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Jim Lee

Superman Unchained (Deluxe Edition)

It occurred to me that as big of a superhero fan that I am… I’ve never actually read a Superman comic. The shame!!! I rectified that with this one 😉

Catching space stations plummeting to Earth with terrified astronauts aboard – business as usual for Superman. Once he’s taken care of the wreckage, Clark Kent writes a piece about him. However, seems Clark got his facts wrong. He wrote that Superman stopped seven objects, but there were actually eight. Superman took care of all of them… right? In his investigation, he finds handprints in the steel. Not many could have pushed it off course and harmlessly into the ocean. But if it wasn’t Superman… then who? Clark is about to stumble upon a secret the U.S. Government has been sitting on for 75 years, and there are some who’ll do anything to stop him from discovering it.

I enjoyed it, but I think there was too much going on in this story. There are multiple plot points that come together messily in the end. One part I enjoyed was seeing Clark’s inner monologue during the fight scenes. There was a lot more science-y stuff than I expected: velocity, UV spectrums, etc. It shows how intelligent Clark is to be able to think of that stuff on the fly! It did slow down the pace a bit for me, but I didn’t mind too much. There is a bit in the middle/end about the philosophy and agenda (or lack thereof) of Superman, which I found really interesting. This deluxe edition had a good number of variant covers at the end, all drawn in the different styles of comic book eras.

Again, I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure this was a good “beginner” Superman book. The story is a bit convoluted and it drags. There’s more emphasis on the action than any character development. The art is very good; a few two-page spreads at the beginning completely blew me away with the amount of detail. You’d probably have to really like Superman to fully enjoy this book. However, I do like Superman, I should read more, and I’m going to!

– Kathleen

Snyder, Scott, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Dustin Nguyen, Alex Sinclair. Superman Unchained (Deluxe Edition). 2014.

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Wild C.A.T.S.

I discovered Wild C.A.T.S. in the .25¢ bins at a local comic con, and I am enthralled by this time capsule of the early 1990’s and reading about the growing pains of brand new (at that time) Image Comics.

This series was one of the first published by Image and was created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi, with further pencils by Lee. Originally envisioned as a three parter, it was expanded to four. It established a new super hero group, with the moniker Covert Action Teams. This team concerned themselves with the battle between aliens called  Kherubim and Daemonites.  The team was a motley group pf heroes, with not a great deal of backstory to explain their origins. When Vice President Dan Quayle is overtaken by the evil Daemonites (OMG- how awesome is that!), so the group works together to avoid world chaos. Image’s flagship superhero group Youngblood shows up too, not understanding that Quayle has been possessed and is not truly himself. This was the first combining of Image universes, showing that the two teams coexist together. While there’s more to the story obviously, a recap is hard to explain. This story must be experienced to appreciate it. You can also have fun matching up these heroes with who you think they would correspond with in the Marvel or DC universes.

Now let’s talk about the art! Lee is a talented artist, but God, the excesses of his drawing made me laugh. The issues came out in 1992-93, right during that time frame that the superhero genre was at it’s most superlative. Women especially were drawn so amazingly out of proportion to be comical, and unfortunately that continued to be the case with this series. At times the art overpowered the already somewhat confusing story, with an myriad array of panels. There were a few times you had to flip the story sideways to follow the panels, one time just so they could show a full length view of the hyper-sexualized Voodoo. A nitpick I had with the covers of the first four issues is that the art always covered some of the words. I found that odd and not very appealing. For the compendium cover, they fixed that problem.

Jim Lee started each issue with a letter to the readers, which I found fascinating, for it gave a window into what was going on behind the scenes at the company. I watched the DVD documentary about the founding of Image Comics, The Image Revolution, so I was already privy to the rough start of a now strong comic publisher (BTW, I wrote that review very early on in my blogging career, and it hardly received any love. Read it now to understand more about Image’s rocky start & like the review!!). Lee was brutally honest in his letters in acknowledging that Image had a big problem with timeliness in getting their issues out. He also is kind enough to explain why Whilce Portacio, the first of the seven founders to leave Image, was MIA due to a family death. This went far in reinforcing my thought that the documentary didn’t explain enough what happened to Portacio.

I came away from this series smiling. While I might have criticized some aspects of the storytelling, this was a fun read. Image Comics remains a favorite of mine, so I enjoyed going back in time to read some of their first stories.

-Nancy

Lee, Jim & Brandon Choi. Wild C.A.T.S. 1993.

The Image Revolution

This movie just fell into my lap, literally. I happened to be walking by the circulation desk when a patron was dropping off this movie and it fell off the desk, so I caught it, took a look, and knew what my next blog post was going to be about!

I am familiar with Image Comics, as I’m a fan of The Walking Dead and Revival, and most recently Alex + Ada. But I was not aware of how Image Comics got their start in the early 1990’s. During that time I was a huge devotee of ElfQuest, and my trips to Graham Crackers consisted of me heading straight for EQ, and also browsing in the Star Trek area. I was rather oblivious to the superhero genre, so the Image line of comics was a non-issue in my world at that time.

The movie The Image Revolution is a documentary that details how seven artists who were working for Marvel decided to break away and start up their own comic book publishing house, as to have more creative control and to retain rights to what ever characters they designed. The seven men were: Todd McFarlane (Spider Man & Spawn), Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Whilce Portacio (X-Factor), Rob Liefeld (Deadpool & The New Mutants), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine) and Jim Lee (X-Men).

All seven of the founders of Image Comics were interviewed, in addition to other professionals in the comic book industry, to share how these artists became dissatisfied at Marvel and decided to strike out on their own. All seven were extremely talented, with their art being progressive and fresh, and had become well known in comic book circles. Them leaving was covered in the national news, and Rob Liefeld was even on the Dennis Miller show (I vaguely remember this). They experienced huge success with their first issues, with the Youngblood comic flying off the shelves.

But just because you are creative and gutsy, doesn’t mean you have the business acumen to run a publishing company. There were growing pains within the company, and infighting began. Some of the artists started to move away from the drawing board and spent more time on marketing and business issues. Jealousy arose among the factions, and eventually some of the original seven left for various reasons. It took several years to balance out, after their initial success, with The Walking Dead being a boon to the struggling but now stable company.

The documentary was extremely interesting, but uneven. Some of the founders had too much interview time (Liefeld!) and there were inconsistencies in the narrative and time line, notably regarding Whilce Portacio. WP left relatively soon after founding Image, but there is no mention of that at all. I understand in a documentary only so much can be covered, but adding a few minutes to explain why he went missing would have added to the flow of the story. It would also have fit with the narrative of growing pains, and that they left out his bio at the end, to me was disrespectful and a glaring omission. The movie only clocked in at 83 minutes, so there was definitely time to flesh out more of the founder’s stories. Another add in, would have been to explain why the 1990’s was the right time to break away from the big houses of Marvel and DC.

While I DO recommend this documentary,  it would be only to the niche of comic book/graphic novel book lovers. But if you are reading this blog, then I’m guessing this movie would be right up your alley…

-Nancy

I just can’t resist posting this site mocking some of Liefeld’s artwork–  although he’s really quite talented, despite the snark of this post!

Picture found on Why so Blu? review website

 

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