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  1. #151
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Adventures of Superman #426

    "From the Dregs" (Legends, Chapter 18)
    writer: Marv Wolfman
    co-plotters: Jerry Ordway and John Byrne
    art: Jerry Ordway
    letters: Albert DeGuzman
    colors: Tom Ziuko
    editor: Andrew Helfer

    grade: B-

    I go back and forth on this issue. On the one hand, it had great scope. Whereas Byrne's chapter last issue accomplished absolutely nothing, what occurs in this issue could have been decompressed into three tightly plotted issues. Additionally, Wolfman's narration is quite eloquent, even when I find his dialogue for the Hunger Dogs inconsistent and often sounding a little too educated and introspective for the dregs of a society. And finally, Ordway's pencils and inks are absolutely stellar here, and I was particularly amused by the Kirby-esq mechanical frame he created for the panels on page 4. Perhaps my one complaint with his art is how creepy and mannish he makes Amazing Grace appear as she's about to get intimate with Superman (more on this later). I suspect he was trying to make us uncomfortable about the character, but it worked too well.

    And then there are straightforward problems with the issue. There's definitely something off in the pacing where a crowd goes from not believing Superman has special abilities to instantly assuming he has come there to destroy them and then quickly rally behind him as their savior to the point that they're willing to publicly blaspheme and plot against Darkseid, their master. Granted, Wolfman is struggling to fit so much into 22 pages, but it threw me.

    Then you've got the whole romance bit between a disoriented Superman and Amazing Grace. It goes so far that I'm truly not sure whether or not they slept together after page 15, and that really bugs me. Supes is the morally righteous guy, he's destined to be with Lois, and this would presumably be his "first time" as well. It just really rubs me the wrong way. Even Bruce Wayne is generally depicted as sending the girls home long before it gets this far, and I don't hold the same level of expectation for moral perfection with him, nor am I waiting for him to end up with Vicki Vale in the same way that I expect Clark to get Lois in the end. Maybe I'm just too old school or something, but this truly bothered me.

    So this was a pretty mixed issue for me, though, all things considered, it succeeded more than it failed.


    minor details:

    - So many aspects of the plot of this story still remain a total mystery to me. Did Darkseid want Superman to come to Apokolips specifically to use him in the way in which he did in this issue? If so, how could he have orchestrated events to have worked out in the way that they did in this issue? So much of it could not have been anticipated. Additionally, what's causing Superman's head to be clouded?

    - So the fire pits of Apokolips only hurt Superman a little bit, but he can be electrocuted easily (as per Adventures of #424). Considering that these are both forms of energy, I find that a little surprising. I suppose it's possible, but it just seems improbable.

    - More issues with this Aura of Invulnerability crap. Supes just survived a plunge headlong into the fire pits of Apokolips, and his cape is only a little torn. I forget the exact measurement Helfer provided in a previous letter column (perhaps half an inch) but he specifically made the point that Superman's aura of invulnerability does not extend out to his cape, and, in MoS #1, Ma Kent even indicated that it would not protect loose fitting clothing.

    - That unskilled Hunger Dog clumbed up on Darkseid's statue and recarved it to look like Superman with flawless ease in one very quick session!

    - I'd love a poster of page 17. Jerry Ordway seemed to have suspect as much when he took the time to sign the page-long panel.


    Plot synopsis in one ridiculously long sentence:

    Superman survives the fire pits but is disoriented, the Hunger Dogs find him and take him to Amazing Grace, she sets him up to be their savior and courts him romantically, Superman leads them into battle against Darkseid, Darkseid ends up having been in control of Amazing Grace and hypnotizes Superman into betraying the Hunger Dogs, squelching the rebellion, as Darkseid had planned all along.
    Last edited by shaxper; 01-04-2013 at 08:56 PM.

  2. #152
    Welcome to Bleeker Street MRP's Avatar
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    I don't know that this storyline was necessarily plugging Kirby's Hunger Dogs-it had been out for nearly 2 years when these issues were published. It may have been trying to give homage to it, but Kirby's GN was already out and made what money it was going to for DC at this point.

    While I don't think these issues aged very well, I remember enjoying them immensely when they came out, but then again these served an an introduction of sorts to the Fourth Word for me (I had encountered Darkseid in a random issue of Secret Society of Super-villains as a kid) and sent me tracking down Kirby's original stuff as back issues, and I have a very different take on the Legends storyline than you do (it even made my 12 Days of Christmas list), so it may skew my enjoyment of these tie in issues as I look at them through rose-colored nostalgic lenses.

    -M
    A lunatic is easily recognized...You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense...and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.
    -Umberto Eco

  3. #153
    Elder Member dupersuper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Worthless as in containing no important connections to the post-Crisis continuity.
    Meh: "important connection" or not, I'll put books where/when they're supposed to be (unless there's a specific reason not to).

    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    - I'd love a poster of page 17. Jerry Ordway seemed to have suspect as much when he took the time to sign the page-long panel.
    I'm not at home and Google isn't helping me: page 17?
    Pull List; seems to be too long to fit in my sig...

  4. #154
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    I don't know that this storyline was necessarily plugging Kirby's Hunger Dogs-it had been out for nearly 2 years when these issues were published. It may have been trying to give homage to it, but Kirby's GN was already out and made what money it was going to for DC at this point.
    Thanks for the clarification. In Superman #3, there's an editor's note enthusiastically inviting the reader to see the GN for more info, and they intentionally use the phrase "The Hunger Dogs" far more than they need to in both cross-over issues thus far, so I'd assumed the GN was new at the time.

    While I don't think these issues aged very well, I remember enjoying them immensely when they came out, but then again these served an an introduction of sorts to the Fourth Word for me (I had encountered Darkseid in a random issue of Secret Society of Super-villains as a kid) and sent me tracking down Kirby's original stuff as back issues, and I have a very different take on the Legends storyline than you do (it even made my 12 Days of Christmas list), so it may skew my enjoyment of these tie in issues as I look at them through rose-colored nostalgic lenses.

    -M
    Fair enough, of course. I do remember that making your list and being surprised, but my #2 was Secret Wars, so I'm not really in a place to judge.

  5. #155
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dupersuper View Post

    I'm not at home and Google isn't helping me: page 17?
    The big revolution with Superman at the front, Hunger Dogs behind and beside him, and Darkseid's forces meeting them mid panel.

  6. #156

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Then you've got the whole romance bit between a disoriented Superman and Amazing Grace. It goes so far that I'm truly not sure whether or not they slept together after page 15, and that really bugs me. Supes is the morally righteous guy, he's destined to be with Lois, and this would presumably be his "first time" as well. It just really rubs me the wrong way. Even Bruce Wayne is generally depicted as sending the girls home long before it gets this far, and I don't hold the same level of expectation for moral perfection with him, nor am I waiting for him to end up with Vicki Vale in the same way that I expect Clark to get Lois in the end. Maybe I'm just too old school or something, but this truly bothered me.
    I am interested to see what you think of the infamous Action #593 when you get there.
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

  7. #157
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    I am interested to see what you think of the infamous Action #593 when you get there.
    Oh sh*t. Barda? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  8. #158

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Oh sh*t. Barda? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    If only that was even the half of it.

    But I will say no more.
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

  9. #159

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Then you've got the whole romance bit between a disoriented Superman and Amazing Grace. It goes so far that I'm truly not sure whether or not they slept together after page 15, and that really bugs me. Supes is the morally righteous guy, he's destined to be with Lois, and this would presumably be his "first time" as well. It just really rubs me the wrong way.
    I don't think so. Remember that Byrne's Superman is basically an ordinary guy. And if you look like him the girls will come without any effort from his side.
    Last edited by Van Cleaf; 01-05-2013 at 05:42 AM.

  10. #160

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    If only that was even the half of it.

    But I will say no more.
    Byrne's Superman work is really creepy and silly at times.

  11. #161

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    As I explained in the review, the B- was because of the art. Otherwise, it probably would have been a C-. Generally, my grading scale works as follows:

    A - Truly amazing comic. I have pretty high standards.
    B - Generally quite entertaining with no significant flaws in the execution.
    C - Your average comic book. Not particularly good nor particularly bad. I have no regrets about reading it.
    D - Seriously lacking in some aspect.
    F - I rarely ever give these, but this book is just so terrible that I'd like to burn it and pretend it never happened.

    In this case, the story had no significant flaws (though it wasn't particularly worthwhile either) and the art was entertaining. True, it probably would have been a C+ were I more impartial but, compared to the crap Byrne has been turning in as of late, I suppose was ready to give this one a little too much credit for not sucking quite as much.
    Point taken. I'm more of a negative guy by nature that's why I'd probably give most issues of this run a C or a D.

    In general I think good art can defintely elevate a good story, but a bad story is a bad story even with the best art of the world. My attitude. ;)

  12. #162
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Cleaf View Post
    In general I think good art can defintely elevate a good story, but a bad story is a bad story even with the best art of the world. My attitude. ;)
    Totally agreed, but in the issue in question, it was a nothing story, which is actually a noticable improvement over some of Byrne's bad stories.

  13. #163
    Senior Member Bad Wolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Superman #3

    "Legends of the Darkside" (Legends, chapter 17)
    writer/pencils: John Byrne
    inks: Terry Austin
    letters: John Costanza
    colors: Tom Ziuko
    editor: Andy Helfer

    grade: B-

    First off, I've never read Legends, and these tie ins are not going to make me start.
    Legends still holds up pretty well, though I'm not sure you would like it...

  14. #164
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    Action Comics #586

    "The Champion" (Legends chapter 19)
    writer/pencils: John Byrne
    inks: Dick Giordano
    letters: John Costanza
    colors: Tom Ziuko
    editor: Andrew Helfer

    grade: B

    Whereas Byrne's previous entry in this storyline was a little too light on story, this final chapter in Superman's little arc within the larger Legends crossover spends entirely too much time trying to provide explanations for all that we should have been learning about over the past two issues. It's rather funny that, at the climax, Superman yells, "You talk too much!" while striking Darkseid by surprise, mid-monologue -- funny because Byrne has depended upon Darkseid providing such explanations all issue long -- entire pages of explanation to help us understand all that has transpired. Does that mean I get to sucker punch Byrne now?

    Truly, the story has good momentum and is pretty entertaining aside from the excessive explanation. Though it is worth mentioning that, in spite of all the filling in of previous story gaps, we're still left with two big questions:

    1. How did the firepit of Apokolips cause Superman to lose his memory? It's not like he hit his head and got a concussion. He fell through flames and came out relatively unscathed (minus one lightly burnt hand). It just doesn't make sense.

    2. What in the world was Darkseid's reason for bringing Supes to Apokolips and setting this whole story arc in motion in the first place? The only explanation we're given is:

    "When I brought Superman to Apokolips, it was to test his vaunted mettle. But he arrived in human guise -- and so, because I was then observed by the gadfly Phantom Stranger..." he changed his plans.

    So wait...why? Why bring Superman there just to test his fortitude, especially when he already had a plan in place to take down all the heroes of Earth? And, when Superman sucker punches him in the end, and Darkseid automatically decides this means he was defeated and therefore must let Superman go out of honor, I'm extra lost. What the heck was the point of any of this? Did Darkseid have any true goal other than providing us with a three part story arc? Surely, with a plan to conquer all of Earth's heroes in motion, this was not a great time to randomly experiment with Superman, especially without any true plan in place to conquer or kill him.

    I can connect the dots myself -- that Superman might have been too formidable an opponent on Earth, but if Darkseid could crush his morale, Supes could offer only token resistance as Darkseid's plans come to fruition. It's the most logical explanation, but Byrne does nothing to hint at this at all.

    To reinstate a second running theme I see in these reviews (the first being that Wolfman isn't as good as he should be on these books), Wolfman, at his current levels of quality, could still do any one of these stories much better than Byrne.


    Important details:

    - The first experiment with giving Supes a new, cooler costume. This one was no more intended to last than the Krypton Man costume (in fact, it's gone before the issue concludes), but it's hard to deny it looks better than the conventional blue and red tights.

    - So apparently being exposed to Kryptonite is not just lethal to Superman, it's also excruciatingly painful to the extent that Darkseid disrupting Superman's very atomic structure does not begin to compare to the sensation of Kryptonite.


    minor details:

    - Granny Goodness training Superman to be Darkseid's agent was kind of awesome

    - Byrne's pencils are still stronger than usual in this installment

    - Why did Darkseid need to convince Superman he was his son? He's managed to brainwash him even without this info, and it only provides an Achilles Heel to Darkseid's plan that even he anticipates.

    - Orion's true face on page 13 didn't look all that abnormal to me -- just a little grody.

    - Superman using Darkseid's omega beams on him (subtly foreshadowed in Superman #3) was pretty enjoyable.


    All in all, a pretty good story with just far too much explanation and a few big unanswered questions.


    Plot synopsis in one ridiculously long sentence:

    Orion and Lightray are sent by Highfather to rescue Superman, Darkseid has convinced Superman that he is his son and must kill Orion for him, Orion stops Superman by revealing he is Darkseid's true son, Amazing Grace tries to seduce Lightray and fails, Orion uses Mother Box to return Superman's memory and make him forget about participating in the Hunger Dog massacre, Superman goes after Darkseid and beats him with a sucker punch, and apparently impressed by this for some reason (though he wasn't when Supes used his own Omega Beams against him!) Darkseid sends Superman home, and Darkseid and Orion agree to put their final battle off for another day (even though Darkseid's Omega Beams are currently depleted, making this a perfect opportunity for Orion).
    Last edited by shaxper; 01-05-2013 at 06:18 PM.

  15. #165
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Lois Lane (1986) #1

    "When it Rains, God is Crying"
    writer: Mindy Newell
    artist: Gray Morrow
    letters: Agustin Mas
    colors: Joe Orlando
    editor: Robert Greenberger

    grade: C-

    Technically, this should have been the first story reviewed in this thread, except that (as you'll see) there's some confusion as to whether or not this title even belongs in this thread.

    The background: A story devoted to addressing the issue of missing children in America. Given three pages to address the reader directly, writer Mindy Newell takes the time to further the story's agenda about promoting awareness about missing children cases. No mention is ever made of continuity, the upcoming Superman reboot (this series concluded EXACTLY one month before Man of Steel #1), nor of anything other than the single minded cause of promoting awareness about missing children.

    So, IS this story a part of the rebooted Superman universe?

    WELL...YES: To quote editor Andy Helfer in the letter column to Adventures of Superman #425:

    "Right, Rodger -- there IS a similarity between John Byrne's and Mindy Newell's handling of the Lois Lane character -- because the two writers are constantly checking with each other to make sure both remain consistent. Matter of fact, the response to the first Lois Lane mini-series was so positive that, as this is being written, Ms. Newell is hard at work at a NEW Lois Lane mini series. Keep an eye or two out for it!"

    So Byrne was working with Newell to keep Lois' characterization consistent, AND (at least at one point) there were plans to do a second series clearly beyond the point that the Superman continuity had been rebooted.

    WELL...NO: This story clearly follows a continuity already in progress and, while I'm not at all informed about the pre-Crisis Superman continuity, I'm assuming this is it, with Clark and Lana Lang (not at all consistent with Byrne's characterization) as already established co anchors for a televised news show, an extensive supporting cast at the Planet with whom I am not familiar, several recent events referenced (Lois botching a Middle East interview, Perry having some kind of health scare, a new City Desk editor on the job who has been butting heads with Lois), and a clear sense that these characters have worked for the Planet and known each other for much longer than their post-Crisis counterparts would even one year into the reboot.


    WELL...KINDA': The final answer I'd wager is that this story is not in continuity yet is a critical influence on Byrne's post-Crisis reboot. Just as the critical characterization of the rebooted Lex Luthor was not Byrne's, this issue makes me suspect that the post-Crisis characterization of Lois I have enjoyed so much, as well as the idea of a non-clumsy, confident/bulky Clark Kent, and even the re-introduction of detective Bill Henderson, came from Newell and this story. We know from Helfer that Byrne was talking with Newell extensively, and there's even a character in this issue named "Byrnes". Seems to me that this story is important to be aware of when looking at post-Crisis Superman continuity, but it's not actually IN continuity.


    Wow. So Byrne isn't responsible for the characterizations of Luthor, Lois, or even Clark. And yet he is the face of this reboot, receiving all the hype and credit. Just what part of the reboot IS Byrne's contribution beyond some truly sub-par storytelling??


    minor details:

    - Newell's characterization for Lois is based on a largely outdated portrayal of The Liberated Woman, in which Lois is headstrong and tries to be independent yet regularly depends upon the generosity, understanding, and support of men around her, particularly Bill Henderson. I do think Byrne does a better job with portraying Lois as strong and independent in MoS #2 than Newell does here.

    - Newell's letter to the reader addresses us with the assumption that we are women in our early to mid 40s. I kid you not. Was this book explicitly marketed to social agencies with this target audience, or was this just a reflection of some level of narcissism on Newell's part?

    - How in the world did they get Joe Orlando to do the colors for this book? Did Newell kidnap his kid??

    - The phenomenon of missing children is widespread, regardless of race, color, creed, or socioeconomic background (you're welcome, Ms. Newell).


    plot synopsis in one ridiculously long sentence:

    Lois arrives at a crime scene where an abducted child's body has been found, the city desk editor buries the story and then attempts to have Lois turn it into a series feature in the lifestyle section, Lucy Lane is trying to reconnect with Lois with the help of Clark and Lana, but Lois is not interested, and Lois visits a missing children agency and gets involved in a specific case.

    Truly an overly didactic story with a protagonist I want to respect but don't. Gray Morrow's art is nice to look at, and Newell is a pretty good writer when her characterizations aren't disappointing me. Still, this story couldn't do more to ram its message down our throats, and I find that irritating.
    Last edited by shaxper; 01-05-2013 at 08:40 PM.

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