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Justice League: Gods and Monsters [Blu-ray]
In an alternative history Zod is Superman's father, Batman is a vampiric Man-Bat, and Wonder Woman is the child of Ares, God of War. When these dark heroes form an alliance, the question everyone asks is will they save the world, or rule it?
Also available on DVD.
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Cover date: November 2002
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cover Art - 2: This cover had a great picture of the cast which was moving and nice when we first saw it a year and a half ago. Since then, it's been used again and again and again, to the point of which it's frankly annoying. Besides, the rest of the cover is a large extrapolation on what you're about to read. Put that advertisement in the first page and make a decent, action packed cover depicting a scene from what we're about to read.
Writer: Mark Verheiden
Pencils and Inks: Roy Allan Martinez
Chloe Sullivan types an overnarrative piece on the difficulties of working on The Torch. On the phone, she attempts to reach a Justin Gaines, the boy who killed principal Quan. She recalls how strange things are in their small town, noting the self-immolating football coach, the death of the principal, and the meteor shower, of course.
She's pulled out of the thought that the only good thing to come out of the meteor shower was Clark, who happens to be at that moment telling her that they have to leave or they'll be late.
They reach the bus to the paleontology dig just in time. When they arrive, Clark looks interested, but Chloe realizes he's looking at Lana, who's engrossed.
A boy named Greg Fox, notorious for lighting firecrackers in mailboxes of late, bumps through Clark and Chloe. Apparently, however, he wasn't really that hostile until just recently. Lex calls him on his attitude, and Greg storms off. Lex explains that he owns this dig site, and that Greg's father was fired for attacking a foreman weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Greg readies a firework, muttering about Luthor's actions against his father. He tosses it into a dig, not realizing that it is full of blasting caps. Clark runs and positions himself between Greg and the caps, and they explode. Luckily, Clark isn't hurt, but Greg is rushed to the hospital. Lex congratulates Clark on his luck.
Chloe narrates her thoughts on Clark while he returns home, talks to his parents about Lex not being at fault, and how Lex understands being different.
At the hospital, Greg is smacked by his father for his behavior after the nurse leaves.
Clark stands in his loft and looks out at the moon. Luthor walks in and says hello. Luthor tells Clark that he's not pressing charges on Greg because he can relate to having an angry father and no mother.
Chloe tells of her theory that the meteor rocks are an unearthly pathogen that enhances a person's sin when they come into contact with it. Meanwhile, Greg takes a decidedly dinosaur type eyeball. He goes downstairs, tells his father that he's hungry, and then kills him.
At the Talon, several days later, they wonder where Greg is. Lana seems a bit disturbed thinking of her parents and how she started the Talon back up for them. In the store room, she hears noises, and Greg. Greg tries to eat Lana.
Clark hears the commotion, and uses his X-ray vision to see what's happening. He tells Pete to call 911 and Pete goes to do so while Clark heads into the storeroom. Greg surprises Clark and attacks him. Clark punches Greg through the wall.
Pete and Chloe rush in to find the wall torn through and Greg gone. Chloe picks up a raptor tooth and identifies it.
They realize that Greg is going after Lex, and Clark takes off for the plant.
Meanwhile, Greg has killed two guards. He sneaks up on another and tears him up pretty badly, demanding to know where Lex is. He finds Lex, and tells him he wants to be made normal. Lex offers to help, but Greg merely beats him further. Greg is mutating further. He knocks Lex out.
Clark enters, and punches Greg a good one. He tells Greg that there's gas all over, and that they have to get out. Greg says that he doesn't want to, and scrapes a nail on the metal, sparking a huge explosion that vaporizes him but leaves Clark unscathed.
The usual crowd arrives to see Clark come out of the scene naked. Lex tells Clark he isn't sorry that he was in the plant when it went up, and wants to know how he made it out. Clark tells Lex that he made the hatch just in time. Neither say anything about his lack of clothes.
Chloe tells Principal Reynolds to hold the presses.
Story - 3: Greg the raptor. Phew.
For all the times the people of Smallville get knocked unconscious, you'd think the major problem wouldn't be freaks of the week, but rather brain damage. Lex's been knocked out about forty times in the last few seasons alone. Joke.
Several major problems with this story. First, Clark reveals his powers in front of everyone (like this hasn't happened before, I know, but it still bugs me). Second, he tells Pete to call the cops, compromising his secret again, the fact that he has X-ray vision. Thirdly, he kills Lex Luthor. Oh, I know you didn't see that part, but see, when Clark entered the room with Greg, Greg had just knocked Luthor out, and a gas explosion that can vaporize a human body is of such magnitude that it would have not only killed Lex Luthor even had Clark knocked Greg 500 feet, but it would have knocked out half the plant as well. And what, is Clark naked in the last scene? His clothes would have been vaporized. No one finds this strange? Lex isn't sorry that Clark was in the plant when it went up? Lex is Clark's friend. Terrible editing, I would postulate. If I were editing this piece, I would point those things out and have the writer make quick fixes. Clark is shielded by the raptor's body, so his clothes aren't torn. And there are bones, but they are just regular raptor bones. Or even Clark threw himself on Lex and a wall falls on them, stopping the clothes from being torn and Clark from being superhuman. Lots of things could have been done slightly more different and thus plausibly.
The storyline followed that of the occasional Smallville mid-season episode, with the added bonus of being able to have overmonologue from Chloe and a raptor, which was a nice touch, but it didn't make up for the overtly flawed plot and an odd kryptonite effect. I mean, if kryptonite effects one's sins, Greg would have turned into a giant firecracker, would he not? At any rate, the dialogue was great, just like in the show, but the plot didn't stand up to the typical standards.
And hey, when did this happen? No long term ramifications, no timeline, it lacked continuity. I abhor such.
Also...the whole Justin Gaines thing was a HUGE plot hole in the series. How hard would it have been for the person on the line with Chloe to inform her of his fate so we might understand what had happened to a guy who knew Clark's secret?
Art - 2: The artist tried to make the characters really human, and in doing so lost the fun of reading a comic book as well as the flavor of the actually people who portray the characters. It also didn't exactly help that the colors were all very base and the people didn't seem to have much detail to their skin or their clothes. And this is a silly thing, but, I'd be lying if I didn't say I noticed it. Look at Lana's butt right before she goes into the storeroom. That isn't Lana's butt. God, I feel so pathetic saying that, but it illustrates my point on illustration.
Writer: Michael Green
Pencils and Inks: John Paul Leon
Lex Luthor meets with his father, Lionel, on a helipad. Surprised to see him there, Lionel chides Lex for reliably being absent, so his presence is a pleasant surprise. Lex thanks his father for telling him that he's reliable for the first time.
Lionel tells Lex that he has to fire people from his most productive section of the fertilizer plant. Lex protests, but Lionel tells him that this is part of being a Luthor.
Lex drives to town, admiring small town America. Pete wishes Luthor gone from afar, with Lana and Chloe, but Lana defends Lex, telling Pete that if he'd spent his life in a rich gilded cage, he might respect Smallville too.
Lex checks on Dr. Hamilton, who has come closer to identifying the properties of the meteor rocks. He points out that they change people into corrupted versions of themselves. He thinks they've changed the whole town. Lex tells him that the rocks haven't corrupted the whole town, and the scene cuts to Clark looking for something on the farm.
Lex comes in, and finds the missing keys rather easily. They talk about what Lex has to do, and Clark says that he believes Luthor often tries to do what he feels he should, and Luthor, surprised, thanks Clark and leaves. The next day, the newspaper reveals that Lex has gone behind his father's back and saved the plant.
Story - 5: A nice little story, with great transitions, excellent exposition of character, and most important, no freak of the week. It also gave me a very interesting thought that hadn't occurred to me until now. I keep wondering, if they make Lex such a nice guy, how is he going to ever turn evil? What could ever turn him against Clark if the whole power thing isn't an issue between them, or if the balding wasn't at Clark's hands? And it occurs to me...Lex has the potential and the knowledge to be evil, but he holds it back with his conscience. What if Kryptonite robs him of his essential goodness and unleashes a "corrupted version of himself" as Hamilton postulates? Interesting food for thought. Short, but a good story.
Art - 4: Much better than the last story, but still rough around the edges. The people aren't gross caricatures, and they look right. There are plain, base colors, as before, but there is a lot more detail on everything, and I respect that more than aesthetic. This is thought out, worked hard art. I like it.
Welcome to Smallville: 1 of 5. This is basically a synopsis/regarding of the first episode. I guess this would be interesting if you didn't know anything about the show, or wanted a synopsis of the first episode. Or if you wanted to know that they wanted a cool calculating person to be Lex Luthor. Or a warm, loving person to be Martha Kent. I pretty much figured that common sense, thought, and it goes on for long enough to make a small comic have fit in. There's also the knowledge that Loeb is working on the show. I know that. Most do.
The following are interviews:
Lex Luthor: Good Guy: 5 of 5. Funny, good interview, and it gives us a broader perspective on Michael Rosenbaum. Little tidbits are great, and there is some trivia stuff even I didn't know here. Plus, as illustration, they have the moment where Lex loses his hair, Pre-Crisis. I've been referencing that to folks in emails for years now as why Superman used to hate Lex, and here's a contemporary place where everyone can see it. My only worry is this might mislead new readers with the new comics, but this is about Smallville, right?
Clark Kent: Role Model: 2 of 5. The interview format is nice to see again, and it's better than one big summary pat on the back, but Welling answers the questions in ambiguous fashion and rather than endearing the reader, he kind of repulsed me a bit. It seemed like he just thought he'd get into acting after being a male model and was handed the part. I felt kind of gypped. I always hope that the character who gets a part, like, say, Samuel Jackson in Star Wars, will be a big fan and know the character well enough to act and be the part. This interview kind of angered me rather than enthused me.
Lana Lang: Small Town Girl: 4 of 5. At least here, Kreuk is honest and witty, pointing out the incarnations of Lana and what she brings to the character, bringing out good responses to how Lana would see and do particular actions. She answers the nagging question about what the original Lana thought of her playing her part, and also puts to rest the red hair debacle rather nicely, making those of us who criticized the red hair thing (myself included) shut up. Good, but brief.
Again, we shift back to the summary format for the first episode of the next season, with hints as to the future.
From A Tempest to A Vortex: 1 of 5. I say one of five because thanks to the exceedingly late date of this comic, we were treated to this information long after any of it would be potentially titillating, interesting, or even informing. The only piece of information that is not known at this point in this piece is the fact that the kid from Stray is returning, but I pretty much guessed that that, along with the whole Justin Gaines thing, is almost a given.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2002.