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4LN Comic Review: Trinity #1

Series: Trinity
Writer: Francis Manapul
Artist: Francis Manapul
Inker: Francis Manapul

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Summary from Comixology: “BETTER TOGETHER” part 1! Together again for the first time! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The core of the World’s Greatest Heroes…but with a new Man of Steel, the bonds these three share will be tested and redefined by super-star writer/artist Francis Manapul. In this premiere issue, see the trio travel from Metropolis to Gotham City and beyond to learn what forces launched their heroic careers. But how will this journey of discovery lead them to a new threat?”

This is the series that I have been most excited for regarding the DC Rebirth comics. I was instantly sold on this book just by finding out that Francis Manapul was doing the art for the book. If you aren’t familiar with his work, then you need to pick this book up just for the art alone. For $2.99 you won’t pick up another book as beautiful as this one. For those of you not familiar with Manapul he’s known for his work on other DC books such as New 52 Flash, Justice League, and my personal favorite Batman Detective (Icarus). If you are a fan of bright colors and crisp sharp line work, then Francis Manapul is the comic book artist you’ve been looking for!

The story of Trinity could be a bit confusing for those of us not following the Superman comic at the moment. The gist of what’s going on with Superman is: He’s from a different timeline. When he ended up in this universe, he decided that he wanted to stay on the down-low. New Clark and Lois Lane have a farm in Califonia where they are raising their son who is beginning to learn that his father is Superman, and he has superhuman abilities. After knowing this, it will make reading Trinity all that much easier to understand.

I think my absolute favorite part of this book were the three full page spreads that each of our heroes received. Wonder Woman arriving on the field with a boar and her invisible jet was one of my absolute favorite scenes in this comic. I’ve always loved Cliff Chiang’s and Frank Cho’s take on Diana Prince, but after reading this issue… Francis Manapul might draw my favorite Wonder Woman. It’s just so beautiful, The Batman and Superman splashes are equally as beautiful but I think you’ll greatly appreciate seeing it for yourself instead of having me describe for to you. (See our Review of Superman #7)

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Besides the art, Manapul does a fantastic job with telling the story. This series starts with Bruce and Diana coming to the farm to talk to and get to know, Clark and Lois along with their son. Batman isn’t very trusting but Diana wants to accept them for who they are and believes in time they will become as close of allies as they were with the original Superman. Manapul also does a fantastic job writing some comedy into this book so that it’s not so rigid and series. Bruce makes a comment about Clark’s son sleeping and looking so innocent. I couldn’t help but laugh and imagine Bruce watching Damien sleep and thinking/wishing he was innocent and a typical 10-year-old. Also, Bruce Wayne in plaid is a pretty hilarious image. Along with comedy, Manapul also makes references to much older DC Comics events, and some of the very interesting style choices that Batman made in the 60’s.

Overall, if you are a fan of DC’s Superhero trinity, this is the book for you. Manapul leaves many questions when you come to the conclusion of the issue, and you are going to be coming back to find out what the answers to those questions are. And, you’ll be itching for more beautiful Francis Manapul art come next month. So, head down to your local comic shop and pick this up before you live to regret it!

Music Pairing:
One of my favorite bands in an instrumental post-rock band called Balmorhea from Austin Texas. Their album All Is Wild, All Is Silent is absolutely beautiful and matches the art in the book perfect. So, spin the opening track from that album while reading this book. It’ll be a perfect fit.

4LN Movie Review – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

There’s a term in law practice, “Tainting the jury pool”, that first came to my mind when I saw the BvS reviews from film critics. They’re pretty much all negative, and what happens when people see that is: half of the audience (the fanboys) gets defensive, and the other half goes into the movie with low expectations and looking for flaws. The critics taint the jury pool by shitting all over a movie that 99% of people haven’t seen yet. But… does that mean they’re wrong? I mean, after all, the overwhelming majority of them do not seem to think that it’s a quality movie, and “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Right? Well, it’s not really as simple as that when it comes to movies (or the entertainment industry as a whole, really, but that’s a lengthy conversation for another day). It’s extremely common nowadays for critics to hate a film, but for audiences to still flock to it. For example, The 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. On Rotten Tomatoes, that movie has a critic score of 21%, which isn’t good. However, it made almost $500 million at the box office on a budget of about $125 million, which was enough of a showing to earn it sequel that drops this year. I’ve never liked film critics, ironically, and I’ve never believed that “film critic” should be an actual occupation. It seems like as time goes on, the masses more and more disregard the “advice” of critics and choose to find out for themselves, which is exactly how it should be. However… that doesn’t necessarily mean the critics are always wrong.

OK, first off, the cruelty that the critics have been spewing is an overreaction. Things like, “Batman v Superman will make you hate Batman, Superman, and the Justice League”, that it’s a “total train wreck” and a “crime against comic fans”. That’s a bit much, fellas. Did I think it was a great movie? Honestly, no, I didn’t. But I think it’s a decent movie. It didn’t make me hate any if the characters and I didn’t feel like my fandom was betrayed. I do understand where the critics hostility comes from though. If these weren’t characters with established legacy and were just some made up heroes for a movie, we’d all notice the flaws more clearly. Being fans makes it hard for us to recognize the messiness of the plot and how jumbled the story is. Things do happen in a bit of a confusing timeline, but it’s really not enough to make you mad I don’t think. Besides, it’s Batman and Superman coming to blows. How cool is that? I can overlook some plot holes and character inconsistencies for that.

Focusing on the positive, Affleck really is great as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He’s older and more hardened than we’ve ever seen him on screen and it works. Affleck very sincerely captures the torment and callousness of Bruce, and how that affects all aspects of his life. He’s been clinging to his righteous indignation for Superman, at how he was a part of the destruction of Metropolis but is heralded as a hero, a savior, and even a god. Batman wants to see Superman answer for his role in all of it, but the only justice he knows how to exact is vigilante justice. One of the things that director Zack Snyder has been defending is Batman’s apparent killing of bad guys in the movie. Yes, he does seem to kill, but I personally don’t care about that because Batman has been indirectly, and directly, responsible for many deaths in comics and movies, and I think in some instances he should kill so… that’s where I stand on that.

The real gem of the movie, as some have fairly pointed out, is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman; She’s simply Diana Prince for the first two-thirds of the movie. We first meet her at a party where her path crosses with Bruce’s and then we see her a few more times until the end when she suits up and unleashes. She was one of things I was most looking forward to and she did not disappoint. When she showed up alongside Batman & Superman and just jumped right in to the action at the end I got so excited. Unlike the two of them, she’s a trained, proven and battle-worn soldier. She doesn’t just throw punches and hope for the best. She’s a strategist and she thinks very quickly on her feet. Yes, I know Batman is very strong and practically a ninja. Thanks for pointing that out. However, Batman isn’t faced-off-against-entire-armies-with-nothing-but-a-sword-and-a-rope strong (sorry, LASSO) so go back to your basement nerds.

The other character I was most looking forward to was Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. I knew it was going to be an unconventional take on the character, and I’m not really a purist when it comes to stuff like that so I’ve been eager to see what he did with it. The critics response seems to be that he was “over-the-top” and “bad”. Wow guys. Really digging deep in the thesaurus for those adjectives huh. His performance was “over-the-top”, but it was supposed to be. He’s playing a maniacal and emotionally unstable genius billionaire with a bit of a god-complex; As opposed to just a smart billionaire with a lot of a god-complex. Gene Hackman was a great Lex Luthor, and Kevin Spacey even did a solid turn, but their performances weren’t really that close to how Lex has always been written in the comics either so let’s drop the bullshit about the characters not resembling their comic book counterparts.

There’s a scene where he’s talking to Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch, and then there’s a scene later where they’re in a senate committee hearing and those two scenes compliment one another in a way that has you kind of chuckling at first but then by the end of the second scene you fully understand the lengths that Lex is willing to go to in order to get what he wants and it’s kind of terrifying.

The film’s visuals and cinematography are phenomenal. If there’s one thing Zack Snyder knows, it’s how to make a movie that at least looks amazing. There are some very captivating action sequences and exhilarating shots that few directors have the vision to capture. The final battle between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman against Doomsday (it’s not a spoiler, that was in the trailers so don’t act like you didn’t know) is very exciting. The dream sequence with Batman in the desert up against an army of Superman soldiers is pretty fantastic also.

One thing I do want to address is the Justice League cameos. Yes, there are 3 other JLers who briefly appear but what kind of frustrated me was how they made Jason Momoa’s Aquaman such a big deal in the marketing, even giving him his own action figures, and he’s only in the movie for like 30 seconds. Really, one of the others has a more significant cameo scene than he does and I’d heard nothing about it. It was just irritating to expect a bigger role from him and have it be so inconsequential.

Parents: This movie is very dark and gritty and LONG, so just keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to take your kids. My 8yo handled it fine, and even ended up liking it when he he was initially disinterested, but there was a little boy in front of us who’s grandpa brought him and he was probably about 5. He did not do so well. I’d suggest 7 or 8 is probably your target age for just old enough to handle what they’re watching and not get bored.

Look, I don’t have to convince you to see Batman v Superman. You’re going to. I know it, you know it, and WB and DC know it. It’s not an abomination. It’s no Dark Knight, which Batman films will be trying to live up to forever, but it’s worth watching. Hell, I’ll even watch it again just for Wonder Woman. (She really was fantastic you guys.) Besides, what else are you gonna do this weekend. Wait, have you finished season 2 of Daredevil? Ok, do that first and then go see Batman v Superman (#priorities).

Batman v Superman: First Look

If you missed it last night, like I did, the CW premiered some new Batman v Superman footage. In the new footage we have some new shots of Superman in a hallway, a better first look at Wonder Woman, and we see what happens when Doomsday’s heat vision hits Diana’s shield. One of the more important things about the trailer is we seem to finally get conformation that Lex Luther is, and will be, the main villain in this movie. On a scale of one to ten, how excited are you for Batman v Superman? I’m at about an eleven, so without further adieu, here is the new trailer, featuring the fatman on Batman, Kevin Smith.

(Ben Affleck, I apologize for hating you, as I now 100% support you as Batman. There’s no excuse for my neckbeardy behavior and I swear I will try harder to be a better nerd, and all around better person from now on. Also, I actually loved Gigli.)

 

AND! Because I like bringing you even more excitement, here is the new Suicide Squad trailer. Bohemian Rhapsody fits perfectly with this trailer, well done.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Comic-Con Trailer

After much anticipation, we are excited to bring you the San Diego Comic Con exclusive trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Directed by Zack Snyder (Watchmen & Man of Steel) comes the beginning of the DC Cinematic Universe starring Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Gale Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice comes out March 25th, 2016

Can you spot any easter eggs in this trailer? If so, leave them in the comments below.

Man of Steel: In Color

The blockbuster superhero film, Man Of Steel, received a lot of criticism with how dark and grainy the film was. Heavily borrowing from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, Zack Snyder’s film showed a much darker version of DC’s beloved Superman. A version that I personally loved because it brought a much loved character into modern cinema, but many fans and critics felt very different.

YouTube page, VideoLab, actually edited the film by bring up a brighter contrast and adding more colors, and honestly, it looks like a completely different film. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing the entire film in a much brighter contrast, after all, “Superman should fly in bright blue skies, not grey ones.”

Check out Man of Steel: In Color and let us know what you think in the comments below.

4LN Comic Review – Superman #38

Series: Superman
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Laura Martin
Publisher: DC

Summary from Comixology: “An extra-sized special issue of the world’s greatest hero brings in the New Year with a new costume, new powers and new friends and enemies! The epic team of Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson conclude their first arc with twist after twist that will send Superman onto a new path and force Clark Kent to making a shocking decision! Plus: John Romita Jr. draws Batman!”

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Overview-

This was a strong finish to a decent arc.  Ulysses makes for a strong antagonist because of his tragic back-story which somewhat mirrors Superman’s.  His whole purpose was to save his home, but unfortunately that meant a strong dose of genocide for some of Earth’s residents.  This issue contains the end of the climactic battle between the “Men of Tomorrow.”

I was on the verge of dropping this series from my pull list.  So far I have been enjoying the story alright, and the art has been alright too, but alright doesn’t cut it on my short pull list – I have multiple mouths to feed.  This book may have changed that.  MAY being the key word.

Highs-

Johns ended on a high note with the first arc’s finale.  I was worried when I found out ol’ Supes was getting a new power, although his power set has certainly seen stranger days.  As it turns out, the power actually is kind of neat and is an extension of one of the powers already in his repertoire.  The new power isn’t the only surprise, however.  The last page also contains a pretty great surprise, but I won’t spoil it for you.

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Lows-

Generally speaking, I don’t have a problem with Romita’s art.  That being said, it just feels out of place on a Superman story.  I don’t know, maybe I just got spoiled with Greg Capullo’s clean style on DC’s other flagship, Batman.  That being said, it didn’t actually detract from the book.  I just prefer a cleaner look, especially on a character like Superman.

The Final Say-

So was this issue enough for me to keep it on my pull list?  I am not sure yet.  I will say that this was a fun issue with very little wrong with it, and Superman’s struggle with his newest power certainly has some intriguing possibilities.  I would mark this book as a 4 out of 5.  Just a heads up, you will definitely need to read the preceding issues prior to reading this one.

4LN Comic Review – Superman #35

Series – Superman (2014)
Writer – Geoff Johns
Art – John Romita Jr. & Klaus Janson
Publisher – DC Comics
 
Summary from Comixology: “The hit SUPERMAN run by Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. continues with ‘THE MEN OF TOMORROW’ Chapter four! Superman and Ulysses are still dealing with the traumatic revelations of last issue, but the hunt for The Machinist must continue before his would-be-victims fall into his hands. But what happens when the two heroes learn the truth behind The Machinist and the cost to stopping his mad plan?”
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Overview-
Superman is a hard character to do well. Despite being one of the first superheroes, over the years a lot of his stories have been… sub-par, which is frustrating because he is one of my all time favorite characters.  A lot of this has to do with the sheer power of the character, but it mostly rests on the writer.  When I first started reading Superman with its new creative team, I was worried they were going to do the same tired storyline that pops up all of the time — Superman facing his equal.  In a way, with the introduction of Ulysses, they ARE doing this, but their take is fresh and I am enjoying the ride so far.  Either way, the new creative team is crafting a story that is more palatable than anything we have seen so far for the New 52 Superman.
 
Highs-
Geoff Johns is a hell of a writer.  The last page of this book managed to leave me with a sense of dread, which is pretty impressive since it was pretty clear what was about to happen.  The fight with the Machinist was a lot of fun, and I thought this issue did a great job finishing the foundation for The Men of Tomorrow story arc.  I expect the next issue will have some pretty epic confrontations between Superman and his new foe.  I also like that they seem to be correcting the decision to have Clark be a blogger (… not that there is anything wrong with that) instead of working for the Planet.  
 
Lows-
Unfortunately, the divisiveness of Romita Jr.’s art will ruin this book for some people.  I don’t have a problem with his art personally, but his character designs can have the tendency to be a little jarring when compared to other takes of Superman.  That being said, if you like (or don’t hate) Romita Jr.’s art, this book has very few drawbacks assuming you’ve been reading parts 1-3 of the Men of Tomorrow arc.
 
The Final Say-
I can’t say that Superman is my favorite book right now (that would be lying, and Superman doesn’t like that), but the new creative team is doing a good job drawing me back.  The Men of Tomorrow has been a fun arc, and I am excited to see what happens next month.  Superman is not the best book DC is putting out right now, but they are doing a good job making him interesting again.  I give this book a 4 out of 5.  The story alone is worth it as long as you start with issue 32.

Saturday Morning Review: Superman #34

Book: Superman 34
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson

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Summary from Comixology: “The Men of Tomorrow” Part 3! Introducing the bizarre villain known as The Machinist-the man behind the recent technological attacks on Metropolis. But what is his strange connection to Superman?”

The Overview:
As I have said before, I am not the worlds biggest Superman fan, in all honestly, he’s pretty far from the top of my list. But, I am a pretty big Geoff Johns fan, so that has been the only reason I’ve been reading this book. Also, I’m also not the biggest fan of Romita Jr., though ‘m only familiar with his work on ASM and now Superman, but I have been very impressed so far. If Johns and Romita Jr. stay on Superman for as long as his Green Lantern run, that may just be enough to turn me into a fan of supes.

The Good:
Johns storytelling is really shown here. We are some more of the origins of the new character Ulysses, which was a very emotional telling how his parents sent him away as their earth was “crumbling,” or so they though. Sound familiar? It’s a little like Clark’s origins story, but it’s still unique and something new. The interactions betweenUlysses and Clark were very interesting and seemed to be the formation of a new friendship, I personally think they could be a pretty good team together. There was also a great splash page of Ulysses and Superman in a little altercation. The villain that was introduced, The Machinist seems like he will be causing some problems in the distant future.

The Bad:
There wasn’t anything technically “bad” with this issue that I could find. But when I read the last page, I felt myself wanting more or thinking “that’s it?”. I just felt like it was a bit on the anti-climatic scale. It was not necessarily a letdown, but I was left wanting more.

The Final Say:
This was a pretty fun book and a interesting take on the characters. But overall I jest felt like the book was missing a more powerful moment. I give this book a solid 3 out of 4. The story very enjoyable, but it was just missing that major “wow” moment. Head out to your LCS and pick this book up! And if you read the book, let us know what you think in the comments below!

4LN Throwback Comic Review: Superman For All Seasons #1

Book: Superman: For All Seasons #1
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale

Summary from Comixology: “Book One: Spring! Watch the young Clark Kent grow from country boy into the Superman he’s destined to become–all told from the perspective of the man who raised him, Jonathan Kent!”

Superman_for_All_SeasonsThe Good

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale have put out some awesome work, and this title is no different.  Superman: For All Seasons is one of my favorite comic runs of all time.  What sets this book apart, especially from a lot of the other popular Superman tales, is the simplicity of it all.  This isn’t a gritty reboot that exists to show that the Man of Steel can be beaten or killed (we get it already, blah blah blah – overpowered – blah blah blah).  There are elements of his struggle to find his place in the world (which sort of echo Man of Steel mixed with a smidge the Andy Griffith Show), but this particular issue really focuses on Clark’s transition from shy country boy to savior of Metropolis, and how the Kent’s influenced his morality.

The simplicity of the story is matched by Tim Sale’s artwork.  When I was talking about the book to our friend Steve at Comic Collector Live: the Store, we settled on the word “whimsical.” Normally this could be considered a drawback when compared to modern comics, but I think it completely captures the overall feel of the story and it works well.

The Bad

What sets this book apart from other books might also be a drawback for some readers.  The fact that I used the word “whimsical” to describe the art might be an immediate turn off to some of you.  Not everyone is going to enjoy the simple tone and aesthetic created by Loeb and Sale.  Another pitfall for potential readers is how little “Superman” actually appears in this particular issue (although there are three books that follow this one).  This story is almost exclusively about Clark and his maturation.  It’s basically an origin story minus Krypton or a childhood.

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But when he shows up he shows up in a big way.

The Final Say

Thor: God of Thunder is one of the reasons Thor became my second favorite superhero, but Superman: For All Seasons is the reason Superman has remained number one on my list.  Sure, it’s not for everybody, but this is a damn good story and you just can’t beat the combination of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I give this book a 4 out of 4, and recommend it to anyone that wants a refreshing take on the Man of Steel.