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411’s Comic Reviews: New Super-Man #1, Civil War II #3, More

July 21, 2016 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

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Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review Roundtable! Each week we’ll be serving up a warm dish of reviews from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.

Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!

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Yesterday we discussed Frank Cho v Greg Rucka Wonder Woman Controversy!

Now on with the show!

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New Super-Man #1

Review by RobF

In a world without a Superman, China has decided that one of their own can replace the Man of Steel. I’m not sure they made the correct choice. Gene Luen Yang, fresh off a Superman run presents the Red Dragon attempting to recreate the power of a god. What this god seems to be missing is heart.

This is far from an original story in reference to origin. A young man dreams of getting superpowers and through the magic of science he does. He has a female reporter chasing him, possibly as a love interest. Nothing new here. Where the tale diverts from the source material is in the lead character Kong Kenan. He is a real jerk, a bully, and an attention seeker. A far cry from a Kansas farmboy or the rich son of murdered parents.

What sets Superman apart from all the others is his unwavering set of values. He always did what was right regardless of the situation. Will Kenan be able to rise to the awesome responsibility of being a Superman? Does he even want to?

Several questions arose from the events of this issue: What are the political ramifications of a world power like China having a superpower in their arsenal. I mean, is he serving the world’s best interest or just China’s? Does he have full control of these powers? And what happens when he meets the “other “Superman?

Viktor Bogdonavic does a fine job with the artwork. It’s cartoony but not overly done. His futuristic China is fun to view, like each building could be its own character in the story.

Yang has an exciting opportunity here: he has no history to bog him down so he can build his own legacy. Kenan has no idea what he has involved himself in and little time to adjust. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

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Civil War 2 #3

Review by Rob Bonnette

This is the third issue of this event, and things are starting to spiral downward for all the characters involved. The big death in this issue, that of Dr. Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk) at the hands of Clint Barton (Hawkeye), was leaked out by Marvel a few days before the issue dropped so there was a big challenge to make the delivery worth having the package spoiled ahead of time. And for the most part I think they met that challenge. We start off in a courtroom, at a criminal trial where Matt Murdock is representing the state and Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) is on the stand as a witness. Carol begins her testimony and we alternate between the courtroom explanations of events from she, Tony Stark (Iron Man) and eventually Barton and the visual of what went down in real time. At the end of issue two the Inhuman Ulysses has another of premonitions, this time of Banner turning into the Hulk and killing a bunch of people, which prompts Carol and Tony to take a large group of Avengers out to Banners’ compound along with Ulysses and the other Inhumans to stop it before it happens. They meet with Bruce to see if he’s been doing any more experiments with gamma radiation similar to the one that made him turn originally, only to find out that he has been. Bruce tries to explain himself, but in the middle of it Hawkeye shoots him dead with an arrow then immediately gives himself up.

Back to the courtroom for more testimony. Barton reveals that some time before that, Banner met up with Hawkeye at a bar and gave him a special vial of a chemical Banner has cooked up that would kill him with the instructions to use it should he turn into the Hulk again. Banner has gone a full year without Hulking out but he wants to take no chances. Barton reveals that he saw Banner’s eye turn green and fired the lethal arrow because of what was coming. Problem is that no one else was at the meeting between and he and Banner, and no one else saw Banner’s eye turn green before Hawkeye shot. The court testimony continues with Tony’s is important in that it reveal some more about Ulysses’ visions. They’ve been used to break up several incidents, they haven’t been wrong yet, and they haven’t resulted in any self-inflicted fatalities before Banner’s. In essence, they’ve been working well enough. But Banner’s death was enough to trigger another big argument between Carol and Tony. Tony is putting all the blame on Carol, and she is defending her choices in the name of accountability. As the issue ends, Tony is in his lab when the verdict on Barton is about to be delivered when his operating system reveals to him that she’s figured out how his visions work.

This so far has been my favorite of the three issues of the event. It was riveting drama from start to finish, and now the stakes have been raised beyond a plot device of a casualty in James Rhodes from the first issue. The debate has gone from starting a battle against one of the bad guys based on information from a premonition to initiating action against their one of their own. And it can serve as a metaphor for the debate that’s going on in the country right now involving law enforcement. When do you call in the people trained to take down threats the hard way, knowing how that can end up, as opposed to using some other means to deal with the situation? When they are called in, how much action and equipment is enough and what’s overkill? And what happens when we deem more and more situations as requiring their intervention? And finally should we allow a potentially dangerous to at least unfold a little bit before we act? In this case Ulysses got a vision of Banner Hulking out and ding major damage, and Carol acted on it not knowing that Hawkeye was armed with a lethal weapon and was prepared to go even further as far as predicting what could happen and reacting accordingly. So while she can credibly say she didn’t know it was going to that badly, she’s guilty for creating the situation in the first place. In her eyes that’s the price of doing business when you have the means to predict what can happen; if stopping Banner from potentially killing means putting Banner down so be it.

If there is one drawback to the central debate of the series to me it’s that for now at least there’s no real debate. Carol’s choices keep having a more chilling effect each time out and with the exception of the opening battle of the series there doesn’t seem to be any indication of any real consequences to avoiding relying on Ulysses. Stopping a potential world extinction level event on earth is one thing, but running off to plug typical everyday comic book holes really looks like too much right now. It’s kind of how I felt about the Civil War movie in that without showing what could happen in all scenarios the central debate lacks any real heft. Carol is due for a ‘see? I told you so!’ moment. And they still have work to do as far as getting us from the disagreement to the justification for the inevitable super hero battle royal that lies ahead. In the original Civil War event the fights were undergirded by the legality of one side’s actions and we have yet to see anyone venture outside and be confronted by the government yet. Without that, I don’t see how you justify anyone else fighting each other outside of Tony and Carol. But as far as this issue goes, to me it was a really good one.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

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The Flash #2

Review by Jonathan Durden

A couple weeks ago I reviewed issue #1 of The Flash and mentioned that I didn’t like the direction that writer Joshua Williamson was going by making August a speedster. After reading this issue however, I’m happy to say I was wrong to fear. I enjoyed this issue with every page and panel.

The reveal of August knowing Flash’s identity was a nice touch and will make for great dialogue between the two in future issues. Beyond that, we now have a new enemy known as the Black Hole. This enemy seems to have something to do with the murder of August’s brother, and they have somehow harnessed the power of the speed force and are using it for nefarious purposes.

The setup for further issues that this issue does has me excited for the future of The Flash. At first I was reading to get more of Barry and Bruce Wayne working together, which I still want, but now I’m just as excited to read about him and August.

Unfortunately, Williamson sort of lost me by the end of the issue. My big complaint with issue #1 was that they had to bring in another speedster. Now it would seem Williamson is going all-out with this idea and making many of the citizens of Central City speedsters. I had to chuckle when I saw that last page.

The one good thing I think that will come out of this is Barry studying the speed force and finding out what’s going on within it. I like the idea of it being used by the new bad guys, and I think Williamson is up to the task of handling this new obstacle of everyone becoming a speedster.

Once again, the art kept my eyes focused where they needed to be and it was just such a pleasure to look at. Carmine Di Giandomenico really shines when he does his paneling structures and he does a fantastic job making use of things jumping outside the panels. Alongside him we have Ivan Plascencia returning on colors, who is obviously well-equipped to capture the very colorful and striking essence that is Central City and the Flash.

I enjoyed just about every page of this issue. I still haven’t touched on many of the other things that happened in it, but I could go on and on and I know people don’t want to read a 100-word essay about one issue of The Flash. One could argue that the short appearance of Wally West was unnecessary or that August could be easily identifiable through those goggles he calls a “disguise”, but these things are really just petty things people like me like to knit-pick about. All-in-all, this was another really solid issue and I am still sticking with it.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10

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Ultimates #9

Review by Sankalp G.

After having some brief moments and the history lesson about how the Ultimates formed, we get back to cosmic problems as this week we tackle Macronaut with Ulysses, the flavor of the month. One thing I am loving about this tie-in is that it is not a causality of being a Civil War tie-in but embracing it, complimenting it without changes to their own story. After all, this is about stopping future threats before happening.

We open the issue with Philip Vogt talking about keeping an eye on the Ultimates and how they can be a threat once they break. Then there is Doc Brasher with his son stopping Infinaut years ago and Vogt talking how it has become a routine to stop it as they are warned hours before he comes. But having a fortune-teller around, ‘Ulysses’, who uses his powers to warn the Ultimates a week before Infinaut is visiting the earth and they start to prepare for his arrival. The Ultimates stop the Infinaut and calm him down to learn that he is just a visitor who came to Earth to learn.

Scene shifts to the Triskelion, where guards are talking about Anti-Man’s insanity as he talks alone in his cell about the “cage”. But is he really alone? And which cage he is talking about? We also get to meet a spy from Vogt’s squad, as he likes to call them: Troublemakers.

There are two brief panels where we see that Ultimates are really starting to have the cracks show, which Vogt mentioned. Blue Marvel talks about (SPOILER WARNING to those who haven’t read Civil War II #3) Hawkeye and Carol just cuts him off, telling him to keep quiet and not mention it around the team.

Talking about the art, there are two styles used here. First is Rocafort’s patent flashy style and second, poster color-esque style which is briefly used in the flashbacks as well as the panels with Vogt. But where he really shines is the cover, which has all colors and hues splashed around.

This issue did not have much progression as every other Ultimates issue has had but was more concerned on the future and other characters. But when the bar is set this high by Writer Al Ewing himself, this issue feels normal compared to others.

The Ultimates, as a reader mentioned in the fan letters, are filling the void left by the FF and they are the only series where changes are acceptable and have some logic and and not forced. Having said that, after this Civil War arc, Ewing should get back to cosmic stories because this is where this comic really shines.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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