Followers of the blog may be aware that I, CT, currently reside in Tallahassee, Florida. But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, Nerd Lunch began as a gathering of the regular bloggers here back when we all lived in the Champaign, Illinois area. Recently, I took a trip back home and some nerdy and lunchy things happened along the way. Today I begin the five-part saga recounting the journey there and back again.

The trip from Tallahassee to Philo, Illinois is 900 miles. This long trek was going to require some reading material. So, my wife was gracious enough to pick out a random assortment of trade paperbacks from the LeRoy Collins Leon County Library that I could bring along on the trip. She did great and picked out five books that I have never read.

Daredevil: Born Again
I own several issues of Daredevil and perhaps even issues from this run, but I had never taken the time to read this entire story. I was familiar with some of the major story elements due to later Daredevil stories making reference to this pivotal saga. The Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli team holds up to its legendary status here. This tale paves new ground for the characters and changes the dynamics forever. The story is more about character, but builds character through solid plot and pacing. Several characters are used to advance the singular story. The most frustrating part about this is that Born Again would make an excellent film. It could have been a wonderful second or third film in a Daredevil movie franchise. If they get it going again, hopefully they avoid the mistakes of the first one and don’t throw in every “cool” Daredevil story into the first movie.

Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga
This was the second collection from the Brad Meltzer run on Justice League of America. In this book, the JLA and JSA team up to track down some members of the Legion of Super Heroes who have come to the 21st Century for a mysterious mission. This was a bit of a mess due to the amount of characters and a convoluted continuity. And, having been out of comic reading for awhile, I was having some trouble piecing together what was going on. This apparently was setting the stage for the return of Barry Allen, but why the Legion cared about that was not adequately explained. Also, there were some weird scenes with Aquaman and Martian Manhunter spying on the League for some odd reason. This story was so self-referential and did not blaze new territory as I would hope a newly relaunched book would. There were some interesting things set up, particularly with Vixen, but as a whole, it read a lot like fan fiction.

Superman/Batman: Supergirl
This is volume two of the Superman/Batman series and makes a few references to the previous volume. Even though I had not read that, I had seen the Public Enemies movie adaptation which was fairly faithful from my understanding. As explained in the supplementary material in the book, this story was done to simplify Supergirl. It is a modern retelling of her original appearance from the 60s. Although, in a (yet again) fanfic sort of way, Batman and Wonder Woman are thrown into the mix. The story is packed with coincidences and “wouldn’t it be cool if’s.” I’ve long considered Jeph Loeb to be a man with about six story ideas and everything he writes is an extrapolation of one of those ideas. This is really no different. However, in spite of its faults, the story is told in a very dramatic way that probably translates well to the screen. I have not seen the animated adaptation, but I imagine it is very entertaining, if lacking real substance.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., vol 1& 2
Warren Ellis can be hit or miss with me, but I think I’ve managed to read more things I consider hits than misses. He definitely has an easy reading style though it can be mired in ridiculously genius continuity. This book is about five obscure Marvel characters becoming a rogue super hero team and fighting monsters. My lack of Marvel knowledge meant that I was only familiar with two of the characters and had heard of a third. My only issue with this book is that is starts out serious, but takes a parody sort of twist and becomes a bit more like Venture Bros than I’d like. The resolution also seemed rush. Overall, I’d say this is a hit, but certainly no Planetary. Also worth noting that Stuart Immonen’s art style is rather different in this book than I’m used to. Much more dynamic, but I did miss his curvy, solid style. Still, I’m glad to see him growing as an artist.

Check back on Friday and I’ll talk about my “toy hunt” exploits while in Illinois and share the loot I brought back with me.