Comic Review – Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“From that night forward I was Batman” Terry

Me again, up for another comic book review, and with DC still enjoying the success of their Rebirth relaunch I’ve picked up another first issue to review. This time it’s Batman Beyond: Rebirth, written by Dan Jurgens, art by Ryan Sook, colours from Jeremy Lawson and Tony Aviña and letters from Travis Lanham. I picked Batman Beyond as like many people I watched the cartoons when I was younger. Despite this I hadn’t picked up a copy of the comic books before now.

bb-cover

Cover art by Sook

As with the cartoon the comics are set in Neo-Gotham, the future of the DC Universe. The fluorescent lights illuminate the city, technology has moved on leaps and bounds, but Gotham is still Gotham, crime is of course rampant. The Batman you ask? Well as you’d imagine Bruce is a little long in the tooth for crime fighting, so Terry McGinnis has taken up the cowl.

This first issue is largely an introductory one we get to know Terry and an overview of his back story in becoming the current Batman and his relationship with Bruce. I’ve always been a fan of the way Batman Beyond portrays Bruce as even more jaded and cynical than you could even normally picture the Bat.

We also get introduced to the key supporting players – Commissioner Gordon (Barbara), Terry’s brother Matt and his closest friends. Unlike Bruce and the other traditional Bats such as Dick Grayson, Terry still has a few of his family alive and a close relationship with them.  This gives a whole new spin on the regular Batman persona.

bb-interiors

Art by Sook, Lawson & Lanham

Sook’s art is vibrant and colourful, he is certainly a fan of mixing up the panel layout as well, which creates an action packed, dynamic feel to the comic to support the action. The lettering is well crafted to skilfully lead the read across the page and draw attention to what really matters.

However, though lettering and panels do matter a lot, can Sook draw hands? This is an action-packed issue, as you’d imagine this means character’s hands are rarely still. There’s a lot of punching, grabbing and holding going on. While there is some conversation to the issue hands are often out of shot. They are used well for expression a couple of times, but while I’d have liked to have seen them used this way a little more this probably isn’t the issue to do so with all of the action going on. 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

My main criticism of this issue is that I saw the last page twist coming a little too early I feel. For a kick off issue it’s a good start, we get to know Terry, who is well developed, and while the enemy isn’t anything too exotic the familiarity of the Jokerz eases the reader into the series.

Score: 8 Corrupt Old Women out of 10

Comic Review – All-Star Batman #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: Minor Spoilers

“I just wanted to say… I’m so sorry I had to do it.” – *******

Another new DC Rebirth Comic this week! It’s another Batman run DC are kicking off with All-Star Batman #1, written by Scott Snyder, with art by John Romita Jr., Danny Miki and Dean White for the main story, and Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire on the backup story, with Steve Wands lettering both parts. I wasn’t sure what to expect with All-Star Batman as opposed to more traditional Batman comics. The only version of this to come out before was All Star Batman and Robin in 2005-2008, and all I know about that is Dick Grayson gets abandoned in the Bat Cave and has to eat rats to stay alive. What I got here was a comic where Scott Snyder, who lead the outstanding New 52 Batman run, really strutting his stuff.

All star batman cover

Cover art by Romita Jr., Miki & White

Snyder has been let loose to do what he does best: character interaction. The plot of issue #1 focuses on the relationship between Batman and Two Face, interestingly quite a line is drawn between Two Face and Harvey Dent in this case. The two are off to ‘burn out’ Two Face once and for all. Two Face of course isn’t too keen of the idea and has put a huge bounty on the both of them. It isn’t all talking though, we get a wonderfully over-the-top fight scene as mercenaries try to bring the Bat down. Batman manages to switch things up and the whole thing takes on a cheesy horror movie-esque feel to it while Bats takes on his attackers.

There’s more to the relationships than only Batman and Two Face though, we get an additional story attached to the main one, from Duke Thomas’s perspective where he and Batman try to save victims of Zsasz. There’s again a focus on their relationship, emphasising that this is not Duke as Robin, it is not Batman and Robin (Damian still holds that title) but something ‘new’. It feels like the pair of them are finding their feet a little with this relationship. While I always like the idea of Batman having a side-kick or similar I’m not sure DC know quite where this one is going. I hope they do and it’s only the character’s uncertainty but I can’t quite tell what it’s meant to be yet.

All star interiors

Art by Romita Jr., Miki, White & Wands

As for the art, overall it was solid. Romita Jr. and Miki team up to create stunning moments, particularly in the fight scenes and a certain silhouette of Batman with a chainsaw looks awesome, though if I’m honest while the over the top imagery suits the big panel images it sometimes looked off in some of the smaller interactions. White’s colours for the main story are somewhat subdued and more of a desaturated palette, which works well to show the passing of the time of day throughout the start of the road trip, and makes the field scenes look particularly impressive. In the back up story, Shalvey’s art is a nice contrast to the brighter outdoor aesthetic in the main arc, with a more ominous feel that is simultaneously highly detailed, particularly with the contrast of the geometric shapes forming ‘The Cursed Wheel’ and the crime scene. Bellaire’s vibrant colours help to further distinguish the back up not only from the main story but from different scenes in the same short tale, with dim Batcave clashing nicely with the bright colours on the Batcomputer.

Speaking of smaller interactions, can Romita Jr. draw hands? There were less examples of actual hands than I was expecting as so many of them are covered by chunky gloves or armour. While gloved or armoured they do look good, though naturally a lot of the detail in the fingers and joints is simplified somewhat. There is one trucker with very stubby fingers, but they are used well in gesture when they are in panel, covered or not. Romita can, though didn’t get to show off properly in this issue, which is why they’ll get a 7.5/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I like how different this feels to the main Batman run. I am a huge fan of Snyder’s past work on Batman so I have high hopes for this. It looses a point for some of the art and the uncertainty over Batman and Duke, but those are issues I’m sure many will disagree on. If you like them this would be a 9.5, though in my opinion it drops to:

Score: 8.5 Stilling Cuts out of 10

Comic Review – Batman: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“Like I said, I’m trying something new.” Batman

Rebirth – DCs attempt to fix some of the perceived flaws in the New 52 and start a fresh. Geoff Johns, who is spearheading it, has said he wants to bring back two things that have been missing from DC – hope and optimism. Batman tends to be associated with the dark and gritty. It was also one of the best, consistently fantastic series in the New 52. Will Rebirth keep up the high standard? Time to find out.

Bats rebirthBatman: Rebirth was co-written by Scott Snyder and Tom King, with art by Mikel Janin, colours by June Chung and letters from Deron Bennett. Tom King will be taking over writing duties entirely once the new series properly relaunches with Batman #1 in a few weeks, while Scott Snyder drove the writing of Batman throughout the New 52, and isn’t exactly moving away from the character as he returns with All-Star Batman later this year. Anyway, Batman: Rebirth kicks off with Duke Thomas turning up at Wayne Manor about the ‘offer’. He’ll be working with Batman in this new take on DC. Not only does Batman have another partner, but he’s back in charge of Wayne Enterprises (thanks to Lucius Fox).

Their first opponent will be Calendar Man. The seasons have been sped up dramatically and they’re cycling through an entire year’s worth in a single week (we have to assume this is local to Gotham, would hate to think what it would do if the planet’s orbit of the sun was sped up 52 times over!). He’s seemingly a single issue villain, although the comic reveals he lives in a cycle of rebirth which he comes back smarter and stronger from each time. Which of course is very thematic with DCs ‘Rebirth’ series. Duke and Bruce agree they’ll be ready and waiting for him and will hit him back stronger and smarter as well.

There are some key differences to the old status quo though. Despite being a ‘Robin’ Duke will not become Robin. He’ll be something new. We don’t know exactly what yet, another Batman? Batboy? So far all we have is his suit,  yellow with the Bat symbol on it. Their exact relationship will be confirmed in the coming issues, although Bruce does seem to be mentoring Duke.

As for the art, the level of detail is fantastic, everything from Bruce’s nearly entirely naked body to the background in the Batcave feels alive and action packed.

 

Final Verdict

Batman: Rebirth proves to be exactly that, a new beginning. It may have been a little heavy handed in the metaphors throughout the issue but it does the job well. I also like this take on Calendar Man. He isn’t a villain I’m too familiar with, but I don’t believe he was reborn with the seasons before. It’s a cool new power. I’m interested in seeing where they go with the Bruce/Duke relationship as well as apparently it’ll be something new we haven’t seen before.

Comic Review – Justice League The Darkseid War: Batman (DC Comics)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

“There’s no legislation for holding someone based on what they MIGHT do.”

“There is no MIGHT” – Batman

Warning: minor spoilers.

So some of you may remember last week I said I’d review the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl this week. Well I underestimated DC releasing such an interesting Batman Comic, and I’ve neglected DC in my stewardship of these weekly reviews! If you are disappointed there’s no Squirrel Girl… 8/10. As usual it’s a lot of fun, but very much a jumping on issue. It’s fun to see Marvel rub Fox’s face in the fact Squirrel Girl is “medically and legally distinct from being a mutant”. She’ll be up against Doctor Doom in the next issue, and I am definitely going to read it.

DSWcoverAnyway, we’re here to talk about Batman aren’t we? And not who’d win in a fight out of him and Squirrel Girl (spoiler: Squirrel Girl! *editor’s note from Adam: no*). So, where was I? This week I’m reviewing Justice League The Darkseid War: Batman, the first of a set of tie-ins to The Darkseid War storyline currently running in DC’s flagship title. The Darkseid War: Batman was written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Fernando Pasarin, with inks by Matt Ryan, colours by Gabe Eltaeb and letters from Dave Sharpe.

If you’ve been reading Justice League you’ll know that Batman has recently been bestowed with God-like powers. This issue explores what would happen if the Bat had real power, absolute power. You know, the type that corrupts.

Batman has of course been keeping on-top of crime in Gotham, he can teleport, is immune to bullets and can see deep into the future and past. He’s been arresting people before they commit crimes, much to Jim Gordon’s displeasure. Yups, Batman gets powers and he goes all Minority Report/Big Brother on us, enacting cruel and unusual punishments! This, isn’t surprising, in many of his incarnations this is a route the Bat takes. What’s more surprising is how quick he is to seek personal revenge. He makes a rather terrifying visit to Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents (who is still a horrible person) and scares him beyond belief. And next issue, he’s taking personal vendettas to the next level.

DSWBGThere is constant suggestion that this isn’t entirely Bruce and his Mobius Chair (bestowing his powers) is influencing his actions. However, one thing that has been made incredibly clear in the New 52 incarnation of Batman is how ultimately human he is. Sometimes he makes mistakes, he has no powers and is no God. He is a man who sits amongst Gods, able to go toe to toe with them, with none of their powers. He is suspicious and skeptical of those in power. Why? Could it be because he knows what he would do with their power were it his own? This issue suggests yes, that’s exactly why.

It also says something about the likes of this universe’s Superman, who, although currently corrupted by something from the Darkseid war, holds this kind of power and deals with it on a daily basis. Without becoming corrupt. He may be a boy scout, but he has to be. If he wasn’t, he’d become everything he stands against, something like the Superman from Injustice or the Crime Syndicate.

 

Final Verdict

Tie in issues can often fall wide of the mark and end up as not much more than a marketing ploy. This is not one of those issues. It gives us a fantastic insight into this incarnation of Batman. His weaknesses and his dark-side (get it?).

Final Score – 9 Power Crazed Bats out of 10!

Comic Review – Batman #40

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

Contains some spoilers from earlier issues of the ‘Endgame’ arc

DC’s Convergence event is fairly huge, and being in a bit of a ropey financial situation right now, I decided to effectively bow out of DC Comics for the month… mostly. I’ve picked up the odd Convergence tie-in if a writer or artist is involved that I’m fond of, but with the main titles largely on pause until the move to Burbank is finished, I decided it was best to just save a bit of money and reduce my stack each Wednesday. However, this week saw the release of both Batman and Justice League #40, and as the former was then end of the current arc I’ve picked that to review this week (not the first time I’ve reviewed the conclusion of a Batman arc). As for the previous 39 issues, Batman #40 was written by Scott Snyder and pencilled by Greg Capullo, with inks by Danny Miki, colours from FCO Plascencia, letters by Steve Wands.

This issue was the finale of Endgame, the story arc that saw the Joker return to utterly destroy Batman and the world around him. Starting with corrupting the Justice League with Joker Venom, to mutilating those closest to Bruce, he also threaded a narrative that led to the potential conclusion that he was in fact immortal, that Batman could never stop him and that Gotham would fall. By this last issue, barely any citizens remain untouched by the latest Joker Venom, a strain that Batman couldn’t cure, that has turned them into crazed zombies fighting themselves and anyone uninfected. Having already enlisted the help of his rogues gallery who, despite their own criminal intentions and dubious sanity, don’t want to see Gotham torn apart any more than he does, Batman and the Bat family attempt to fight their way through the throng of victims with their contorted smiles and creepy laughter to try to get to the Joker, to find a cure and to find out once and for all if he really is ‘The Pale Man’, an immortal spectre as old as Gotham itself. The truth about both men, and how they face down the possibility of death, leads to the inevitable show down between Bruce and his possibly eternal foe, as the city quakes and tears itself apart above them.

I’ve said innumerable times how much I enjoy Scott Snyder’s writing, and he has continued to be very strong on Batman since the start of the New 52. Endgame has been a bombastic, hugely entertaining thrill ride from start to finish. As with the previous arcs, Snyder has continued to peel back why Bruce is so important, and we continue to be interested in him. This issue could have easily been overwrought or weighed down by the culmination of the story and the moving elements, like the inclusion of the villains on Batman’s side, but they were kept to the background without being sidelined, to allow for the final confrontation to breathe and to focus in on Batman and the Joker’s relationship as they brought each other to the brink of annihilation.

And this annihilation was, as always, beautifully realised by Capullo. The first half of the issue was strong as always, but the fight in the cavern is brutal, gory and truly visceral in a way that feels like if this was the last time Batman and the Joker ever faced each other (obviously it won’t be, because superhero comics) then this would be a fitting end. Miki’s inks bring a savage oppression to the fight, and a darkness to the rest of the issue that adds weight to the tone. Plascencia’s colours bring this all to life, with the stark and unnaturally bright shades of the sunset melee at the start, to the flame-lit show down. All together, the art team continues to shine even so far into the creative team’s run.

Though some elements of the fallout of Endgame have already been spoiled online (you’ve all seen the mechanised Batsuit), they lack the context and lead up that explains how we get there, or where we will go after. Regardless of what is coming next, this was another great end to what has been a really strong arc. Once again, Snyder and Capullo played with our expectations and threw in potential retcons that enraged or discomforted anyone with a particularly jerky knee. But comfort zones are for lesser storytellers, and things are at their best when they’re not as they seem. When this team does finally leave the book (and apparently they were originally planning to at the end of this arc), I don’t at all envy who has to pick up the reigns after them.

Pick up Batman #40 (if for some reason you haven’t already) on your digital comics platform of your choice or at your local comic shop. Even better, go and head down to Free Comic Book Day this Saturday 2nd May at your LCS and buy it when you get your free comics!

Score: 9 Lipstick Wearing T-Rexs out of 10