Sunday, 11 December 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode #8: Luke Cage, "The King is Dead, Long Live the King"

Long Live The Chief
Here it is, the eighth episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.

It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

This episode is about the recent Luke Cage Netflix series, but we also find time to discuss Neil Gaiman's 1602 in Zod's Super Book Club, the ethics of teleportation, elves with guns, and Brian Conley - the King of Saturday Night Light Entertainment.

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:


Also, join Zod's Super Book Club! I've made Rhys read Warren Ellis & Lenil Francis Yu's Wolverine: Not Dead Yet by next month and we'll be discussing it in Episode 9.


If you've read it or are going to read it let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!

Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Best Stuff of 2016 (according to me)

(Click here for The Best Stuff of 2015)

Best ongoing comic series of 2016
Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleason's Superman


Fair play, there have been a lot of great comics to choose from this year, and thanks to DC Rebirth most of them were by DC Comics. But my personal favourite has been Superman, and not just 'cos he's my favourite character.

If you'd told me a couple of years ago that Superman would be married to Lois Lane again and they'd be raising a Super-son together I'd have dismissed it as twee fan-wank. But this series has everything. Yes, this Superman is much more of a pure-hearted farmboy than his New 52 counterpart, and he and Lois are instilling traditional, heroic values into their son Jon. But Tomasi and Gleason aren't afraid to explore the darker aspects that are naturally inherent in the story of a young boy suddenly discovering that he has inherited massively destructive powers from his alien father, and that both his parents are from a parallel universe. Also, some of the enemies Superman and Jon have faced during this series have been downright creepy (for example The Eradicator). As a result of this, the lighter, more heartwarming aspects of this story feel well-earned and are hugely effective. All of this, combined with the compelling ongoing mystery of this Superman's place in the DC Rebirth Universe, make this series the best of a great year for superhero comics.

Runner Up
Green Arrow



Benjamin Percy has given us the ultimate Green Arrow series. The best of every era of Green Arrow is represented. Ollie is beginning a relationship with Black Canary and they're fighting for social justice, just like in the O' Neil/Adams stories of the 70s! But their relationship (as well as their adventures together) have the sophisticated, mature feel of the Mike Grell era. John Diggle is there, representing the Arrow TV series, and Ollie's sister, Emiko from the New 52, is also present. Artists Otto Schmidt, Stephen Byrne, and Juan Ferreyra have been making sure it all looks amazing.

Most underrated comic of 2016
Gene Luen Yang and Viktor Bogdanovic's New Super-Man




I'm sure this series has been well received (most of DC Rebirth has been), but I'm not hearing nearly enough praise for New Super-Man as I feel it deserves. This tale of China's answer to the Man of Steel, Kong Kenan, is a fun super-hero origin that feels almost classic. However the Chinese setting gives it a fresh spin and stops it from feeling too familiar. Yang's knowledge of Chinese culture gives the book an authentic voice, and he manages to make a flawed central character with a lot of growing up ahead of him come across as incredibly likeable. Bogdanovic's cartoony and expressive art is also a large part of the book and it's protagonist's charm. If you love super-heroes do yourself a favour and check out this book.

Best limited comic series of 2016
Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta's The Vision



Androids trying to be human is such a tired, old sci-fi cliche, particularly in the world of superhero comics. It's surprising then that the most innovative and original superhero comic of 2016 was about exactly that. King and Walta tell the old story of an android trying to be human in a new, dark, sad, scary and beautiful way. They discuss humanity, superheroes, good, evil, family, death, the concept of a soul and whether it's truly possible to be normal. It's obvious that both writer and artist are in perfect synch with each other, and along the way they use (among other tools) repetition, Marvel comics history, and Shakespeare to suck the reader completely into this world. Believe the hype. I cannot recommend this series highly enough.

Best comics event of 2016
DC Rebirth



DC Rebirth has something for everyone. The best elements of the New 52 have been retained and the best aspects of past incarnations of these characters have returned. It's all moving forward in a mysterious and compelling new direction involving characters that we've never seen interacting with the DC Universe before. I feel as if every aspect of DC Rebirth has been planned out and that all the creators are singing from the same hymn sheet. Perhaps this isn't the case, but DC have successfully given the impression of a company that knows what it's doing (finally!) and so I feel safe investing in this story and in these characters. I liked the New 52, but DC hasn't felt this focused and exciting since the build up to Infinite Crisis in 2005.

Most disappointing comic of 2016
Brian Bendis's Invincible Iron Man & International Iron Man




I had high hopes for Bendis' Iron Man as I'm a massive fan of his work on Spider-Man (which is still consistently brilliant, check it out). Sadly however all of Bendis' worst excesses as a writer are on display here. Story moving at a glacial pace? Check. Completely ignoring established continuity and previous writers' work? Check. SHIELD crowbarred into every aspect of the character's life? Check. 

To be fair, International Iron Man wasn't bad. It offered an intriguing look into Tony Stark's youth, an absorbing backstory for Tony's real mother and a touching reunion between mother and son. But it was also about three or four issues worth of story stretched out to seven. Invincible Iron Man was even more drawn out. It really felt as if Bendis was treading water until the events of Civil War 2 (the most contrived, unappealing Marvel event ever) were played out and he could properly introduce his new Iron Man/Girl, Riri Williams. Bendis has also replaced Pepper Potts with former Spider-man supporting character Mary Jane Watson, and yet inexplicably he's given MJ exactly the same role and personality as Pepper. It's a bafflingly pointless move. 

I've got nothing against Riri Williams and I genuinely hope the character takes off, but I was reading the book for Tony Stark, and it's far from Bendis' best work so I'm out.

Best Comic Book Film of 2016
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice



2016 has been a good year for comic book movies, and BvS was my favourite of the lot. It was the bane of the critics however, and I'm aware that it has it's flaws. The extra scenes from the Ultimate Edition that made the plot more coherent should have been kept in and the fun but the pointless set-up scenes for Justice League should have been removed. But it's still an ambitious, gorgeous looking, gloriously over the top, huge, operatic thrill ride with a magnificent cast who bring their A-game. I absolutely loved it.

And I especially loved the "MARTHA" scene, so there! :P

Best non-comics related film of 2016
The Nice Guys



I had high hopes for director Shane Black's latest effort and I wasn't disappointed. It matched and maybe even surpassed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for charismatic lead performances, humour, plot twists and action. I love this film.

Best TV show of 2016
Luke Cage



No Doctor Who this year so Luke Cage gets the top spot for TV shows. It's as gripping as Jessica Jones and as viscerally thrilling as Daredevil. Simone Missick's performance helps make Misty Knight the best character in a whole series full of great characters. The only flaw this series has is Erik LaRay Harvey's Diamondback. After the standard for sophisticated, multi-layered villains set by Vincent D'Onofrio in Daredevil and David Tennant in Jessica Jones, and indeed by Luke Cage's own Mahershala Ali and Alfre Woodard, Harvey's swivel-eyed, metaphorical-moustache-twirling, "I kill my own men", revenge motivated, walking cliche just doesn't cut the mustard.

Best things I discovered in 2016 that everybody else already knew about

I watched New Zealand vampire mockumentary, What We Do In The Shadows. It was hilarious and it's made me really excited for Taika Waititi's upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.

I finally got around to reading Marv Wolfman and George Perez's New Teen Titans and John Ostrander's Suicide Squad and they're just as groundbreaking and brilliant as everyone says.

I also checked out Warren Ellis' ongoing James Bond comic. It's staggeringly excellent stuff. I would love to see the first arc, VARGR adapted into the next film.

Best things I did in 2016

I moved to Bristol with my partner, Jenny and got a wonderful new job that I love loads. I received a fantastic and amazingly kind gift of hundreds of Silver Age DC Comics from an old friend and as a result I now own some truly legendary old comics. I also started a podcast with my friend Rhys that I enjoy doing immensely and that you should all check out!

As for 2016 as a whole, it began with David Bowie's death and went down hill from there. The UK has voted to leave the European Union, leaving our future a lot more scary and uncertain, and our country a lot more divided. The United States of America has voted for a President who is openly racist and misogynistic, has admitted to assaulting women, and who has proven himself to be a petty, childish, spiteful, vindictive, ignorant, greedy, corrupt and abusive bully. It's heartbreaking and terrifying and I genuinely don't know what kind of world we'll be living in next year.

Donald Trump: Horrible Bastard

Still, there's some good films out in 2017, including Wonder Woman, Spider-Man Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor Ragnarok, Logan, Lego Batman, Justice League, John Wick 2, and Star Wars VIII, so at least Western Civilisation will be going out in style.

What have been your geeky highlights and lowlights of 2016?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

#NCBD Tweets 30/11/16

Each week, after New Comic Book Day I sometimes Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.


Not a big haul this week, only two comics, but I did also buy The Vision Vol. 1: Little Worse Than a Man & The Vision Vol. 2: Little Better Than a Beast.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

#NCBD Tweets 16/11/16 & 23/11/16

Each week, after New Comic Book Day I sometimes Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.


Here's two weeks worth in one go!


Friday, 11 November 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode #7: Doctor Strange, "Don't you start on my Eccles-Cake"

Rocket and Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Here it is, the seventh episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.

It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

This episode is about the recent Doctor Strange movie, but we also find time to discuss Superted and Spotty Man, Blackest Night in Zod's Super Book Club, diversity among directors, and an auter's place in an extended universe. We also mispronounce the names of a number of talented people.

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:



Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

Also, join Zod's Super Book Club! I've made Rhys read Neil Gaiman's 1602 by next month and we'll be discussing it in Episode 8.


If you've read it or are going to read it let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!

Rhys is swimming 30 miles in 3 months for Campaign Against Living Miserably. If you'd like to donate to this worthy cause (and I urge you to do so) then follow this link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rhyslgriff

Also, if you'd like to see the video of the talk I gave on Aquaman that Rhys mentions in the podcast, follow this link:

https://youtu.be/fu299qARXbw

Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

#NCBD Tweets 09/11/16


It's New Comic Book Day! I occasionally Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.






Thursday, 3 November 2016

#NCBD Tweets 02/11/16

It's New Comic Book Day! I occasionally Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Infinite Crisis: The Movie

I've been fiddling around with Photoshop and decided to make a movie version of a scene from Geoff Johns' Infinite Crisis where two versions of Superman clash and the Multiverse splinters around them.

The picture of the mighty Christopher Reeve is from christopherreeve.co.uk.






Friday, 14 October 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode #6: The Flash, Fast Times at Gorilla City

Joe 'SquareBeard' West

Here it is, the sixth episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.

It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

This episode is about The Flash TV series & the comics on which it's based, but we also find time to ask who is holding Wolverine's hand, why are there so many gorillas in comics, and why do I want to assault the Go Compare man?

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:


Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

Also, join Zod's Super Book Club! I've made Rhys read Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis's Blackest Night by next month and we'll be discussing it on Episode 7.


If you've read them or are going to read them let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!

Also, here's a Flash related article by Rhys for sciencemadesimple:

Can I Run As Fast As The Flash?

Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

#NCBD Tweets 12/10/16


It's New Comic Book Day! I usually Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog. I skipped tweeting about last week's comics as I was exhausted, so let me just say that they were all pretty great. On to this week!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

#NCBD Tweets 28/09/16


It's New Comic Book Day! I usually Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.








Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode #5: Does Alan Moore Know the Score? A Joke that Kills and a Squid that Hates

Here it is, the fifth episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.
It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

This episode is about Alan Moore and the movies that have been made from his work, but we also find time to discuss the latest movie news, Mel Gibson's beard, and Baby-Face Finlayson.

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:

Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

During the podcast I make reference to an article that discusses the differences between the portrayals of Evey and Finch in the V for Vendetta comic and their portrayal in the film. You can find that article here!

On the subject of further reading, I highly recommend this series of essays by Pam Noles discussing Alan Moore's use of the golliwog in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. 

We also discuss the upcoming Stan Lee biopic. As mentioned in the podcast, here's my vision of that what that film should be.


Also, join Zod's Super Book Club! Our next episode is about The Flash so I've made Rhys read Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver's The Flash: Rebirth and Mark Waid and Greg LaRocque's The Flash: Born to Run by next month and we'll be discussing it on Episode 6, where Rhys will decide who he likes best, Barry Allen or Wally West. If you've read them or are going to read them let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!




Spread the word for the love of Zod!

#NCBD Tweets 21/09/16

It's New Comic Book Day! I usually Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.














I'm also curious about Trinity #1, which was out today but is sadly one comic too many to add to my swiftly ballooning pull list. If anyone's got any thoughts about that particular comic (or any of the titles mentioned above) feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

#NCBD Tweets 14/09/16


It's New Comic Book Day! I usually Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.









Thursday, 11 August 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode #4: Suicide Squad; Squad Show Me Magic (or Rocky vs Ego the Living Planet)

Here it is, the fourth episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.
It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

This episode is about Suicide Squad, but we also find time to discuss the news from this year's San Diego Comic Conand Batman's underpants.

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:
Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

Also, join Zod's Super Book Club! I've made Rhys read Alan Moore's MiracleMan by next month and we'll be discussing it on Episode 5. If you've read it or are going to read it let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!



Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode 3: Superman on Screen Part 2 - Bulldog Brando and Bicarb Rockets

Here it is, the second part of the third episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.

It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

We rambled on too long in this one so had to split it into two parts. This episode's theme is Superman in cinema and in this second part we actually get around to discussing the Man of Steel's cinematic adventures, from Reeve to Cavill. If you're a Superman fan in general or a fan of any of the Superman movies check this out as we go into quite some detail!

We can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:

Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

Also, join Zod's Book Club! I've made Rhys read Superman and the Legion of Superheroes by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank by next month and we'll be discussing it on Episode 4. If you've read it or are going to read it let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!





Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Stan Lee: the Movie, starring Tom Cruise

Since last week an excellent fake movie poster created by EntertainMeWeakly has been whizzing 'round the internet. It depicts Bryan Cranston starring in a biopic of comic book legend and co-creator of the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee!



It really is excellent work, but I couldn't help but think that it seemed a bit too serious. If such a film were to exist I'd like it to focus on the '70s, when Stan was partying around Hollywood, trying to get his creations picked up for a TV or a movie deal. Basically, I wanna see THIS Stan:



Stan Lee is a silver tongued showman, in love with the trappings of success and touched by madness. I'd love to see a movie that reflects this side of him. Who better than wee, mad, cult following, smiley man Tom Cruise to play our Funky Flashman?

And so, inspired by EntertainMeWeakly, here's my take on a Stan Lee Movie poster.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode 3: Superman on Screen Part 1 - Goblins and Racist Eggs

Here it is, the first part of the third episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.

It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

We rambled on too long in this one so had to split it into two parts. This episode's theme is Superman in cinema but in this first part we discuss Spider-Man HomecomingJustice League (the upcoming movie), and Planet Hulk as part of this month's Zod's Book Club. Watch out for part two, coming soon, in which we discuss the Man of Steel's cinematic escapades.

We can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:

Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

Also, join Zod's Book Club! I've made Rhys read Superman and the Legion of Superheroes by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank by next month and we'll be discussing it on Episode 4. If you've read it or are going to read it let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!




Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A DC Rebirth Theory: Why are there two Supermen?

In 2011 DC Comics revamped their line of superhero comics under the New 52 banner. Superman became a younger, slightly more lonely & aggressive hero who was no longer married to Lois Lane. This year DC are shaking up their continuity once again, and this time they're calling it DC Rebirth. The previous version of Superman is back, along with his wife Lois and his son Jon, and New 52 Superman is dead! As of last month, DC's main Superman is not just a strange visitor from another planet, he's a strange visitor from a defunct timeline too! Is this the permanent status quo for the Man of Steel? Will New 52 Superman ever return? And how does the mysterious Mr Oz fit into all this?

In Superman: Men of Tomorrow (2014) we saw a mysterious gentleman named Mr Oz observing New 52 Superman's actions. During the course of his cryptic monologues he claims to have taught Superman in some way.


At the end of that storyline Mr Oz sends a notebook to Clark Kent with a Superman symbol on the cover and empty pages within.

In DC Rebirth #1, following the death of New 52 Superman, Mr Oz appears before pre-New 52 Superman and tells him that he and his deceased counterpart are not what they seem.


And then in Superman #1 pre-New 52 Superman leaves a glowing blue handprint on the grave of New 52 Superman.


Several clues in DC Rebirth #1 have led many to believe that Mr Oz is actually Ozymandias from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen, and that Watchmen's Dr Manhattan is actually responsible for the creation of the New 52. But what's interesting is that this act of "creation" didn't actually seem to involve making a brand new timeline. In DC Rebirth #1 we discover that rather than being a separate timeline the New 52 is in fact an altered version of the previous timeline. Characters memories of the previous timeline are beginning to return, and the original version of Wally West AKA The Flash has appeared, claiming that he and his fellow superheroes have been robbed of ten years! This raises a big question. How are there two Supermen, one from the New 52 and one from before the New 52, if the New 52 is actually the old timeline but with a few alterations? *

The obvious answer is they're both the same Superman!

If ten years has been removed from the timeline could the pre-New 52 Superman and his family actually be from within that ten years? New 52 Superman was supposed to become pre New 52 Superman and New 52 Lois Lane was supposed to marry Clark Kent and become pre-New 52 Lois Lane and give birth to Jon. Then the ten years in which that was supposed to happen was removed from the timeline (possibly by Dr Manhattan). However something or someone (possibly the events of Convergence) removed Clark and Lois from that ten years and deposited them back to a time before the ten years was removed where they found themselves living alongside their younger selves.


Perhaps Mr Oz has been battling against the force that removed the ten years? Perhaps he has been somehow teaching or manipulating young Clark to ensure he becomes the version from the ten year gap. The empty notebook was sent as a clue. The future is unwritten because the future (that ten year gap) has been stolen! Could the blue handprint be a sign that the missing ten years is returning and that Superman is placing his hand on the grave of his younger self?

I predict that the whole Rebirth arc will end with the resurrection of New 52 Superman and the reinsertion of the ten years into the timeline, enabling New 52 Clark and Lois to grow naturally into their older counterparts. This solution would please everybody. The adventures of New 52 Superman still "happened" but he eventually married Lois and had a son. Everybody wins!

What do you think? Am I right? Am I talking bibble? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


*Originally we were led to believe that the Flash (Barry Allen) created the New 52 by messing around with time travel in a story called Flashpoint. But perhaps Flash's meddling only created minor changes (costumes, origin details etc) and Dr Manhattan took advantage of this instability to make bigger changes and remove ten years. This would explain why Wally West's memories in Titans Rebirth #1 differ slightly from the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

DC REBIRTH: Action Comics #957 - Review

SPOILERS!


DC Comics are persevering with their plan to rearrange their universe of superhero characters until everybody on the internet stops shouting at them. Their latest attempt involves using Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons's Watchmen characters (that's a whole can of worms in itself) to merge the best of their old stuff with the best of their new stuff. It's called DC Rebirth and I'm pleased to say it appears to be working! Sales are up and reviews are good, so let's hope it lasts (it won't).

But how does all this affect my favouritest superhero of all time, Superman? Well, quite a bit actually.

Superman is dead and has been replaced by a previous incarnation from a parallel world. The recently deceased Man of Steel is the revamped version who first appeared in 2011 as part of DC's last big revamp, The New 52. New52 Supes has been dispatched to make way for an older model, and to be honest it's hard not to view it as a big middle finger to fans both new and old who'd grown quite attached to him. But to be fair Supes the Younger was given a decent send-off in the recent Final Days of Superman storyline, as well as Superman Rebirth #1. Also, the aforementioned older model is a pretty awesome incarnation of the Last Son of Krypton, who comes complete with a wife (Lois Lane, of course) and a son (Jon Kent, the new Superboy).

Action Comics #957 (they went back to the original numbering, hurray!) marks our older Superman's return as the star of his flagship title. How did our comeback kid do?

Pretty darn well!

The issue begins with Lex Luthor, clad in Apokoliptian armour, attempting to take the place of the dead Superman in the hearts and minds of the people of Metropolis. This rubs the other Superman up the wrong way, and so he rushes to Metropolis in a new costume to confront Luthor, exposing himself to the world in the process. A fight ensues, and the two new/old adversaries slap each other around for a bit until a new threat suddenly drops from the sky - Doomsday, the monster who killed Superman in the '90s!


Despite my hurried summary this is a packed issue. One of the things I love about writer Dan Jurgens is his ability to juggle several ongoing plot threads in the same issue without losing the momentum or the clarity of the story. This issue is no exception. Jurgens' gives us the return to Metropolis of Maggie Sawyer - a fan favourite supporting character, another cameo by the mysterious Mr Oz, and an appearance by yet another Clark Kent (?!?!), and none of this distracts from the main action of the story.

One of my favourite bits in this issue was Superman and Lois attempting to instill their super-powered son with the same values and wisdom that was passed to Superman by his parents. I think the image of an innocent being given great power and not being corrupted by it is a big part of what many of us find so appealing about the Superman story. It's nice to see that story playing out in a slightly different way. I also love Jurgens' depiction of Luthor. Being a superhero is just a big ego trip for Lex, he wants to be Superman not to help people but to prove he's the best. It's difficult not to see real world parallels with the odious Donald Trump and his attempt to become President of the USA.


The art is absolutely amazing. Patrick Zircher has recently finished working on Green Arrow, where he did very well, but Action Comics with it's splash pages and, well, action, is much more suited to Zircher's style. Zircher has made each character clear, distinctive and realistic without sacrificing any of the dynamism of the art or the iconic nature of the characters. It really is top-notch superhero art.

Despite all the good stuff there were a few things about this issue I wasn't too sure of. The cliffhanger was a disappointment. After all, Doomsday's on the cover, we knew he was coming. It's a shame that a huge threat like Doomsday has lost his impact through overuse over the years. To be fair though, that's hardly Jurgens and Zircher's fault, and it's still a thrill to see Doomsday back in the hands of Jurgens, his creator.

I was also a little put off by the way Superman blatantly started the fight with Luthor. It gave Lex the moral high ground and tainted this Superman's reveal to the world somewhat. Having said that, it's quite in character for Superman to have his judgement affected by his anger towards Luthor, and Lois' reaction as she witnesses the fight on TV ("Don't ever think fighting is the preferred solution Jon.") indicates that Superman will face the repercussions of his actions. But diving in fist first was New52 Superman's thing (an aspect of the character I quite enjoyed actually), so it's a bit weird to see this Superman, one who is supposed to be older and wiser, acting in the same way.


I can't really fault the issue too much however. It sets out a complicated status quo succinctly, hits the ground running, and offers plenty of plot teasers to get readers back next issue, and you can't ask for much more from the first chapter of a new storyline. Hopefully this version of Superman, as well as Lois and Jon, will be around for a good long while, and Jurgens and Zircher will stick with them.

4/5 stars! ****

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode 2: X-Men Apocalypse: Mutants and Man-Ape!

Here it is, the second episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.

It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

This episode is about X-Men: Apocalypse, but we also find time to discuss Thor, Civil War (the comic), DC Rebirth, and super villains dressed as monkeys.

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:


Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

Also, join Zod's Book Club! I've made Rhys read Planet Hulk by next month and we'll be discussing it on Episode 3. If you've read it or are going to read it let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!



Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode 1: Cap v Stark, Where's the Sock?

My friend Rhys L. Griffiths and I have started a podcast! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.

It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

The first episode is about choosing sides in Captain America: Civil War, but we also find time to discuss Dr Strange, The Killing Joke, and UK TV host/non-shoplifting guy Richard Madeley.

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:



Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

You can also follow us on Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic) and on Facebook.

Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

I was recently gifted a lot of Silver Age DC Comics & they made me very happy

Recently a friend gifted me several boxes of his Silver Age DC Comics. To say I was grateful would be an understatement. I was over the moon to receive such a wonderful gift. It's not a question of the scarcity or the value of the comics (I have no idea how rare they are and have no intention of selling them). It's just exciting to actually own such huge parts of DC Comics history. I'm so excited I wanted to share just some of the collection here.

The collection filled over three longboxes.


The collection includes:

Some of the most iconic Superman stories (and some of my favourites).



















Some famous issues of Justice League of America, including the legendary Earth 2 crossovers.











The first appearances of Bob Haney & Ramona Fradon's Metamorpho and Steve Ditko's The Creeper.


Some classic Teen Titans & Aquaman, featuring beautiful Nick Cardy artwork.







Some iconic Batman stories, including Robin Dies at DawnThe Joker's Five Way Revenge and the first appearance of Barbara Gordon.












The first (and only) Silver Age appearances of Bob Haney & Mike Sekowsky's B'wana Beast.





Famous issues featuring The Flash, Green Lantern, Adam Strange, Hawkman, and The Atom; five characters who epitomise the Silver Age possibly more than any other. 









Some iconic stories featuring the Legion of Superheroes.









Egg Fu!!!




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