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52 (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of Man of Steel this month, we’re going Superman mad. Check back daily for Superman-related reviews.

If you are looking to get a taste of the shared universe that DC have created, a glimpse at the diverse characters and their overlapping worlds who have been cultivated as part of the publisher’s comic book line, then it’s very hard to go wrong with 52. A weekly series set in the wake of one of the company’s line-wide “everything changes” events, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the minor characters dealing with their own problems and issues in a world without Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman.

Published as fifty-two weekly issues, it serves as something of “a year in the life” of this fictional world. Written by four of the best writers in contemporary comics, each of whom has made outstanding contributions to the company’s output in the not-too-hazy past, 52 might not be the best or most consistent comic book that DC ever published, but it is one of the most insightful, original and fun.

Falling from the sky...

Falling from the sky…

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Geoff Johns Hawkman Omnibus: Volume 1 (Review/Retrospective)

I’m always glad to see a nice, big and thick DC comics omnibus. Marvel have cornered the market in putting out over-sized gigantic collections of modern and classic runs on iconic characters, and I’m disappointed that it has taken DC so long to follow suit. After all, they have any number of long runs on iconic characters by acclaimed creators deserving some nice love. Geoff Johns’ Hawkman run is perhaps the writer’s run that I was least excited about, but it’s still nice to get the majority of Geoff Johns’ character-defining and continuity-clarifying run on the character handily collected in one gigantic package.

Hawkin' his wares...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Booster Gold – 52 Pickup & Blue and Gold

I guess when you’re as popular as Geoff Johns you can pretty much pick your own projects. He’s pretty much the driving force at the company, having helmed two of the bigger more recent “event” crossovers (Infinite Crisis and Blackest Night) as well as managing the return of Hal Jordan to the pages of Green Lantern and Barry Allen to The Flash. He has always skilfully walked the line between a hardcore nerd who knows everything there is to know about DC’s incredibly complicated history and the source of some of the company’s most accessible output. His runs on the “big” name characters (such as Superman) are some of the easiest to read comic books currently published, however it’s clear he has a somewhat deeper level of knowledge and understanding of the way that the DC universe works, and is read to dive into the nooks and crannies of obscure characters and half-remembered trivia with the fervour of a pure geek. Booster Gold is perhaps the best example of this sort of work.

That logo is so money...

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Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory: The Bulleteer (Review/Retrospective)

December is “Grant Morrison month” here at the m0vie blog, as we take the month to consider and reflect on one of the most critically acclaimed (and polarising) authors working in the medium. We’ve got a special treat for you this week, which is “Seven Soldiers Week”, so check back each day for a review of one of the Seven Soldier miniseries that Morrison put together.

There’s a whole class of people in hospital wards, Mrs. Harrower, people who’d do just about anything to hang out with the skintight crowd. They expose themselves to radioactive materials or drink home-made potions… They interact with venomous insects and dangerous animals in the expectation of receiving some totem power.

There’s not a lot of sympathy among medical staff who have to clean up the mess.

The Bulleteer is a wonderful deconstruction of the superhero world we see so often reflected in the comics of Marvel and DC. These characters were created decades ago, in a different world. Writing elsewhere last year, I wondered if the very concept of a secret identity is outdated, a genre convention which doesn’t reflect the modern world. Clark Kent is a modest cover for Superman, a creation which afford him the opportunity to pretend to be normal, a humble camouflage that seemed perfectly quaint in the thirties. These days, I wonder if people would even bother. After all, in this era of instant celebrity and reality television, with the entire world aspiring to become “special”, why would you ever want to be normal?

What happens when the shine comes off?

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Justice League International: Volume 1 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

In light of the massive DC reboot taking place next month, launching with a Geoff Johns and Jim Lee run on a new Justice League title, I thought I’d take a look back at another attempt to relaunch the Justice League, emerging from the then-recent Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Once upon a time — there was a Justice League of America. But that was another era, when the world could afford borders and boundaries. When heroes could claim national loyalties and feel justified in their claims.

But in today’s world there’s no longer room for borders or boundaries. The walls between nations have to fall if our planet is to survive. So, for the new era — a new league: Justice League… International!

– Introducing the Justice League International, Justice League #7

Unlike the upcoming Johns/Lee relaunch of DC’s most famous superhero team, or even Grant Morrison’s tenure on JLA, it’s clear from the outset that Justice League: International was never going to be a powerhouse team. As the introduction states, in the wake of the massive restructuring of the DC Universe following the near-reboot of Crisis on Infinite Earths, many characters were tied up in events in their own titles. George Perez was working on Wonder Woman, while John Byrne was putting his own slant on Superman in Man of Steel. So the only returning iconic Justice League founding members were Batman and the Martian Manhunter. The team had to make do with Guy Gardner as the resident Green Lantern. It wasn’t exactly an all-star line-up, to be honest.

The Unusual Suspects?

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