Today’s Super Comic — The Omega Men #3 (2015)

omega-men-3I never bothered much with the Omega Men, outside the rare guest appearance that barely made an impression one way or the other. Being set in a region of space that not even the Green Lantern Corps was allowed to enter, they had little opportunity to become an integral part of the DC Universe.

But then I stumbled across the trade paperback of the Omega Men’s latest incarnation. The art by Barnaby Bagenda made it look like something special and different, and I saw the writer was Tom King, who’s been doing phenomenal work on The Vision. So I took a chance. I’m not finished yet, but so far my impulse buy is justified.

Admittedly, it took me a couple of issues to get into it, but everything clicked as of #3. We meet Princess Kalista as the Omega Men kidnap her and lock her up with their other captive, Kyle Rayner, the former Green Lantern who’s now apparently the White Lantern (whatever that means…I can’t keep up with everything).

So yeah, these Omega Men don’t act the least bit heroic. At this point, I’d consider them terrorists, and I’m eagerly waiting for Kyle to reclaim his lost power ring and pummel them senseless. But it’s also clear that not everything is as it seems. Kyle’s the only character in this book that I “know”—he’s my entry point into this star system, the only one I trust to do the right thing (even if I don’t know the difference between a Green Lantern and a White one). Everyone and everything else is a slowly unraveling mystery.

And Bagenda deserves all the extra credit for his skill with a nine-panel grid. His staging of the kidnapping is fantastic—I just wanted to slow down and admire the choreography.

Now to see if the quality continues. I’m optimistic.

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Barnaby Bagenda

Cover: Trevor Hutchison

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in The Omega Men: The End Is Here (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 15 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Invincible Iron Man #11 (2016)

invincible_iron_man_vol_2_11This sure is a consistently entertaining series. I worry that Civil War II might have derailed it (I haven’t read that far yet), but it makes it through the second story arc with the quality intact.

In #11, Rhodey and the Avengers track down the missing-in-action Tony Stark, who’s gone undercover to investigate a new threat. Meanwhile, the task of saving Stark’s company from its own board falls to one Mary Jane Watson. And a teenage girl tests out the Iron Man–like suit of armored tech she built in her dorm room.

A lot going on, all of it fun, and enough remains unresolved to make a compelling case for reading #12.

It’s no secret that the aforementioned teenage girl, Riri Williams, will be taking over the book as Iron Maiden (while Doctor Doom becomes the Infamous Iron Man). Tony Stark is pretty inimitable as Iron Man, so I’m wary of replacements. But Riri, if approached as a new character rather than “the new Iron Man,” does show potential. A genius teenager who literally builds her own powers is prime comic book material. So I’ll keep an open mind.

In any case, Invincible Iron Man has been a thoroughly enjoyable read through this point.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mike Deodato

Cover: Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in Invincible Iron Man vol. 2: The War Machines (HC)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — All-New, All-Different Avengers #12 (2016)

all-new-all-different-avengers-12-coverAll-New, All-Different Avengers might just be the best team book currently on the market. The superheroics are solid, and the roster has great chemistry. Except for Iron Man and Vision, none of these characters is the first-generation version of the brand, but each one feels legit.

Issue #12, written by Mark Waid, showcases inventive action, as the team battles a powerful threat in the Negative Zone—but, due to Marvel physics, only one Avenger can be in the Negative Zone at a time, thereby requiring a tag-team strategy.

Meanwhile, the new Wasp bonds with the original, and I’m pleased to see the book forgo any petty squabbling or contrived tension between the two. While Janet Van Dyne will likely always be the best Wasp, this new version shows tremendous promise. She’s eager, she’s sincerely interested in doing the right thing, and the Avengers’ world is new and exciting to her. She has to potential to serve as a fresh viewpoint into the well-established Marvel Universe. Best of all, she’s not a replacement.

This series was well worth springing for the trade.

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Mahmud Asrar

Cover: Alex Ross

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in All-New, All-Different Avengers vol. 2: Family Business (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Wonder Woman #14 (2008)

wonder_woman_vol_3_14Not every writer “gets” Wonder Woman, but Gail Simone absolutely does, as demonstrated in her excellent run that began with 2008’s Wonder Woman #14.

Here, Wonder Woman is both a warrior and a diplomat. She’s very human, but also somewhat alien to our culture. And she bridges the gap between classical mythology and DC’s modern pantheon.

An early scene captures her perfectly. Intelligent super-apes attack her, and she initially enjoys the skirmish but ultimately talks her way to a peaceful resolution. Later, her interior monologue comments on American office culture from her unique perspective: “It is a strange culture that outlaws the hug. On the other hand…there is cake. And that excuses much.”

Also, the issue sets up a confrontation with Nazis. And yeah, sure, they’re never going to be sympathetic or complex antagonists. Still, watching good people clobber Nazis is one of superhero comics’ earliest pastimes…and it never gets old.

I have no idea if the upcoming Wonder Woman movie will be amazing or will disappoint like other recent DC movies…but either way, we will always have Gail Simone’s exceptional storylines to re-read.

Writer: Gail Simone

Penciler: Terry Dodson

Inker: Rachel Dodson

Cover: Terry & Rachel Dodson

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Wonder Woman: The Circle (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Justice League of America #11 (2007)

justice-league-of-america-11There’s one more CW show to acknowledge—the animated Vixen on CW Seed. Solo Vixen comics are few and far between, but she’s spent some time with the Justice League, including during writer Brad Meltzer’s 2006 relaunch of the title.

Issue #11 is a nice “bottle episode” focusing on just Vixen and Arsenal (hey, remember him from Arrow?) as they’re trapped under a demolished building…and under water. They’ve just saved a bunch of people from a super-villain, and now they have to save themselves.

It’s a great short story about hanging on long enough to figure out a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. And the painted art by Gene Ha adds a slightly dream-like quality that suits both characters’ disorientation.

The story ties into an ongoing plot about Vixen’s malfunctioning powers, but it mostly stands on its own as a superb example of a done-in-one comic.

Writer: Brad Meltzer

Artist: Gene Ha

Cover: Michael Turner

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Justice League of America vol. 2: The Lightning Saga (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Justice Society of America #1 (2007)

justice-society-of-america-1Over the past few days, I’ve reviewed Supergirl, Flash, and Green Arrow comics (see what I did there, CW viewers?). That would put Legends of Tomorrow next…except that’s not actually a comic book. But its characters come from many different comics, providing plenty of options.

Since the Justice Society guest-starred the other night, let’s go with that. Plus, the 2007 relaunch is so over-populated, the cast also includes characters viewers have watched on Flash and Arrow.

Written by Geoff Johns, the series finds the perfect role for DC’s original super-team. The world needs better heroes, and the veterans of the JSA are best-qualified to train them. It’s a nice, aspirational mission.

The original Flash (Jay Garrick), original Green Lantern (Alan Scott), and Wildcat are the elder statesmen of the bunch, and the rest of the ensemble are all related to classic characters in some way or another. Hourman, Stargirl, Obsidian, and Dr. Mid-Nite, whom we just saw on television, are there…as are numerous others.

The first issue introduces or reintroduces us to folks. It’s the standard team-gathering issue, and not even in full—that cover includes characters who aren’t in this part. However, the large cast is a strength. This is a series about family, both in blood and in bond.

But while this family is coming together, a lone costumed hero is losing his family in a series of grisly murders. Johns weaves this dark plot between more optimistic scenes of the JSA recruiting new members, establishing a compelling tonal balance. We’re rooting for the brightness, but there’s plenty of darkness to overcome.

Writer: Geoff Johns

Penciler: Dale Eaglesham

Inker: Art Thibert

Cover: Alex Ross and Dale Eaglesham

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Justice Society of America vol. 1: The Next Age (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Green Arrow #26 (2003)

green_arrow_vol_3_26In the early-to-mid 2000s, the defining Green Arrow writer was Judd Winick. Kevin Smith had brought the character back from the dead, and Brad Meltzer wrote a solid follow-up to that storyline, but Oliver Queen’s second lease on life didn’t get any true forward momentum until Winick took over with #26 and guided the Emerald Archer through a nice long run with lots of character development.

With the first storyline acting as the “pilot,” Winick focuses on Green Arrow’s core essence—he’s the swaggering rich guy who looks out for the little guy. He also happens to be several years older and less prone to Batman-like brooding than that young Green Arrow you see on the television (not a criticism of the show, which I enjoy—just noting they’re different).

An impending new business development threatens innocent Star City residents with eviction, so Queen steps up in their defense. We meet a new character who will play an important role in the storyline, and a monster comes out of nowhere. All the while, Winick keeps the tone fun, and Phil Hester’s art is clean and engaging.

If you ask fans to identify the definitive Green Arrow run, you’ll likely get several different answers, including “none of the above.” But this was a consistently strong one that’s worth a look.

Writer: Judd Winick

Penciler: Phil Hester

Inker: Ande Parks

Cover: Matt Wagner

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Green Arrow vol. 3: Straight Shooter (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Flash #80-83 (1993)

flash_v-2_80I know too much pointless trivia. I’m watching the latest episode of The Flash on TV, a new character is referred to as “Frankie,” and I instantly realize, “Oh, that’s obviously supposed to be Frankie Kane, a.k.a. Magenta, ex-girlfriend of Wally West back when he was Kid Flash and hanging out with the Teen Titans.” The TV version has a different backstory, of course, but yeah, the show captured the spirit of the character well.

I first came across the character from her guest appearances in Flash #80-83, the last three issues of which also feature guest appearances by Nightwing (Dick Grayson) and Starfire. It was a nice partial reunion of the greatest Teen Titans team, a good reminder about the longtime friendship between the original Robin and the original Kid Flash, and an excellent way to infuse some tension in the relationship between Wally West and Linda Park (whom we also met a version of in the TV show a while back).

Wally and Frankie were childhood friends and teenage sweethearts, and in #80 Frankie unexpectedly arrives in town, her magnetic powers wreaking havoc on her psyche (as they had since her debut in The New Teen Titans 11 years earlier). Between a super-powered ex, an alien princess, and a guy who grew up with Batman, Linda begins wondering how her ordinary self fits among Wally’s Superfriends. Meanwhile, Flash tries to help his old best friend through a crisis of confidence.

It’s a solid storyline of love, friendship, and action that raises the stakes at the end with a literal ticking clock.

Also, this is artist Mike Wieringo’s first storyline on the title, and his clean, kinetic style is a perfect fit for the character right from the start.

Writer: Mark Waid

Penciler: Mike Wieringo

Inker: Jose Marzaz, Jr.

Covers: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Supergirl #14 (1997)

supergirl_vol_4_14One of the problems with these all-positive daily reviews is I wind up sampling a great series I haven’t read in years, and then I want to re-read the entire run. I can’t re-read them all, but I am enjoying rediscovering whatever full runs I can squeeze in.

And one I’ll want to make time for is Peter David’s excellent Supergirl series. For evidence of its strength, observe issue #14, in which Supergirl endures a tie-in to a subpar company-wide crossover without any dip in quality. (“Genesis” was a late-90s DC crossover that will not appear among these all-positive daily reviews.)

David doesn’t bog the book down in “Genesis” details—that story is just where Supergirl is coming from and where she’s going to. But her own book’s storylines continue apace, and we get good forward momentum here. A new character (derived from a classic one) is hinted at, and Supergirl makes an important decision involving all four of her parental figures.

A rewarding aspect of this series is that it truly feels like one large story told over many issues. It strikes a nice balance between novel and episodic storytelling, and David has plenty of experience with both. Throughout the series, both Supergirl and Linda Danvers grow as a single entity much more than either would have as separate individuals, and in this issue the character development progresses with the decision to tell the Kents and the Danverses about her dual identity. Both couples love her, but their reactions are worlds apart, setting up drama to follow in future issues.

So yeah, this may be one of the series I have to see through…

Writer: Peter David

Penciler: Leonard Kirk

Inker: Cam Smith

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — All-New Hawkeye #6 (2016)

all-new-hawkeye-6The Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez run on All-New Hawkeye comes to a satisfying conclusion in #6 (which should really be #11, but maybe smaller numbers sell better).

The issue’s highlight is the flashback showing the moment when the Avengers, particularly Hawkeye, first inspired the second Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. And the scene is nicely placed after an amusing present-day conversation between Clint Barton and his brother Barney, in which Barney rags on him for being the Avengers’ token normal guy. But Hawkeye’s ability to hold his own among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes without any powers, just a bow and arrows and skills—that’s what inspires young Kate.

The unconventional friendship between the two Hawkeyes has formed a great heart for the series, and it pays off wonderfully here.

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Ramon Perez

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Hawkeye vol. 6: Hawkeyes (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up