Comic Review – DCeased: A Good Day to Die #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“God is dead” – Mr Miracle

DCeased has been DC’s take on the superhero zombie angle Marvel capitalised on during the mid-2000s. I’ve been reading it and have to describe it as better than it deserves to be. A Good Day to Die looks to bring in other characters in the DC Universe to show some of the other attempts at salvaging this universe in some shape or form. With the main series focused on the Justice League, this issue picks up with Mr Miracle, Big Barda, Mr Terrific, John Constantine, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in their desperate attempt to fix things by any means necessary.

This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Tom Taylor
  • Artist – Laura Braga, Darick Robertson
  • Ink Artist – Richard Friend, Trevor Scott, Darick Robertson
  • Colour Artist – Rain Beredo
  • Trading Card Artist – Madeline McGrane
  • Letterer – Saida Temofonte

The issue begins with Mr Miracle and Big Barda watching Apokalips explode as Darkseid’s mistake that started everything comes to it’s inevitable conclusion where it all began. As the reality of what has occurred dawns on them, they’re reached out to by Mr Terrific. The team then begin to address what may be some of the inevitable fan questions – the ‘why don’t they just use magic etc?’. This isn’t a happy story however, as you’ll have guessed by the title of the issue we see each of the team’s efforts come to tragic ends as they desperately try to avert the apocalypse with one desperate strategy after another, with some real jerk moves by the powers that be at times.

The story in this issue ties in neatly with the main series with Taylor’s writing hinting at the disasters taking place elsewhere in the world. As with the main series punches are not pulled when it comes to character deaths.

Braga and Robertson work well together throughout the issue. The imagery is as powerful as the main series, although some of the character deaths don’t quite have the full punch they do in the main series when you see them take place. Constantine is fun throughout the issue – desperately trying to scrape by while shamelessly showing his contempt for regular superheroes he ultimately begrudgingly admits he is one of.

Final Verdict

This issue is a fun tie in to supplement the DCeased main run. As with the main series I would label this as ‘better than it deserves to be’ with the concept being one which shouldn’t really hold up in modern comics, though still manages to with a fun self-awareness of its own ridiculousness. The art could maybe be a little stronger, though it is still solid enough to deliver a strong horror and shock factor as and when it’s needed.

If you read the main series, this is definitely worth your time. If not however, I would suggest starting with the main series and picking this up if you enjoy it.

Score: 8 Bottles from the Top Shelf out of 10

Comic Review – Darkseid Special (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“You just showed me what your concept of “loyalty” is worth” – Darkseid

For the centenary celebration of the birth of Jack Kirby DC are publishing a series of special edition comics for many of his most famous characters. Darkseid has always been one of DCs most iconic villains, on par with the likes of the Joker and Lex Luthor. What separates him from the others though – power. Of all the specials coming out this one appealed to me most. It also has a special OMAC short story and some classic stories written and drawn by Jack Kirby.

This comic was brought to us by:

  • Writer – Mark Evanier
  • Artist – Scott Kolins
  • Colourist – Dave McCaig
  • Letterer – A Larger World’s Troy Peteri

The comic is set entirely Apokolips, picking up the tale of ‘The Resistance’, three escapes who have dared deface one of the great statues of Darkseid, this is their story. Darkseid doesn’t make an appearance during the early pages of the comic, but even seeing the world through the perspective of our rebellious heroes is enough to give insight into Darkseid. His cruelty, power and inspired loyalty through fear are apparent throughout the entire landscape, environment and world of Apokolips. As the story develops, we see how Evanier manages to demonstrate both the in depth character development of each of the characters and the great, larger than life classic New Gods plot. There are cameos from the likes of Granny Goodness and the Furies who come across just as psychotic and monstrous as they have always been.

Kolins’ art perfectly communicates the dire situation on Apokolips. The pages are swamped with browns, reds and darker shades which simply makes the place look like hell under the hand of McCraig. The New Gods and Furies are larger than life and the emotion and desperation on the faces of the protagonists comes appears raw and human. Kolins and McCraig are both perfectly suited to the dark and gritty atmosphere in the comic.

The question is though, can Kolins draw hands? There are a huge variety of hands, from those which tremble in terror to the gigantic mitts of Darkseid. Kolins and McCraig do great work with what they have in this comic, though we rarely see the characters reoccur too often to see the same hands in different situations. 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

The special editions from Jack Kirby, which he both wrote and drew. They’re classic golden age comics with the surreal, larger than life story and simple, effective art. These themselves make the issue worth picking up.

Final Verdict

This is a fitting tribute to one of the most significant figures in comic book history. The story provides some unique insights to Darkseid as a character. Combined with the reprints of Kirby’s classic issues this is an issue well worth picking up

Score: 9 Parademons out of 10

Comic Review – Justice League #41

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

With Convergence over, DC Comics started publishing some of their new titles this week along with the return of many of their ongoing series. I picked up Justice League #41, the latest issue of what is essentially DC’s summer blockbuster movie-style comic that I’ve been following since the line relaunch back in 2011. The book has been written by Geoff Johns since the first issue, with the art team tending to change every couple of arcs. As of the last few issues Jason Fabok has been the artist, with colours by Brad Anderson and letters from Rob Leigh.

This issue marked the first part of ‘The Darkseid War’, the latest arc in Justice League (that I’m hoping won’t cross over into other titles, like ‘Trinity War’ did). The story opens with two of Darkseid’s furies, Kanto and Lashina, breaking into the home of Myrina Black and murdering her in cold blood before realising that she wasn’t the woman they were looking for. Their use of a boom tube draws the Justice League to investigate the crime scene, and they start to realise that multiple Myrina Blacks have been killed already, as Kanto and Lashina try to track down their true target. Meanwhile, Mister Miracle breaks into Darkseid’s throne room on Apokolips, trying to ascertain what his adoptive father is planning. Stunned by what he sees, he narrowly escapes Darkseid and heads to Earth to enlist the help of the Justice League, the only group in recent memory who have succeeded in beating Darkseid back from their world.

The league continues to investigate the Myrina Black murders, before a mysterious woman appears – another Amazon (named Grail, but I think that was in the FCBD teaser) She effortlessly despatches a large portion of the team on her own, and uses some of their own abilities to draw the Anti-Monitor to Earth. Mister Miracle appears at the same time in front of the Myrina Black that everyone has been looking for. It seems she and Grail plan on waging war with Darkseid, with our world as the battleground.

If that sounds like I threw around a lot of random and dense DC lore, don’t worry about it. Basically two of the biggest threats in DC history are about to fight each other and wreck the Earth in the process, assuming the Justice League can’t stop it. While this story has been set up by more than a year of lead up from Johns in this series, I would argue that it remains very self contained if you were just jumping on now. Narration is provided mostly by Mister Miracle while sneaks into Apokolips, and Wonder Woman who ponders the motivations of her team mates and herself. This is a welcome addition to the story, as we haven’t had much from her perspective thus far in the main Justice League title, and Johns seems to have a very strong handle on her character. The moment she states that of the two youngest of the team “The youth doesn’t often show in Victor. It does in Shazam” at the crime scene, just as he looks down grimly and says “I’ve never seen a dead body before” is brilliantly written, and is a touching few panels. The story set up, while potentially huge, is intriguing, flooding the reader with different threads without confusion, leading into the main thrust of the plot as all the various elements came together.

Jason Fabok’s art really is very enjoyable, and out of the issues he’s done for Justice League I think this is the strongest. The scenes on Apokolips hold a sense of oppressive grandeur, full of a caustic feeling as Mister Miracle sneaks into the molten surroundings (with a pretty cool costume redesign). The fight between Grail and the league looks gorgeous, and as she tears through the team the action looks fantastic, while the splash of her arrival is genuinely awe inspiring. I often find that artists who show their strength largely in action sometimes suffer when it comes to facial work, but Fabok doesn’t seem to have any problem of the sort. Anderson’s colours are a great complement to the art, and while the colour work in the big fight looks great I think it really shines during the Apokolips scenes.

20150603_234712

I’ve included this photo to illustrate two things. The top is said brilliant art. The bottom is a Twix advert that rather than taking up a whole page, split up two pages at once, totally taking me out of the story and the art. I don’t know what a Nick Lachey is. I don’t even like peanut butter. I definitely don’t think this sort of thing should become a habit, as the normal adverts are obtrusive enough. Splitting up the actual pages of content is idiotic. There has been considerable disquiet about this already, as it apparently extends to multiple books. Hopefully this is a one off based on the advert’s actual content, rather than a sign of things to come.

The Darkseid War looks like it is going to be huge and bombastic, a little dark and ruthless but hopefully a bit of fun along the way. Johns continues to write Justice League like a big action film, and Fabok does a great job of bringing that to life. If you haven’t been following up until now, or dropped off the book before, consider checking this out. You won’t be much more in the dark than long time readers are, and the writing is strong enough to not need prior knowledge either. The issue is a bit pricey, but as it is 40 pages you do get your money’s worth. Pick this up at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 8.5 Mother Boxes out of 10

Comic Review – Robin Rises: Alpha

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

Slightly more spoilers than usual!

This week, despite it being Christmas eve, I managed to get down to an unfamiliar comic book shop to pick up my usual dose of superhero-filled goodness. I decided to do a quick review of Robin Rises:  Alpha, the conclusion to the Robin Rises storyline from DC comics. A few months ago I reviewed the initial one-shot Omega that kicked this all off, so felt it prudent to do the same for this closing one-shot too. Once again Batman and Robin scribe Peter J. Tomasi handled writing duties, and Andy Kubert returned for pencils, sharing inks with Jonathon Glapion, with colours from Brad Anderson and letters by Dezi Sienty.

Alpha picks up where last week’s issue of Batman and Robin left off, following on from Bruce’s insane quest to retrieve the body of his son Damian and restore him to life, taking him in his fantastic Hellbat suit to the firepits of Apokolips (with Cyborg, several members of the Bat-family and Titus the dog tagging along for support) and culminating in a huge throw down with Darkseid himself. The last few pages of that issue are repeated here, largely from Alfred’s perspective in the cave as he calmly and suavely arms himself in preparation for everyone’s return via boom tube. Through comic book magic, Damian is brought back to life. Just in time too, because Darkseid’s son Kalibak follows them to Earth in a rage, determined to kill everyone for this embarrassment. The family, with the Hellbat out of commission, try to fight him off with what look like the guns from Ghostbusters. All looks lost, but out of nowhere Damian smashes Kalibak’s teeth in and proceeds to fight him off using the batmobile as a club. Somehow through his resurrection he has developed super powers, and no one is more surprised than him. With some help from Damian, Titus and Batcow, Bruce manages to force Kalibak back through the boom tube before Cyborg closes it. The issue leaves the dynamic duo reunited, with lingering questions about how Damian’s new powers will affect their partnership.

I know that was fairly spoiler heavy, but DC themselves have been spoiling everything coming in this series for months now. We knew Damian was going to be revived, and we knew he was coming back with super powers. Even though the solicits have been saying ‘someone’ would be taking up the Robin mantle, DC have made it very clear it would be Damian Wayne. I’m not really sure why, and I know the company is capable of keeping things under wraps. The Batman title and the current ‘Endgame’ storyline has been kept fairly secret so far, and I can’t help but feel that a similar approach to the Robin Rises arc would have added to the suspense and drama of Bruce’s mad mission.

That all being said, I have really enjoyed the whole series and this concluding one-shot is no exception. The heart of the reunion between father and son is incredibly well done, as are some touching moments between Damian, Alfred and Titus (Titus may genuinely be my favourite character in the DC universe). This issue is largely an action heavy comic, but the dialogue is sharp and the closing moments between Bruce, Damian and Alfred in front of the empty grave are superb. My only complaint about any of the story in Alpha is that there is no immediate repercussions to the use of the Hellbat. In the previous issue, after reviving and embracing his son, Batman passes out due to the immense strain the suit has put on his body. After the scene is repeated here, he is out for a few pages at the most, before coming to and looking absolutely fine. I’ll assume the reason he is fine is because he is Batman, and I’ll accept that, but I think I would have liked to see more of a visible strain. A very small complaint though, because other than that the story was a very strong conclusion. The art was great too, especially fantastic in the action scenes. The inks changed halfway through, but didn’t really affect the read negatively at all, and the colour work from Anderson brought the fight to life. There were a few particularly impressive double page splashes, but the best has to be Damian colliding with Kalibak’s face and smashing some of his teeth out.

Overall, this was a great end to an arc I have really enjoyed. I will certainly be following up on the adventures of Batman and Robin in the wake of this new status quo shake up. Pick this up at your local comic book shop  or digital comics platform, and I hope you all have an above-average holiday season!

8.5 Crumpled Batarangs out of 10