Special installments were released for Batman and Superman courtesy of Frank Miller and Max Landis. Which one wins, which one loses?

By: Derek Ng

Let’s not beat around the bush, comics are getting expensive. With so many new issues, epic sagas, and never-ending disasters, my wallet can only take so much. Cover Price is a weekly comic review with the set budget of $15. I mostly pick my choices based on cover, price, and hype. Which company suckered me into buying their issues this week? Were the issues I picked up worth the $15 cut? Were the issues you picked up worth your money?

2/24/16 C.C.P. Reviews:

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3 – $5.99

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #4 – $3.99

Superman: America Alien #4 – $3.99

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3

Writers: Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello | Artists: Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson

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Frank Miller defined Batman as the cocky, arrogant, angry, smart, overpowered Batman we know and love. Issue #3 finally brings Bruce into the story equation and, at this point, the momentum for this series has dwindled to a sad “meh”. Bruce is still angry and bitter, but it seems like everyone in this series is too. The invasion of the religious radical Kryptonians was so predictable that the issue quickly became rather average. While Dark Knight Returns was subtle about its political themes and symbolism, The Master Race slaps you in the face and shoves it’s message down your throat. The themes and setting that made Dark Knight Returns so fascinating feel lost here, making this new series read like lazy writing. This is a very strict black and white tale. Batman and his gang are the “good guys” and the Kryptonians are 100% the “bad guys”. They have no real motivation besides being the “bad guys”. There is no grey area, no confusion, and no development. Batman’s iconic fight with Superman was gut wrenching because Superman was a government slave, but still a hero. The fight was conflicting to the reader and that’s what made it so memorable. Now, with this new threat, I just want Batman and Superman to just beat the crap out of all of them. The Kryptonians are so clearly evil that not even Superman would have a problem murdering his own people. But I may be too harsh on this issue, since we still have a ways to go to the conclusion. My expectations were set too high and now that they have lowered. I’m sure Azzarello and Miller have surprises to come. What I really appreciate is having Adam Kubert and Klaus Janson provide the art for this series. They have consistently captured Miller’s style and knock the art out of the park. The facial expressions, in particular, are very well defined. Just from the art, you could hear Bruce’s iconic growl or Superman’s clear distress. The art is so refined that you don’t even need text to understand the story or what is going on. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it wasn’t enough to guarantee this issue as a “buy” and more of a “check it out”. As for the Green Lantern additional story…well, hit or miss, it’s an additional story (I’ll just leave it at that).

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #4

Writers: Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare | Artists: Natacha Bustos

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Let me be clear: while not for every reader, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has been a great addition to the Marvel titles. This is a comic that you would give your younger sibling who wants to begin reading comics (and to whom Frank Miller’s work may be too difficult to understand). Issue #4 has a guest appearance of the Totally Awesome Hulk for a totally fun comic. The reason why having Amadeus Cho as the Hulk works so well for this particular series is because Cho likes to show off. For being the 8th smartest person in the world, he clearly has a Hulk-sized ego. If this issue guest stared Bruce as the Hulk, it would be an entirely different comic. Instead it’s very light-hearted, funny, and action-packed. Devil Dinosaur fighting the Hulk should be enough to make this issue memorable, but it’s the constant exchange between Cho and Lunella that entertained me the most. Lunella has more of a temper than Devil Dinosaur, himself! Natacha Bustos’ interior art feels like a Saturday morning cartoon. It’s colorful and matches the theme of the writing incredibly well. It’s like a Squirrel Girl comic that just so happens to include Devil Dinosaur. This comic is not for the dark and serious reader, but to instead show how diverse Marvel comics can be. The creative team clearly understands this and made this series fun for everyone. If you’re looking for a comic to bring new readers in, I highly recommend Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. I mean, who secretly doesn’t want a pet T-Rex?

Superman: American Alien #4

Writer: Max Landis | Artists: Jae Lee

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I know this comic came out 2/17, but there are certain stories that make you fall in love with your favorite characters again and make you realize why you love comics so much. Superman: American Alien is that kind of comic. It’s an absolutely fantastic re-telling of Superman’s origin and younger years. With each issue, there is a new artist to tell the different stage of Clark’s life. This issue has the beautiful art of Jae Lee. Lee’s art is known for being odd, dark, wondrous and strange. This works perfectly with this story because Clark has just moved to Metropolis. Compared to Smallville, Metropolis and its lifestyle is odd, dark, wondrous and strange. Writer Max Landis clearly understands how to write a Superman story. Clark wasn’t born with his morals. He was raised, inspired, and learned from the environment he grew up in. In Metropolis, he meets the newly reformed Oliver Queen (after the island), Lex Luthor, a young Dick Grayson, and Batman. Each exchange is memorable and extremely unique. I especially enjoyed Clark’s conversation with Dick Grayson. Each conversation slowly pieces together what, who, and how Clark will define himself. Again, Jae Lee’s art exemplifies this comic’s enjoyment and near-perfection by drawing Batman more of a creature when he first confronts Clark. When drawing from Bruce’s perspective, Jae Lee draws Clark as an unknown, angry god. As an initial confrontation, this clearly sets up a justified uneasy tension between the two, and at the same time, lays the foundation for their eventual friendship. This series is how Max Landis would write Smallville and Man of Steel if he had complete freedom to use any character to tell his story, and this series makes me desperately wish that Max Landis had more Superman projects to work on. I can’t recommend this series enough. Not only is this a great Superman story, it’s a fantastic origin and comic series. I never thought I would say this since the New 52 began, but this is the best comic DC is currently releasing (even above Batman). This issue (and series) is a BUY.

Panel of the Week:

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“That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling that turns good men… cruel”

There are many more comics released by DC and Marvel this week. I wish I could read them all but my wallet can only take so much. What did you read this week? Which issues would you put on your $15 budget this week? Remember to read and buy what you want and support your favorite writers and artists!


Derek is comic book fan like none other. You can follow him on Twitter.

Alex Russo

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