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 – 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 – Robin Rises: Alpha

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

Slightly more spoilers than usual!

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

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

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

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

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

8.5 Crumpled Batarangs out of 10

Comic Review – Robin Rises: Omega

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.

Definite spoilers if you haven’t read the Requiem story started back in Batman Incorporated #8

This week I picked up the Robin Rises: Omega one-shot from DC Comics, written by Peter J. Tomasi with pencils from Andy Kubert, inks from  Jonathan Glapion, colours from Brad Anderson and letters from Nick J. Napolitano. This one-shot kicks off the Robin Rises storyline that has been brewing in Batman and Robin (also written by Tomasi) for over a year now.

 

Final spoiler warning

 

Right, so as you probably know the most recent Robin, Damian Wayne, was killed in the pages of Batman Incorporated early last year. He fought and was stabbed by ‘The Heretic’, a solider of Talia al Ghul (his mother) who would turn out to be some form of overgrown baby/clone of himself. It was very much Grant Morrison killing the character that he had put so much effort into developing, which I guess is his right to do. Following on from that, Batman and Robin became Batman and…, with guest characters filling in for the Dark Knight’s lack of a partner as he basically went through the stages of loss after the death of his son. This being a superhero world, and ‘the revolving-door-of-death’ making a permanent grave a laughable concept, obviously Damian would return somehow. It was only a matter of time. Refreshingly, DC haven’t bothered to shy away from this fact (though the promotion behind the death itself left a lot to be desired. I had it spoiled for me in an advert in the pages of a Green Lantern issue, after going to great lengths to avoid it in the news) and the Batman and… title has been Bruce Wayne, mad with grief and incredibly stubborn, trying to find a way to bring his son back from the dead. Which always ends well.

c4c2ff988bebd83a1635e5adec593b9b55b4900832b24c1852e5e6093428280b

That is where Robin Rises: Omega picks up from. The assumption being that by the end of this story arc, either Damian will be alive again or some other new Robin will have taken his place. The issue starts with a very brief and effective recap of everything you really need to know about to how we got where we are, which happens to be Batman (and Titus, one of my favourite DC characters!), Frankenstein and Ra’s al Ghul, on the same side for now and accompanied by his League of Assassins, facing off against a small army of parademons and soldiers from Apokolips led by Glorious Godfrey. After a good old fashioned brawl, Godfrey and his men take off through a boom-tube (extra-dimensional teleportation) with Damian’s sarcophagus. Batman decides he must follow them to Apokolips, to recover Damian’s body and to use their technology to bring him back to life. The story will then continue in Batman and Robin #33 next week.

This is more a kick off to the main story, but what is here is really well written. I like Tomasi’s work, and he has a great grasp on these characters. The bulk of the storytelling in the issue comes from the 7 page recap though, which I think is done clearly enough to make this a very easy jumping on point for anyone not reading the title and thinking about giving it a go (though for people that are up to date, the price bump up to $4.99/£3.50 for an extra sized comic* that includes 7 pages of stuff they already know may be a bit of a slap in the face). Written as inner monologue from Bruce, he reflects on the circumstances that led to Damian’s birth and the upbringing that created him, their time together until his death and admits that he did things he wasn’t proud of to try and get him back. The bulk of the rest of the issue is all Batman being a badass, people threatening each other and fighting. I particularly enjoyed how desperate he seems, and now more than ever appears totally prepared to die fighting rather than give up. Kubert does a really nice job illustrating key moments from the last several years of Batman history, and some excellent big superhero action on a tundra landscape, brought to life by the rest of the art team with the flashy colours looking great on the white background. Also this happens and it looks awesome:

20140716_214733[1]

Since the start of the New 52 back in late 2011, Batman and Robin was a title that I have picked up in trade paperbacks rather than monthly. That isn’t to say it isn’t worth picking up, it absolutely is, and I have really enjoyed the volumes I have read. I was just trying to limit my comics budget and was already getting my Batman fix from the main Batman title (though I was also reading Detective Comics from the relaunch, and dropped it after only a couple of issues because it was totally forgettable and a waste of money). I started back up with it during the ‘Requiem’ storyline, and issue #18 (the first issue after Damian’s death in Batman Incorporated #9) was my favourite comic of 2013. Track that issue down because it really is one of the most powerful things I think I have ever read. But money got tight again so I dropped it to wait for collections.

That being said, I think I am going to jump back on it from this point. The series is definitely worth it, so I’ll make room in my budget. I’m interested in seeing how it all plays out, and if you are a DC fan not reading the main series I recommend jumping on this one-shot and carrying on with the story afterwards. If you are new to DC (and anything I have said made any sense), this should be a good story anyway but in the wider context may not mean a great deal to you. Regardless, as always you can pick it up at your local comic book shop or through the medium of the internet and apps.

Score: 8 Boom Tubes out of 10

 

* I’m also not sure why the paper stock was different than what DC usually puts out.