Monday, August 13, 2012

Extra! Extra! Trade Paper Back Edition

Before we start this weeks rendition of "Extra! Extra!", I wanted to introduce the Nerd! He's swung his way onto the banner (in his Scarlet Nerd outfit) and will be popping up in a few other places as well (like my Twitter icon).

I'm contemplating adding a supporting cast to the blog, but I'm not 100% sure what that'd look like. More on this later!

Alright, onto the reading! The five Trade Paper Backs (which I defined at the end of this post, for those getting in late in the game) listed below can probably be found as single issues, I just personally find that they are better collected as one volume.

Note: These are all DC and Marvel, simply because I haven't collected much else in TPB form. As I work more alternative companies into my collection, I will consider making an Independent TPB list.

Kingdom Come
This story is set in a bleak future in the DC Universe, as imagined by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. It is about a decade since Superman and most of the other current super heroes retired. They were replaced by the next generation of Metahumans, a sizable population of super-powered individuals who have no qualms about killing their enemies and have no regard for civilian casualties.

The story is told from the perspective of Norman McCay, a minister who has begun to receive visions from Wesley Dodds that show the end of the world. Dodds meets The Spectre, who takes Dodds on a trip to watch the apocalyptic events unfold.

The story really picks up when a major disaster is caused by the new Matahuman community and Wonder Woman tries to convince Superman to come out of retirement and help teach the new generation how to be heroes.

The heroes of the past have to reunite and overcome the new generation of heroes, the past generation of villains, and, more importantly, themselves.

This book gets an 8/10 from me, mostly because I love dystopian/apocalyptic/darker future settings. The artwork isn't my favorite but it is solid throughout.

Collects issues #1-4

Earth X
Not to be left out, Marvel has their own bleak future (based on notes from Alex Ross, no less). This story takes place about a decade after the end of the "Heroic Age" and is set in a dystopian world where every normal human has gained super powers (thanks to Black Bolt and the Terrigen Mists), making the original heroes obsolete.

This tale is seen from the eyes of X-51 (Machine Man), who has been brought to the Moon by Uatu to replace him as the new Watcher. X-51 watches from above as the world begins to tear itself apart, unaware of the impending doom coming in the form of the Celestials.

Without spoiling anything, we see the future of many prominent characters, and none of them are good: Spider-Man has been replaced by her daughter (the current wearer of the Venom symbiote), Captain America has quite the Avengers, considering himself unfit after killing the Red Skull, the Hulk and Banner have split but chosen to stick together for reasons quickly made obvious, and Iron Man is the last remaining human. That's just a small selection covered in this grand tale, which spans 12 numbered issues and several specials.

This book gets another 8/10 for me. I enjoyed seeing the alternate futures shown and the story kept me interested throughout. I dislike the art for the most part, but it is at least consistent. So far I have read half of the first sequel, Universe X, but have not enjoyed it as much. I've heard that the third chapter in the trilogy, Paradise X, isn't any better.

Collects issues #0-12, as well as #X

Spider-Man Noir
This is another version of a popular hero -- Spider-Man Noir is set during the great depression and thus features a very different kind of Spider-Man. The story is darker to fit the Noir title, as are the villains and other characters seen. Peter becomes a pupil of Ben Urich, a reporter who also has a secret network of informants under the persona "The Spider". Peter gains his powers after intercepting one of these tips and becoming bitten by a spider that came from an antique spider statue being smuggled into the city by Norman Osborn's gang. His powers are similar but different than normal Spidey's: he can't cling to walls and gains organic webbing that doesn't form into web-lines and is therefore useless for travel.

Peter decides to use his new powers to take down Osborn and his gang, who were responsible for the grisly murder of his social activist uncle, Ben Parker.

The dark setting and story as well as the different images of the prominent characters make this story stick out. The art is dark and gritty and fits a Noir style well, getting an 8/10 for me. It's a bit short, unfortunately, and therefore a bit rushed. There is a sequel, titled Eyes Without a Face, but I have yet to pick it up.

Collects issues #1-4

The Mighty Avengers: Venom Bomb
This is the first regular collection on this list! Yay!

I normally don't read much that involved the Avengers, and almost nothing under the title "The Mighty Avengers", but this features a Venom-Virus that runs rampant through New York City, causing its inhabitants to turn into symbiote-like monsters. The Avengers have to fight them off without turning themselves. Then they have to find out who's responsible and stop them as well -- but who in their right mind would create a virus based off of Venom? You get an internet cookie if you guess without peeking!

This gets another 8/10 from me (which, if you haven't gathered, is a pretty good rating). I appreciate the inclusion of symbiotes being taken on by someone other than Spidey. The writing is done well and the story overall is interesting. I don't rate it higher simply because I don't care for The Mighty Avengers and this trade makes up all the issues I own with them.

Collects issues #7-11

Batman: Knightfall
This title makes it on here over other excellent Batman trades for two reasons: first, Knightfall is the story arc that The Dark Knight Rises was based on (link brings you to my movie review!) and second, it is MASSIVE! If you can find this cheap (check Amazon!), you're getting a huge bang for your buck.

This is the first of three installments that make up the "KnightSaga", and this particular collection features Bane's now-famous breaking of Batman -- although that comes after Bane releases the prisoners from Arkham Asylum, causing some of Batman's most dangerous enemies to be set on Gotham. The Bat has his work cut out for him, and it won't end well. The next to installments feature story elements you didn't see in the movies and turns this story into an epic.

I won't rate this one only because I have yet to complete it. That being said, it is definitely one of the best values listed simply because of the amount of issues that are collected within, and the story has definitely become a classic. I plan on doing a more in-depth review once I've finished the entire Saga, and I will put my review score there.

Collected issues Batman: Vengeance of Bane Special #1, Batman #491-500, Detective Comics #659-660, Showcase '93 #7 and 8 and Batman: Shadow of the Bat #17-18

That was a little difficult -- I didn't want to cover anything previously seen. Stories like Old Man Logan and Maximum Carnage could have been up here just as easily, though I'm still happy with the above list.

Next Week: X-Men! This will be interesting because I'm not overly familiar with X-Men. I'll keep it to what I know and can actually suggest, but I'd love suggestions on any of these posts for further reading of my own!

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