One DC Comics event down, another one up– or two, if you include both The Darkseid War and Divergence. If you haven’t read the free comic preview for Divergence, we can tell you that this “event” stands more as an era in the major publisher’s line than a mere series of event comics. In addition to the outstanding DC freebie, our “Padre” (who we missed dearly during his sabbatical) breaks down all the goods from Free Comic Book Day. After all, he IS the self-proclaimed “Free Comic Book Day King”.
In the other corner, 5 of our mightiest comic-reviewing congregants call the 4th round of Convergence titles. It’s surely been an up and down pay-per-view in the last month, but we break down which books avoided a technical knockout this week before throwing in the towel.
It’s our #FreeComicBookDay (#FCBD) Edition of the Sunday Stash!
Once again, back is the incredible…the one and only Padre returns for the 3rd Anniversary of the Unholy House of Geeky Cool. Yesssir, Yes Ma’am it’s a GHG free party with the one GHG Church Elder who always comes away from FCBD with all the swag. So how shall we party? With a Top Ten Padre Parish Pick List of the books you should have scored (and still can somewhere, somehow) this weekend. Let’s do this.
1.) Kicking things off with something for the whole Geek Familia is Motorcycle Samurai by Chris Sheridan. Irreverent, fun and filled with dialogue that borders on the poetic, this issue serves as a solid intro to the popular digital series. Recently collected into a trade paperback, Motorcycle Samurai has enough cool characters, crazy scenarios, and kinetic art to pull you in for a fun ride. Grab the FCBD issue and then grab The Motorcycle Samurai Volume One: A Fiery Demise. You won’t be disappointed.
2 & 3.) For our big budget, summer blockbuster brothers and sisters out there, both the aforementioned DC Comics’ Divergence #1 and Marvel’s Secret Wars #0 deliver just the right amount of intro and tease to get you hyped for the summer of fun. Divergence sets up the post-Convergence DCU landscape as it pertains to the Big 3. The Wonder Woman/Justice League chapter follows up the stellar Justice League #40, sans Dangerous Disciple review from last week. Part two of the prelude to Darkseid War gives us the tragic (as in Greek, Amazonian, and altogether fucked up) birth of Darkseid’s daughter Grail. The Batman tale should be read only after you’ve checked out Snyder/Capullo’s Endgame finale in Batman #40. The other short focuses on the new Superman status quo to come by incoming team of award-winning author Gene Luen Yang and, of course, the legendary John Romita Jr.
Secret Wars #0 sets up the 616 vs. Ultimate U showdown kicking off this week and also includes the brief Avengers vs. Attack on Titan comic released only in Japan.
Overall, both books do a solid job of getting you hyped for what’s to come. Even if your wallets are screaming “Awwww, hell no!”
4.) Hip Hop Family Tree “Three In One” brings the noise like only Ed Piskor can. Flashing back to the illest eras of Hip Hop with an art and writing style full of flavor and dopest flow, Hip Hop Family Tree is one of the most talked about comics on the underground. Think Marvel Comics if Def Jam had taken over instead of Marvel Knights. Or something like that. Get the book. Nuff Said. This FCBD book is a must for any comic and/or true hip hop head. Side not kiss-assery: I grabbed one for the Monsignor. Gotta keep your editors happy, people.
5.) Book Five is the sequel to one of the coolest, craziest, most mind-fuck you movies of the last twenty years. No, I’m not talking The Revenge of Jar Jar Binks here. I’m talking about Fight Club 2. Released on Free Comic Book Day by Dark Horse, the continuing adventures of our main man Tyler Durden…sorry, just remembered the first rule of Fight Club. Trust me though with Chuck Palahniuk writing and Cameron Stewart on art this book brought the right amount of what-the-fuck to hook me. Double story bonus awards go to The Goon (Eric Powell) and The Strain (Guillermo Del Toro) for rounding out the book with some spooky looks into their respective worlds.
– The final five must-haves on ye ol Padrino’s list are:
6.) Savage Dragon Legacy (Erik Larsen) – Not content to just fuck with you all on the interwebs, one of the founders of the New House of Ideas (I’m talking about Image btw, DUH!) gives us a fun look at the current status quo of his long running creator owned world. I’ve never been a big fan of Savage Dragon, but this was loud, bombastic goodness. Nothing too serious but there was some real heart in there as well.
7.) Red 5 Comics Bodie Troll also includes stories from their Drone and Creature Academy books. Bodie Troll is possibly the cutest looking book I’ve, well.. ever picked up. Another all-ages read, this book has beautiful art and a funny story that left me with a smile on my face at the end.
8.) Archie’s Dark Circle Comics book offered previews of the already released The Black Hood #1 (great, gritty Philly crime comic, made my pull list after issue 1) and The Fox #1. There is also a sneak peak at the soon to be released The Shield (character sketches, concept shots). I included it here because this is a line worth checking out if you want capes and cowls, but with more of an indie flavor.
9.) Last but not least, those bad mofos in a half-shell. IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles FCBD offering will make you forget why you hate all things Michael Bay and help you remember why you first fell in love those pizza eating, Shredder butt kicking heroes of the NYC sewer system.
10.) ……sorry, still reading this one. But And Then Emily Was Gone from Comix Tribe looks so damn cool that I had to add it to the list even though I’m still in the middle of reading it. Hey, has the Padre ever steered you wrong before? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Pick it up. You won’t be sorry. If you are, it’s all Monsignor Moody’s fault.
I’m usually reticent to dive into crossover events (why can’t there just be a few self-contained stories every once in a while? Crossovers feel like…homework…), but with these two Convergence titles, I’m having a blast.
Action Comics covers two separate Earths, with two very different Supermans (Supermen?), each handling their de-powered lives in very separate fashions. Both Justin Gray (Jonah Hex, Batwing) and Swamp Thing/Wolverine co-creator Len Wein‘s titles feature Earth 30 — featuring the Communist Superman from Mark Millar’s great Superman: Red Son –prominently, and Detective ends with Earth-2 Robin and Commie Supes about to throw down.
While Claude St. Aubin‘s art in Action is lush, clean, and very Silver Age, Bill Sienkiewicz (Uncanny X-Men) and former Deathlok artist Denys Cowan‘s in Detective is, for lack of a better term, sketchy, gritty, and much darker; each style perfectly reflects the tone of each title. And I love the stylized backstory thrown in the closing pages of Detective. Very retro feel. I am intrigued with where Convergence is going and how it will end up…although DC once again cleaning house and doing away with many of its universes is getting a bit tired. Isn’t that what Crisis On Infinite Earths was about? Action = 4/5 Invisible Commie Jets; Detective = 5/5 Commie Supermen.
Convergence: Plastic Man & the Freedom Fighters #1, written by Simon Oliver (FBP) and art by John McCrea (Hitman), really gives that old timey comic book feel. I’ve never been one to read the Plastic Man comics because…well…no one would be caught dead in that costume, but I digress. The story plays out on Earth-X, a planet where the Nazi’s have won WWII, and everything is in shambles. We are introduced to the Silver Ghost, who is the ultimate weapon for the Nazi’s. Powers disappear, then return, then the ending warns of imminent battles. It’s a pretty simple setup, with little back story on anyone, but a quick fun read. Plastic Man is sarcastic and narcissistic as usual, and the set up for part 2 seems to promise tons of action.
Convergence: World’s Finest #1, written by Paul Levitz (ahem, World’s Finest), is a bit unusual. It takes place in Pre Crisis Earth-2 Metropolis, and the story is told through the eyes of Jibbez, a cartoonist/journalist for a small newspaper in Metropolis. As per all of the Convergence stories, a dome appears, and powers disappear. I was hoping this story would follow Green Arrow and his merry bunch, but I was quickly told otherwise as pterodactyls attack, an earthquake hits, a tidal wave rushes in, and suddenly its all gone. A few heroes died in the “illusion” and the city is going under fast. Just when everything seems lost, it gets worse. Telos shows up, removes the dome, and in good comic book super villain fashion, makes the announcement of “Fight!” With 4 cities on the line here, this battle promises to be pretty epic. Both books = 3.5/5 Bibles.
As president of the Booster Gold fan club, I was all too happy to get another Booster shot. In Booster Gold: Convergence #1, we have a story that picks up after the events of Future’s End where Booster is still a prisoner of Braniac. We also have post “Crisis” Rip Hunter alongside New 52 Skeets, trying to free the other time travelers. To some this might be confusing, but I promise you that Dan (Convergence: Superman) Jurgens does everything he can to effectively reintroduce his creation that is Booster Gold. Readers will certainly appreciate the interaction between Rip and (new) Booster as he explains that original Booster is his father. Jurgens makes this a family reunion by adding Michelle, Booster’s sister to the mix (as one of the captured time travels) as well. Artist Alvaro Martinez (Batman Eternal) has a great sense of flow throughout the comic, but it’s not completely perfect. There are times when the supporting characters looks rough and premature while Booster Gold looks great, but that might have been the artist’s point. I can see how some readers might get confused if they haven’t read Vanishing Point or BG:Future’s End.
Hub City is on the edge of collapsing into insanity but Blue Beetle, The Question and Captain Atom have other plans and seek out a surprising source for assistance. In Blue Beetle: Convergence we get the return of Ted Kord in all his classic glory; it feels like we’re seeing him from the beginning. Seriously. Writer Scott Lobdell (X-Men) puts the Charlton Comics crew together again in a story line that although reads and looks like a Modern Age comic, it oozes with nostalgia. With the tense uprising of the MadMen in Hub City it’s going to be incredibly fun to witness these three heroes come together and work together as a team. Like most of the tie-ins with Convergence, it feels forced to tie into the main event and can feel a bit repetitive, especially if you’re reading ALL THE TIE-INS. But fans of these classic characters will definitely enjoy their revival. Yishan Li leaves her own stamp on Hub City that doesn’t appeal or appall. BG = 4.5/5 Inflated Ego-Boosting Shiny Bibles. BB = 3/5 Blue Bibles.
This is my first foray into the world of DC’s Convergence line of comic books. The idea behind it is to bring back and pay homage to the time before dark and gritty comics took hold. A return to the bright and colorful days of yesteryear. Well, when I witnessed a woman being electrocuted while her friends tried desperately to save her, I get mixed feelings about that. A Metropolis finds themselves in an episode of “Under the Dome” as it removes their superpowers. Where did the dome come from? How does the dome negate powers? Tune in next week to the same Bat-Channel and hopefully Stephen King will have some answers for us. And then move the setting to Maine. Jokes aside, I found this issue, written by Detective Comics‘ Brian Buccellato and drawn by Howard the Duck‘s Phil Winslade, to be the tip of the iceberg and captured my attention. I enjoyed Lois Lane’s realization that maybe her group of characters were in fact doing ill before her demise. The back and forth between the Dome world and the Justice League pursued by Luthorians was, understandably, perplexing and reminded me of the Justice League Animated Series episode “Legends.” I couldn’t find a whole episode that wasn’t on Netflix but this commercial should incite some intrigue for those that haven’t watched the Justice League Animated Series.
The first issue of Convergence: JSA starts off five hours before the end of “Crime Syndicate.” It’s a little bit more grounded as old men talk of their old glories from the days gone by. It’s a humbling story about heroes who have to come to terms with their new world of mortality after, they too, have lost their powers due to the dome’s influence. It’s the old guard struggling to find their place in the new world. However, this is largely betrayed by the end of the issue when they revert to their young age and costumes after a challenge is issued by a disembodied voice in the sky. I have no idea where “Comatose Lad” got his “Young-ified” power but it must’ve been at the same convenience store that Superman got his “Memory-Erasing Kisses” or his “Build the Great Wall of China Vision” in the Christopher Reeve films. This first issue had the potential to have a Watchmen-esque tone but it was quickly substituted for a gallant and gun-ho return to the comics of old. In this moment, I believe that the concept of Convergence is in direct conflict with the writers. CS = 3.5/5 Bibles; JSA = 2.5/5 Bibles.
I’ve always thought of the Convergence event as DC Comics releasing a live version of a greatest hits album; these are all the old favorites, but played by the artists as they are today. Greatest Hits albums have always seemed more like a gateway for would-be or casual fans, as any old die-hard is going to own the entire back catalog. When it comes to Shazam #1 – I just might be the casual fan that writer Jeff Parker (Aquaman) and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner (Flash Gordon) were trying to reel in. The whole first issue feels like a pilot for Bad Robot’s version of The Hardy Boys. It’s a fun serial with a large over arching sci-fi mystery. Any needed exposition explaining the state of Fawcett City (see the staffer above) is taken care of in the form of character development in the first 5-pages, featuring a very proactive Billy Batson dealing with social unrest at an town square meeting. From there on out Billy, Freddy, and Mary go out on an adventure worthy of a Alfred Hitchcock Presents The Three Investigators book if that series also included the fun, pulp elements of 1950’s science fiction. What makes this issue soar is that even being “Marvel-less” doesn’t stop the trio from being brave. Also, all the cheesy dialogue and dated sci-fi tropes work well in a book that sees this world mostly through a child’s eyes. By the time the Marvels do finally appear, it’s just icing on the cake.
If Convergence: Shazam #1 was an old-school kid-detective serial, then Infinity Inc. #1 is a modern day, CW-type sci-fi drama. The aspiring JSA junior heroes have mostly all moved on with their lives in Metropolis under the dome, but have stuck together as a group. Half the issue travels throughout the city, finding the different Infinity Inc. members dealing with their loss of powers in different ways. Writer Jerry Ordway (The Power of Shazam!), with visual help from Ben Caldwell (Wednesday Comics: Wonder Woman), focuses the personal drama around Alan Scott’s daughter Jennie for the first ten pages, and while it isn’t too particularly deep – it services a little bit of exposition for anyone new to Infinity Inc. (having Google and Wikipedia handy is still highly recommended). When the dome’s barriers drop halfway through the issue, all of the interpersonal setup really ratchets up the stakes when Infinity Inc. decides to strike their opposing city first. If you love devastating cliffhangers, the rest of the book is definitely for you. SHAZAM! = 4.5/5 Kid Detectives; II = 3.25/5 Super-Kids.