Superhero Spotlight – Adam Strange

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In 1957, superheroes were not the dominant subgenre of comic books. You had horror titles, humor books, and lots of science fiction. The editorial director of DC Comics, Irwin Donenfeld, called his editors Jack Schiff & Julius Schwartz together and wanted pitches for science fiction protagonists. Schwartz’s idea was a play on Edgar Rice Burrough’s classic Jon Carter of Mars character. This would be an Earthman struck by a beam of strange energy that transported him to a distant alien world. Because he was the first human on this planet, Schwartz named him Adam. The protagonists debuted in the pages of Showcase #17; the series was a tryout book for new characters before given them their own titles.

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Movie Review – Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Written by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and David Callaham
Directed by Patty Jenkins

I can’t say I was excited to watch Wonder Woman 1984. The first film was fine, but all of Warner’s attempts to build their superhero universe since Man of Steel have just not been my style. Shazam was pretty okay, but as a whole, the DCEU, or whatever they call it, is dull & boring. I won’t waste your time if you are here to see me get to the point, but I was bored for most of Wonder Woman 1984 and just didn’t really like it. I am definitely a DC Comics fan, but the films don’t capture what it is I love about these characters in any way. They are a flat, soulless trudge through two hours.

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Superhero Spotlight – The Atom

Ray Palmer was not the first hero named The Atom. However, unlike his Silver Age colleagues, The Flash (Barry Allen) or Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Palmer has little to nothing in common with his Golden Age counterpart. While the original Atom (Al Pratt) was the cliché 98-pound weakling who trained to become a two-fisted powerhouse, this 1960s reinvention was focused on his name’s scientific aspects.

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Comic Book Review – New Teen Titans Omnibus Volume 5

New Teen Titans Omnibus Volume 5 (2020)
Reprints New Teen Titans v2 #32-49, New Teen Titans Annual #3 & 4, Tales of the Teen Titans #91, Infinity Inc. #45, Secret Origins #13, Secret Origins Annual #3
Written by Marv Wolfman (with Dan Mishkin, Roy Thomas, RJM L’Officer, and Paul Levitz
Art by Eduardo Barretto, Erik Larsen, Michael Collins, Romeo Tanghal, Kelley Jones, Colleen Doran, Ty Templeton, and Paris Cullins

And so we reach the end of the road. New Teen Titans would end with issue 49, becoming New Titans with number 50. It was decided the characters had grown beyond being kids, and Marv Wolfman apparently wanted to tell more adult stories with them. The Nightwing/Starfire relationship with images of them in bed together unclothed already hinted that we were dealing with legal adults. Then Donna Troy’s marriage to Terry Long was also a significant signal that the “teen” days were coming to an end. Wally West had become The Flash with the closing of Crisis, and so it was that this generation joined their adult counterparts as peers now, not just sidekicks. That doesn’t mean these are good comics though, in fact, I think we got to some of the worst stories Wolfman ever wrote on this series.

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Comic Book Review – Young Justice Book Five

Young Justice Book Five (2020)
Reprints Young Justice #33 – 43, Young Justice Our Worlds At War #1, Impulse #77, Superboy #91
Written by Peter David (with Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Todd DeZago & Joe Kelly)
Art by Todd Nauck (with Pascual Ferry & Carlo Barberi)

With the publication of this volume, it was billed as the end of Young Justice…except it doesn’t reprint issues 44 through 55. I’m hoping that is an oversight because, as little as I have enjoyed reading through this series, I would like to finish it up in an official collection. If there aren’t signs of a sixth volume, I may just review those last few as an unofficial set. As I said, I haven’t enjoyed this read through as much as I anticipated because of the emphasis on comedy over drama. It’s good to have both, but Peter David certainly leans into the former over the latter. 

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Comic Book Review – Wonder Woman by John Byrne Volume 3

Wonder Woman by John Byrne Volume 3 (2019)
Reprints Wonder Woman v2 #125-136, additional material from Wonder Woman Secret Files #1 & Adventure Comics 80-Page Giant #1
Written by John Byrne
Art by John Byrne, Phil Winslade, and Tom Palmer

The final act of John Byrne’s run on Wonder Woman did something a little unexpected; it nearly sidelined Wonder Woman until the last issue. Now, you might be wondering, “What would you do in a comic titled Wonder Woman if the main character isn’t around much?” Byrne hands the title over to her supporting characters and Hippolyta and gives the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick almost more space in the book than Princess Diana herself. 

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Comic Book Review – The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage (2020)
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz

This recent DC Black Label mini-series provides the perfect opportunity for both a review and stealth superhero spotlight on a character who has intrigued me since I first saw them as a kid. The Question was a purchase by DC Comics when from their buyout of the flagging Charlton Comics in the early 1980s. He came with characters like Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Peacemaker, Nightshade, and more. 

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Superhero Spotlight – Animal Man

Animal Man existed in the DC Universe for twenty-three years before he became a character of considerable note at the hands of writer Grant Morrison. This post-Crisis transmutation created a platform to do a metaphysical examination of what it is like to be a fictional character observed by a nonfiction world. It highlighted the struggles of a working-class superhero with a family. Issues surrounding the environment and animal rights were brought up and discussed at length. Ultimately, Animal Man became a character who still resonates through the DCU today, but he certainly didn’t start that way.

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Comic Book Reviews – Justice League International Omnibus Volume 2

Justice League International Omnibus Volume 2 (2020)
Reprints Justice League America #31-50, Justice League American Annual #4, Justice League Quarterly #1, Justice League Europe #7-25, Justice League Europe Annual #1, and Justice League International Special #1
Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Art by Adam Hughes, Mike McKone, Bart Sears, Chris Sprouse, Darick Robertson, and Marshall Rogers

The JLI came across my radar with Justice League America #42, a cover that promised a team’s recruitment drive. I was nine years ago, and my knowledge of the Justice League came mostly from watching Challenge of the Superfriends, so you can understand how shocked I was when I opened up this book and found none of the characters I expected. Where were Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman? Instead, I was given new faces and names like Blue Beetle, Mister Miracle, and Guy Gardener. I didn’t have any idea who these people were. And they didn’t fight anyone; they spent a lot of time talking with a very comedic tone. I was confused as a child but still intrigued. A decade later in college, I would rifle through quarter bins on the floor of comic book shops, slowly but surely assembling a near-complete run of Giffen & DeMatteis landmark controversial run on the League.

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Comic Book Review – Wonder Woman by John Byrne Volume 2

Wonder Woman by John Byrne Volume 2 (2018)
Reprints Wonder Woman #115 – 124, Annuals #5,6
Written by John Byrne
Art by John Byrne, Norm Breyfogle, Dave Cockrum, and Tom Palmer

The one thing that can’t be denied about John Byrne’s run on Wonder Woman is that he most certainly made it his own thing. At this point in his career, his name carried tremendous clout, and he could essentially do what he wanted. In the early 2000s, he rebooted the Doom Patrol during his run on JLA and completely scrambled established continuity that rippled through characters in the Teen Titans and didn’t care. His run on Wonder Woman definitely carries on George Perez’s rebooted version of the heroine and the Amazons, but he seems much more interested in pitting her against very different foes.

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