Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Real Relvance: The X-Men


If you don't like any of these guys, I don't care you as a person.
 
A while ago, I wrote an article on why Superman was still relevant. I used a slightly different definition of relevance to what is generally used by the comic-reading community. See, the community see relevant, and takes it to mean “good comic” or even “cool character”.

I’m not satisfied by that definition. For me, something’s relevant if it matters to society. If it encourages us to seek something outside of ourselves and become better for it. Today, I’m going to aim that definition on the X-Men.

Now, this comes not long after I’ve read Avengers Vs X-Men for the first time. I won’t go too much into it least I spoil the review, but it seemed to me that Marvel were very much trying to downplay the significance of the X-people because, y’know, Marvel no longer owns the movie rights. I can’t blame Marvel for trying to capitalise on the now insanely lucrative Avengers franchise, but they’re ignoring just how important the X-Men are not only to business, but to readers. Below follows a few reasons why the X-Men are relevant enough to earn respect.

A real community

We're all friends here.
The X-Men, more than any other Marvel franchise are more than a superhero team- they’re a society. There are groups within the team and those teams don’t always get along, but they all share a common goal; protect mutantdom. Sure, these guys may sock each other in the mouth more than once, but when it comes to, they’ll band together and do something great together. That’s not really something that I’ve seen in Avengers, which currently go the opposite way; a few groups that mostly get along, but will get mad at each other very easily.

We need to be reminded of that. In Australia, where I live, there is talk about taking rather oppressive legal action against Muslims following a botched attempt at terrorism by extremist sociopaths (because it's totally reflective of all Muslims- just like the Ku Klux Klan is reflective of all Christians and Stalin is reflective of all Atheists). We need reminders that it isn’t what separates us that matters, it’s what draws us together and the X-Men do this better than any other franchise.

Idealism

Remember when it was okay to have
ideas.
This is particular for Bendis’ engrossing All-New X-Men, but also applies to X-Men: Legacy (regardless of what you thought of Spurrier and his work), but it’s something that makes X-Men worth keeping around. You see, if All-New has been about anything, it’s been about how innocence isn’t a weakness. The currently un-jaded younger X-Men aren’t being pushed around by the new world they’re in, they’re changing it, and they’re changing it because they’re idealistic. Hope Summers’ role in Avengers Vs X-Men is another great example of this, trumping conventional “wisdom” with will and determination.

We need people who still believe they can change the world; people who are willing to stand up to injustice and make changes. There is too much out there designed to quench that spirit, and X-Men, to me, is a symbol of how radical change can happen.

You are there

For me, this is the biggest one. Unlike the Avengers, the Justice League or any other superhero team out there, the X-Men are highly discriminated against. The pure amount of hatred that society gives these “muties” is incredible.  They’re called names, attacked, made to suffer disgusting jokes, they even have their character called into question simply for being a mutant (something I always found strange in a world that seemed to think that superpowered beings in the Avengers were okay).

Go on, keep a straight face and tell me that someone who feels marginalised for being of a different race, religion, sexuality, or even being a little bit “nerdy” can’t find something that applies to him or her in this kind of story. Myself, I’m a Mormon. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that the challenges I face are even close to the same level of many other minorities (religious or otherwise), you may be surprised just how much hatred my religion gets, even from other Christians (sadly, sometimes it’s especially from other Christians). If it matters to me that people who are hated and feared can be a force for good, as they are in the X-Men books, I can only imagine how much it should matter to those in worse-treated minorities.
Actually, this is a thing.

We talk a lot about diversity in comics, as though characters having the same skin tone is somehow going to relate better to certain readers. What I don’t think many of us realise is that the X-Men speaks to everyone. They send the message that no matter what your challenge; you can be powerful. You can change the world around you. That message is important. It’s highly relevant and it means more to people than yelling “Avengers Assemble” or simply being snarky.

So that’s my argument for the X-Men’s relevance. Who do you think I should go for next?

PS. For the record, I don’t hate the Avengers. I’ve actually been loving the Marvel NOW! Avengers books. I do, however, fell that Marvel are loving their Marvel Studios properties a little too much and leaving the Fox-owned ones by the wayside a *little* bit.

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Flash Volume 3: Gorilla Warfare (The New 52) Review


The Flash Volume 3: Gorilla Warfare (The New 52)

"We are not monkeys! We are apes!"
Writers: Fancis Manapul and Brian Buccellato

Artists: Fancis Manapul

Collecting: The Flash #13-19

Background Information:

Readers who have been put off by the New 52’s “Dark and Gritty” approach, may find that The Flash offers an appropriate remedy to their affliction. Most of the action happens during the day, humour is more present here than in any other DC book and the action has generally been less about decapitations and more about showing off what the Flash can do.

This is a series that has come under fire since the beginning of the New 52 for starring Barry Allen as the Flash and not the highly popular Wally West. But, in all respect, those critics can go jump because The Flash has been one of the more consistently good books in the New 52.

Review:

In case you haven’t caught on, I’ve really been enjoying The Flash, and Gorilla Warfare feels like the final touch on a long first story arc. There’s still another volume to come in Manapul and Buccellato’s run with Barry Allen, but this so far has been the highest point in a series that’s already highly enjoyable.

So the Gem cities have been invaded by talking Gorillas led by their King, Gorilla Grodd. What makes these monkeys so dangerous is that this time, their powered by the speed force- the extra-dimensional energy that give the Flash his powers. Faced with this threat, Flash has to team up with the Rogues- his foes from the previous volume- to drive the invasion back.

The story is a great excuse for Buccellato and Manapul to call the gorilla’s “damn filthy apes”. Planet of the Apes FTW!
Yep, add this to the list of dumb ideas.

There’s been a LOT of set-up to this story in the previous two volumes, so readers hoping to come in fresh with Gorilla Warfare aren’t going to have a lot of fun here. The story relies heavily on knowing that the Rogues are all angry at Captain Cold, their former boss, knowing that Iris West (one corner of Barry’s love triangle) is trapped in the speed force and knowing that most people are convinced that Barry is actually dead. But it’s the way all of these elements are brought together that makes Gorilla Warfare so enjoyable.

Even better is the way that Manapul and Buccellato manage to walk that fine line between “light and fun” and “dark and gritty”. I don’t know how they pull it off, but this book somehow manages to be both without making either one fell neglected. One minute I’m having a chuckle at the inability of the Rogues to get along, another moment I’m cringing as the Trickster’s arm gets ripped off. It’s a great duality that somehow happens without Gorilla Warfare feeling like it’s at odds with itself (something that’s not easy to do- watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2 if you want proof).


Seriously, who doesn't like this couple?
I can’t really go on without talking about Patty Spivot, Barry’s love interest in this and the last two volumes. When I first read about her, I was aware that Iris West was Barry’s love interest before the New 52, and didn’t expect Patty to last this long. Yet, third volume, and here we are. What’s more, she’s really become a likeable character in this volume, and in many ways seems an excellent match for Barry. We know that he’ll end up with Iris eventually, but Barry’s relationship to Patty seems just a relevant.

The art here returns to its former glory. In the last volume, there were some moments that were taken by other artists and that hurt the book. This time the art is firmly in the hands of Manapul, and it’s awesome again.

My only real problem here is that… actually, I have no real problem with this volume. It’s just what I want out of a Flash story, so it gets a five out of five damn filthy apes.

*****

+ Brings the last two volumes together perfectly.

+ Balances “light” and “dark” elements really well.

+ Art back to being excellent.

Alternate Option: The Flash: Move Forward and Rogues Revolution

You need to read these to understand Gorilla Warfare.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Superior Spider-Man Vol. 2: A Troubled Mind (Marvel NOW!) Review


Superior Spider-Man Vol. 2: A Troubled Mind (Marvel NOW!)
Something... Something... SUPERIOR!
 
Writer: Dan Slott
 
Artists: Humberto Ramos and Ryan Stegman
 
Collects: Superior Spider-Man #6-10
 
Background Information:
 
With the Marvel NOW! initiative, Dan Slott changed Spider-Man in ways that sent shockwaves of anger through Spidey’s fanbase; Spider-Man is no longer Peter Parker.
 
Okay, the change was never going to be permanent, but at the time, that’s what Slott was selling it as. People were attached to Peter, the guy who had been through hell, but still managed to be the nice guy who didn’t finish last. Now Peter was gone, his mind replaced by the mind of Otto Octavius (AKA Doctor Octopus). It’s not a change that sat well with fans, despite story quality.
 
The first volume was mostly set-up. We learnt that even though Peter Parker was technically dead, a portion of his mind was still around, influencing Otto’s decisions. Otto didn’t quite know it at the time, but a genius like him was gonna find out sooner or later.
 
Review:
 
GRRRR! HOW DARE THEY GET RID OF PETER PARKER! DAN SLOTT’S RUINED SPIDER-MAN! HOW DARE THEY CALL THIS SPIDER-MAN “SUPERIOR”! THEY’VE MADE HIM AN ANNOYING, SELF-RIGHTEOUS TWIT! DAN SLOTT DOESN’T KNOW HIS FANBASE! HE DOESN’T KNOW THE FANBASE! HE DOESN’T KNOW COMICS! YOU KNOW WHAT THE INDUSTRY NEEDS? STAGNATION! NEVER CHANGE CHARACTERS, NEVER HAVE NEW IDEAS!
 
Okay, those fans who are four-year-olds in adult bodies, happy now? I raged at Superior Spider-Man, an essentially excellent series that actually gives a half-fresh take on the character. But I’m gonna stop now, because Superior Spider-Man’s second volume, A Troubled Mind is great, if not as good as the last volume, and you’d be crazy to not read it.
 
"So, I was watching The Bold and the Beautiful, right? And..."
So, Otto has been continuing his penchant for brutalising villains, and that disturbs the superhero team that Spidey’s been a part of for a while. No, not the Fantastic Four; the Avengers. The thing is, Otto is absolutely unapologetic about it. In the meantime, Otto’s catching on to the fact that there’s still a remnant of Peter Parker left in his new mind, and it’s time he left for good.
 
Plot-wise, it’s nice to see that, apart from J. Jonah Jameson (who absolutely loves this new Spidey), nobody else is really convinced that this is a Superior Spider-Man. I love Otto as the new Parker, but it’s nice to see that people are suspicious about this very unfriendly neighbourhood hero. Carlie is still looking in to him, the Avengers renounce his membership and Mary Jane gets very disappointed in him when he doesn’t save her, calling the fire department instead. Indeed, what this issue does best is raise questions about the notion of being “superior”. Otto may be superior in terms of his methods, but his heroism in still inferior to Parker’s.
 
That said, the middle of this collection drags just a little bit. It’s mostly Avengers debating and running tests on Otto to make sure everything’s happening in Paters mind. I don’t mind an actionless issue or two (not that these issues are actionless, but those action scenes are certainly unengaging), and in A Troubled Mind, it certainly has its place. But the book’s main villains are the Jester, Screwball and Peter Parker’s memory. That’s not a memorable lineup- especially when last volume treated you to the likes of the Vulture.
 
Cap looks so serious sporting a stupid-looking chin-strap.
Art here is just as good as you would expect it to be if you’ve read My Own Worst Enemy. Spiderman comics tend to lend themselves to an unrealistic, but highly stylised form of art and that’s just what you get here. By now, it’s nothing groundbreaking; you’ve seen this in the last volume, as well as in Scarlet Spider and Spider Island.

All in all, though, A Troubled Mind, while not being as good as My Own Worst Enemy, is still notably good. It gets a three and a half out of five four-year-olds in adult bodies.
 
*** ½
 
+ Questions the notion of being “superior”
 
+ Not everyone’s convinced that this is a better Spidey.
 
- Villain lineup is meh.
 
Alternate Option: Scarlet Spider: Lone Star
If you can’t stand the idea of Spider-Man proper being dark, check out Spidey’s darker clone, and, y’know, stop whining.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Nightwing Vol. 4: Second City (DC's The New 52) Review


Nightwing Vol.4: Second City (The New 52)
Psst: Don't tell X-Men: Days of Future
Past that you stole their cover!
Writer: Kyle Higgins

Artists: Brett Booth, Will Conrad and Norm Rapmund

Collects: Nightwing #19-24

Background Information:

The Nightwing series in the New 52 started off great- a six-issue story arc. The two volumes that followed it... weren’t as great. Being tied to the New 52’s Batman meant that stories outside the crossover had to fill in the blanks. To say that they did so poorly would be unfair; they weren’t awful stories Paragon’s story arc certainly wasn’t totally awful and the fallout from Death of The Family felt relevant, but Lady Shiva’s story definitely fell flat. Sure, Nightwing’s Death of the Family and Night of the Owls arcs were entertaining, but they definitely hurt the series, leaving other story arcs to become filler (I’m convinced that the Paragon story arc could have been fantastic if it was six issues instead of four). At the end of the day, I came out of Volume 3: Death of the Family certain of one thing; if Nightwing was going to catch my interest again, he would need to be separated from Batman.

Review:

I was right. Can I say that? I WAS RIGHT!!!

"Why So--" STOP!!! THAT'S NOT YOUR
LINE
Nightwing’s separation from the rest of the Bat-Family in the previous volume the shot in the arm that his series needed. No longer reliant on Scott Snyder’s, I’ll admit, excellent run on Batman, Kyle Higgins feels like he’s truly in his element- something we’ve not seen since his first volume; Traps and Trapezes.

The notion of change has been a constant thing for Higgins’ Nightwing. He went from re-joining the circus to taking the circus to not having a circus anymore to now moving to Chicago. Here, he hopes to track down Tony Zucco; the man who killed his parents. The problem? Chicago isn’t exactly super-hero friendly. An unspecified incident has led to the city banning anyone wearing a flashy costume. Things aren’t made better when Nightwing finds himself forced to team up with psychotic hacker, the Prankster.

Firstly, yes, his name is the Prankster. And yes, there’s a certain amount of Joker-lite about him. Mostly in the way he justifies his actions by saying “where’s the prank?” when he’s about to nearly kill someone. But this is Nightwing; who, even in Higgins’ run, has been referred to as “Batman-lite”. In a weird way, the character works. Actually, he soon shakes off that Joker-lite-ness about him later in the issue when we finally get a background story. So far, the Prankster has to be the best Nightwing villain of Higgins’ run.

But it’s about more than just the villains. The society in which Nightwing finds himself fits Dick Greyson like a glove. I’ve never been to Chicago; it may as well be any other American city in my opinion. Nonetheless, a certain sense of grittiness comes across here. It actually comes across as a new kind of Bludhaven- full of dirty secrets, evil mobs and no hero in sight. Dick Greyson’s not hiding his identity because he wants to protect those he loves here. Due to Chicago’s inherent hate for superheroes of any kind, Dick really has to hide his identity to stop being arrested. It’s a realistic take on superheroes that not even recent Batman comics has managed to pull off, but Higgins handles it with aplomb.

Tony Zucco makes up a huge portion of this story, naturally, and his character is SO interesting. Having changed his name and taken up a new life, he freaks out when Nightwing comes to town, and tries his best to hide from a guy who’s been after him for ages. It’s more the character transformation, however, that caught me. I won’t spoil it, but the Tony Zucco you think you’re meeting at the beginning isn’t the one you see in the end.

But there lies my only issue with the trade. The end of the last Nightwing volume; Death of the Family, showed us a Tony Zucco that appeared to be a mob thug. Now, Zucco’s a clean-cut father working for the mayor. It’s this weird inconsistency that never gets addressed, and that becomes disappointing.

Chicago cops rate one above Stormtroopers, but several
million below... y'know... decent marksmen.
I can’t leave this review without talking about the art. Last volume art duties were taken from Eddy Barrows and handed to Brett Booth, who worked on the abysmal Teen Titans. Last volume, his work was pretty ugly. Unmasked, Dick looked too much like Rocky after a few rounds- and that wasn’t intentional, I gather. Here, the work is much better. Dick looks much better this time around and Booth even makes additions to Nightwing’s costume that look alright. I still miss Barrows’ Nightwing, but this one serves just fine.

Second City is the best Nightwing story to come out since Higgins’ first New 52 volume. It gets a four and a half out of five Rocky-lites.

****1/2

+ The Prankster is genuinely enjoyable.

+ Tony Zucco is done so well.

+ Nightwing in Chicago is gold.

- Some continuity issues with Tony Zucco.

Alternate Option: Nightwing: Traps and Trapezes

Another one of Higgins’ proudest moments with Nightwing. Read it.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World (Marvel NOW!) Review


Avengers Vol.1: Avengers World (Marvel NOW!)
Insert Queen's "We Will Rock You"

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artists: Jerome Opena and Adam Kubert

Collects: Avengers #1-6

Background Information:

So, apparently Avengers is a thing.

Yeah, who knew, right?

For years the Avengers, in multiple forms, was written by Brian Michael Bendis. Now that Bendis is working on the Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men titles. The Avengers books are now being taken by Jonathan Hickman, who used to write for Fantastic Four and FF. Whereas a lot of Bendis’ titles were based on fairly grounded local threats, Hickman’s more about the interstellar and the strange. So you can expect something a little different from what happened before.

Review:

Marvel NOW! is supposed to be about helping new readers into Marvel comics. Keywords are supposed to. I’m not sure that all of these titles are all that good for getting people’s feet wet. All-New X-Men and Uncanny Avengers require you to have read Avengers vs X-Men to really understand and if you want to get Superior Spider-Man, you’ll need to read Dying Wish.

Thankfully, Hickman’s adjectiveless Avengers doesn’t have the same problem. In fact, if you want to start reading Avengers books, Avengers World is a really good starting point.
PUNY HULK!!!

So the Avengers  have decided that they need to “get bigger”; meaning that the usual roster of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow aren’t going to be enough. The team expands the roster to include more Marvel heroes such as Spider-Man (the Superior one), Wolverine, Shan Chi and others. A roster of six becomes a roster of eighteen.

And a big Avengers is just what’s needed to face a big threat. That big threat comes in the form of a character called Ex Nihilo who’s a… uh… a… uh… it’s kinda’ hard to explain. All I can really say is that he’s trying to recreate the earth in preparation for what I can only assume is… something.

It sounds like I’m making fun of the collection, but I’m not; not really. See, Hickman has a habit, apparently, of writing insanely long story arcs- the kind that can’t fit into the rigid structure of “only 5-6 issues per trade” that Marvel seems desperate to stick to. And to be honest, the trade isn’t so much about the bad guys as it is about showcasing the twelve new avengers. Hickman does a pretty good job at this, giving the reasons for each character’s reason for joining the team and crafting a story that essentially gets most of the team out of the way so we can see the new guys in action. It’s fantastic to see that Hickman has this kind of confidence in the characters he writes. Considering the success of the Avengers on the big screen, I imagine it would have been all too easy to write a story focussing on the movie characters, but I’m glad we got something with a slightly different flavour to it.

All the same, the story seems to go largely unresolved. I’m not the kind who demands that every loose end be tied up by the end of the first trade, but you’d think Hickman would at least tie up one of them. The point of this volume, unfortunately, seems to be only to set up the next and that never ends up being truly satisfying.

That helmet, for the record, looks stupid.
Art here, though is great. Between Opena and Kubert we get some fantastic depictions of characters. Hulk returns to his ape-like form and while that can sometimes look a little goofy, it really works in terms of showing us the vast difference between Bruce Banner and the less-than-jolly green giant. The real credit though, has to go to the colour artists, who are too numerous to mention here. The paints in Avengers World just do so much to capture the grandeur of the situation and really helps to add gravitas to the story.

Avengers World is great fun to read, and excellent as a jumping-on point. It gets a four out of five… somethings.

****

+ Good jumping-on point.

+ More focus on the characters you didn’t see in the movie.

+ Art looks phenomenal.

- NO loose ends resolved.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Real Relevance: Superman


He means a lot more than punches and flight.
“Relevant” is a word that gets thrown a lot around comic fandom. Indeed, to become relevant is usually the highest honour a character can have. In comic circles, the word means that characters have received, or are worthy of, a fair amount of recognition.

It’s a weird term, really, because that’s not what the word really means; at least not to me. See, to me, something has to be important to be relevant. It has to be necessary to a people, to societies or, dare I say it, to global communities.

It sounds like I’m asking a bit much; we’re talking about comics, after all; a medium not well-known for world-changing narratives (at least not in the same way that novels like Animal Farm or To Kill a Mockingbird can be called world-changing). But that doesn’t mean that Superhero characters don’t have relevance. So I’m starting a series of articles on various heroes from Marvel and DC.

So today we’re going to start with Superman. It feels like I definitely started with the hardest one; it’s difficult to say that Superman’s popularity is at an all-time high, but “popular” is different to “relevant”. Whether some nay-sayers will admit it or not; there’s a few reasons that we still need Superman stories. What follows are those reasons.

We Need Hope

Let there be Superman!
For a while now, we’ve been bombarded with the message that Superman is a symbol of hope. It’s not something that the public has really caught on to.

Sure, you could blame Man of Steel for this; while visually spectacular, it wasn’t the message of hope that director Zack Snyder thought it was. But I think Superman’s lack of popularity has more to do with the society that the Man of Steel now finds himself in.

See, we live in an age of scepticism. Hope isn’t a popular notion. If you want proof of this; look at the opposition to Barack Obama during his first campaign for presidency- he was criticised for talking about hope. And people jumped on the opportunity to make Obama look naïve.

It’s little wonder that, when compared with the dark, jaded, cynical Batman, Superman seems to play second fiddle. But the fact that this apparently “goody-goody” character is championing an attitude that now seems outdated is exactly the reason we need Superman. We need icons that fill us with hope. We need ones who encourage us to do better. Superman, by his nature does this.

We need role models

We need people to look up to. Superman does that.
One of the other reasons Superman seems less popular is that he’s “too goody-goody”.

Yep, we don’t want heroes who are good, it seems. May as well base the next superhero off Adolf Hitler.

Except we shouldn’t. When did we as a global society stop aspiring to something better, or even the best? We also need Superman stories because we can’t continue to worship anti-heroes who only serve to make us feel better about our own twisted, bitter, spiteful selves.

Superman as the “boring flawless” character holds that up as a standard to us. The fact that he is flawless may not make him particularly gritty, but does make him a role model. Written in the right way (and I should also say; read in the right way), Superman is evidence of the kind of person a human being can become. Not super-strong or able to fly, but enthusiastic in his ability to good, self-sacrificing and honest.

In short, Superman is highly relevant. Not because of any film or video game appearances have made him mainstream popular, but because of who he encourages us to be.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Superman- Action Comics Vol. 2: Bulletproof (The New 52) Review


Superman Action Comics Vol.2: Bulletproof
It must be so hard to be a white dude
facing all that prejudice... yeah...

Writer: Grant Morrison

Artist: Rags Morales

Collects: Superman – Action Comics #9-12, 0 and Action Comics Annual #1

Background information:

Grant Morrison has a reputation. Whether that reputation is good or bad remains to be seen. To some, he is the man responsible for great stories like All-Star Superman and New X-Men. To others, he is the man behind the pure weirdness of a long Batman runs and Superman singing away evil in Final Crisis. Most recently, he has been writing Superman Action Comics for the New 52, focussing on the early career of the Man of Steel. It’s a Superman who hasn’t yet learned to fly, but has already saved Metropolis and taken on Brainiac.

Review:

Second volumes in the New 52 haven’t gone wonderfully really. Generally, they’ve all been just that little bit less good than the first ones. Grant Morrison’s Superman Action Comics has been part of this trend- not, in any way bad, but rather pale in comparison to the first volume.
Superman has a thing with trains, doesn't he?
 
Bulletproof deals with a number of stories, really. Nimrod the Hunter, Captain Comet and Kryptonite Man make their own New 52 debuts in this book, as well as another universe featuring what I’m going to call “Superobama” (an African-American presidential Superman who is really fun to read). What Bulletproof is really about, though, is the disappearance of Kal-El’s identity as Clark Kent; who gets caught in an explosion. The question of the necessity of Clark Kent is raised here; not only as a way for Superman to live a normal life, but as a way for him to continue his mission.

See, Clark in this volume isn’t just a way to throw suspicious people off the scent; Morrison actually writes him as part of the Superman mission. After Clark’s “Death”, he’s remembered most for helping others who are in trouble. In a way, Action Comics has been presenting a more inspiring Clark Kent than it has a Superman, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.

If you saw the villain list and rolled your eyes, don’t. Nimrod, Captain Comet and Kryptonite Man are only used as much as they are necessary to use and no more. When we stopped seeing Nimrod, I wasn’t too bummed. I’d had my fill of the character and was more interested in what was coming next. It was the same for every other villain in the trade and it’s a credit to Morrison that he’s able to handle the fairly large cast without making any of them feel pointless.

One of my only real problems with Bulletproof’s story is the rather dragged-out section in the middle where a collection of side-stories are given front and centre. As well as Morrison writes Superman’s supporting cast, I don’t really care to see things that happen outside of Clark’s story. The side stories aren’t bad, but they’re incredibly jarring and I’m pretty convinced they should have been left for the end of the trade.

Also, if you’re new to Grant Morrison, I wouldn’t really suggest this one just yet. I actually read Bulletproof before the previous volume; Superman and the Men of Steel. When I did, I found it jarring and difficult to follow. That’s partially due to Morrison’s style; he likes to jump forward and back in time and explore some of the weirder elements of a character’s mythos. If, however, you’d like a steadier introduction into Morrison’s work, you’d best check out the first volume before this one.

Important point: X-Rays do not allow people to see people
naked. Superman isn't a pervert... at least not in this sense.
Art is this collection, unfortunately, bears the same problems as the first. It’s handled *moderately* better here, but not much. You can still expect to see a different artist in every issue (sometimes after only a few pages) and that becomes very off-putting. I like Morrison’s Superman generally, but he needs to have ONE ARTIST PER ONGOING. Seriously, this is getting annoying.

Bulletproof is good, don’t worry about that, but like Batman’s plan to beat Supes, you’re gonna need prep time. It gets a three and a half out of five Superobamas.
 
*** ½

+ Clark Kent is inspiring.

+ Villains are evenly spread out.

- Art is uneven.

- Some sections feel unnecessary.
 

Alternate Option: Superman Action Comics: Superman and the Men of Steel

If you haven’t read it, do so before reading this one. It’ll enhance the experience.