Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Superman Adventures Volume 3 Review
It’s time for the next volume in the Superman Adventures series! The last one was pretty great and this volume continues to operate on that high level. It’s hard to say which volume is actually better. This one may claim a slight edge but it’s pretty much neck and neck. I’m gonna miss these Superman stories, but coming up I’ll be reviewing some Batman comics so those should also be pretty cool. The DCAU lives on!

The first story has Jimmy show a new intern around as he tries to get a story. Unfortunately, this kid isn’t very good at anything so he holds Jimmy back the entire time and even embarrasses him in front of Superman. I thought the story was a little mean spirited towards Jimmy. I didn’t like the new kid at all and he was a little over the top with how quiet he was and how he constantly kept getting in Jimmy’s way. There was a twist at the end which you could probably have guessed from the start, but it couldn’t save him. Not a bad story, but probably the weakest of the batch since Superman didn’t really get to appear much.

Another story has Bruce Wayne get kidnapped by the Mad Hatter. He won’t be released unless Batman shows up but the problem is that Bruce Wayne actually is Batman! Superman decides to lend a helping hand and teams up with Batgirl to find him. This leads to Superman showing her how he deals with criminals in Metropolis like buying them a coffee. It was a pretty interesting scene and reminds you that above all else, Superman’s always a stand up guy. Batman even had to thank him in the end. It was a fun crossover story and probably one of the only times we’ll see Superman and Batgirl team up.

Next up we have a Clark Kent story. He’s been spending so much time as Superman that he has been neglecting his reporter duties. It’s hardly his fault as he can’t let someone get mugged just because he wanted to write an article. Still, Clark’s in hot water so he has to find a way out of this predicament. He learns of a suspicious rail road and decides to crack the case. The issue lightly deals with the classic topic of whether or not he should really be Clark Kent. The comic can’t get into that much as it’s way too deep of a topic for a single issue, but it’s always an interesting question. If he were to become Superman 24/7, where would it stop? He could eventually become a dictator or society would start to rely on him too much. I do think it would be for the best if he wasn’t Clark Kent much at all, but I suppose if he never took time to relax he’d go crazy. It’s a tough call for sure.

The Parasite comic is more of a standard Superman action story. It’s one of the only comics in this batch where Superman could fight an opponent at his level so I was certainly all for that. Superman does fall for his tricks a little too easily and I think his power shouldn’t leave quite so quickly but that’s what makes Parasite such a dangerous opponent. His fight with Superman is fun and I’m glad that Superman decided to get in on the action so quickly. Letting the cops try to deal with Parasite seemed like a reeeeally bad idea from the start. No offense to Metropolis’ finest, but they’re not ready for this. I always liked Parasite quite a bit as well. He just has a really cool design and great powers.

The action got dialed up further in the Supergirl adventure though. With Superman busy on a Justice League mission, it’s up to Supergirl to protect Metropolis. It won’t be easy though as General Zod and two other Kryptonians escape from the Phantom Zone. Taking on all 3 of them is pretty difficult even for Supergirl. What helps is that she’s immune to kryptonite but so is General Zod. This was pretty interesting and it goes against Justice League Unlimited, but I suppose they couldn’t have known there would be an episode like that. I don’t really see why Supergirl would be immune to Kryptonite and didn’t quite buy into the explanation. Still, it is an incredibly useful ability to have without a doubt. She’ll always have the edge as long as she carried a chunk around with her. It would have been fun to see Superman show up so it’d be 2 against 3, but Supergirl really did a nice job of out thinking the villains.

Brainiac returned in another comic as he started messing with everyone’s electronics. Professor Hamilton is around so he’s as annoying as ever, but Superman has to do all of the hard work. While Hamilton is busy destroying Superman’s precious memories, Superman stands up to Brainiac. The intellectual villain has always been one of Superman’s iconic foes and it’s nice to see him here. I think Superman’s massive speed advantage makes it so that he should always win the fight with ease, but we shouldn’t discount a genius intellect too quickly eh?

One unique story had a group of kids decide to outwit Superman. They got a prototype suit from Lex that could teleport so they’d use it to steal sneakers and other such stuff. They would each take turns in the suit which made them all act really differently. This made it difficult for Superman to actually pinpoint a motive or track them at all. He would need science for this mission and even then he had to find a way to apprehend the kids without actually hurting them. Fortunately, the suit is a prototype so it’s not completely perfect yet. It wasn’t my favorite story in the batch but it was all right.

A much better story involves an assasination attempt. Someone is after the President’s life so Superman decides to act as a bodyguard until an important meeting is over. The Assassin shows up and is strangely confident despite Superman being around. It’s a pretty tense issue and the villain was pretty fun. You may not feel too much of a threat since it’s a guy with a gun trying to get past Superman, but he is resourceful I’ll give him that. It’s also nice to see the President and the army teaming up with Superman. It always makes for a pretty fun dynamic.

As always, the art is pretty good. It captures that nice DCAU feel the whole time. Sometimes the artist will even have a lot of fun and make Superman look serious all of a sudden. A good example is when he broke into the White House. There’s a twist about that of course, but it made for a pretty intense moment. The fight scenes are all on point as well. It’s certainly not the streamlined masterpiece that you see from today’s comics, but it has that retro hand drawn feel to it. I’d personally say that it works quite well.

What really helps these issues shine is the high writing quality. Superman always acts like himself, a peerless hero who always makes the right calls. He doesn’t waver in the line of good and evil or doubt himself, he just makes the hero calls. The supporting cast is very fun. They all have personality and aren’t portrayed as caricatures of themselves. The stories balance humor and being serious with great results. There are really no negatives with the comic once again and you’ll find yourself reading it cover to cover in one sitting. It’s not too short either so don’t worry about that. The collection has 9 issues I believe.

Overall, Superman continues to have a lot of great stories. The actual series had over 60 issues, but for some reason this is the last main graphic novel collection. After this they started reprinting the comics or throwing random ones into a collection. I hope the rest of them are nearly packed at some point because I want to check out the rest. It’d be a shame to see them just end like that. I highly recommend checking out this collection. As a Superman fan you’ll definitely appreciate it and you’ll certainly enjoy it even if you just like comics in general. It’s a must buy!

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Superman Adventures Volume 2 Review

It’s time for the next installment in the Superman Adventures series. Honestly it’s been a long time since I rented a comic so it’s good to start off with the greatest Superhero out there. My local library may have had the biggest selection in all of NYPL, but they’re going to be closing their doors for the next 3 years so I figured this could be my last chance to just go and pick out the ones that I wanted. I got quite a few DC comics and one Marvel one so prepare for those reviews to come out soon. In the meantime, this comic was just as great as I expected it to be.

It brings about 7 issues which is a good deal for a graphic novel. The first two stories deal with Superman contracting a rare kryptonite disease and now he is dying. His powers are fading away and the general public doesn’t know about it so they’re all bashing Superman. They claim that he has lost his drive or that he doesn’t want to play the hero anymore. Lois Lane is one of those skeptics until she learns the truth and decides to join a last ditch excavation to try and cure Superman once and for all. She’ll have to go through a war torn country to find it though, but at least this’ll give Superman a fighting chance.

It’s a pretty fun double comic. Hamilton is still annoying since I know he grows up to be a traitor someday but I suppose I’ll try to work around that. Lois is also a little iffy since I would have thought that she’d suspect something instead of also thinking that Superman was getting lazy. At least she is a woman of action though and quickly does her best to revert the situation. It’s just as much a Lois story as it is a Superman one and the dynamic works well. The ending is a little sad for a doctor who helps Superman out though. He was being blackmailed by Lex and is basically told to destroy Superman or to die. The doctor decides not to do it and Superman just tells him that he did the right thing…and then leaves the Doctor. It’s heavily implied that he just left the Doctor to his own devices which seems a little cruel of him. Superman didn’t seem very sympathetic at all but I suppose he’s still sore at almost dying. It would have been a sad way to go.

The next story had less stakes but was pretty amusing. An alien race arrives on Earth and challenges Superman to a best of 3 bout with their champion. He is incredibly strong and has some complex weapons which he uses to overwhelm Superman. The Man of Steel will have to put all of his common sense to use to defeat this opponent and that’s just what he does. What do you do when you’re fighting someone and both of you have weapons that you don’t understand? Just throw it away and win in fisticuffs. There aren’t many who can beat Superman that way after all. The writing may have been a little weak as this guy should not have been throwing Superman around, but I suppose I’ll overlook it in the spirit of just having a good time. Superman also should have been able to lift his medal at the end if you ask me.

There was also a special featured in this collection where Lobo is back in town. Superman inhaled a gas that is deadly to everyone on Earth so he goes to space to find the cure. Turns out Lobo is after the same cure, but only so he can collect the reward. The two ultimately have to team up against a bunch of aliens. Unlike the more gullible characters who fall for Lobo’s tricks, Superman is one step ahead of him the whole time. Their group dynamic is pretty interesting and I’m always up for some good banter. Lobo definitely doesn’t look nearly as impressive as Superman in this comic and I can certainly agree to that. While there may not be as much action as in other comics, it’s certainly one of the better issues here.

If you want one of the weaker issues, look no further than the Robocop issue. There’s this assassin with a Robocop suit who is out to silence all of the witnesses who are against Lex and the other local villains. A TV reporter with something to prove ends up telling him where the last witness is by mistake so now it’s a race against time. It wasn’t a bad comic by any means, but this guy isn’t even remotely a threat during the entire issue. Perry was also being a little unreasonable with how news is only what is written down and not what is recorded. As Lois pointed out, he should just be happy that his cameras are always the first ones on TV. I mean you can’t ask for much more than that right? Even if it is weaker than the others, I’m up for a more street level Superman comic once in a while.

Back to the more outlandish plots, Mr. Mxy- has returned to try and make Superman’s life twisted. He erases Superman’s memories and alters reality so that Clark was never Superman and he is instead. It takes a while for Superman to piece the puzzle together, but Mxy was pretty thorough with how much he changed reality so I can’t really blame him. Superman’s plan is pretty sound after that though. Mr. Mxy is definitely one of his most overpowered foes so it certainly involves plot hax each time. Mr Mxy just shouldn’t read stuff that he doesn’t know. That being said, I’ll take this kind of plot hax over serious power level stuff any day. I also thought Mxy did a great job of impersonating Superman even down to the personality.

On another more street level comic, Bilbo is having a tough time at the bar. See, he’s always lying about knowing Superman and it has finally caught up to him. He feels pretty bad, not about constantly getting drunk or lying to everyone, but he feels bad that nobody bought into his lie. He decides to be a real hero and gets to work beating up a gang. Superman shows up as well and feels bad for Bilbo so he officially makes them friends so now Bilbo isn’t actually lying when he says the stories. At least he has one true story, the rest are technically lies. It’s an entertaining issue, but it’s really hard to actually feel bad for Bilbo as my summary implies. He really brought all of this down upon himself after all. Nobody was pressuring him to make up those fantastic lies after all and he kept sinking himself into a deeper and deeper hole. The comic does show what a nice guy Superman is though.

Finally we have the big Dr. Fate comic. It seems like everyone went to Zatanna’s family to train as Superman also went there in his youth. He worked on fighting monsters and becoming immune to monsters. In the present, one of those monsters has now escaped and aims to take Superman down with him. Superman must remember his training which he can’t remember too well at the moment and take them down. Fate also shows up at the very end, but not as much as you would expect. While the stakes are higher here than in most of the other comics, it didn’t work too well for me. The whole explanations while in the portal were pretty convoluted and it jumped from the present to the past a little too often and suddenly. It was a little hard to keep up with and even the art was rather chaotic. It had a good start and a decent end, but it just all felt a little hollow to me. Ah well, magic is supposed to be confusing I suppose.

The art is very good during the comics. The issue with the best art was probably the Lobo special which makes sense since I imagine they definitely put a lot of effort into that one. The whole collection is quality though and it really captured the DCAU style. It would have been nice if these stories could have kept on going for years and years, but I think we’re reaching the end of them. I have the next collection at the ready though so I’ll be reading that one very soon.

Overall, The collection is a pretty good size. 6 normal issues and two specials is nothing to sneeze at. Superman’s the main character so you can’t go wrong there. It’s his DCAU personality as well so he’s essentially the perfect main character. It really is a Superman story as well since there are basically no guest stars. (Fate appeared so briefly that it barely even counts) I do love me some guest stars and the next collection has at least one, but it also reminds you that Superman is holding up the whole collection and doing it rather easily. Just as important, there are no real negatives in the comic. There are no objectionable scenes of any kind. It’s another reason why I loved the DCAU. You didn’t have to be nervous about reading through it because you know it was made for all ages. The writing is great and the comics are a blast. This was really DC at its height and I still miss these days. If you want a trip down nostalgia lane, this is a great place to start. It’s a must read for all Superman fans.

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Superman Adventures Volume 1 Review

Mail time Mail time…Mail Tiiiiiiime! Anyone remember that classic jingle? Well, it’s time to dip into the DCAU for some fun comics. If there’s any character who can always give you a good time, it’s Superman. These comics are a nice blast from the past and really feel like they could have been Superman episodes from the TV show. Everyone’s in character and that means you can expect the colorful cast to each play their parts with good ole Superman in the center of it all.

This collection brings 10 issues although the back only talks about 5 of them. A little harsh to the half that are left out right? Well, each issue will get its turn in this review. Starting things off in this collection was when Lex Luthor made a fake Superman to frame the real thing. This takes place very early on in the show so Lex Luthor wants to eradicate Superman since he knows nothing about him. Lex can’t control the Man of Steel after all, but Superman’s one step ahead of him the whole time. It was a fun way to start the collection and the fight between the two was definitely great. The android was tough, I’ll give him that. Superman always has the last laugh though and the ending was pretty hardcore since Superman made Lex give him more credit. That’s how you get the villains in line.

Another story had the return of General Zod and Mala. They had been shrunk down to an ant’s size, but thanks to prison guards allowing the cell to be attacked, they escaped and Zod turned into a giant. Can a pea sized Superman stop Zod and force him to turn from his evil ways? I don’t think so, but it would be pretty intense! It was a fairly amusing story, but not quite as action packed as the others. Dan Turpin certainly looked good though and he actually got some good shots in. It’s always good to see the cops and detectives get some props over here.

One of the most interesting comics was about Clark Kent remembering his days as Superman. He once came upon a plot that actually blew up Metropolis. So, his classic pal, Mr. Mxy—-etc decided to rewind time to give Superman a fighting chance. Superman got to follow the cause of the explosion a very long way and it turns out that it all started because a clock exploded, which made a kid throw a curve ball, which, etc, etc. Superman also had to deal with a guy who had a kryptonite rock, which made things very difficult as well. It was fun seeing the chain reaction in motion and Superman had a pretty good line when he told the kids not to play Baseball. Just a fun story through and through.

One of the sadder stories involved Livewire. She realized that the world had grown to be very sexist so she decided to control the media so that whenever a guy would be seen on screen, the station would only play static. The female news anchor loved this, but it was pretty extreme so Superman decided to step in. He got crushed since it’s hard to trap lightning so this comic saw the big team up between him and Lex Luthor. The big fight with Livewire happened and it was pretty epic. I only say that the story is sad because then Livewire is locked up and the people around her start to make sexist comments once again. It was a bit much since Metropolis shouldn’t be quite That bad and I felt like the comic didn’t need to add that in. Superman’s around to keep everyone in check after all right? Still, Livewire is one of Superman’s deadliest foes so their fights are always fun.

Continuing on from that, another story involved a kid who looked up to Lex Luthor and Superman. Little did he know that his father was framed and died because of Lex though and his mom finally breaks the news to him alongside Lois. Visibly shaken and startled, the kid must try to get past this as he attempts to save his sister from a burning building. It was a decent story and it actually tried to make Lex look at least a little good. If nothing else, he never meant for the kid to get hurt and actually wanted to honor his part of the bargain about helping the guy’s son since he would end up staying quiet on the Lexcorp issue. Unfortunately, minions aren’t very good at counting and the karma caught up to Lex. No real fighting in this story though.

Toyman’s back in town and he means business! He starts to sell a lot of Superman action figures in Metropolis and then a lot of thefts occur in the city. Everyone is baffled by what’s happening, but a little girl tells Clark that it is all the action figure’s doing. he decides to follow up on this lead and the kid was right! Can Superman stop Toyman from damaging the Superman brand? It could hurt his marketing sales for years to come if something is not done. Another good story and the plot is definitely classic. The figures are relying on quantity vs quality and they manage to cause some damage, but Superman’s always got the edge. Even if Toyman escaped rather easily.

Many black cats appear on the streets and it turns out that Brainiac has decided to attack Metropolis to get Superman’s orb and find out what it knows. Superman will not stand for this and decides to fight, but the black cats can merge into a Super Fighting Robot. It’s actually a pretty even fight and lasts for most of the issue. That instantly makes this one of the better issues. Lois doesn’t look too good here though as she is easily turned into a captive and as a result, Superman is forced to let Brainiac get to the orb. He can’t really do anything while inside of there, but the memories have now been defiled. Noooooooooo.

Due to an enraged citizen telling her hot dog stand owner that she is Superman’s girlfriend, Metallo decides to kidnap her. This story was another decent one, although you wouldn’t expect the super villain to walk around thinking that just anyone who claims to be related to Superman is on the money right? Either way, it’s a good thing that Superman is always around since he comes through when things are at their diciest. Metallo is usually a good villain although it depends on the continuity, but in this case, he was just a little bland and didn’t actually put up much of a fight, which was a little disappointing.

Finally, we had a comic where Jimmy tried to prove himself as he took pictures of Superman in action. It was probably emotional for his fans to see Jimmy in such duress, but he proved that with a little guts and some pizzazz, he could take pictures with the best of them. There were no super villains this time, but a new gravity gun took away Superman’s ability to fly, which made for a neat tribute to the old comics as Superman had to run everywhere. He even got an epic burn against Lex, although I give Luthor credit for going through the front door. He is certainly courageous.

As for the art in the collection, I’d say that it’s good. Superman’s chin can be a little too big, even for him, but I suppose that the art can’t be perfect right? It’s still pretty smooth and makes for easy reading as you blast through the collection. It’s bright and fits the Superman tone. It’s certainly a far jump above the Teen Titans Go issues, I’ll tell you that much. I also do like how the artists are able to draw the DCAU to the point where you could look at a single pace and say “Ah, that’s from the Superman TAS designs right?”

Overall, This collection does the Superman series justice. I highly recommend this to any Superman fan and certainly to anyone who likes to see a good fight scene. Superman may be the strongest comic book character of all time, but he doesn’t let it go to his head. He never forgets about the smaller folks and comes across as a really nice guy, even if he has to pretend that he’s a little meek as Clark Kent. Unlike most collections, I can’t say that I actually disliked any of the issues. I didn’t like the ending to the Livewire one and the Jimmy comic wasn’t very eventful, but they were all fun and entertaining with their respective plots. Hopefully the library gets more volumes of this series since the Superman Adventures is definitely a keeper.

Overall 8/10