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar (with Ron Marz and Chuck Dixon)
Art by Paul Ryan, Pop Mhan, John Nyberg, and Ron Wagner

Mark Waid announced in 1997 that he would be taking a year-long hiatus from The Flash comic. He cited feeling burnt out after penning almost seventy consecutive issues of the series. Waid explained he already had his next story arc planned out but that in the meantime Grant Morrison and Mark Millar would take over the writing duties. Scotland-born Morrison had quickly become a critically-acclaimed writer when he made his American debut with Animal Man. He had a penchant for taking lower tier characters and showing readers while they mattered while recontextualizing the more prominent figures as archetypal, as seen in his JLA run that was happening at this time. Mark Millar, also from Scotland, would go on to great success with his Kick-Ass franchise but at this time he was a protege of Morrison’s, making his name on the comics scene of the late 1990s.

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Comic Book Reviews – 52 Volume Four

52 Volume Four
Reprints 52 #40-52
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Chris Batista, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Darick Robertson, Dan Jurgens, Eddy Barrows, Jamal Igle, Patrick Olliffe, Justiniano, Joe Bennett, and Mike McKone

Here it is, the final chapter in 52 and this summer series. Things kick-off without missing a beat as Steel has his showdown with Lex Luthor. The Everyman Project has been revealed as crooked with hundreds of people dead. The Teen Titans and what remains of Infinity Inc work alongside Steel to take down Luthor. Luthor uses Everyman and his suite of powers only to be outsmarted by Steel. Things are pretty clean and to the point which results in a reasonably satisfying conclusion to this arc. It’s a good thing because there are a lot of story beats left in the remaining eleven issues. The creator commentary in these collections lets us know that behind the scenes the writers and editors were panicking to bring all these storylines to a satisfying conclusion before the series ended.

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Comic Book Review – 52 Volume Three

52 Volume 3
Reprints 52 #27-39
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Joe Bennett, Drew Johnson, Chris Batista, Patrick Olliffe, Tom Derenick, Joe Prado, Phil Jimenez, Dan Jurgens, Jamal Igle, and Andy Smith

The third volume of 52 is all about bringing our characters to those moments of darkness, showing that all hope may be lost to set up the conclusion for the fourth volume. Volume three is probably my favorite of the four collections for that reason, and it does some impressive things, like make the Lost in Space storyline enjoyable. Lobo is still there, but a new enemy is introduced that truly feels dangerous.

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Comic Book Review – 52 Book Two

52 Book Two
Reprints 52 #14-26
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Dale Eaglesham, Shawn Moll, Joe Bennett, Chris Batista, Eddy Barrows, Patrick Oliffe, Drew Johnson, and Phil Jimenez

Book Two of 52 is all about building out the world of the story without really answering any questions. It’s only the halfway point, so there’s plenty of wandering around to stretch out the narrative. That said, there are great moments, and some plots are much better than others. One thing I’ve tried to do through this second readthrough of the series is trying to determine who wrote what and that has led to some deep internet dives to confirm or deny my assumptions. On the surface, it’s relatively easy to determine the authors of individual plots. Based on subsequent comics Greg Rucka is most definitely writing the Montoya/Question/Batwoman story. Geoff Johns is penning the Black Adam story continuing plot threads he started back in JSA. Grant Morrison is mainly writing the Lost in Space story featuring Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man. I’m reasonably sure Mark Waid is over the Steel/Luthor/Everyman plot.

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Comic Book Review – JSA by Geoff Johns Book Three

JSA by Geoff Johns Book Three
Reprints JSA: All-Stars #1-8, JSA Annual #1, JSA Secret Files and Origins #2, and JSA #26-31
Written by Geoff Johns (with David Goyer)
Art by Sal Velluto, Phil Winslade, Barry Kitson, Mike McKone, Adam DeKraker, Stephen Sadowski, Dave Ross, Wade von Grawbadger, Javier Saltares, Derec Aucoin, Rags Morales, and Peter Snejbjerg

In recent years, Geoff Johns’ writing has taken on a more epic tone with his lengthy runs on Green Lantern & Justice League as well as his place as the main man when it comes to company-wide events (Infinite Crisis, Forever Evil, Rebirth, Doomsday Clock). Twenty years ago he was the man who brought us great character-centered books like Stars and STRIPE & JSA. JSA, in particular, is an excellent example of how good early Johns was. He told stories based on the histories and legacies of his cast but also built new characters from the ground up. The result was something like the best of Claremont’s X-Men run, where personalities were clear and interpersonal conflict was some of the best stuff in the books.

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Comic Book Review – 52 Book One

52 Book 1
Reprints 52 #1-13
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Joe Bennett, Chris Batista, Ken Lashley, Eddy Barrows, Shawn Moll, and Todd Nauck

After Infinite Crisis, the “holy trinity” of heroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) were written out to deal with a variety of personal struggles. To compensate for this and not wanting sales to dip the month following Infinite Crisis, all ongoing titles were given a banner of “One Year Later.” With this time jump, we got to see what the new status quo was for the marquee title characters. However, this left a year of the DC Universe unknown and to fill that gap in an experimental series was commissioned. 52 ran for fifty-two weeks, telling the story of the lost year in “real-time.” Each issue takes places over the course of a week with text boxes informing the reader about which day of the week it is. Because of this conceit, many stories have to have minor events take place off-panel and get referenced in dialogue. For instance, a new character introduced in around half-way through joins the Teen Titans and fights alongside them for a few months. That all happens out of the reader’s view, and it’s not essential to the core stories being told. It does, however, make sure things feel inconsequential because once 52 wrapped up and because it is focused on lesser tier characters, much of this gets forgotten.

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Comic Book Review – Infinite Crisis

Infinite Crisis
Reprints Infinite Crisis #1-7
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Phil Jimenez, George Perez, Ivan Reis, and Joe Bennett

Since Identity Crisis, the DC Universe had been caught up in building momentum towards the 20th-anniversary celebration of their landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths. Through side plots in monthly books and mini-series, everything was building towards this moment. You could arguably go back to Mark Waid’s The Kingdom which teased the return of the Golden Age Superman as hype for this future storyline. Ten years earlier, DC did a similar celebration of Crisis with the Zero Hour event, which I reviewed last summer. The hype for Infinite Crisis far outshines anything Zero Hour did, which stands as a quaint event in terms of breadth. If you didn’t read at least three of the four lead-in mini-series, you could be a bit lost here because issue one jumps right into the fray.

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