As soon as I started reading the first page of this book one thing became abundantly clear: this will be much, much better as a collected trade.
Sure, the weekly digital crowd gets to read this book pretty frequently but for the rest of us who wait a month in between each issue it can be a bit taxing to remember what exactly happened last time. 3-4 stories for the price of one is great deal, don’t get me wrong, but these aren’t short vignettes, that you can pick up and read on a whim. Someone who hasn’t read issues 1-5 likely won’t have a clue what’s going on here! Heck, I’ve been reading it since the beginning and I’m racking my brain half the time trying to recall what the motivations were for some characters, what the bad guy’s evil plan is, and I even flat out forget that certain characters are involved at all from time to time.
This isn’t new reader friendly, it’s not even consistent reader friendly, but I think it’ll be pretty damn fun when it comes out in a hardcover or trade paper back down the line–especially the Superman Beyond segments. Speaking of which…
Superman Beyond: Falling Star
Written by JT Krull
Pencils by Howard Porter
Inks by John Livesay
Colors by Randy Mayor
Before I get into it, let me ask you Superman fans: do you like the black/silver beyond suit that he wears? I’ve never been that big of a Superman fan, but I don’t really care for this Superman-in-mourning attire. I’d like to hear what real Kal-El enthusiasts have to say on the matter, though.
Superman’s segment takes up the bulk of this issue but you won’t see me complaining about it. Like I said, I don’t read a lot of Superman. I loved “All-Star Superman” and I tried getting into “Action Comics” but around issue #4 Grant Morrison had to bring in time travel–like he always does–and the book suddenly became very unwelcoming to new readers like my self so I got the hell out of Dodge. This however, is holding my interest. I’m forgetting what happens from month to month–I had totally forgotten about the kryptonite asteroids coming in until that was referenced at around the half-way point of this issue–but I’m liking it enough that I’ll pick up the trade or maybe even flip back to the previous issues and re-read them altogether if the finale of this saga is satisfying enough to warrant it.
I can certainly say that the art team is doing their job. The book looks good and these digital first series have a knack for looking rushed and sloppy. Only a couple panels lack definition but even the worst panels of “Superman Beyond” beat some of the stuff I saw in “Batman: Arkham Unhinged” earlier this month. It’s the colors that really make this story pop. I really dig the way these holograms look and the rest of the shots feature many different shades of blue and grey but it never becomes mundane.
What does grow tiresome are the thought boxes. When the art shows us scenes from around the world where people are looking up at a green sky filled with kryptonite, we don’t need Superman narrating that people are looking up at a green sky filled with kryptonite. When Superman is face-first in a gutter as a result of the kryptonite, we don’t need a thought box that says “I’m lying in the gutters and I’m about to die.” followed by another one that says “My strength is drained. Can barely stand up.” WE GET IT!
And other than that things go pretty well until a technical mistake that applies a police officer’s speech bubble to Solomon Grundy (who I didn’t think was tough enough to fight Superman…but I guess his supernatural/magic essence plays a role in that or something? It’s **** like this that’s the reason I like Batman more. Figuring out how powerful these super-powered people are gives me a headache) But even with all those problems, this chapter of “Superman Beyond” has a cliffhanger ending that made me stand up and cheer. I can’t wait for the next issue and I can guarantee I’ll remember what happened next time I pick it up!
Justice League Beyond
Konstruction Chapter 7: Prophets fo Ophidia
Written by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen
Pencils by Dustin Nguyen
Inks by Derek Fridolfs
Colors by Randy Mayor (who really does great work in this book, he did Superman Beyond, too and the two comics look quite different from each other. Wonderful job)
Learn what happened to Darkseid after touching the Anti-Life Equation in the finale of “Justice League: Unlimited”.
That should be reason enough to pick it up methinks. Is it a mind-blowing read? Nah. but it’s better than what the past couple of months have given us and getting a few answers about what happened to Darkseid is nice. There’s a moment in which Bruce communicates with Terry via interstellar communication that made me groan but then again I’m reading a story about stopping a giant snake or something (what IS happening,anyway? Seems like this whole Apokolips deal has been a major distraction and I don’t even remember what that Kobra cult was up to! See what I mean about this being better as a trade than a monthly comic?) so why should I not believe that Bruce can radio Terry from countless lightyears away and in real-time?
It’s a pretty interesting installment, it even got a laugh out of me, and in the end I was left wanting more. A lot more. I can’t stress how much of the issue is spent on Superman Beyond and how shortchanged the other two stories are. I’d like to give this segment a higher score for all of its entertaining elements and terrific artwork, but it really is far too brief.
10,000 Clowns Part 1: Crooked Parallel Lines
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Norm Breyfogle
Colors by Andrew Elder
Alright, this series always has that one awful story that drags down the score of the whole book. We’re 2 for 2 so far with quality comics and all that remains is “Batman Beyond”. I had my fingers crossed for something good and…
IT’S GOOD. All three of the stories in this book made me happy for the first time in 6 months.
This issue is the first part of the “10,000 Clowns” story that was teased from the very beginning. It’s taken a long time but somebody finally sent in the clowns and they are wreaking havoc on Gotham. Not only are these the best pages I’ve seen drawn by Breyfogle so far on this series, but it’s also the best written pages from Beechen. I only had two complaints about it:
1) Batman’s suit has a few new gadgets that sort of come out of nowhere. Without hinting at these abilities before it just seems like cheap writing to just give the hero a random superpower to diffuse any situation–think Superman II” when Superman throws the “S” from his chest and it wraps around the bad guy…what the hell was that?
2) It was too short.
If Beechen and Breyfogle can keep this up then I’ll definitely be looking forward to this series.
The main complaint is that I wish it was longer. All three stories collected here are very entertaining and I think it was money well spent. Would it be better as a trade paperback? Absolutely! But as a stand-alone issue, this was a lot of fun. Had 2 of the 3 stories not been so horribly short-changed then it would have been a great comic deserving of a 9 or 10/10. But it feels like 1 full chapter and 2 quarter chapters of 2 other stories and that’s not ideal. If you’re new to this series, then “Batman Beyond” is the only section that you’ll be able to comprehend.