Tag Archives: superheroes

Infinite Avengers by Hickman and Yu

“I rescue the helpless. I raise up the hopeless.
“I don’t measure people’s lives. . . I save them.”

In this set of issues we reach the pivot point for the whole Infinity-Everything Dies series. The cover intends to remind readers of a scene I didn’t mention in my post New Avengers: Everything Dies, because a guy doesn’t want to give a whole story away. But I guess we have to go there now.

Captain America was one of the Illuminati faced with saving Earth from incursions from alternate Earths in other universes (see first post for more). He suggested using the Infinity Gauntlet, and when that didn’t work, he argued against considering necessarily evil options. “I know you,” he said. “You’ll create a doomsday weapon on the possibility of needing it, and then, one by one, you’ll talk yourselves into using it.”

At the other members’ consent, Dr. Strange wiped his memory and sent him away.

The timeline of these issues falls at the end of the middle of the fourth set of New Avengers issues, A Perfect World. There we see Tony Stark working with bruises and a bandaged nose. He tries to roll it off as wounds from the crisis they have just been through, but the truth is Hawkeye pummeled him for getting the everyone into this cosmic mess. That fight occurred as a result of Cap remembering everything he had been encouraged to forget and accusing Stark of working with Reed Richards and the others to destroy parallel Earths in order to save ours.

And they hash it out with their fists. Boy! These supers can’t resist flexing on each other. “You know I’m right! Look at my muscles!” I guess they know the fans are watching. It isn’t any better than the argument clichés that were used here and in other issues that escalate the tension without following an argument.

But maybe that flows with the sci-fi philosophical reasoning or leaping that abounds in this story. In the midst of Avengers flexing on Iron Man, the Time Gem reappears in Cap’s hand, and in blazing light they jump forward in time to meet new, future Avengers. They start talking about timelines, traveling between space and time, time as an organism not a measurable concept — it can make you ask questions. And everyone else seems to know all about it, but hey, this is just a comic book. You need to be moving on. [Flash!]

Now that I’m writing about it, I remember that I usually dislike stories with narrating characters who calmly explain what that freak of nature actually is and why it happened to you and maybe something about purpose; if they mention a prophecy, I’m out. It’s ugly, unnatural exposition. Am I reading or watching the annotated edition of this story? But with all of the exposition in these issues, I didn’t mind it. I wanted an explanation.

Pretty sure I didn’t get one.

What Cap gets is moral clarity of a sort. He remembers who he is now, and he’s going to take his righteous standard back to that shadowy group who think they can act alone.

Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross

Artist Scott McCloud writes of his friend Kurt Busiek and their enjoyment of comics as teenagers. He says they wrote a series together of an epic battle that destroyed their high school and many landmarks of their Lexington, Mass, hometown. He and Busiek had an agreement, he says, that he would write critically acclaimed comics and Busiek would write the popular stuff that made money, but with Marvels Busiek has produced an award-winning, fan-loving hit that has sold like lemonade on hot day in a freedom-loving town in these blessed states of America.

Marvels tells the human side of living in New York City with superheroes, aliens, and mutants emerging in the world. Photographer Phil Sheldon hopes to land a gig as a war correspondent, but when the offer comes, he declines because The Human Torch and The Sub-Mariner have begun to fight through the skies of their city.

“… repeat the latest developments: The Human Torch had imprisoned The Sub-Mariner beneath a sheet of flame in an update reservoir, but the undersea dynamo freed himself — even as the Army bombed his fiery prison!”

Phil: “Blast them! Look at us — just sitting here waiting! There isn’t a thing we can do — and this is our city! Our world! Who gave them the right to just come in and take it away from us?!”

Over four collected issues, Phil works through varying emotions about the “Marvels,” his term: who or what they are, public reaction, and his own responsibilities. He doubts, he fears, he falls into public outrage at the mutant X-men and hurls a brick at Ice-Man. Then he rallies and writes a book about them that features his photography.

I looked up this series collection after listening to a Stitcher podcast based on it. Marvels reads a bit like the story of a Frenchman who survives WWII rolling overtop of him. It doesn’t tell much of the many stories it references. We just see something blow up down the street and empowered people we may or may not recognize rushing toward it.

In one conflict between Galactus and The Fantastic Four that appears to spell the end of the world, Phil runs home to spend whatever minutes he has left with his wife and kids. But the world doesn’t end, because the Marvels save it with every ounce of skill and luck they have.

The book doesn’t end on that note, because not every hero’s story moves from victory to victory, and Phil’s emotional turns flow naturally as he and the world react to many fantastic events. Fans of golden age comic book superheroes will love this gorgeously produced tale of a photographer who fights to see to wonder in the age of supers.

New Avengers: Other Worlds and A Perfect World

Jonathan Hickman put a poetic balance in his New Avengers: Illuminati tale of the end of universes. Several times we read Reed Richards saying, “Everything dies. You. Me. Everyone on this planet. . . . eventually the universe itself. This is simply how things are. It’s inevitable. And I accept it, but what I will not tolerate–what I find unacceptable–is the unnatural acceleration of that end.”

The select men who form the Illuminati fear they must do horrible things to avoid the death of their instance of Earth (explained in an earlier post). So far they’ve only had to destroy planets that were dead or dying. In Other Worlds, the Black Swan tells them of a device she calls a mirror that allows someone to see into realities or universes. Because in this type of sci-fi all you need is to conceive of a thing in order have a working device in the next few days, they build this device and begin scanning for incursion points on other Earths. In this way they see other societies with other heroes being invaded by the horrifically deadly agents they have only heard about: Mapmakers and Black Priests. In the second book, Infinity, they return to Black Swan after defeating Thanos, and she ridicules them. Why worry about a dog when you have a demon charging you? she asks, because what’s coming is irresistable death.

It’s never clear whether she is shooting straight with them, and as the weeks burn up they see potential threats that only make them fear the worst. In A Perfect World the worst comes in the least acceptable form. The next world incursion is not filled with abominations but with heroes who could be their superiors. Are they willing to destroy a good world to save their own this time?

In this other version of Earth, we read Dr. Richards’ dialogue with a different spin from a Superman-like figure called Zoran, the Sun God.

“Everything lives. It lives before it dies and we are judged by what we do during that time. Like a brilliant, life-giving star, we illuminate the universe, chasing away the shadows. We create life and then celebrate that creation.”

After reading Zoran’s hopeful words, I thought they may right every wrong, even if it took turning back the clock. But now I see this is only part of a much longer story. It probably won’t turn hopeful or patch certain holes in character arcs. Maybe the bottom line comes from one of the characters, who said these men were not heroes but kings. Kings have authority from birth and do not reason within normal human morality; they commit necessary evil to defend their people, and even though you may be able to argue that certain acts were not necessary, if the people are safe, then the actions were acceptable.

That’s more like embracing the shadows than chasing them away.

The New Avengers: Illuminati by Bendis, Reed, and Cheung

I put aside my reading of the New Avengers series to look at this collection of five issues called The New Avengers: Illuminati. I thought it was a prequel to the other series and it does begin that way, but somehow I got mixed up on publication dates. My library site has 2019, but these issues start in 2008 and may stretch to 2010-11, putting this book well before my current series.

But it begins as I expected. Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Tony Stark, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Charles Xavier, Stephen Strange, and Black Bolt have pulled together to tackle select work of a specialized nature in light of war between the Kree and Skrulls that spilled onto the Earth. Richards has called the meeting and tells them he has one (no, three) of the infinity gems. Oh, and a gauntlet. Understanding it would be super-dangerous for anyone to have all six gems, Richards suggests they are just the super-dangerous men to collect all six in order to keep them out of everyone else’s hands.

Of course, they collect the other three gems, and The Watcher shows up to say, “My job is to watch and record the universe’s defining events.” (I think he’s contractually obligated to say that.) And, Reed, I am so disappointed in you. He says no one should have all six gems, especially a human, so Reed distributes them to the team.

What could go wrong?

In the next issue, the deal with an entirely overpowered young man who just wants to have fun. Then they handle another young man who’s really, really mad at mankind. Finally they talk over the implications of someone they’ve found and realized their efforts to end a future Skrull invasion have kicked open a remodeled level of Hell.

When I said that reading comic books usually involves hopping into the middle of some kind of story arc, this is book has more open ends than a farmhouse in summertime. While it does set up the Secret Invasion series (which might have been nice to learn from the preface), as a whole this book is like watching five disconnected episodes in an evening marathon, the last of which is barely more than a cliffhanger scene.

Infinity by Hickman, Spencer, Latour, et al

Earlier I said I was missing parts of the story being framed up in Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers series, volume two, called Infinity. That missing part was something like the whole backside of a house. I feel as if I’ve read three Longest-Day-style war stories back to back, and I’m glad I didn’t borrow this collection of issues before reading Everything Dies. While that collection begins with a page telling part of a previously told story, those details introduced the opening scene neatly. Whenever you pick up a comic book that is not issue one, you should assume you’re stepping into the middle of a story at some point.

Infinity by Hickman, Spencer, Latour, and many illustrators begins at issue seven in the series I’ve been reading and issue fourteen in a separate series, so yeah, if I was inclined to be lost by characters I’ve never even heard scant rumor of, then I’d be lost like the shed key I thought I put in the drawer back in October and, I assume, has since been borrowed by the little people of the house.

There’s no way to summarize this book, but I can say its plot is instigated by the loss of the infinity gems I alluded to in the other post. When the gems were used, it appears at least three powerful beings, Thanos among them, noticed immediately. War is raging through the universe, and Thanos looks over Earth and sees an opportunity to accomplish one of his life ambitions–to kill his son.

The battles are legitimately marvelous, and Captain America shines as the man who sees the winning strategy when brute force has been beaten against the wall. But sometimes the more powerful characters appear to be holding back.

One young man, maybe fifteen years old, is known by many others as having great, cosmic power, but he doesn’t know it himself. So when he has to be coached into using his strength, there’s a sense to it; when other characters use their fists until they are almost struck down before ka-booom! they let loose their unique power, I’m left wondering why they didn’t do that to begin with.

I assume this book reflects Marvel’s mythological metanarrative accurately, but that narrative may not be neatly defined. There are plenty of cosmic beings, one of whom is a beautiful woman who apparently created everything. The great enemy that brings so many disparate empires and heroes together to oppose it claims to be agents of evolution, destroyers and creators as they deem appropriate. They note they were created by the universal mother and have since rejected her. At another time, as she lay unconscious, the heroes repeat the main refrain of these books, that everything dies–men, worlds, gods, and galaxies. We’re all just dust in the wind, I suppose.

So what’s the point of it all? asks a younger team member, an Australian named Eden. “How do you make sense of it? Fate? Faith?”

Continue reading Infinity by Hickman, Spencer, Latour, et al

New Avengers: Everything Dies and Infinity

I mentioned a few days ago that I was reading a series called New Avengers, and when I began considering what I could say that would be worth reading (a barrier to entry that you might say hasn’t stopped me before) I remembered some gaping plot points. A war is started and then shrugged off. A major cosmic villain appears and is suddenly neutralized behind the scenes. What am I missing?

I am missing another entire series that fills in the story. Why isn’t there a note at the end of one issue that the story continues in another series’, because when you finish issue 6 and pick up issue 7, you tend to expect the story to pick up with you.

Cover of New Avengers: Everything Dies by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting

I’m reading the 2014 New Avengers series by Jonathan Hickman, a four volume set. This is the first cover, showing Steve Epting’s excellent artwork. Each volume has a different lead illustrator; all of them impressive. In Everything Dies, seven heroes who aren’t necessarily Avengers, if that term means something, gather as the secret rulers of the known universe, the Illuminati (which is the only name that can be given to that sort of group, even if no one ever uses it).

They meet because Black Panther witnesses a woman, calling herself a black swan, jump to our planet from another one that hung perilously above. She then detonates the first one, and swoosh, all returns to normal. She claims there’s a natural order to the multiverse (infinite parallel universes, infinite parallel realities), and while everything will eventually die, something happened on an Earth in a universe somewhere that caused it to come to an untimely end. That weakened the walls between universes apparently, because it led to two universes touching each other at their point of Earth. As you’ve likely seen in the news, when two universes reject social distancing guidelines, they eliminate each other.

When universes are eliminated, it bothers people, particularly those who wear the same form-fitting suit to work everyday.

The other Earth that the black swan dropped from was an Earth in its own universe. Soon another one will appear in the sky, and if one of the two planets is not destroyed quickly, both universes will perish. The heroes begin work on an early warning system, hoping to give themselves eight hours to save one or both universes. And then someone remembers he has an old infinity gauntlet in his car trunk, and since they have all the infinity gems already, why not try using it?

Continue reading New Avengers: Everything Dies and Infinity

Heroes in Their Own Story

In the bonus material on the back pages of Justice, author Jim Krueger praises Bob McKee and his story seminar for teaching him this pivotal idea: every good villain must believe himself to be the hero of his story.

You can see that idea played out best in my description of Luthor’s motives. He wanted to raise up a new, stronger humanity that didn’t lean on the crutches of overpowered non-humans like Superman and the Martian Manhunter. He’s still a villain because of the path he’s willing to take to get there, but you can see how calling him a hero of his own story could work.

Wilson Fisk (Kingpin) in the Daredevil series would easily fit here too. He spoke of remaking the city into a better, safer neighborhood. But he also knew what goodness and moral truth were, at least, something of them. In this clip, which is one of the best of the season, he talks through his thinking process probably for dramatic effect, not from a fit of honesty.

Krueger says good villains don’t roll out of bed wondering what new terrors they can unleash, except some of them do. Some men just want to watch the world burn, as Alfred in another story put it, and even Krueger’s story demonstrates that

In Justice, dozens of villains collaborate on a single, grand cause because they are being manipulated by their leaders. I won’t tell you how to avoid the spoiler, but they do not share a distorted view of some common good that has pressed them to put aside differences. Their only good is their own profit, power, or pleasure. Their leader is using them to wage war for as long as he can until he disposed of them. Nothing about that can be called good.

Heroism is about saving people. In the New Avengers series I’m reading now, their compulsion to save people is almost a weakness. They will not let go of the possibility that they could defeat what at the moment appears to be indefeatable. They must try while they still can. Villains think about using people and saving themselves, which isn’t good just as abuse of all types is heroic.

Macbeth may be the hero of his story. Hamlet is. Many others just want the thrill of dropping the match that sets the world aflame.

Justice by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross

It would be natural and unfair to compare Justice by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross to the comic book series I reviewed a couple days ago. The Infinity Gauntlet was published in 1991, Justice in published in 2007. The scope of each project was likely different from the start. The possibility of twelve large issues for Thanos’s story may not have been possibility had it been proposed.

But the two series offer roughly similar stories. The end of the world is at hand and a wide host of characters jump forward to move the story in their own direction, at least half of them I didn’t know. This set of twelve issues touches good, moving themes that are often left in draft in other series or touched so briefly as to be unnoticable.

Justice appears to be a story of DC Comics’ Justice League of America moving from a loosely coordinated group of confederates to a band of actual friends. It begins with the world in nuclear holocaust, each hero failing to save a city or region as another destructive wave crashes over them. A few of them say, “I was too late. But I’m never too late.”

This is just a dream, however, that the world’s supervillians all experience together. They come to believe the world will end soon and their nemeses in the Justice League will be powerless to stop it. So they band together to save humanity, while taking measures to profit personally. Captain Cold and Poison Ivy turn a desert into an oasis. Scarecrow offers miracle cures to young people with crippling diseases. When the time is right, Luthor, Black Manta, and others announce to the world their generosity and intent to raise up new, floating cities to welcome the downtrodden and raise up a newly emboldened human race to seek new horizons, to soar to new heights, etc. etc.

The world is amazed at this turn of events, but willing to go along with what appears to be a good thing. The Justice League of America is nowhere to seen, so they don’t appear to have a problem with it or maybe, the cynics say, they can’t profit by it.

Continue reading Justice by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross

Source Material: Infinity Guantlet

By the magic of my community library’s digital loaning platform, I was able to borrow a comic book. Crazy wild, I know.

When I discovered I possessed this uncanny power, I sought out the source material for the recent Avengers extravaganza, the original telling of Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. I didn’t like the movie’s storyline for its heavy reliance on a single argument and felt certain Hollywood had rejected perfectly good source material for its own twisted narrative. Surely the original was better; I mean, it’s the canon, right?

Not even Death realized what limitless might the mad titan was striving for. Through cunning, sheer strength, and murder, Thanos wrested the infinity gems from those that possessed them and with each acquisition he gained mastery over the soul, the mind, power, time, reality, space.

The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin and artists George Perez and Ron Lim starts on an interesting note. Unlike Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos starts the book with all the infinity gems. The story skips neatly over all the nobodies Thanos had to dispatch in order to obtain the six gems, which is fair. How could they have told engaging stories about unknown aliens guarding unknown powers? The threat to human and all sentient life builds nicely over the first two issues.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Thanos has just about infinite power with these gems and eliminates half of the sentient beings in the universe. The Avengers won’t roll over for that and neither will the Avenger-friends. That much is in the movies. In the comic books, The Silver Surfer rushes to Earth to tell Doctor Strange everything he knows, Strange receives word from a metaphysical being who is also in the know, and other heroes hear from their sources as well. In short, everyone soon knows who they oppose but not how they can oppose him.

Fault one with The Infinity Gauntlet: The Hulk doesn’t say, “There’s trouble brewing!”

Fault two comes in the big fight. Sure, someone must devise a clever plan. Sure, many heroes will be overwhelmed by this nigh omnipotent villain. Sure, many words will be spilled by B-string supers who speak of themselves in the third person and are supposed to be super-duper defenders except this time. All of this can be done well enough, but they tried to take it to the next level by bringing in a menagerie of gods to challenge the one with godlike power. And what do you think happens to them?

Continue reading Source Material: Infinity Guantlet

Clinch by Zachary Bartels

“How many Marilyns do you know who go to our church?” she asked, “because I only know one.”

“This is none of our business, Judith.”

“And that’s her car,” she said, pointing at a battered old Lumina with a Clinch Rock Wrestling bumper sticker. She looked over to Trent. “Marilyn Fisher.”

“Look, we shouldn’t have been eavesdropping in there. Just let my Dad deal with this, okay?”

“But he can’t now. Don’t you see? Confidentiality, the confessional and all that stuff. He can’t go the cop route. He’s stuck. But I’m not.”

At the start of this summer, Zachary Bartels released the half of the script of his podcast of fiction and not-fiction. It was the fiction half called Clinch. The story follows a couple teenagers who start at a Christian summer camp and just about end up there. Trent is the son of the small town’s chief of police who is transitioning to full-time pastor. His long-time friend, Judith, is also very close to his dad, who treats her like the daughter he never had.

Their close relationship is tested in part by the bad guys, because this is a YA thriller, and in part by a book called, Insane Faith: A Guide to Extreme Christianity for the Truly Faithful. It’s a book that urges readers to give 120% of everything for everything.

“Jesus never said no to anyone who asked for his help,” the book teaches. “When we say no to an opportunity to exercise insane faith, we’re refusing to be like Jesus.”

Such a mindset pushes Trent’s dad into full-time ministry, challenges Trent’s perspective of his fairly average life, and inspires Judith to take up a superhero mantle. Because despite the real world setting, big city bullies, teen antics, and cool Goonies-level mystery, Clinch is essentially the story of a girl who sees corruption in her town and works to oppose it. With an ox goad.

I loved it. I listened to the whole podcast series and enjoyed all of the not-fiction parts too. If that’s not quite your thing, you can pick it up as an ebook or paperback.

‘Superheroes Can’t Save You’ by Todd Miles

There is no hint that Batman is anything other than an incredible human being (with seemingly unlimited amounts of cash). Though such qualities and skills are never found in any one real human being (that is what makes him Batman, after all), they are just human qualities and skills. He may be the most remarkable human being in comic lore, but in the final analysis he is just a human being.

And some people feel the same about Jesus.

Todd Miles, professor of theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., spent most of his allowance on comic books for many years back around the time each book cost a quarter. He would browse the drug store rack weekly, reading most issues while in search of the few he would redeem with his not-so-hard-earned dollar. Many years later (after the experiments of a mad scientist would ruin his ambition to become the first man to circumnavigate Mars in a weather balloon), he connected his theological training to his comic lore fascination to make this conclusion: “Every bad idea about Jesus can be illustrated by a superhero,” at least the biggest bad ideas can. He ran with that idea in a Sunday School class, later a youth retreat, and with much encouragement wrote a book on it.

Superheroes Can’t Save You covers seven of the most popular heresies about the person of Christ Jesus, tying each of them to memorable superheroes. The chapter on the Trinity ties to Ant-Man, arguing against the idea that God manifests himself in one of three modes: the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. The chapter on Jesus’s full humanity connects to Superman, explaining how Jesus, as God, did not merely pose as a man (as Kal El did in taking the alias Clark Kent) but became a man completely.

While each chapter is not evenly paced, they do follow a pattern. Miles begins with the comic lore, segues into the heresy, takes a moment to explain who commits the heresy today, describes the biblical truth, and then offers reasons for the importance of these truths. I think in every case, the key problem with the heresy is the undermining of our salvation. The Bible offers a clear logic for salvation, why we need it and how it is accomplished. With humor and careful writing, Miles tells his readers these alternate concepts of Christ don’t work in that logic. Thor can’t save us. Neither can a savior like the Hulk with all of his incredibleness. Only the living Jesus can save us.

I said each chapter is not quite even, because some of them dive into the comic storyline more than others and some swim through history more than others. Miles’s explanation of each heresy in a modern context brings the history forward, so it doesn’t remain as weird ideas from the past. Casual readers can discover liberals commit the Batman heresy and ways we teach about the Trinity easily lead people into the Ant-Man heresy (Oneness Pentecostals teach that heresy explicitly).

In the chapter on the Green Lantern heresy, Miles’s dive into Christ’s humility as Paul puts it in Philippians 2:5-8 had me in tears. Christ Jesus is awesome. He is the only one who can save us. But from who? Luthor? Bane? Magneto or Doctor Doom? No, the real life treat we face is ourselves. We have forged our own destinies, followed our own dreams, and would pour dust upon dust forever if the Lord God, our Creator, refused to intervene.

Is Gotham Worth Saving?

Steven Greydanus talks Dark Knight and other superhero movies.

The dialogue between God and Abraham, in which Abraham pleads for the city, is echoed most directly in Batman Begins. “Like Constantinople or Rome before it,” intones Liam Neeson’s Ducard, later to be revealed as Ra’s al Ghul himself, Gotham “has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving. … Gotham must be destroyed.”

Bruce tries, like Abraham, to negotiate: “Gotham isn’t beyond saving. Give me more time. There are good people here.”

But the battle for the city doesn’t actually end.

Bulletproof Luke Cage in 2016

The Luke Cage stories of 1972 Marvel comics are not what you see in the new Netflix series. The new writers deliver a more mature story than their source material, Sam Knowles says, in many ways.

One clear improvement is apparent to anyone who happens to see cover art from the old comics. Luke was known as a ‘hero for hire.’ He used his abilities as a way to earn a living, which in the real world makes some sense, but what other superhero does this? The mercenaries are usually the bad guys. The good guys are heroes for the sake of justice. Knowles states,

Luke’s identity as a self-proclaimed ‘hero for hire’ sets him up in opposition to white superheroes, whose racial privilege enables the narrative of ‘superhero-ness’ to be about altruism. As a result, others look down on Luke’s attitude–most obviously Dr Noah Burstein [the scientist who gave Luke his power]: “I’ve heard how you’ve helped neighborhood merchants against Syndicate protection men. For a fee / Bit disillusioning from a so-called hero, isn’t it?”

Luke Cage and the Evolution of the Superhero Narrative

The Netflix story explicitly drops this idea early on. In the beginning, Luke doesn’t want to get involved at all. His father figure, ‘Pop’ Hunter, urges him to use his gifts to help others and later suggests he hire himself out, but Luke refuses. Though he struggles with whether his efforts to help amount to kicking the criminal hornets’ nest, he continues to help those he can because it’s the right thing to do. He loves the people of Harlem.  Continue reading Bulletproof Luke Cage in 2016

A Completely New Super-Man

Writer and artist Gene Luen Yang is telling a new Superman story under D.C. Comics Rebirth banner. A Chinese boy from Shanghai, named Kong Kenan, is chosen by the right people to receive abilities equivalent to the Man of Steel. He begins as a bully but plays the hero at the right time to attract someone’s attention and change his life forever.

Blaine Grimes of Christ and Pop Culture thinks it works.

With New Super-Man, Yang sets up a narrative that directly confronts and subverts the traditional American superhero origin story. The dominant arc in comic book narratives—be it books or films—suggests that superheroes typically start from a position of basic goodness (or at least innocence) before they are imbued with fantastic powers or take up the mantle of public defender. . . .

But New Super-Man gives us a space, a not-so-fictional-universe in which damaged, wounded, and prideful outcasts are given both a new identity and a call to push back against the very darkness and injustice out of which they were redeemed.

New Batman Writer Is Ex-CIA

Tom King joined the CIA in response to the 9/11 attack. After several years as an undercover operations officer, he returned home, began to work on writing, produced this superhero novel, and now has landed a job with DC Comics to write Batman.

“Batman gets close to the insanity of Gotham, to the craziness, to what drives that city mad, and not be driven mad himself—or at least most of the time he isn’t,” says King. “That’s most like the mission of the CIA. We get into the heads of our enemies without becoming our enemy. I’ll use that experience to tackle this character.”