Friday, 1 June 2018

Comic Reviews

This week Brian Michael Bendis gets a third chance to make a first impression; Judge Dredd penetrates Patrick Swayze; and, Jean Grey does some family visiting.

Spoilers below...

Man of Steel #1

Okay, cards on the table: I have a huge writer crush on Brian Michael Bendis. When I was getting back into comics after an absence of years it was his Daredevil that drew me in. Between that and Ultimate Spider-Man it was clear that this was a writer with a real love and appreciation for the characters he was handling, one who knew where to modernise and where to leave well alone for the benefit of continuity.

So now he's writing Superman. Now, there's no one more skeptical of nostalgia than me. I know its a drug, I know its a con half the time but damn me if this isn't Superman exactly as I remember the character. Bendis plays it smart, intercutting his bold new take on the “true reason” Krypton was destroyed with a very conscious greatest hits reel to assure people that this is their (and their father's and their grandfather's Superman). We see him swoop In to the rescue a couple of times, once with supervillains and once with an apartment building fire and all with that very earnest honesty about him even when he's being sarcastic.

I am also very, very glad to see that Jon continues to exist. Not that I thought he was going away, exactly, but more than I suspected Bendis might ignore the boy's existence between the very iconic and classic feel of things (down to the red shorts) and the plotline from the DC Nation one-shot about Lois not being at the Planet anymore.

If there's one thing Bendis seems absolutely determined on its that Superman is a reported above all else. Even when he's rescuing people from the burning building he's thinking about how this rash of electrical fires came about. Arson? Bad city planning? Ordinances that aren't up to scratch?

Its been a long time since a version of Superman grabbed me this quickly. I'm not saying its been all doom and gloom before now (Patrick Gleason's run on Superman stands out in my mind as a great recent series) but this just perfectly captures what I love about the character.

Judge Dredd: Under Siege #1

So, for a while people have been telling me that the American Judge Dredd comics from IDW aren't the disaster one would assume them to be. Not to insult anyone of a Yankish persuasion reading this but American fans (and most comic authors are fans these days) tend to not get that Dredd is meant to be funny. In fairness, a worrying number of British fans don't get this either nowadays but that's a rant for another day.

Reading this I'm trying to remind myself that this is by no means the first series IDW has put out and the conspicuous similarities to Dredd (2012) are probably a one off. Like the film (which I adore) we have a situation where two Judges are trapped in a giant apartment building with enemies on the top floors and a control room to be taking control of on the other side of the baddies.

In this case Dredd has been sent in to Patrick Swayze Block to locate Judge Beeny (presumably this story is set some time before she became a member of the Council Of Five) who went missing when the block went off the comms grid when she was meant to be doing a routine school visit.

Beeny is actually a character I have a lot of time for: a young, idealistic Judge who was the daughter of anti-Judge activists and one of the few reformers Dredd has ever been seen to so much as give the time of day. If nothing else I look forward to her and Dredd interacting across this series even if, sadly, the plot looks like one I've been through before just with slightly different villains. Who knows, though? Time will tell.

X-Men Red Annual #1

Even four issues into the main series, I'm still cautious about X-Men Red. Its not that its bad, its certainly entertaining, but the sticking point for me is that its essentially a Jean Grey series. I don't like Jean Grey much. Over the last few years the teenage version that's been running around has softened my view of her and I think its just the Ms. Perfect version that everyone idolises that gets my back up and Taylor seems smart enough not to push that angle too much. Jean in this series is definitely the same woman with the same formidable reputation but more conscious of her flaws.

Anyway, the annual is basically the story of what Jean did just after her resurrection, in spite of the whole of the rest of the team being on the cover, and is a pretty personal story only connected to the Red team by featuring Jean's first meeting with Laura and Gabby.

The long and the short of it: not much happens here but fluff and then of Jean's emotional journey is basically just to put her where we say her in #1. That said having been said: ain't nothing wrong with fluff, especially fluff that has Jean and Rachel interact like family for practically the first time ever. Plus, any issue with Gabby in it is definitely worth at least a look.

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