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Justice Volume 2 (comic)

The Justice League is under attack by a group of supervillains and it looks like the JLA is in trouble. Volume 2 contains issues 5-8 of DC’s Justice. Jim Krueger and Alex Ross wrote it, and Alex Ross also paints over Doug Braithwaite’s sketches. This is the second act of the story, and the second act is usually the darkest.

The comic starts with our heroes being attacked simultaneously. Most of the JLA is separated from each other and the Legion of Doom seems to be kicking ass. You find out that Lex Luthor, Brainiac and Gorilla Grodd are the masterminds behind everything. They have a diabolical plan and an uneasy alliance. The villains are able to keep a step ahead of the JLA by using mind-controlling worms and kidnapped loved ones to keep the JLA in check. Will the JLA get their shit together and defeat the bad guys? I wonder what Volume 3 has in store…

JLA comics are awesome because DC has so many iconic heroes and villains. A lot of fan favorites get some time to shine in this comic. Even lesser characters are more interesting in an ensemble. Captain Marvel seems like less of a tool when he’s saving Superman. The story is epic: you have superpowers and magic and gods and aliens and humans with utility belts. But the story takes a backseat to the amazing artwork. Larger than life, but still realistic.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Smallville (tv show)

Smallville is a TV show about Clark Kent before he becomes Superman. Tom Welling plays a young Clark Kent and you see him go from a nerdy high school freshman to a reporter for the Daily Planet over the course of ten seasons. The early seasons are about Clark discovering strange new abilities and learning how to control them and he also starts exploring his origins. The later seasons are about him accepting his destiny, and there’s tons of characters and references to the DC universe. The cast changed quite a bit over the years as well. The early seasons were about Clark’s life in Smallville and growing up on a farm with his parents John and Martha (John Schneider and Annette O’Toole). He hangs out with his friend Pete and Chloe (Sam Jones III and Allison Mack) and has a crush on the smoking hot Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk). Over the course of the series most of the supporting characters are phased out, but Allison Mack stuck around for most of the show’s run. In the pilot episode Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) hits Clark with his car and they both fall off a bridge and land in the water. Clark saves Lex and they become friends, but Lex becomes obsessed with how Clark escaped without injury. Lex and Clarks friendship dissolves over a few seasons and Lex gradually becomes a bad guy. Lex has one of the best character arcs of the series, even if Rosenbaum left after seven seasons. Clark pines for Lana for a few seasons and they even get together a few times, but eventually Lois Lane shows up. Erica Durance is pretty smoking hot too and you can’t have a show about Superman without having Lois Lane, so she was a great addition to the cast. There are lots of references to the Superman movies. Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder both guest starred on the show. Terrence Stamp (General Zod in Superman II) provides the voice for Clark’s biological father, Jor-El. Other DC characters joined the show. Oliver Queen a.k.a. Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) became a series regular and other members of the Justice League show up like Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter to name a few. Bruce Wayne/Batman never showed up though. A few notable villains show up too. General Zod, Brainiac, Bizarro, Doomsday and other DC bad guys make appearances. The first season had a lot of one-time villains. Usually someone from Smallville has an encounter with Kryptonite and transform somehow before Clark tears shit up and gets things back to normal so that next week something else could happen. Later on the storylines become more complex and there’s more story arcs that last multiple episodes or span over a few seasons. Every once in a while there will be a random episode that doesn’t have much to do with the overall storyline, but that happened less and less as the show progressed. The special effects are pretty solid for a TV show. There’s some cool CG work when Clark is using his superpowers and there are some pretty awesome fight scenes. But there’s also a lot of soap opera drama going on. Sometimes the show was a little more Gossip Girls than a superhero series. But I’m ok with it because Clark usually punches something or someone and I like violence. Smallville isn’t the best show of all time, but it’s still pretty good. Ten seasons is a great run for a TV series. They turned it into a comic book, so you can keep following the ongoing adventures of Clark Kent. Give this show a chance if you haven’t yet. Superheroes, hot chicks, cool CG, cool fight scenes… that’s entertainment. Critically Rated at 14/17

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Superman: Red Son (comic)

Superman is an American icon. But what if he wasn’t? Mark Millar’s story puts a simple twist on the Superman legend… what if baby Superman was twelve hours late and crash-landed into the Soviet Union instead of America? In this alternate universe, Superman lands in the Ukraine and comes to embrace Communism. Instead on an S on his chest, he sports a hammer and sickle. He makes the Soviet Union the dominating world power, while the US goes on the decline. The story is presented in three acts. The first act is establishes who this different Superman is and what he stands for. He is still a hero, he wants to help people, he is selfless, but he embraces the Soviet ideals instead of American ideals. The first act also introduces the other key characters, like the brilliant American scientist/genius Lex Luthor and his beautiful wife Lois “Formerly Lane” Luthor. There’s a Russian version of Batman who is leading a rebellion against the Soviet dictatorship. There’s a version of Wonder Woman that is also familiar and yet different. The second act is about Superman taking control of the Soviet Union. He doesn’t do it because he wants power, he does it because he feels obligated to help because he can help. Russian Batman is continuing to fight back against a dictatorship that’s headed by an all-powerful alien. With the help of Lex Luthor he lures Superman into a trap and nearly defeats him, but Wonder Woman saves Superman, even though it costs her a lot in the process. The last act finds Superman facing off against Lex Luthor, who is now the President of the United States. Lex is able to bring the US back from the point of total economic and social collapse, but it’s just the first step in his plan to destroy Superman. President Luthor uses Hal Jordan, Wonder Woman, and other tactics to wage war on Superman. I don’t want to give away anything major, but there is a great twist. So here is a spoiler alert – in this alternate universe, Lex Luthor saves mankind and sires a long line of brilliant descendants, one of which is named Jor-L who sends his infant son into the past, where he crash-lands in a field in the Ukraine. Mark Millar does a great job of reimaging Superman as a Russian. He is recognizable, but his upbringing changes aspects of his being. The best part of this story is how they use familiar characters in different ways. You’ll recognize a lot of DC characters, from Oliver Queen to Brainiac. You’ll even appreciate the historical figures that pop up, like Stalin or JFK and his Hollywood lover named Norma Jean. The artwork is great, but it’s the story that stands out. It’s just a cool take on a character that everyone knows. Superman is the most important character in the DC Universe. He affects everyone and everything. You will like this book, even if you’ve never read a Superman comic before, but you’ll appreciate it more if you have a greater grasp of his origin. Critically Rated at 13/17

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