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 – Superman #6 (DC Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

I had a few different books to choose between for this week’s review, but ultimately Superman #6 stood out far above the rest. Issue 6 is the final part (aside from the epilogue) of the ‘Son of Superman’ arc, written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, with Gleason on pencils, Mick Gray on inks, colours by John Kalisz and letters from Rob Leigh.

superman-cover

Cover art by Doug Mahnke & Wil Quintana

The Eradicator has followed Superman, Lois and their son Jon to the moon on his deadly mission to purge the human impurity from Jon and preserve the legacy of Krypton. After destroying Batman’s moonbase over the course of their battle (because of course Batman has a moonbase), Superman finally gains the upper hand with a little help from the souls of the dead from his home planet. But is it enough to defeat the Eradicator, protect his family and gain the trust of his new world?

This creative team has been working together for a while now, and everything I’ve read from them has been of an incredibly high standard, with Batman and Robin #18 back in 2013 from Tomasi, Gleason, Gray and Kalisz being as close to a perfect comic book as I have ever read. Since Rebirth, their take on the Man of Steel and his family has been one of my favourite titles and this issue was a fantastic climax to the Son of Superman story. Putting aside the slightly confusing history of this Superman (with his family the survivors of the pre-Flashpoint universe, now taking the mantle of Superman after the New 52 Superman died. I think), Tomasi and Gleason have been weaving a terrific story about family, responsibility and belonging with some note-perfect character work for all three principle cast members. This finale continues that, with a satisfying conclusion to Clark’s fight with the Eradicator that packs a huge emotional punch too. I’m not going to spoil my favourite part, but anyone who knows me could probably guess it after reading.

superman-interior

Art by Gleason, Gray & Kalisz

Gleason’s pencils are some of the best in modern superhero comics, packed with detail and expression that manages to retain a classic aesthetic while remaining decidedly current. His superb facial work is only trumped by the gorgeous action, both of which are given ample opportunity to be shown off here. It is clear that Gray and Gleason have been working together for a long time, because the inking is of the same level of quality, bringing a clear boldness to all of the line work, and heavy shadowing that somehow makes the book feel more epic in scale (it is after all, a punching match on the moon). This art team is rounded off with Kalisz’s rich and vibrant palette, a far cry from the grim overtones of much of the DC Universe (or the whole movie universe) with bursting primaries that bring a joyful and adventurous sheen to the story.

Of all the Rebirth books I have checked out, I wasn’t expecting Superman to be my clear favourite. But after 6 issues, I’m hoping that we’re going to be treated to this creative team on the Man and Boy of Steel for a long time. Superman #6 is a gorgeous and shining example of superhero comics, and if you’re not reading it you should definitely pick it up at your LCS or all 6 issues digitally now.

Score: 9.5 Lunar Modules 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 – Titans #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers, or major if you haven’t read DC Rebirth #1 or Titans: Rebirth #1!

“Then let’s get it all back, Donna. All the good stuff we lost. Make ourselves whole again.” Arsenal

Titans

Cover art by Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse

I was fairly spoilt for choice today for new comics to review. I had Batgirl, Nightwing and Titans on the cards. Out of the three stories so far the Titans story is the one I’m most excited about, with the return of Wally West. Titans #1 (written by Dan Abnett, pencils by Brett Booth, inks by Norm Rapmund, colours by Andrew Dalhouse and letters from Carlos M. Mangual) picks up where the DC Rebirth issue left off. We begin with a quick flashback to the Rebirth issue, summing up how Wally escaped the speed force and returned to the Titans. The focus of the issue is reintroducing the team dynamic and showing how Wally will fit into it all.

As with all super team comics, Titans has to walk the fine line of giving enough members of the team involvement so none of them feel pointless in being there. Wally takes the lead, I was a little disappointed he didn’t get his own series after being so integral to Rebirth, however he is taking centre stage in the events of the early Titans comics. We’re reintroduced to Omen after the quick recap, who’s exploring Wally’s memories and trying to find out as much as possible about the entity that changed history and their memories. She’s having a tough time getting past Wally’s memories of Linda, his wife from pre-New 52 who had no memory of him when he reached out to her.

Other members of the team move the plot on in the background, while working in exposition here and there. There’s a nice touch of humour between the ever sarcastic Arsenal and Tempest. We get a set up at the end of the issue with the first main villain the Titans will have to deal with. They didn’t take up much of the issue, but I’m sure their role will increase going forward now the team is back in business.

Titans interiors

Art by Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse

As for the art, I’m really enjoying Wally’s new costume. They aren’t giving him a new pseudo-Flash title. He’s still a Flash, though different from Barry Allen and the suit shows it, with a mix of the red of the Flash and a similar structure to his old Kid Flash outfit. He chose the design just as his identity is being established in the DC Universe. Otherwise Booth, Rapmund and Dalhouse have to work a lot into to every panel with so many characters, they do a lot of good work with the limited space they’re given. Each character’s personality is portrayed in their mannerisms, the way they sit, fold their arms and carry themselves and although the action is limited it feels dynamic and the heroes feel very powerful and in control. I have only one nit-pick with the art in the whole comic. There’s a page where we see Omen and Wally doing their mind meld and the team is there. Donna seems to be staring upwards, for no apparent reason, looking a little spaced out.

 

 

But the most important question:

Can Booth draw hands? As you’d expect with an artist for one of the major comic book players of course they can. With so many characters and so much going on they have to draw a lot of them as well, often very small and in awkward places. As I said before the art captures each character’s personality, and gesture plays a huge part in this. In the small background images and conversations, although the hands aren’t so detailed they do feel natural and look to be right where they should be. With so many there are some minor instances when maybe they look a little off if you go out of you way to look at them though. Even so, I think here we have a solid 8.5 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

The message at play here is how good it is to have Wally back and how natural the team now feels. There’s a little less meta I feel going on than the acknowledgement that the Spyral role didn’t fully suit Dick in Grayson or the apparent admission that DC have overly scrambled Wonder Woman’s back story a few too many times. But this works well in itself. DC need the fun stories, in my opinion they’ve been a little lacking, and Wally who’s classically known for his fun loving attitude and his friends in the Titans are perfect to help provide that. He’s still working things out since he’s back as he’s been through a hell of a lot, but he still comes across as a great guy. It’s a solid first issue.

Score: 8.3 Pizzas out of 10

Comic Review – Nightwing: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics

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

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“The Nightwing was the great rebuilder. The catalyst of change.” Nightwing

DC have kindly given me another one of my favourite heroes back! First I got back one in Rebirth #1 (go and read it yourself to find out who!) now, I get Nightwing: Rebirth (written by Tim Seeley, art by Yanick Paquette, colours by Nathan Fairbairn and letters from Carlos Mangual). He wasn’t really gone in the first place I suppose, only the identity wiped away while Agent Grayson took over. The Grayson series was fine, but it never quite sat right with me.

nightwing cover

Cover art by Javier Fernández & Chris Sotomayor

The comic kicks off with Dick Grayson taking care of a few last things for Spyral. He’s finished there now. The first thing that jumped out at me, before I even read a word was the vibrant colours on the page. The first image is a full page short of Dick taking on four colourfully clad enemies trying to break into a bank. In the meantime we get his internal monologue, going over the origin of the name Nightwing and how the inspiration for the identity came from Superman, not Batman, first. Of course, like many of these Rebirth stories the Nightwing has connections to change and things beginning anew. We also get to pick up the Dick and Damian relationship again, which has always been a favourite of mine. This eases us back into the character of Nightwing, not Agent 37. His relationship with Damian has been pivotal to the character since his run as Batman in one of Bruce’s absences.

Grayson says his goodbyes to the key players of Spyral before he leaves, apparently they’re going to be good guys now, and he happens to have his secret identity back. This is the first of my two criticisms of this issue. Apparently everyone had their brains scrambled and now nobody knows Dick Grayson is Nightwing anymore. A little more explanation here would be nice.

The second for me comes in the reveal of who his enemy will be. The series is seeming to pick up on the events of We Are Robin, however having stopped that series myself I felt like I was missing something here, especially in an issue supposed to be about new beginnings an old plot thread feels out of place.

One thing I did appreciate, as someone who always felt Dick was better as a hero than an agent, was Steeley’s acknowledgement that the character perhaps wasn’t the best fit for this. Midnighter outright tells Dick he’s to go back to being a superhero as being a spy didn’t suit him, Dick in turn acknowledges to himself that Midnighter is right.

nightwing interior

Art by Paquette & Fairbairn

So, going back to the art, Paquette and Fairbairn presented me with a lot more colour than I was expecting, the art is bright and matches the optimistic tones within the comic, the feel of new beginnings and things starting a fresh, with the one exception of the series villain(s), but that simply drives home the point even more. But the most important question:

Can Paquette draw hands? Paquette’s art style involves a lot of detail in the hands, the wrinkle and knuckles are heavily emphasised. They always tend to be doing something, be it throwing a punch, holding an item or moving to carry out an action and are less used for gesture and communication, a little more of that and they would have been pushing a perfect 10. Without, 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

 

 

Final Verdict

Nightwing is back. He has his independence back and I’m looking to see where things go. We’re dealing with a family villain and I’d love to see Dick go up against someone new and his rogues gallery develop. I really enjoyed the interaction with Damian as well.

Score: 8.5 Black Masks out of 10

Comic Review – The Flash #1 (DC Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

More DC reviews! It feels genuinely great to be picking up a large number of DC Comics again, and hopefully the quality and momentum will continue past all of these first issues in the new post-Rebirth era. Speaking of momentum, this week I picked up The Flash #1 from the same creative as the The Flash: Rebirth issue with Joshua Williamson on writing duties, art from Carmine Di Giandomenico, colours by Ivan Plascencia and letters from Steve Wands (with the cover by Karl Kerschel). The Flash: Rebirth indicated that at least part of the ongoing Rebirth story will be taking place in the pages of The Flash, but typically the character is one of the more unique and interesting in superhero comics, so that is reason enough to check it out!

The Flash

Cover art by Karl Kerschl

Despite being the fastest man alive, Barry Allen can’t be everywhere at once. He speeds around Central City saving lives, but ends up late to a crime scene for his day job as a forensic scientist. He tries to solve a murder case, but ends up being late to meet Iris West and her nephew Wally. And before that is finished, a series of incidents crop up in the city, so he rushes off and tries to deal with a burning building full of people and a besieged STAR Labs transport at the same time. But is he is fast enough to do both? Probably not, as that wouldn’t be particularly satisfying drama. But who is The Black Hole? And what is happening to Barry’s friend, Detective Heart?

Following on from The Flash: Rebirth, Williamson continues to write a Barry Allen here with a great deal of heart, desperately trying to help as many people as he can despite being stretched to his limits. In fact, he’s even called on this flaw by Iris, albeit from the perspective of him always being late and absent minded. And she doesn’t even know he is The Flash  (I think, I’m struggling to keep the New 52 and pre-New 52 timelines straight in my head, especially now as they start to meld them together). The characterisations and the strong supporting cast are handed deftly by Williamson, leading into what will hopefully be an interesting and dynamic story. The ongoing Rebirth narrative takes a back seat in this first issue, paid lip service to in the opening pages as a concern that Barry and Wally (old Wally West) will both be addressing over time, with the help of Batman (a team up I particularly enjoyed in The Flash: Rebirth). Which works for me, as I think that plot and this book will both be served best by a slow unravelling of the mystery rather than as a focus.

The Flash 2

Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, colours by Ivan Plascencia, letters by Steve Wands

You can’t really have a good Flash book without being able to describe the art as kinetic and dynamic, and unsurprisingly those are two words I can comfortably apply here to Di Giandomenico’s slightly heavy line-work and expressive action and motion. Scenes where we see the comic book hero actually saving lives and fighting crime (shock!) are really excellent here, with Barry somehow managing to battle all the major elements in some form or another in the process. But it’s the scenes where The Flash speeds in and out of a burning building, with multiple shots of him in the same panel running around and saving people, that really stand out in this issue. This is all highlighted by the vibrancy of Plascencia’s colours (especially in the burning building), with even the calmer dialogue-driven scenes boasting a bright palette that is in keeping with the tone of both this book and the character himself.

Heart. Kinetic. Dynamic. Those are things I expect from The Flash and this creative team delivers on all three. Another DC ongoing that I’m happy to be sticking with. Pick this up at your local comic book shop or digital comics platform now!

Score: 8 Speedsters out of 10

Comic Review – Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

DC’s Rebirth continues this week, and if my total failure to pick up a few of last week’s one shots yesterday is anything to go by, it is going fairly well for them. It’s at least selling well, and most of last week’s Rebirth output seems to be going down positively too (check out Kit’s review of Batman: Rebirth from last week). This week in particular I was looking forward to Wonder Woman: Rebirth, having dropped off the character since the end of Azzarello and Chiang’s New 52 run. The return of Greg Rucka to the series has had a lot of people excited (myself amongst them, as he is one of my favourite writers), and on this issue he was joined by the two art teams of Matthew Clark on pencils, Sean Parsons on inks and Jeremy Colwell on colours for the first 14 pages, and art from Liam Sharp and colours from Laura Martin for the last 6 pages. Jodi Wynne lettered the whole book.

WWrebirth

Cover by Sharp & Martin

Wonder Woman: Rebirth is a comic about truth. More specifically the lack of it. Diana of the Amazons finds herself disconnected from the people she is saving, in part because they are unsure of who she really is. And they are not alone. She thinks back on her life up to this point, and much of it is split between two different realities with an uncertainty that goes right back to her birth: was she formed from clay, or is she the daughter Queen Hippolyta and Zeus? Faced with a schism of her own past and questioning her whole life, Wonder Woman uses the Lasso of Truth on herself, tying it around her arm and asks herself who she really is. Diana, princess, daughter of Hippolyta, tenth queen of the Amazons. And she has been deceived. And she intends to find out who has done this to her and, possibly more importantly, why?

This is a story about the fluidity of serialised storytelling and the malleability of the origins of superheroes, but it is also a metatextual look at the inconsistencies and complicated facets of Wonder Woman that appear both presently and in her past. The initial disconnect with the women she saves at the start of the issue represents a disconnect with the audience, which Rucka deftly renders into a story point that leads up to Diana literally crushing and stepping out of symbols of her New 52 guise. In that way, the issue continues the Rebirth theme that someone is fabricating reality. However, here it feels much more personal. Rucka’s Wonder Woman is intensely reflective here, but rather than wallowing in self doubt as the character has recently, she maintains a graceful strength in the face of her doubt with regards to reality itself. It’s this simultaneous intensity and care to her introspection that displays a perfect characterisation from Rucka that will serve as a through line as the story moves forward.

Art by Sharp & Martin

Art by Sharp & Martin

Both of the art teams are very strong in Wonder Woman: Rebirth, and while they are distinct from each other the transition works in a way that feels natural rather than jarring. Clark and Parsons produce a sharp and familiar rendering of Diana (with a superb double page spread of her smashing through the lies), with Colwell’s bright colour palette rounding off the art in the first section that feels rooted in the New 52 stylistically. When she essentially steps out of her New 52 costume and heads to Olympus for answers, the comic switches to Sharp’s slightly finer lines and rich, overgrown visuals that almost moves the whole genre of the book to more of a classical fantasy leaning – something that suits the character and her world just fine. Sharp’s gorgeous art is completed with colours awash with an ominous sunset from Martin, resulting in a dark and brooding tone that makes the air around seem thicker with heat and dread.

When Wonder Woman returns in two weeks it will be as one of DC’s twice-monthly books. Interestingly, Rucka will be splitting these into alternating stories that presumably will intertwine or connect down the line, but will be set at different times in Diana’s life. Each of the two will have a different art team, which will provide an internal consistency within the story while also giving each a great deal of distinction. The first story, set in the present day, is ‘The Lies’. This will presumably be picking up where this Rebirth issue left off and Liam Sharp will be continuing with that. If his work on this issue is anything to go by, that is going to be a hell of a good book and I hope Laura Martin is sticking around to colour it. Issue #2 will be the start of the alternative story ‘Year One!’, which has a reasonably self explanatory title but I expect will go into where some of these lies and fabrications have taken root. This story will be drawn by Rucka’s Black Magick collaborator and all-round excellent artist Nicola Scott, and the preview art shows a much brighter and youthful take that I’m looking forward to just as much.

Wonder Woman #1 cover by Sharp

Wonder Woman #1 cover by Sharp

When DC first announced that several of their books would be going twice-monthly I was worried. After Wonder Woman: Rebirth I’m still worried, but more for my bank account than my ongoing interest in DC Comics. The set up for the series is compelling, but the quality in the whole creative team in this issue and seeing one arm of what is to come working so well here is what will be bringing me back in two weeks. If last week is anything to go by head to your local comic shop soon before it sells out, though I think DC are reprinting all of the Rebirth books anyway so keep an eye out. This is definitely one to check out.

Score: 9 Crushed Helmets out of 10