CLEVELAND, Ohio — Happy anniversary Superman! April 18 marks exactly 80 years since Superman first appeared on the cover of “Action Comics” No. 1, written and drawn by Cleveland’s own Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
More on this soon, including announcements about what is being done to celebrate. After all, the 80th anniversary only comes around once in a lifetime.
As former Clevelander Brian Michael Bendis prepares to take the writing reins of Superman, causing equal amount of joy and apprehension among fans, DC is making its feelings clear with double-page spreads declaring “Bendis is Coming” in all its books this month. The huge declaration is next to a drawing of Superman wearing his original uniform.
Here’s a fun game. In some cases, the pronouncement seems to follow the last panel of the preceding page, making for some interesting scenarios.
In “The Terrifics” No. 2 (DC, $2.99), Mister Terrific, Plastic Man, Metamorpho and Phantom Girl are escaping a giant, reanimated alien corpse. In the last panel, Mr. Terrific shouts, “Now go!” to the team. Turn the page and we see the ominous warning, “Bendis is Coming.”
Gorilla Grodd has taken control over Central City in issue 43 of “The Flash: (DC, $2.99). Flash says he will not let Grodd win, even if it means his death. Grodd responds, “Grrr. Is this how you win, Flash?” Flip the page and we get the response, “Bendis is Coming.”
In “Injustice 2” No. 22 (DC, $2.99) Batman ominously says “Open an emergency channel. Break through to everything.” and on the next page we see the reason for his concern, “Bendis is Coming.”
And my favorite, in issue No. 41 (DC, $2.99) Nightwing is fighting some whackadoodle called “The Judge” on a car suspended over Bludhaven. The Judge says, “Go live a life full of joy and grace. I’m the Judge and I give people what they deserve –” Flip the page and see what they deserve: “Bendis is Coming.”
Before we stop ranking on Bendis, it should be noted that Marvel Comics, where he worked for 17 years before switching to DC, is getting in a few licks in his final issues there.
In issue 17 of “Jessica Jones” (Marvel, $3.99) which is Bendis’ penultimate issue of the character he created with artist Michael Gaydos, the artist takes a gentle swipe at his old friend. In a beautifully rendered riot scene on pages 2 and 3, one of the protesters carries a large sign that says “Traitor Bendis” with a goofy caricature. Then on the next page, an optimistic, cheerful scene, a marquee declares “Bendis Saves Earth” and a young woman in the foreground is wearing a t-shirt bearing the same Bendis caricature.
Counting down to Avengers movie
And speaking of Marvel, the weekly “Avengers” series is picking up steam as it leads into the release of the “Avengers: Infinity War” movie that opens April 27.
I was a bit concerned that a weekly series might be too much of a good thing, but it turns out it’s just right. As Marvel is struggling with quality in some of its other titles, the Avengers book is keeping the quality high. In it, the Hulk is back from the dead and he is not happy. Fans were wondering how the resurrection could take place since the Hulk was very decisively killed with an arrow through the eye fired by Hawkeye. Turns out that, like Wolverine, the Hulk is immortal and can not be killed. He just keeps coming back to life.
New Age of Heroes at DC feels like Old Marvel
Hate to say it, but the first offerings from DC’s lauded “New Age of Heroes” feels a bit too familiar.
“Damage” is basically The Hulk. “The Silencer” is a female Punisher and really, can anyone look at “Sideways” and not see Spider-Man?
I’m looking forward to the return of “The Challengers of the Unknown” in “New Challengers” and am curious about “Unexpected,” but the three titles released so far have already fallen off my pull list. There is no “there” there.
The exception is the fourth title released so far, “The Terrifics,” written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Ivan Reis and Jose Luis. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year.
It doesn’t take much imagination to determine that this book was initially pitched as a revival of Marvel’s “Fantastic Four.” Though no one is confirming it officially, it’s pretty obvious that Plastic Man is substituting for Mr. Fantastic, Metamorpho is filling in for The Thing, Phantom Girl (an ancestor of the Legion of Superheroes character) is Sue Storm. Mr. Terrific himself is a bit of Human Torch combined with Richard’s intelligence and arrogance.
Point is, the book is DC’s gain and Marvel’s loss. It’s beautifully drawn and is an exciting story. It also allows the DC characters to get some personality as well as advancing their original stories that have been dormant for years.
Issues one and two are out, grab them if you can.
And check out Metamopho’s right leg that looks like it could belong to The Thing.