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Absolute Superman: For Tomorrow (Review/Retrospective)

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

As a Superman story, For Tomorrow leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a disjointed narrative that rapidly shifts through a variety of scenarios, while characters drift in and out (and back in again) in a way that feels convenient at best. There’s hardly the most logical of progressions here, as we move from one story into another. For Tomorrow feels like it has the ingredients for at least three Superman stories that would be quite interesting on their own, instead of being forced to fit together as one plot.

On the other hand, as a meditation on some of the themes and implications and characteristics of Superman as a character, For Tomorrow becomes something far more fascinating. Writer Brian Azzarello would hardly be my first choice to write a Superman story (indeed, he’s almost too cynical to write Batman), but he very clearly has some fascinating ideas about the character and his world. Truth be told, For Tomorrow is often more intriguing than satisfying, which makes it hard to recommend, but is still worth a look for those willing to excuse a somewhat hazy plot to get to some meaty ideas about Superman.

The doves are a nice touch...

The doves are a nice touch…

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Batman: Knight of Vengeance (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

I’ll freely concede that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s first collaboration on Batman, producing Broken City. While I could see what the pair were trying to do – to craft a genuinely dark and sinister noir tale within the framework of a traditional Batman narrative – it just seemed a little overwhelmingly stylistic. However, I am actually genuinely awed at their collaboration on Batman: Knight of Vengeance. A three-issue tie-in to the gigantic crossover Flashpoint, Knight of Vengeance is essentially an out-of-continuity alternate reality tale (similar to DC’s Elseworld brand), exploring a unique twist on the Batman mythos: what if Bruce had died in the mugging, and not his parents?

Darkest Knight…

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Batman: Broken City (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

I can’t help but feel like Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso were massively unfortunate when they were asked to write Batman: Broken City. The story was placed immediately following the breakout sales sensation that was Hush, a massive blockbuster epic written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Jim Lee, offering a whistlestop tour of Batman’s iconic selection of villains. Azzarello and Risso inherited the title from them with considerable hype. These were, after all, the two creators of the celebrated neo-noir comic book 100 Bullets, so they’d work their magic on the title, right? More than that, though, their arc seemed to consciously play up its similarities to Hush, revolving around Batman’s attempts to solve a central mystery while taking a trip through his rogues gallery. Understandably, fans and critics were taken by surprise when they got a seedy detective vibe instead of an action epic. I can’t help but wonder if time has been kind to this six-issue storyline.

The Devil in the Pale Moonlight?

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Paul Cornell’s Run on Action Comics – The Black Ring (Volumes I & II) (Review)

LEX LUTHOR!!! — Kneel before GRODD! You have walked into my ambush! And I have brought my biggest combat spoon– to eat your tasty brains!!!

– the moment I fell in love with Paul Cornell’s Action Comics

I adore Paul Cornell. He’s just a fantastic writer. His most notable work to date has probably been two episodes of the televised Doctor Who (Father’s Day and Human Nature/Family of Blood), but he’s also made a rather fantastic addition to the stable of writers at DC comics. If you wanted proof of up-and-coming new blood at the company, Cornell’s increasing contributions over the past few years certainly make a case for it. I think his Action Comics might be one of the most shamelessly “fun” runs in modern comic books, an adventure that rejoices in the sheer ridiculousness of comic books, without sacrificing character or depth for cheap spectacle. It helps that Cornell manages to take one of the most fascinating characters in comic book history and craft in insightful look at his protagonist’s personality in a single year-long storyline.

This is Lex Luthor’s time to shine. And not just because he’s bald, although the glare on that thing must be something.

The power of the world in the palm of his hand...

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Lex Luthor: Man of Steel (Review)

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way.

Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo worked together on Joker, the rather wonderful reinvention of the Clown Prince of Crime which happened to almost perfectly synch up with the release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. However, the pair had worked together before on a very similar story – an attempt to offer a more in-depth look at another iconic comic book villain. Lex Luthor: Man of Steel was originally released as a six-issue miniseries, but it has now been released as a graphic novel branded only Luthor, in an attempt to cash in on the success of the pair’s stand-alone Batman novel. In the form of a lovely hardcover with the covers relegated to the extras at the end, it actually makes quite a compelling read.

He needs to Luth-less to win this...

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Wednesday Comics: Batman

Earlier this week I reviewed Wednesday Comics, a rather spanking anthology from DC Comics. I kinda figured, however, it might be worth my while to break out some of those fifteen stories on their own (but not all of them) and discuss them, as it’s easy to lose sight of a particular writer/artist’s work in an anthology. And I thought that the opening strip deserved a bit of discussion, as it’s perhaps come under a bit of fire for a lot of flaws that are present through a lot of the stories collected.

Batman is the story arc which opens Wednesday Comics. Indeed, it was the story which would find itself peering out at the reader week-on-week. Perhaps it was unfortunate that Brian Azzarello’s take on the Caped Crusader went first, because it’s typically drawn a lot of criticism that the stories told failed to take advantage of the format. A lot of the criticism of the story can also be directed at a lot of the subsequence serials, but the Dark Knight draws the brunt of the negativity. Which is a shame, because – despite its conventional nature – Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso offer a pretty effective snapshot of the Caped Crusader.

Go with a bang...

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Wednesday Comics

Hawkman unsheathes his knife and crawls into the gasping T-Rex’s jaws, thinking “Sadly, this is not the craziest thing I’ve ever done.”

– Hawkman

Wednesday Comics is an amazing little experiment, a bit of comic book nostalgia delivered by some of the most talented people in the business with a smile on their face and a skip in their step. For those who don’t know, DC Comics – always the more boldly experimental of the two major companies – ran a twelve-week collection of newspaper comic strips. Fifteen strips bundled together, the reader was offered one page of a given comic at a time on a super-sized newspaper sheet, with a full story told week-on-week. It was a bold little experiment and while the whole is almost certainly greater than the sum of its parts, there’s much to love here.

There in a Flash...

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