The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 71 – Charizard Watch

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, our fortnightly pop culture news and reviews podcast!


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Big News

This week we chat about PS4 Pro, the Mass Effect Andromeda gameplay and how Geoff Johns is going to save the DC Cinematic Universe.

Screentime – Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan

As we just had the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, Adam and Ian revisit one of the best Star Trek films with 1982’s The Wrath of Khan and get terrified by the ear larva scene all over again. Spoilers for a 34 year old film between 43:29-62:30.

Now Playing

Adam – Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake/Parks and Recreation on Amazon Prime/Alienation on PS4
Ian – Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson/Africa with David Attenborough/Skyrim & Neverwinter on Xbox 360

You can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.Fancy supporting our site? Head on over to our Paypal donation page! It’s completely optional, set your own price! Even £1 helps us with hosting costs and we’d really appreciate it! Cheers!

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 – DC Universe Rebirth (DC Comics)

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

DC Rebirth has finally started. After months of vagueness, speculation and secrecy, spoilers for the one shot DC Universe Rebirth went online this week before the issue hit the stands. Regardless, I somehow managed to avoid these spoilers despite existing on the internet (no mean feat these days), and as someone whose pull list of DC Comics has whittled down to two books as of late, I was eager to see what was in store for this relaunch/reboot/totallynotareboot/shot in the arm from DC. I’m going to give it a quick review, trying to avoid spoilers where I can while still commenting on the reveals contained in the issue.

Rebirth was written by Geoff Johns, the long time Justice League writer responsible for ‘rebirthing’ both The Flash and Green Lantern in the past, to great success.  Joining him on the book are several artists: Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez, Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Joe Prado, Matt Santorelli, Hi-Fi and Gabe Eltaeb, with letters from Nick J Napolitano.

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Cover by Gary Frank & Brad Anderson

Five years ago, following what transpired in the Flashpoint event when Barry Allen attempted to save his mother’s life and had to deal with the consequences of meddling with the time line, the DC Universe was changed. This resulted in a modern DC Universe referred to as ‘The New 52’ until recently, despite the number of books no longer being the 52 that launched when this reboot first happened. The time frame of the superhero universe as we knew it had been shrunk to 5 years, legacies were lost, relationships and friendships were weakened and characters were forgotten. This isn’t a unique criticism from me, rather it forms the backbone of Rebirth, and the resurgence of all of this seems to be what will occupy the DC Universe for the foreseeable future.

The damage done to the timeline wasn’t caused by the Flash’s jaunt into the past to save his mother it seems. Instead it was a mysterious figure from outside of time that interfered when everything was being put back together. A long lost character, aware of the damage done, struggles to return to the world and to contact those he once knew, who have all since forgotten him. If he can’t make it though, he’ll at least try to get a message through that the world is wrong and in danger, even if it kills him. Meanwhile, throughout the issue the identity of the culprit who put the universe back together wrong is slowly teased, until it is made clear by the end. More on that in a bit.

Throughout Rebirth there is a definite feel of making amends and of course-correcting. Adventure, fun and romance are all injected into the universe, along with touching base with characters and concepts that have been missing over the past 5 years. But rather than totally erasing the New 52 universe and acting like the old reality never left, DC is trying to have its cake and eat it too by melding the two together. There is a risk of trying to serve too many masters here, and they could wind up not satisfying anyone, but DC clearly feels like the risk is worth it.

As for the gamble? We’ll see if it pays off. Rebirth is at its heart, a very enjoyable and lengthy comic. There are emotional beats that absolutely land. Of the two big reveals? The first absolutely worked for me and paid off in a big way later. As for the big twist at the end? Not so much. Trying my best to avoid spoilers in case you too have managed to dodge them up until now. The person behind the curtain as it were (or people in a way) involves melding another comics property into continuity that as yet is unconnected with the DC Universe. And honestly? I don’t think works. I don’t think every story needs to be a part of the universe (or multiverse) and while it serves here as a convenient explanation for the world we now have, in my opinion it severely undercuts the impact of that other story and world from which these characters have been taken. Ultimately though, if the stories to come are interesting it doesn’t really matter.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the art. In the past, especially when dealing with events, DC has drawn in multiple artists into a single book in a manner that feels jarring. From page to page, the flow of art has suffered from inconsistent and often nonsensical changes between pencils and sometimes colours too. Rebirth avoids this by having discrete chapters completely drawn by a single art team, allowing for a compartmentalised yet complete flow. There is a kinetic and vibrant feel throughout the book that benefits from being framed around the particular narrator of Rebirth. This vibrancy is key to the overall tonal shift of bringing a sense of wonder and adventure back into the book, where big and fun superhero art is pushed to the forefront. And the colour palette across the chapters is consistently bright, adding to the sense of optimism as things move forward.

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Art from Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Hi-Fi

As a single issue, I really enjoyed DC Universe Rebirth. It looked great, and it seems to be forcing, however haphazardly, legacy and fun back into the DC Comics universe. I may not be hugely keen on the mechanisms they are using, but I am fascinated to see the effect that Rebirth will have on the line. As such, I’m not going to give the issue a score as in this situation I don’t think it would be conducive to the overall discussion about the comic and Rebirth at large. I am interested to hear your thoughts on the issue and what you hope will come out of Rebirth, so please comment on the article or get in touch via twitter @lost_lighthouse or @spacecowboyface to let us know what you thought. Kit and I plan on checking out the majority of the new series in the wake of Rebirth, so watch this space for what we think of a lot of the new #1s over the coming months.

Adam

Adam’s Top 5 Comics of 2015

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be sharing our top 5s of 2015, from everyone who writes here at The Lost Lighthouse. This time Adam will go through his favourite 5 comics of the year.

I’m taking a quick break from the depths of writing my PhD thesis to write about some of the things I actually cared about this year. For my final top five I’m ranking my favourite comics released in 2015. Comics are one of the few things I still manage to put a lot of time (and money) into, making a trip to my LCS every Wednesday for new comic book day. I read a lot of really excellent series, with new ones starting all the time. This year I’ve experienced a real shift from DC to Marvel, trying out and sticking with many new series of the latter before and after Marvel’s summer event ‘Secret Wars’, while dropping a large number of DC books – I’m now down to about 5 monthly books from them. But as this list will reflect, I tend to read more Image books than anything else these days.

A warning now, there may be a few spoilers along the way. If you get to a title and aren’t necessarily up to date with it, read on only if you don’t mind finding out the odd plot detail. In particular for my number 2.

5. Justice League – Geoff Johns & Jason Fabok (DC Comics)

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Justice League is one of the few DC titles I have consistently picked up since the start of DC’s New 52 back in 2011. Geoff Johns has been writing the book since issue #1, delivering the sort of blockbuster superhero action you’d expect from the title. The artist has changed every few arcs on the book, and since the end of last year Jason Fabok has taken over as the main artist. The previous arc ‘The Amazo Virus’ was decent, possibly one of the weaker plots of the last couple of years (certainly not due to the art). However, the current story ‘The Darkseid War’ has been superb, and more importantly has given Fabok the chance to really let loose with his art, not just with excellent superhero action but with huge god Vs god action between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor. His action sequences are superb and relentless, while not falling down when it comes to facial work like many action-orientated artists do.

The story is moving in to its second act this week, with the various members of the Justice League converted to various New God status. A real positive for the series has been seeing the story through the eyes and narration of Wonder Woman, while she leads the remaining Leaguers in a desperate battle while gods wage war on Earth. Justice League makes my list because it is one of the series I look forward to most whenever it comes out, and always goes to the top of my reading stack.

 

4. The Fade Out – Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser (Image Comics)

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The Fade Out started near the end of last year, and wraps up it’s 12 issue run next week. Created by long time collaborators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, the series is a Hollywood crime noir set in the late 1940s. The Fade Out deals with the murder of Hollywood starlet Valeria Sommers, and follows writer Charlie Parish as he tries to piece together his fractured and drunken memory to figure out who is responsible for her death and why. It’s very different to what I would normally read, but I’m so glad I picked it up.

Brubaker creates an interesting noir mystery and it is clear that plenty of research and care has gone into making sure the era feels right for both the setting, story and dialogue. The same can be said for Phillips’s art, with the style and characters feeling very 1940s, so they all really standing out. A bonus to the whole package are the back up articles from Devin Faraci in every issue, dealing with a different star or theme of old Hollywood. It’s really fascinating stuff. I’ll really miss this series when it’s finished, and will be re-reading it all when the final issue is out to see what I missed.

 

3. Southern Bastards – Jason Aaron & Jason Latour (Image Comics)

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Another Image series that started back in 2014 that continues to go to the top of my reading stack whenever it comes out is the brutal Southern Bastards, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Jason Latour. This is a fucking mean book. Set in Craw County, Alabama, Southern Bastards revolves around Coach Boss and his football team the Runnin’ Rebs, state champions that essentially run the town. The arc that has run through this year has largely focused on fleshing out Boss and his various violent cronies, presumably before we return to the plot moving forward in the new year.

Aaron’s writing is incredibly dark, I tend to feel fairly bummed out after each issue full of terrible people doing terrible things, but it is so well written and compelling. Latour’s art is brilliant, bringing this world to life and imbuing it with a dirty feel and colour palette. Everything in Craw County is ugly, and that includes the people. I can’t wait to see how low this series goes in 2016.

 

2. Thor/The Mighty Thor – Jason Aaron & Russell Dauterman (Marvel Comics)

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Another one from Jason Aaron, but this time decidedly less bleak. I jumped on to the Thor ongoing series during all the fuss over “Thor being turned into Lady Thor” and the huge amount of internet bullshit that followed that announcement that essentially boils down to people being afraid of change, of giving compelling stories a chance rather than knee jerk reactions and being unaware that if comic book companies only cater to the currently relatively small readership prices will continue to rise until the industry dies. And I don’t want that. I like comics. The storm in a teacup followed on from Thor as we know him, the Odinson, becoming unworthy to wield Mjolnir. In his place, a mysterious female picks up the hammer, and starts to use it more skillfully than even the Odinson. He spends a large amount of the first run leading up to Secret Wars trying to figure out her identity, which is revealed to be the cancer-stricken Jane Foster. And using the hammer is rendering her treatments ineffective, so being a hero is slowly killing her.

The story is tightly weaved and incredibly enjoyable, with really top notch plot and character work from Jason Aaron. Dauterman’s art is superb though, and probably the series’s main selling point for me at this stage. There are huge action splashes that are breathtaking to behold, and the cosmic and otherworldly elements and characters of the Nine Realms have looked great so far. When this series wrapped up for Secret Wars I was disappointed, but then delighted to hear that the same team was returning for the continuation after the summer event with The Mighty Thor. The issues so far from that I feel have been even better than the pre-Secret Wars material.

And calm down nerds. Eventually Odinson will be Thor again (in fact there is a fairly large hint in a Secret Wars tie in that we may be looking at having two Thors, which makes me happy as Jane Foster as Thor is great), Steve Rogers will be Cap again (it is his 75th Anniversary in 2016…) and I don’t really know or care what is happening with the Hulk. Just enjoy the stories. Or piss off. Either way do it quietly so the rest of us can read our comics in peace.

 

1. Black Science – Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera (Image Comics)

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Big Image bias in this list isn’t there? My favourite series of the year is the extremely high concept sci fi Black Science, written by Rick Remender and beautifully drawn by Matteo Scalera. Starting back in late 2013, Black Science focuses on a group of alternative scientists pushing the boundaries of conventional research, led by Grant McKay, formerly of the Anarchist Order of Scientists. Their project, ‘The Pillar’, breaches into different dimensions, but someone sabotages it. It’s stuck jumping across different worlds – dragging everyone that was present along with it, including the other scientists and Grant’s kids Pia and Nate.

The story has jackknifed through gorgeous worlds, deadly worlds, diseased worlds and the slowly dwindling cast of characters has had to interact with multiple versions of themselves in various realities. And while that is all pretty high concept and mind-bending, the latest arc ‘Godworld’ is utterly insane. Remender’s writing is complex and layered, with excellent and dark character work and intelligent science fiction that commands your attention. Scalera’s artwork renders Black Science as one of the most consistently superb looking books on the stands every month. The worlds he brings to life are just stunning.

The latest part of Godworld is due out next week with issue #19, and I’ll probably read it on the tube on the way home. And it will probably be weird, and anyone sitting next to me will be deeply confused and terrified. And I don’t care.

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.

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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 – Forever Evil #7

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

Probably more than ‘minor’ this week, including spoilers for the whole event and the end of Trinity War.

This was a fairly expensive trip to the comics shop! This week I’ve decided to review the finale of the DC event comic Forever Evil (the first time I’ve reviewed an issue that wasn’t a #1), not because it was necessarily my favourite or the best but because it was worth talking about, I think anyway. Forever Evil #7 was written by Geoff Johns, with pencils by David Finch, inks by Richard Friend, colours from Sonia Oback and letters by Rob Leigh. Forever Evil started back in September last year during the Villain’s Month, and was due to finish two months ago in March. I had mistakenly (and unfairly) assumed that this was due to art delays and wanting to maintain consistency rather than rushing out the ending with a replacement, but it turns out Johns realised he wanted the end to be longer so we ended up getting a 40-page, slightly more expensive, finale. Quite why this meant the delay was two months I’m not sure, but we’ve got it now.

For those who don’t know, Forever Evil followed hot on the heels of the previous DC event ‘Trinity War’, which saw the Crime Syndicate (basically evil alternate universe versions of the Justice League) turn up in the main DC universe having escaped their own crumbling reality. Forever Evil starts with them having totally defeated the League, all of whom are presumed dead, and the Syndicate organising the villains of the DCU to take over and basically destroy the world. This doesn’t sit well with a few of the bad guys, who decide to band together to fight back against these extra-dimensional intruders. Lex Luthor joins up with with Bizzaro, Captain Cold, Black Adam, Black Manta, Sinestro, and a few others including Batman (who survived when all his super-powered friends were “killed” by the Syndicate, because he is Batman) to give us a nice villains Vs. villains tale, which is a good change of pace from the usual heroes Vs. heroes we have been used to of late in superhero comics.

The finale, which is pretty action-packed, starts with Luthor saving Nightwing. Spoiler I guess, but DC already started previewing their new ‘Grayson’ comic weeks before this issue came out. It was fairly obvious from the set up that this is how it would go down anyway. Batman hugs Nightwing, Luthor notices in some foreshadowing for something that comes later. Bizzarro then hugs Lex, which is definitely my favourite moment of the book. A large part of the rest of the issue is various villains fighting the remaining Crime Syndicate members Ultraman and Superwoman, and everyone fighting the alternate universe Alexander Luthor, who is a sort of reverse Shazam that steals the powers from people he kills. He has killed a lot of people apparently, because he is crazy powerful. I must admit I didn’t see the end of the fight coming, but I’m glad it went down like it did. It felt like it was earned, and even though the Justice League were pretty much simultaneously freed from their predicament by Batman and Cyborg, it was the villains that won the day and saved the planet. Basically, if none of that made any sense, it was all pretty awesome.

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I really like Johns’ writing, and never more so than when he is writing villains. He continues to do a great job here, the only complaint I have is really more an issue I’ve found a lot recently in the new 52, being hinting at events that have occurred in the 5 year time span of the continuity that we haven’t seen and may not ever see. It makes things feel unearned. The main instance I mean involved Batman and the lasso of truth. The only other problem I’ve had with the event was the inclusion of Sinestro in the story, which I am conflicted over anyway because he has been excellent in it. I really enjoyed how Sinestro ended up at the end of Johns’ Green Lantern run, and didn’t want him back so soon as it lessened the impact. But I have no idea whose call it was to bring him in. The art team do a good job here too, dynamic fights in great looking surroundings with colours really suiting the tone of a big thunderous finale.

This was a damn good piece of superhero comics, involving very few actual superheroes. It sets up a really interesting new status quo, with Lex Luthor actually seemingly reflecting on events and improving himself (though not as clear cut as a full redemption, and he is clearly going to use some new information to his advantage soon), and the reveal of who chased the Crime Syndicate out of their own reality (and may be coming to the main DCU next). If you haven’t been reading this event, I wouldn’t recommend the finale as a jumping on point but definitely check out the collection when DC releases it. If you have been reading it, you dropped off the series because you weren’t into it or lost interest due to the delays, I would recommend jumping back on as it is a satisfying conclusion to what I found to be one of the best event books I have read in a while. Check it out at your local comic book shop, or digitally online if you have one of those new fangled tablet thingys.

Score: 7.5 MAZAHS! out of 10

 

* Definitely check out Saga #19 and American Vampire: Second Cycle #3 this week. They were both fantastic.