Comic Book Review – Justice League: No Justice #1 (DC Comics)

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

This week I picked up the first part of DC’s Justice League: No Justice mini series, the next big thing following on from Metal for the DC Universe. I dropped off Justice League a little bit after Rebirth because something about it just wasn’t clicking for me, but with writers Scott Snyder, Joshua Williamson and James Tynion IV on board for this series, and art from Francis Manapul, I was certainly interested in checking this out! Colours on this issue were provided by Hi-Fi, with lettering by AndWorld Design, and cover art by Manapul.

Cover by Manapul

Following on from the Metal event, the Source Wall surrounding the universe has been destroyed. While the Green Lanterns have gone to investigate, one of the biggest villains in the DCU has wasted little time in attacking Earth – Brainiac. And he has come to warn of a far greater threat on the way, the Omega Titans, cosmic gods and world eaters that have been awoken or set in motion by the shattering of the Source Wall. And Brainiac has come to rally the heroes and villains of Earth to save his home planet of Colu and stop the Omega Titans.

No Justice kicks off pretty quickly, and while the first issue of many events like this are often full of set up and are a little bit of a slow burn, Snyder, Williamson and Tynion IV manage to set the scene while still moving the plot forward. The cast of characters is such that no one really gets much chance to shine, maybe Damian Wayne and the Martian Manhunter get a decent amount of time, and a few of the characters do feel a little out of place here, but its a nice spread overall and the set up of the plot should force some interesting team dynamics. The story itself with the Omega Titans has a lot of potential too. Think Galactus but if there was 4 of him.

Art by Manapul, Hi-Fi and AndWorld Design

Manapul’s art is very strong superhero fare in this issue. His experience in superhero comics is on full display here, juggling an array of varied characters easily with a real sense of scale to the world shaking events and some great splash panels. Hi-Fi’s colours are very vibrant, with the colourful costumes and a couple of green skinned characters so distinct it almost pops off the page.

The story is an interesting start, possibly a little impenetrable to new readers, but those familiar with the DCU, especially recent events, will get a lot out of this. The art from Manapul is very nice, and the potential for some great action sequences moving forward is very high. Check out Justice League: No Justice #1 at your local comic shop or online now!

Score: 8 Nodes out of 10

Comic Review – Dark Days: The Forge #1 (DC Comics)

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

This week I checked out the ludicrously titled Dark Days: The Forge, the one-shot prelude to the upcoming equally ludicrously titled Dark Nights: Metal series from DC Comics. It has been oddly under-marketed it seems, and I was only made aware that it was coming and that it was being released this week because I follow Scott Snyder on Twitter. Dark Days: The Forge was written by Snyder and James Tynion IV, with the art by Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, John Romita, Jr., Scott Williams, Klaus Janson, Danny Miki, Alex Sinclair, Jeremiah Skipper, and Steve Wands.

Cover by Lee, DC Comics

Dark Days jumps between three main narratives. First is Carter Hall, or Hawkman, almost as a journal entry as he recaps his life (or lives) and his curse, the Nth metal that grants him rebirth and how he is tied to his love Shiera and the villainous Hath-Set. But there he also has impossible memories shimmering in the background, memories that look like a dystopic future in the grip of one he would call an ally.

The other two narratives, taking place in the current day, tie in a little more closely (for now). Batman rescues a scientist from a Wayne blacksite as a volcano erupts. He has been investigating metals, and something is wrong with the metal of the Earth. Batman’s investigation seems to not only go beneath the Earth’s crust, but to the surface of the Moon (well, a Batcave on the Moon), to another universe, and to a secret vault in the Fortress of Solitude as well. Meanwhile, the Guardians send Green Lantern Hal Jordan back to Earth, to investigate the Batcave itself. There, with current Bat-sidekick Duke Thomas, he finds a secret Batcave within the Batcave, indicating that Batman has been investigating something for a long time with a secret team, without letting the Justice League or the Bat-family know about it. Whether he can be trusted remains to be seen, but Hal doesn’t seem to be the only one troubled by all of this.

Dark Days: The Forge is a very strong opening to Metal, and with Scott Snyder re-teaming with his Batman collaborator Greg Capullo (oddly absent on this issue) for it, it is sure to be a blockbuster event. Snyder and Tynion IV have both written Batman in one form or another for a while now, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that they have a firm handle on his character and dialogue. Its nice to see a similar care and approach taken to some of the other cast members here, including those seen less often such as Mister Terrific and Mister Miracle. At its core, this series appears to be shaping up as a Batman-centric Justice League event, rather than just a Batman story. And that is important, as there is a worry and a tendency to remove some of the appeal of Batman by making him almost godlike, or making his origins stretch back to the dawn of time (looking at you Morrison). I hope this series doesn’t dip too far towards that, but for this issue it doesn’t rear its head too much. The ongoing mystery of the metals takes cues and threads from throughout Snyder’s run on Batman in such an impressive fashion too, that I can’t help but be drawn in by what it all might mean.

Interior art by Romita Jr, Lee & Kubert

Considering the talent from the art team, the only real negative point I can make is that with Kubert, Lee and Romita Jr all putting in an appreciable number of pages into the book, the art does come off as inconsistent from a stylistic perspective. It is however, consistently very good. Hawkman’s memories by Kubert retain a classic feeling with clear, bold line work, while the lunar character interactions and the volcano escape from Romita Jr feel a little more loose, and the epic scale visions and dark cave scenes show off what makes Lee’s style so iconic for superhero work.

Dark Days: The Forge is a very strong prelude to an event that I know very little about, but the creative team behind it guarantees I’ll be checking it out. This taste has only made me all the more excited about it, especially with the return of Snyder and Capullo for the first time since the end of their run on Batman. Check it out at your LCS or digitally now!

Score: 8 METALS out of 10

 

Comic Book Review – Batwoman #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“Kaaaate…. You… you came back… why did you come back?” – Raphael

Batwoman relaunched today (following her Rebirth issue), who has always been an interesting character for me. She always has held a position on the outskirts of the Bat-Family, holding a much higher degree of autonomy than any of the rest. There’s a strong team behind this run as well:

  • Writers – Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV
  • Penciller – Steve Epting
  • Colour Artist – Jeromy Cox
  • Letterer – Deron Bennett
  • Publisher – DC Comics

Cover by Steve Epting

The story picks up Kate following up on a white supremacist terrorist about to launch a venom fuelled attack in Istanbul. She’s running things herself with the help of Julia Pennyworth to stop the spread of monster venom throughout the world. As the plot of develops she’s lead to a mysterious small nation island known as Coryana where it appears she has had dealings before with the mysterious Safiyah. The dynamic between Julia and Kate is a very interesting variation to Batman and Alfred. Julia and Kate are friends first and foremost whereas Alfred is very much a substitute parent for Bruce. This adds to Kate’s character, leaving her feeling much more independent as a vigilante, than even Bruce himself at times.

There is also the question of Kate’s past experience at Coryana. Much is left unanswered at this point in time, except somebody very powerful lives there who wants people dead. What’s interesting is while there is more than one death in this issue, by the apparent same hand there is no obvious connection between the two, except the island. The assassin in question does make a brief appearance, quiet and very much deadly they form an imposing figure in the few panels they’re in.

Art by Epting, Cox & Bennett

The art feels very much grounded, with strong earthy colours used throughout the opening scene, these are switched up for darker blues and greys which create a more relaxed atmosphere between Kate and Julia. During the flashback a different approach to colouring is adopted, the panels are kept black and white except for Kate’s iconic red hair and Safiyah’s red lipstick. The use of red on Safiyah marks her as an equal to Kate in these scenes and we can be sure this is a sign of future clashes to come. Bennett does a very good job with keeping the lettering unintrusive throughout the issue, there are many large panels giving him plenty of space to work with. Finally, Kate herself forms an intimidating figure throughout, both in and out of costume her figure appears powerful.

However, how well does Epting draw hands? Very well of course. There isn’t much to fault for the hand drawing in this issue. They won’t quite pick up a perfect score as they don’t appear too often during the issue, however where they do – be it in a battle scene, carrying out and action or mid conversation they look great. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This is a very interesting start to a series. It isn’t the most explosive I’ve read, but it feels like its setting things up for a run well worth picking up.

Score: 8 Mysterious Throwing Knives out of 10

Comic Review – Batman and Robin Eternal (DC Comics)

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

Warning: Spoilers!

Me again people! I’ll be doing the review again this week as one of the weekly series I’ve been reading has come to an end. So, this will be a review of Batman and Robin Eternal #1-26, written by James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, with a variety of writers throughout the run on scripting duties. Similarly across the 26 issue series various pencillers, inkers and colourists were on art duties. For the finale, Scot Eaton, Carlo Pagulayan and Igor Vitorino pencilled the issue; Wayne Faucher, Michael Jason Paz and Marc Deering inked it; Allen Passalaqua and Gabe Eltaeb coloured it and it was lettered by Marilyn Patrizio. I won’t be able to do each issue in detail but I can definitely let you know how the whole thing stacks up!

B&R1The story really kicks off when Dick Grayson, returned to Gotham to team up with Tim and Jason. While following up on a lead that a dirty bomb will go off at a the grand opening of The State University ‘Tower of Enlightenment’ Dick is attacked by the other party goers and the mysterious Orphan. On making his escape Dick picks up a name, Mother. On returning to the Batcave and checking the archives he locates a recording from Batman. Mother was the one villain he was never able to best, and the source of his greatest sin. We get a shot years ago, of Batman, with a gun, standing over two dead parents and a child.

And things kick off from there! We get visits from a huge cast, ones we’re familiar with like the ex – Robins, some new like Orphan and Mother, some returning like Harper Row and Midnighter, and some seen for the first time in the New 52! Cassandra Cain and Azrael!

For those of you who know what’s been going on with Bats recently you’ll rightly not be expecting him to be making much of an appearance in this, he does star through flashbacks to an era so far unexplored – Dick Grayson’s innings as Robin. Dick is the lead in this story and one of my favourite characters, I loved getting to see more detail of his backstory and getting to see how his relationship with Batman developed. As he’s the first Robin we get to see how Bats’ relationship with his sidekicks started out, his doubt, uncertainty and trust issues. We also get to see how his encounter with Mother went and why she’s his biggest sin. If you’ve been missing the Batman and Robin pairing these flashbacks alone will give you your fix, for now at least.

As you’d imagine the team begin investigating what’s going on. They meet a huge cast, including Cassandra Cain’s first stint in the New 52. She’s very different to how I remember her, a broken child soldier trying to find her way. I enjoyed this version of her, and they’ve given her a uniqueness beyond Batgirl as that role is currently filled. We also get lots more of Harper Row as Blue Bird, who I have always liked and personally would have loved to see in a full Robin role.

The art is very good throughout, although the faces in this last issue kinda bugged me. Otherwise the action scenes are fluid and detailed and the colours fantastic. Obviously the art changed over the course of the run due to the number of different artists on the book but the level of quality remained consistently high.

B&RSo, in all what does this story do well? It gives us some real depth to the Batman and Robin relationship, which is great. It calls into question Batman’s motives for raising the Robins and gives us a villain who mirrors Batman so very well, to the point where in an alternate universe I could very much see Bats being written just like Mother. Seeing Dick’s past was also great, as was developing Cassandra, Spoiler and Harper.

What the story didn’t do so well? Some of the individual issues dragged a little. I was reading this week by week and I think it’d hold up better in a single volume. The cast was very packed, maybe a little too much, especially towards the end. As well as this I felt there were some really amazing ideas, that could have fundamentally changed who certain characters were, and add a very dark streak to things that were shied away from as the story developed. I was a little disappointed not to see many big changes for some of the cast in this story. I can understand why though. Those changes to the characters probably wouldn’t have gone down well with everyone. Also, although the start was great, the middle solid, I felt the build up to the end a little lacking.

Things became a little predictable and some of the final issues became nothing more than build up/holding space while people got ready for the final battle. I think some of this would be avoided reading this in volumes though. However, a twist or two more towards the end would certainly add a point to this review for me.

Final Verdict

A very interesting addition to the current Batman run. It’s great if you want more Batman and Robin or Dick Grayson. It doesn’t shake things up quite enough for me though, which I think will lessen it’s appeal to a more neutral reader. Tynion and Snyder have done a great job with a lot of the characters they’ve been given (as you’d expect) to work with. Overall, I’d recommend this if you wanted something new to read and are up to date on the other Bat family stuff.

Final score – 8 Orphans out of 10

Comic Review – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (DC Comics/IDW)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“THIS IS FOR MY PONY RACERS!!!” – Michelangelo

Holy childhood dream crossovers! Batman and the Ninja Turtles? As you can guess, my inner child could not say no to this issue. Which is also why this review may be coming out a little late… my DC digital comic app clunked out on me till 10 PM last night!

Right then… on with the review for Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Freddie Williams II)… As you can see, this is one of those very fun, very non-canon crossovers that the major publishers love to churn out every now and then (I still have my copy of Batman vs Predator!). Honestly, these can often be sub-par. A fun idea, but nothing more. Still, the Turtles comics tend to review well and Batman is sky high in popularity these days, so what could go wrong?

Before I take this further though… if anyone’s seen the theory online the Ninja Turtles are cannon with Daredevil… which means Daredevil and this version of Batman are now loosely canon too? I say loosely, because of course the Ninja Turtles and Bats are not exactly from the same world. It seems our reptiles have somehow managed to wind up in another world, in a city full of crime where lone vigilantes roam the night. They of course fit right in.

batsturtlesThe comic opens up with the Foot Clan, also trapped in Gotham running a series of break-ins to steal high end tech. And guess who’s there to protect Gotham? Four turtles of course! They deal with the Foot Clan and vanish into the night. Meanwhile Alfred is giving Batman jip about another crazy project he’s getting involved in. This version of Alfred seriously likes to back-chat Bruce. It seems Damian is elsewhere and Bats is concerned about these meta-human mutants he thinks are behind the thefts. Guess who their next target is? Wayne Enterprises.

Meanwhile, Killer Croc is scouting the sewers, where he runs into a lair full of half eaten pizza and tech. He tries to call out the inhabitants, but they only react when he goes and breaks Mikey’s prized game. Then he finds out four turtles are apparently more than a match for one crocodile (plus some nameless henchmen…).

Bats goes to protect Wayne Industries and runs into an unfamiliar villain. The issue ends with a fight brewing, but the Shredder has already got away.

This is very much a set-up issue, there’s plenty of foreshadowing and the plot I’m sure will be fairly simple. However, it is also a hell of a lot of fun. The turtles are badass, though the whole Killer Croc bit feels like it’s just there to give the Turtles someone to beat on. The art by Williams II looks amazing on the Turtles… if maybe a little off on Bats occasionally. Overall the issue looks great, I just found one or two of Batman’s panels looked a little off.

Final Verdict

This is a simple one: do you want to see Batman and the Ninja Turtles in the same book? Then go get it. It won’t win any awards I imagine, but it’s a very fun romp and your inner child will love it.

Final Score – 8 Half-Shells out of 10!

Comic Review – Batman Eternal #52

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.

There will be definite spoilers

This week saw the finales of all three of DC Comics’ weekly series, before the Convergence event starts next week. As I have kept up with two of them since the beginning, I’ve decided to review both of them.

Batman Eternal #52 saw the end of the year-long Batman epic. As with the whole series, the story was plotted out by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, but Tynion IV wrote the actual scripts, with Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins and Tim Seeley on as consulting writers. The art throughout this final issue was shared amongst Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Robson Rocha, Guillermo Ortego, David Lafuente, Tim Seeley and Ray Fawkes, with Allen Passalaoua, Gabe Eltaeb, John Kalisz and John Rauch on colours and letters from Steve Wands.

Batman Eternal started back in April 2014, opening with a defeated Batman and a city in flames, while a hidden villain pontificates and gloats about his victory. We finally caught back up to that point two issues ago, with the person pulling the strings being revealed as the mostly forgotten Cluemaster. His plan was to use invitations to all the other rogues of Gotham, convincing them to spread chaos over the city all at the same time as a distraction. Then, with his resources spread thin and mind occupied, Batman was taken down by Cluemaster… until his benefactor Lincoln March/Owlman/Thomas Wayne Jnr. turned up, took out his gang and easily dispatched Cluemaster, facing down an exhausted and battered Bruce. Cue their rematch, set to a backdrop of a newly freed Jim Gordon rallying the city behind Batman to control the riots and the fires, with a few villains even helping to pull people out of burning buildings. On the edge of defeat, Batman’s allies arrive to help, chasing March as he escapes into the sewers. Through the combined efforts of Gotham’s protectors, its people and a few of its more unsavoury characters, the city gradually starts to pull itself back together,

Considering the number of different plot threads that all led up to this final issue, there is more here that ties back to the Court of Owls storyline back in the main Batman title over the events of the last year of Eternal. If anything, it makes this finale more accessible to anyone that hasn’t been keeping up every week, but it does remain a satisfying conclusion. The writing from Tynion IV has been solid all throughout the series, but shines here as the disparate story arcs have already all met and a single narrative is played out almost for the first time.

The art stays at a pretty high quality throughout the book, considering the number of different artists involved. Pansica and Ferreira, along with colourist Passaloua, competently handle the bulk of the issue and all of the action. Their flaming Gotham is a great background for this, and the splash page of the city and all the signals is excellent. Most of the rest of the issue is taken by Rocha and Ortego, with colours from Eltaeb, which focusses more on character work and darker scenes. The facial work is particularly strong in those pages, and the final fate (for now) of March is chilling.

After a year long arc, Batman Eternal manages to wrap up well. Many of the characters that appear in the series already moved past these events months ago, which makes it difficult to place Eternal with regards the continuity, but it has been a good weekly series that I would say overall is worth picking up when it has been collected. Apparently there is going to be a season 2 of Eternal, but for now as a finale, issue #52 hits all the right beats for a satisfying conclusion. Pick it up at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 8 Bat Signals out of 10

Comic Review – Memetic #1

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.

This week, along with a pretty hefty stack of all the ongoing series I’m following, I picked up Memetic #1 from Boom! Studios. This was the first issue of a three part mini series written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Eryk Donovan, with colours by Adam Guzowski and letters from Steve Wands.

Memetic involves an internet meme. Not just any meme though; a weaponised meme that threatens to destroy civilisation and bring about the apocalypse. Following an argument with his boyfriend, Aaron finds himself scrolling through Reddit in his room rather than going to sleep, despite still being awake after 7am. Before finally turning in for a few hours, he comes across a picture of a sloth, smiling and giving a thumbs up surrounded by trippy circles and colours. The post author insists that the image makes them “feel amazing”. Aaron remains unaffected, due to an inability to distinguish colour (other than blue), but throughout the day all of his friends, and soon the entire world becomes infatuated with the ‘Good Times Sloth’, with everyone reporting euphoria and a general feeling of happiness to the point where many can’t look away. Only those who can’t see the picture, like Marcus, the blind former head of US Military Intelligence, or unique cases like Aaron aren’t infatuated.

Good Times Sloth

The obsession tips Marcus off to research he remembered reading in his old job, as people start weeping with joy when they look at the image. Getting in touch with Barbara, the author of the paper and an old colleague, they talk about the potential of weaponised memetics, utilising the human propensity to disseminate information and the modern tendency to spread “discord and inanity” over the internet. While they don’t understand what Good Times Sloth is they know it isn’t good, and they’re right. Twelve hours after the post first went live, after the image has been shared ad nauseam over every social media platform there is and all over the news, things start to go very wrong starting with the first people who viewed it. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide had already seen the image, and they all start to succumb to it’s effects. By the end of the first day things look dire, with only those who are unaffected, or who didn’t or couldn’t see Good Times Sloth left to figure out what has happened, how the meme is doing this and who unleashed it.

Tynion weaves a very interesting mystery here, and the cast of characters are all well rounded even if some of them don’t stick around for the whole issue. Considering my generally high level of disdain for social media, the story appealed to me a great deal. It is basically what would happen if everyone who shared that tedious viral video of the dancing pony advert for 3 (i.e. EVERYONE) started going crazy. The pervasive and terrifyingly quick rate that the meme is spread and the analysis of memes and social media in general was fascinating, and a great trigger for the end of the world as we know it. I also very much enjoyed the few nods to Tynion’s other series, the twitter handle @doctorrobot, and Aaron’s Facebook page having Karen as a friend, both from The Woods. I found that the use of tweets and messages over the pages worked very well in the context of the story too, which could have easily been annoying (and has been in other comics). The art was strong too, with the whole first half of the issue feeling very creepy, then when all hell breaks loose the colours become much more vibrant and the line work more strained to convey the gravity of the situation.

This was a really strong start for this short mini series. I loved the concept, and the execution was spot on too. Pick this up at your LCS or digitally (before the internet is shut down and society falls apart!).

9 Memes out of 10