FanExpo Toronto 2018 – DC World’s Finest Panel

Celebrating its 24th year, FAN EXPO Canada has grown from a small comic book convention attracting 1,500 fans into a multi-faceted, 4-day citywide event that attracts over 129,000 people from around the world.

Some of the most brilliant and creative minds behind DC’s multiverse are gathered to give you an exclusive look into the thrilling world of DC comics! Drop in on this panel and check out what they’ve got in store next for The World’s Greatest Super Heroes!

Dan DiDio
Peter Tomasi
Marguerite Bennett
Steve Orlando
Frank Tieri
James Tynion IV
Joshua Williamson

FanExpo: https://www.fanexpocanada.com/en/abou…

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Comic Book Review – Superman: Action Comics: The New 52 (issues 1 to 18) – 2011 to 2016

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Ok, I have to admit that writing these reviews is a little harder than I thought. I mean, how many ways can you say, “it has good art and a good story”, and vice versa. I guess I could just pad out the article by describing the plot, but I’ve never been a huge fan of that approach with entertainment reviews in general. It just seems a bit lazy.

A quick scan of the internet and review of other sites critiquing comic books has produced insipid results, unfortunately. I mean, I shouldn’t really be surprised. As much as I love the medium, we’re not exactly critiquing War and Peace. Each issue has 22 pages, and story arcs tend to run five or six issues so that it can be collected into a trade paperback for sale in bookstores at a later date. That’s 110 to 132 pages, which let’s be frank, is not quite as dense as 110 pages in a novel.

Comic book writers and artists need to convey a lot of information in a very limited space, so they have to be efficient, maybe even ruthless, with what they show and what they don’t show. Which means that building comfort and creating emotional moments through connection to the characters is extremely hard for comic creators. Novelists on the other hand have the luxury of spending more time with characters and narratives, which allows the reader more time to connect with the characters and the material.

All that said, I think it’s better to review story arcs versus single issues. Especially in the case of Grant Morrison who tends to use non-linear story telling and also inculcates quite a bit of foreshadowing. His run on Action Comics is no different and for me it was best binge-consumed instead of reading each issue individually as it was released.

I don’t know if this is a symptom of his story telling style, but at times the story seems to staccato step. Almost like I skipped a page. For me, I feel like that happens quite a lot with his stories and unfortunately it makes it hard to follow the central narrative. You always feel like you’re missing something.

That said it is a really good re-introduction to Superman and he does evolve quite a bit over the story arc into a more recognisable version of the character. I also really liked the re-introduction of Brainiac and how he used this villain to introduce well know story elements from the Superman mythology, like the Fortress of Solitude.

There’s also a sub-plot/thread devoted to Mr Mxyzptlk which starts in issue one and runs for the entire series culminating in Grant’s last issue which is number 18. It is easily the most inventive interpretation of the character and fits this rebooted version of Superman quite well. I’ve never been a big fan of this villain because Superman is primarily a science fiction hero, and the magical aspect of the character has never felt congruent with Superman’s universe.

Rags Morales art is on point as usual. He is easily one of my favourite artists, dating back to his time on Forgotten Realms and some of the other D&D books of the ‘90s. His characters are kinetic, which adds motion to the story. He’s very good at displaying emotion, which adds depth to the story and he doesn’t seem to cut corners at all. Some artists will get a bit lazy and skimp on the detail, but Rags doesn’t do that. His panels/pages are always very detailed and give you allot to look at.

All in all I’d rate Grant and Rags 18 issue run on Action Comics as a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

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Comic Book Review – Final Crisis: New Edition (collecting issues 1 to 7) – 2008

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Ok. The usual disclaimer here: this review may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t read the series then it may be best to skip the main body of this review until you have.

Created by Grant Morrison, J G Jones, Carlos Pacheco plus others, it is……..just about okay. To be honest, it’s not that great. It has some good ideas, the concepts and narrative are quite brilliant, but the execution/delivery is poor and scattered, which makes it an odd read at times.

Let me explain.

Grant Morrison’s writing style is challenging to completely grasp at times. He’s sometimes so abstract, you’re not sure exactly what you’re reading. He tends to use quite a bit of foreshadowing, and when coupled with non-linear story telling it means that the series or story arc is best consumed in one sitting versus monthly or periodic installments. So, if you do decide to read this series, it’s best to do it in one sitting.

I read this series back in 2008 when it first came out and felt, like everyone, that Grant could do no wrong. I mean, he’s one of the top comic book writers of all time and he has written some great iconic stories, however this is not one of them. I really wanted to like it at the time of first reading, and it wasn’t until I read the series again recently that I was able to weight the story on its own merits.

I liked the exploration of the New Gods as an idea; their fall from Heaven to Earth after a war between Good and Evil, only to be planted in normal humans as an idea that grows and evolves, transforming the person into the respective New God. I loved the concept of delivering the anti-life equation through electronic media to infect and ultimately subjugate the Earth’s population with an idea. It’s so close to what is going on today with social media and the whole SJW culture that is infecting everything (to the point of it being detrimental). That Grant could see this as a possibility back in 2008 is brilliant on his part.

I also liked the deconstruction of the heroes, the way that he dispatched the super heroes so that the New Gods could infect and subjugate the populace.

Beyond that, it’s just weird. Libra acts as the Prophet for the coming of the New Gods by evangelizing and organising the super villains into one group to provide support for their arrival, and then he disappears in the second half of the story.

Superman and Batman are dispatched early on and then you don’t see them again until the final issue. Superman’s absence is odd and not fully explained, just briefly referenced when he reappears at the end of the series. And that’s really my problem with the story, there isn’t a central character or set of characters which carry the narrative and can be used to revolve the story around. It would have been better to tell the story from the villain’s perspective by making them the central characters.

I also wasn’t keen on the story pacing. Long arcs dedicated to Mary Marvel, without showing how she was corrupted, fighting the uninfected heroes, Supergirl in particular, I thought was unnecessary and didn’t really move the story along at all. I mean seeing these two square off against each other is fun, but maybe that should have been used for a supporting one-off story in it’s own separate book.

All that said, it is worth a read. It does have some really neat concepts, but it ultimately falls flat and fails to connect.

3 out of 5 stars.

 

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Comic Book Review – Thor: God of Thunder Volume 1: The God Butcher (collecting issues 1 to 5) – 2012

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This review contains spoilers, so if you are planning on reading the book please be mindful of that. On that note, I highly recommending reading it and circling back to the review. It’s a beautifully written and drawn book, and well worth adding to anyone’s collection.

Jason Aaron noted in the letters column of one of the individual books that he doesn’t rely heavily on metaphor in his story telling and that the reader should take from it what they will. Therefore, my interpretation of the story is my own and may differ from yours or what has been published on sites like IGN, etc., in reviewing the book.

Ultimately, I think Jason is world building and defining what it means to be a God within the context of Thor’s universe and by extension the Marvel Universe. These Pantheons of Gods are essentially higher beings, Immortal races, who are fallible and arrogant and seek homage from the lesser races in order to feed their inflated ego about their importance to the universe. They’re space aliens, essentially. The comic leans more towards the God worshipping aspect of Thor’s universe while the MCU leans more towards the space aliens aspect, and rightfully so. I think it would have been a tough task to present the former to a viewing audience in a digestible format and make it entertaining.

Gorr exists solely to inform the reader of the darker side to these Immortal races and define what it means to be a God in this series run. His story is a very straightforward revenge story – he relied on them to help when needed, they didn’t, he lost something as a result and now he’s making them pay. He’s throwing off the shackles of these false Lords who have no interest other than their own vacuous pursuits.

I really liked the non-linear story telling style which showed the different ages of Thor throughout the length of the story. It was an ingenious way of showing the character’s journey from this young, vacuous Thor to the more seasoned, mature version. Jason has done a really good job of pacing out the exposition and revealing Thor’s journey and maturation to the reader without giving away too much of the story too soon. This a veteran move.

The art by Esad Ribic is brilliant and tonally fits well with the story telling style and subject matter. I personally think that Esad is one of the most talented comic book artists working today, and I happily collect anything he’s working on. Appreciating that drawing comic books is a bit of a grind, it’s understandable when artists cut corners, however I can’t see that Esad actually does this. The detail in his work is outstanding and I found myself spending a lot of time on the panels and pages soaking in all of the artwork. As a comic book fan, I live for comics like this.

If you are a fan of Thor or you’re new and would like an introduction to him and his universe, this is an excellent story and jumping on point for new and old fans alike.

5 stars out of 5.

 

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