Boom! Wham! Pow! The ComiQuad is a column dedicated to the spandex-laden world of comics and superheroes. It goes up
each Tuesday at odd intervals during the summer and will alternate between comic book reviews and other comic book news. Reviews shall try to be spoiler-free. Zam!
Reading the first story in this comic (the Popeye-centric story) is a lot of fun. Reading the first story in this comic in the voices of the characters out loud in your living room is a blast.
My memories of the Popeye television cartoon are hazy at best considering the cartoon was made in the 1960s. That being said, the first story in the comic captures the tone and voices of that show perfectly. The cute yet corny plot, Popeye’s musky manner of speech, and the art style are emulated beautifully. In fact, I would say that cartoon has been improved in slight ways; Olive Oyl is a much stronger and engaging personality than I remember her initially being.
Unfortunately, the spot-on wit and fun that the first story brings is not carried over as well to the shorter, subsequent story about “John Sappo, Professor O.G. Wotasnozzle, and Myrtle.” The apparently classic characters with whom I am less familiar are much less interesting than Popeye and crew.
While the first story was dynamic, the other story is fairly static and unmoving. The lazy husband continues to be lazy, the nagging wife continues to nag, and the annoyed professor continues to be annoyed by the both of them. And it repeats for nearly every panel.
If the comic contained only the first story, Popeye #2 would get a better score. Fortunately, a lackluster ending story does not drag the book down that far and the overall experience is definitely worth a look.
A superhero and his arch-nemesis are stranded on an Earth after a catastrophic alien-invasion. Unaware of any other survivors, these two fight to survive a post-apocalyptic world and each other.
‘Tis a great premise; ’tis a great letdown.
Spoofing well-known superheroes has been extra en vogue nowadays. And unless it’s integral to the story or pulled off with pitch-perfect excellence (like it is in my earlier review of Supurbia), it should just stop happening.
The “hero” of the story, Nox, is Batman. The comic goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure you know. Between the uninspired, earless Batman outfit, quotes like “I know my city. I know it’s dark belly,” his no-killing policy, his city’s name of “Duskberg,” and his “Night-lair” where the villain jokes that he “broods,” this presentation is the distinct opposite of subtle.
Not to mention, in the few places Nox is different from Batman, it’s for the worse. He has a weird obsession with condemning foul language, no charm, no depth, and he comes off as a two-dimensional caricature intended solely to remind you of Batman.
I’m ambivalent about the “villain,” the Red Reaper.
My one other story complaint is the dialogue. Both the voices sound nearly identical except for the fact that Red Reaper swears like a sailor.
Artistically, everything is pretty sound. It’s not mind-blowing but it effectively gets the job done. My one criticism is the characters are too often drawn in a way where it’s difficult to distinguish whose speech bubble is whose.
The premise, fortunately, makes the story inherently interesting. The character work, however, really does not.
People lamented before the series started that Earth-2 seemed like a much worse place to be. Lois Lane and the Amazons were annihilated from the get-go, the Earth was being devoured by minions from Apokolips, and Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman were all brutally killed by the end of issue #1.
In spite of all that, I’d hazard to say that Earth-2 is actually a better place to be. At least in terms of storytelling, it is.
The bulk of the story is dedicated to Jay Garrick’s deity-based transformation into Earth-2’s the Flash. Robinson masterfully handles Jay’s voice and the way he explores and discovers his newfound superpowers. Jay’s constant interruption of Mercury while he’s giving his regal monologue is hysterically realistic.
Jay is what a lot of superheroes really aren’t nowadays: fun.
The comic also teases the stories of Mister Terrific, Hawkgirl, and newly “outed” Green Lantern Alan Scott. Terrific’s immediate entrance into danger and Alan Scott’s exit into catastrophe made for intriguing comic bookends.
If I have one criticism, it’s that I saw the ending coming from a mile away. My feelings toward it (avoiding spoilers) will depend heavily on the outcome in the next issue. If not handled well, it could very well descend into superhero-trope land, so I’m hoping I don’t have as much foresight next time around. It ruins the fun.
Nicola Scott’s art is some of the best art in comics today. That is all.