Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Majestic: Strange New Visitor Trade Paperback Review

Majestic: Strange New Visitor
DC Comics
168 pages
$14.99 (2005) Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781401204839

Contributors: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Karl Kershl, Ed McGuinness, Renato Guedes, Oclair Albert, Richard Horie, Tanya Horie, Carrie Strachan, Phil Balsman, Rob Leigh, Ken Lopez, Nick Napolitano, and Dexter Vines

Reprints: Action Comics #811, Adventures of Superman #624, Superman #201, and Majestic #1-4 (of 4)

Synopsis: Majestros is an immortal Kheran warlord stranded on Earth for millennia while battling a secret war against another alien race called the Daemonites.  Super-intelligent, immensely powerful, wielding ocular energy beams, and the ability to fly, in the modern era he goes by the superhero moniker, Mr. Majestic.  The war ended and Majestic remained on Earth.  While investigating a long-abandoned Daemonite science-base he stumbles upon an apparatus which opens a gateway into The Bleed.  Something causes him to fall in and he disappears from reality.
McGuinness gives us a Majestic version
of an old favorite!

"Strange New Visitor" - Superman has gone missing from Metropolis and a devastating reality storm is raging above the city.  Lois Lane is worried about her husband Clark Kent (aka Superman).  The other heroes of Metropolis band together to deal with the storm, but they're having a very difficult time.  They include Dr. John Henry Irons (formerly Steel), his daughter Natasha Irons (the current Steel), Superboy (Kon-El), and the Eradicator (an ancient Kryptonian machine which takes a semi-humanoid form).

Rumors emerge of a new hero who strikingly resembles Superman and saves innocent people caught in the storm.  Lois investigates in the hopes it's Superman, but discovers the hero is actually a stranger named Mr. Majestic.  He is displaced from his own reality and doing what he can to help people in immediate danger.  Lois presents Majestic to the other heroes, but they meet him with varying degrees of skepticism.  Is his reality-displaced presence causing the storm somehow?  The group of heroes don't know what to make of Majestic, but they can all agree on not trusting him.  When they turn on him it could mean the end of Metropolis!

"Grounded" - Majestic is trapped on a parallel Earth, but he doesn't stop being a hero.  His methods are deemed too harsh by this world's heroes including Superman and the two have a discussion.  Superman suggests Majestic gain some perspective as a regular human and he takes it to heart.  The next day Jim McArest rents a room in a small suburb outside of Metropolis.

Superman and Majestic have a chat over coffee
He befriends Ellen and her son Elijah, but finds it hard to assimilate into regular life and keep his superhero identity a secret.  How can he hold back when witnessing an injustice and do nothing?  Not only that, but something followed him from The Bleed and it threatens to destroy the small bit of real life Majestic has made for himself.  Will he be able to protect it?  Then the Eradicator shows up wanting to settle the score with Majestic after the events of the reality storm in Metropolis. It's not looking good for this fish out of water.  

Pros: Abnett and Lanning nail Majestic's character and give him much-needed depth as a hero, Kershl's art is surprisingly detailed and excellent, the book has the same creative team throughout, McGuinness turns in some good covers, very nice Wildstorm/DC crossover which is actually in-continuity, classic meeting between Superman and Majestic in a diner, character progression for The Eradicator

Cons: Actual plot is very basic and follows the typical crossover formula, Kershl's Lois Lane was not very metropolitan and appeared to wear over-sized (baggy) clothing, no noteworthy villain in either storyline, no Superman vs. Majestic battle
We get to see Majestic's memories
from Khera

Mike Tells It Straight: I found the Majestic crossover in Superman to be a daring move which predated the consolidation of the Wildstorm Universe into the DC Universe by seven years (it happened in the New 52).  At the time it was unheard of having an in-continuity crossover and  the writers, Abnett and Lanning, worked hard to make it unique.  They did a great job nailing Majestic's character while adding some much-needed depth. The two are known for their cosmic superhero stories and really did a great job here.

Kershl's art was highly competent and shone in several areas.  Great storytelling and lots of detail.  I really liked that the main creative team was consistent throughout the two storylines.  My only gripe was his baggy clothes-wearing Lois Lane.  A far cry from the cosmopolitan reporter I've grown accustomed to.  I guess it was a little disappointing to not have a big brawl between Superman and Majestic, but the crossover wasn't typical and I wouldn't trade the diner scene with the two for anything. It was classic.

We get to see some of Majestic's origin on Khera when he falls in love with a beautiful princess named Elan (that's the name he keeps calling Ellen).  I felt the only thing really missing was a worthy villain in the story.  The focus was on characterization more than anything else and the writers validated Majestic as a true hero (instead of just a Superman knock-off).  I liked the momentum they built for the character which launched him into a regular series.  I'll post a review for it soon!

TO BUY and Recommendations: