Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Comics Wednesday: Film Noir, Supers Horror, Vigilante Justice, and Alternate Futures

Today is Wednesday, and that means it's New Comic Book Day - the day all of this week's comics hit the store shelves (both physically and digitally). Every comic I feature here on Daddy Rolled a 1 is one that I'll personally be picking up later this evening when I go to my local shop with my daughter after I pick her up from preschool.

Please note also that every Wednesday, I tweet out which issues I picked up that week, and then over the course of the week I send out individual tweets with 140-character reviews of each issue. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Lastly, if you're really interested in more comic reviews, I do "professional" reviews for the comic book site, ComicAttack where I post my reviews under the name "Martin." You can search my tag to see what I've reviewed lately.

As with all of my comic book overviews, I will attempt to explain what makes this comic interesting without giving away any spoilers. 

For today, rather than focusing on one specific comic, I'm going to focus on the titles I'm planning ot pick up at my local shop later tonight. I'll also give you a few short sentences on why I like it and how it might give you some cool inspirations for your role-playing games, and not just Supers RPGs, either. 

Film Noir: The Fade Out #4
I wrote about this comic recently in my "Daddy's Geek Top 10 of 2014 (Part 1)" post. The Fade Out is definitely one of my favorite debuts of 2014.  Comic Book Resources also named is #26 out of the "Top 100" comics of 2014, and it's made many other lists as well, so I'm not alone in this one.

What Is It? This is a period piece comic of late 1940s Hollywood about the murder of a starlet on a movie set, and what happens behind the scenes between the script writer, the studio executives, the leading male star, and many other people who are scrambling to "save" the movie while also being investigated by the police to figure out who committed the murder.

What Makes It Good? The amount of period research that goes into each issue is amazing. It's almost like reading a nonfiction history book of post-war Los Angeles and the movie industry. The issues are simply gorgeous to look at; it's some of the best art on the market. The story is deeply engaging and the characters are incredibly interesting, even the ones that you don't like all that much. And then to top it off, the back of each issue (if you buy a physical copy) includes a little article about a particular event or piece of historical significance that happened around the same time as The Fade Out takes place. A few issues ago, for example, there's an article about Fatty Arbuckle and the real story of what happened with him and the crime he was accused of. Each one is a fascinating look at true history and it's a cool bonus for people who still read physical monthly comics instead of digital or trades.

Is It Good for Kids? Unfortunately, not at all. There's a lot of violence, sex, and swearing. But don't let that turn you off, of course. This is a really well-crafted book. It's one of the best examples of what comics can be about.

Supers Horror: Action Comics #38
What Is It? This is the "successor," if you will, to the comic that started all Superhero Comics. Superman debuted in Action Comics #1 back in 1938. Currently, in the wake of DC's "New 52" initiative, we're on Volume 2 of Action Comics, but it still features Superman and the current run by Greg Pak (writer) and Aaron Kuder (artist) is one of the best on Superman since the New 52 started about 3 1/2 years ago.

What Makes It Good? Pak really knows how to draw on a certain Silver Age sensibility for Superman without making him goofy or out-of-date. Superman is a difficult character to get "right" - in the wrong hands, he can be boring due to his immense power suite or just because he always acts like a Boy Scout. In the current story line, following a long protracted fight with Doomsday that tested Superman to the very limits of his powers and his sanity, the city of Smallville is now enveloped in a strange, impenetrable mist. Superman himself is caught inside, along with Lana Lang and John Henry Irons (aka "Steel") and the rest of the townsfolk who aren't quite acting like themselves... there's something weird and creepy going on. We've seen glimpses of... something... that's grabbed one of Superman's allies, Hiro (aka "Toyman") using some weird tentacle-like appendages. Horror is not a genre that one normally associates with Superman, and that's what makes this story so gripping. Superman can't just punch the mist away or use his heat vision or super-breath.

Is It Good for Kids? It's probably okay for older kids (it's rated "T" for Teen but I suspect that even a 10-year-old would be fine with it).

Vigilante Justice: Detective Comics #38 and Batman Eternal #40
What Is It? Just as Superman debuted in Action Comics #1 back in 1938, about a year later, Batman was introduced to the world in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. This incarnation is currently Volume 2 of the title, but it still focuses on Batman as the main character.

Batman Eternal is a weekly comic book by DC that's following a year-long story of a big conspiracy to take down Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and ultimately the whole infrastructure of Gotham itself.

What Makes It Good? Detective Comics, as indicated by the title, really focuses on Batman's skills as the "world's greatest detective." While there are some occasional fights with super villains, the main core of the story is illustrating how Batman is able to analyze the smallest clues to put together a theory of the bigger picture. It's fun to see Batman in this manner rather than just the "Bat-god" as he's often portrayed in other media, who wins every fight and punches his way out of most obstacles.

For Batman Eternal, part of what makes this story so good is it's format as a weekly comic. This
same story wouldn't work, I suspect, as a monthly. But, with the weekly format, things change quickly and often, and there's been an opportunity to introduce a wider cast of characters with the story because you can go an issue or two without focusing on them but then come back to them and it's only been a couple of weeks that have past so you don't lose the momentum. Story-wise, the conspiracy angle behind the guy who is working to take down Batman has been really interesting and mysterious and I'm still not sure who the ultimate string-puller is. Most recently, all of Batman's secret weapon caches throughout the city were destroyed by the main bad guy, causing panic throughout the streets, and then the weapons have been redistributed to all of Batman's enemies.

I wouldn't jump into Batman Eternal right now with issue #40, but you can pick up the trade collection of the first 17 issues for a lower price if you're interested.

Is It Good For Kids? As with Action Comics, you could probably give these to an older kid, say around 10, or a young teen, and they'd be fine. As always, though, you should check it out yourself before you have your kids right it.

Alternate Futures: New 52 Futures End #36
What Is It? This is the second of DC's currently three weekly titles. 35 years in the future, "Brother Eye," an artificial intelligence originally created by the heroes and used for surveillance, has gone rogue and manage to hunt down the world's superhero population and turn them into soulless and mindless cyborg insects that then hunt down the remaining pockets of superhero resistance. The Bruce Wayne of that timeline works with Terry McGinnis (who might be familiar to you as the future Batman of the animated series and comic book "Batman Beyond") to send Terry back in time to shortly before Brother Eye is created, to prevent it from happening. However, due to a series of  miscalculations, Terry's time jump strands him in our world but five years in our future. Brother Eye has already been created at this point but is only in the newest stages of its development. Terry must try to figure out how to stop Brother Eye from growing any more powerful and also determine a way to return home to his timeline, all without hopefully being discovered by any of the other heroes of the day, particularly Batman. Against this whole backdrop is an interesting story regarding the migration of the heroes from Earth 2 (see below) to the main Earth. In this timeline Earth 2 was destroyed in a battle with Darkseid of Apokalips, and the population (including the heroes) of Earth 2 transported to the "regular" DC Earth. However, they have to carry I.D. cards that identify them as E2's and people don't trust them.

What Makes It Good? I'm a sucker for alternate future stories and always like getting a peak into what characters' lives might be like a few years in the future. Added to that time travel element is the whole idea of identifying and tagging the population of Earth 2 that's trying to integrate into their new home but aren't fully trusted by the native population. There are a lot of parallels there to things that have happened on our world, both in the past but also right now.

As with Batman Eternal, I wouldn't just jump into this issue but instead pick up a trade collection of the first group of issues. 

Is It Good for Kids? This one might be more appropriate for a slightly older kid than some of the other DC titles I've talked about above. In particular, some of the scenes of the insectoid cyborg heroes from the future could maybe be a little intense of younger kids.

Parallel Worlds: Earth 2 #30 and Earth 2: World's End #14
I've actually written about these titles before, here and here (where I give a very in-depth look at the main Earth 2 title), so you can check there for more information. Note that Earth 2: World's End is a weekly title.

I'd love to hear in the comments from anybody who is reading any of these titles, or if you're planning to pick up something else today. Let me know below.

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Iced tea
Listening: "O-O-H Child" by the Five Stairsteps (yep, I totally took advantage of the "free Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack download" on Google Play around Thanksgiving time)

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