Friday, August 5, 2016

Comic Book Conglomeration #1

Often times, people wonder why I know so much about superheroes and their story arcs. While most of my knowledge is gleaned from reading Marvel and DC encyclopedias (which list every character known to the comic book world) or even Wikipedia pages, I have read quite a few comic books. I can't explain how many or where they all came from, but I can tell you I've read a lot. I've read a comic where the DC universe clashes with Marvel and the famous heroes are pitted against one another in battles to the death. I can tell you the entire story arc of Marvel's original Civil War, and I'm working my way through DC's Injustice arc (which is fantastic by the way).

I haven't read that many comic books though. My ability to get them is limited to my library and the surrounding ones, yet I keep trucking through the collections I can get my hands on. Also, comic books are sometimes hard to start because they don't always start from a beginning and go to an end. They mix around in the middle, fly off into other stories, and connect with many other issues and volumes. It can be quite confusing, but I've managed to navigate my way through so far. I'm not an expert by any means, but I do think the comic books I find interesting or worth reading should be spotlighted.

Like books, I want to start reviewing comics*. I'm not an expert on all the heroes I read or on artwork for that matter, but I'd like to share my opinion and recommend them. Of course writing a single blog post for all the comics I read (I've read over 60 just this year) would be a little excessive. Instead, I'm going to write mini-reviews of some and combine them into COMIC BOOK CONGLOMERATION posts. It sounds cute, right?

*For all intents and purposes, comics and comic books are going to refer to graphic novels in general. Thus, I might end up reviewing manga, graphic novel adaptations, or comics from Marvel or DC. It's just clever to say "comic books conglomeration." (Sorry, Manga.)

These are the three most recent comic books I've read and what I thought of them.

Hawkeye Vol. 4: Rio Bravo by Matt Fraction

Alright, let me tell you a thing. On a whim, I picked up Matt Fraction's Hawkeye comics about a year ago, and I struck a gold mine. Seriously, these comics are perfect. They follow Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, during his off-hours, when he's not helping the Avengers, as he gets into all sorts of back alley trouble. They are hilarious and brimming with lots of fun, action, and heart-wrenching moments. Clint's personality paired with Kate Bishop (Hawkeye #3) makes me laugh for pages. Lucky the Pizza Dog is also a great addition. The panels are chock-full of unique artwork, relateable moments, and humor.
Clint:  "Thor doesn't have to deal with crap like this I bet. I wish I was Thor. I wish I could smash this guy in the face with a hammer. Wish I hit myself in the face with a hammer. Wish I was anyone else. Anywhere else."
Volume 4: Rio Bravo is especially interesting. It dives into Clint's backstory and childhood and introduces us to his brother, Barney. (Yes, his name is Barney Barton. Brilliant, really.) It has a lot of emotional tug to it, especially toward the end, due to the events. But it's still just as good as the others. The opening comic is a little odd, but still touching. Don't skip over it! There is a point to it. The rest is fun and spot-on. I guarantee if you give these comics a chance, you might end up loving Hawkeye--or loving him more.

Superman Vol. 1: Before Truth by Gene Luen Yang

A while back I heard Gene Luen Yang had signed to write a Superman comic. To put it lightly, I was ecstatic. I had read some of his books for school and of my own free-will, and I liked what he had to say. I was interested to see his style and his focus brought to the Man of Tomorrow. Superman Vol. 1: Before Truth follows Superman as he tries to handle his new "solar flare" powers. These powers allow him to release a lot of energy in one burst, or flare, but then it leaves him weakened and vulnerable for 24 hours.

This wasn't the best Superman comic I've ever read. It was intriguing though. The concept of the "solar flare" powers was new, which works for a superhero that's been out for over 75 years. I thought the camaraderie between the Justice League members as they help Clark/Superman control his powers was fun. The second half of the arc focuses on an all-knowing man who knows Clark Kent's greatest secret! This part wasn't as interesting. For one, Clark and Lois aren't a couple, which was kind of sad. It didn't feel quite like Superman without that in there. Plus, the big-evil-overlord bad guy didn't seem that threatening. The arc didn't feel like it quite panned out, and it left Clark and the others in a sticky situation.

While I will definitely keep reading, I didn't feel as connected to this comic as other ones. It was a good start; there is potential here. Just make it better!

Groot by Jeff Loveness

Ever since the Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out, I've been interested in knowing more about Rocket and Groot, specifically Groot. All I know about him is that he is a walking, talking tree that says three words: I am Groot. I know little else about this character. So when this comic book caught my eye, I jumped at the chance of reading it. And let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed one twig.

If you've seen Guardians of the Galaxy, you know that it was full of a lot unexpected things like defeating Ronan the Accuser with a dance-off, becoming best friends with a group of criminals, and crying over a tree. Well, Groot was pretty much the same: unexpected and full or surprises. But it was also very magical and touching. Groot is a loveable character because he's... well, he's Groot. And he does Groot things. This comic was filled with adventure and chaos and stunning moments of outer space and friendship. There was heartaches from heartbreaking moments and bellyaches from hilarious moments. (The Star Wars references and the Superman spoof were spot-on.)

I think this comic had it all, and I enjoyed every moment of it immensely. The artwork was a combination of cute and gorgeous. I'm also impressed at how well this story was told despite that the titular character can only say three words. The writers did a good job with the other characters' responses to Groot, so it was easy to follow and understand the conversations.

Basically: I love this comic. For lovers of Groot and Guardians the Galaxy, this one is definitely for you.

Also, I am Groot. 

Have you read any of these comics? What comics have you read recently?

~Review Disclaimer: I required all three of these books through my local library and decided to write reviews of my own freewill. All opinions are my own. All book cover images are from Goodreads.~ 

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