Comicbook Reviews – 1/8/20

Some big comicbook releases this week! let’s get to it…

Batman #86

It’s a new day in Gotham City, but not the same old Batman. With Bane vanquished and one of his longtime allies gone, Batman has to start picking up the pieces and stepping up his game. Batman has a new plan for Gotham City, but he’s not the only one. Deathstroke has returned as well, under a mysterious new contract that could change everything. Beginning a whole new chapter in the life of the Dark Knight, the epic art team of Tony S. Daniel and Danny Miki are joined by new series writer James Tynion IV!

What I’m excited for…

The true aftermath of City of Bane and a new age for Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight. With his most trusted ally gone, Batman is in unknown territory and the denizens of Gotham aren’t going to wait for him to find his bearings.

What I Thought…

I went into this issue with an open mind and no substantive idea of what to expect. I knew Tynion would deliver a quality start to his stewardship of the Dark Knight, but after a game changing run like Tom King’s it’s virtually impossible to nail down exactly where these characters stand.

There are no pulled punches in this issue, and Tynion seems to delight in hitting the audience with the emotional fallout of Bane’s war against Batman. To his credit, the reminders that Alfred is gone are not overplayed and serve as a well executed catalyst for both Bruce Wayne and Batman’s current state of mind. In his Billionair Playboy guise, Bruce is actively trying to rebuild the city. An obvious attempt to undo the damage caused by his Father and Bane. Batman however is pushing himself hard, trying to muscle through the agony with the same grit that turned him into the Caped Crusader years ago. The Problem is, now he has to do that without his trusted butler.

Selena and Lucious both fall into place as Bruce’s allies but neither one of them truly fills the Alfred gap. This is a good thing, as it demonstrates that Alfred can never and will never be replaced. The issue’s conflict itself is fairly routine, although the egos of the various assassins gathered in Gotham’s underbelly do make it more interesting than droll but it is the ongoing emotional trauma that Bruce is living with that is the true story.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Batman & The Outsiders #9

Ra’s al Ghul and his army of assassins have turned their attention away from the Dark Knight-and toward Black Lightning! They’ve done something terrible to him that can never be fixed, and Black Lightning will need the Outsiders to stop him from crossing a line that could change his life forever.

What I’m excited for…

This book has been an excellent case study on the forgotten and overshadowed allies of the Batman and the struggles they each face. Between Batgirl, Catwoman and a parade of Robins it is easy to forget that there are others who share Batman’s mission. It’s good to be reminded of the heroes that fall outside the Batfamily.

What I thought…

Black Lightning’s team has been dealt a succession of heavy blows, and their already tattered resolve is now threadbare. Between Duke and Cassandra’s continuing search for identity and Jefferson’s struggle against his inner demons this book tackles a lot of weighty drama.

Bruce is his typical stoic self, but ever so often there is a crack his armor and the audience is offered a glimpse at the emotions that lay behind his cold exterior. The true hallmark of this issue is the developing bound between Tatsu and Jefferson. She cuts through the haze of misdirected rage and guilt around Jefferson and helps set him back on his proper path.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Hawkman #20

The Batman Who Laughs has infected Hawkman, and now Carter is drawing on the worst versions of himself from his past incarnations. This evil Hawkman is seeking to access the ancient tomb whence all his powers flow. Meanwhile, the Atom and Hawkwoman are in pursuit, hoping to stop their friend from doing something terrible he can’t undo and potentially bring Carter Hall back to his senses.

What I’m excited for…

Horrifying as the Sky Tyrant may be, the dialogue between Carter’s nightmarish Dark Multiverse incarnation, and his now repressed true self is equal parts hilarious and haunting.

What I thought…

Out of all of The Batman Who Laughs twisted versions, Sky Tyrant is easily my favorite. While the others are twisted and pained, this guy is just a straight up wackjob who delights in being every possible shade of evil. There’s something inherently entertaining about watching this sociopathic version of Hawkman struggle with the basics of interpersonal conversation while lamenting about how he’d rather be murdering.

Even Carter’s reactions to the monster in control of his body is a mixture of pity, horror and bemusement. He’s less upset about the existence of such a being, because lets face it, he has seen his fair share of villainy and more flabbergasted at the prospect that HE could ever be as messed up as Sky Tyrant. This is coming from a man who killed so many people in his first life, that he’s been damned to reincarnate and pay penance for every life he took.

I absolutely love that this book has been bringing some of my favorite lower tier characters back into the limelight. Hawkwoman and Atom’s interactions are a pleasant reminder of just how many lives Carter has changed for the better, and it was fun to see the two people closest to him sizing one another up.

That last page though…

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Supergirl #38

After Batman and Superman couldn’t stop the Infected Supergirl from trying to thee entire world, they knew they had to call in the only person they trust can bring Kara back…Wonder Woman! Will Diana’s compassion be enough to cure Kara of the infection that’s taken over? If not, what’s a fight between an uninhibited Kryptonian power house against a god like? You’ll find out here!

What I’m excited for…

Kara’s biggest dramatic impact is that she grieves for Krypton while her cousin only laments it’s loss, and I’m excited to see how his now twisted version of Supergirl will take the pain that transformed Kara Zor El into the Maiden of Might and bring it to bear on an unsuspecting populace.

What I Thought…

The use of Krypto was both effective and awkward, although it’s interesting to see that despite being warped by The Batman Who Laughs’ infection, enough of Kara’s moral center survived for this twisted version of her to still see Krypto as an innocent animal.

The emotional core of her plight is a bit lost in the inherent mania of her dialogue, and the cutaway to Superman and Batman, but that quickly changes when Wonder Woman arrives on scene. I feel this issue would’ve played a bit better after the next issue of Batman & Superman; given how they set up Wonder Woman’s introduction to the story but the final moments between two of DC’s premier female heroes manages to stick the landing.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Young Justice #12

It’s an epic Wonder Comics crossover: Naomi, the Wonder Twins, and Young Justice all come together for the first time to confront the secrets behind the entire first year of the teen team’s series. Where did Connor Kent come from? Why does Bart Allen remember everyone but no one else does? How does it all connect to Jinny Hex’s trunk? It’s a Wonder Comics blockbuster!

What I’m Excited for..

Honestly? It’s less excitement and more morbid curiosity. It’s no secret that I’ve been less than pleased with Bendis’ writing as of late, and I hope that this first year of Young Justice can end with something other than a fizzle.

What I thought…

Welp. That happened. I’ll admit, this is less of a slap than the last couple of issues but it’s still a groan inducing display of lackluster characterization. All the characters sound the same, which is to say that Bendis has absolutely no idea how to actually write the cavalcade of Young Heroes he’s been put in charge of.

Wonder Girl is the only real bright spot of the issue, because her barely restrained exasperation with ‘Teen Lantern’ (Easily the worst part of this book), aligned nicely with my own frustrations with both the character and the adventures of Young Justice to date. Leverage all that against the fact that issue twelve ends right back where issue one did, and has the audacity to bill itself as the “finale” of the current story and you have one massive disappointment that isn’t worth the price of admission

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Amazing Spider-Man #37

There are too many problems in New York City and Spidey can’t be in four places at once– unless he CAN?! Peter’s life is as complicated as ever but can science be the answer? It’s a new year and the buildup to “Last Remains” and much more starts here!

What I’m excited for…

Spider-Man adventure! Peter & MJ schmaltz!

What I Thought…

Whoa. Okay, this issue is a lot to unpack. Mostly because it’s a calm before the storm type of issue, and given the last page reveal…we’re in for one hell of a storm.

The “wink wink, nudge nudge” jokes at Civil War II were appreciated, especially with this issue’s premise. Rare is occasion for Spider-Man’s life to actually yield a benefit to Peter Parker, but this one is deserved. The simplicity of his relationship with MJ is handled with a humility and grace that has been missing since JMS’ tenure on Amazing Spider-Man. The quiet moments are the best ones, right up until the moment they aren’t…which is going to be soon. Very, very soon.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #11

As a monster of Ms. Marvel’s own making wreaks havoc across New Jersey, Kamala’s father clings desperately to life in the hospital. When Kamala is forced to choose between her heroic duties and her heart, which will win out?

What I’m excited for…

Angsty teen melodrama and superpowers. I LIVE FOR IT

What I thought…

ANGST!!!

I love this book! Saladin brings the same energy to this as he does to his Miles Morales run and it works soooo well. This issue has all the classic “Black Suit Spider-Man” drama with the youthful exuberance and exasperation that you’d expect from Kamala, given the recent events of her day to day life.

More often than not when someone tries to write “kids these days” kind of storytelling it comes of as that one teacher we all had in High School that tried a little too hard to fit in with their students. That’s not the case here, in fact the Gen Z / Millennial moments in the book have an authenticity that is sorely needed.

Also, there is a moment that in this book that I can only describe as hilariously Bob’s Burgers and it a true laugh out loud moment.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

X-Force #5

DEADLY CHOICES CARRY DARK CONSEQUENCES! First, Domino and Forge have to pick up the pieces as the team faces a major setback! Then, Beast takes matters into his own hands when a piece of new technology threatens the safety of the nation.

What I’m excited for…

Everything. Literally everything. This book is amazing.

What I Thought…

Domino brings the pain, and Percy brings the straight up gruesome body horror. I spent the entirty of this issue in various levels of jaw dropping shock.

From Logan being the most horrifying, bullet riddled chunk of a corpse this side of Officer Murphy, to watching Domino rain down sweet sweet revenge on the very people who tortured her. I always love seeing Forge out in the field, and the whole thing is made so much better with his weird ass plant/bug/mech thing. Honestly, there’s just a lot of awesome action to behold in this issue and amid all that craziness are a handful of character moments that truly shine.

Percy manages to give Logan an equal and opposite number in Domino and it reminds me of one of may favorite moments between the two way back in Grant Morrison’s run in the early 2000’s.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101

Welcome to the new world of TMNT! After the cataclysmic events of TMNT #100, the Turtles find New York City drastically changednew factions and enemies are on the rise, and allies are in short supply. The Turtles discover that in order to survive they will need to work together like never before!

What I’m excited for…

A new creative team, a new adventure and a new turtle. What’s NOT to be excited for? Oh, yeah….that…

What I thought…

Ouch. This book hits and hits hard. The silent pages are used perfectly and managed to stir me nearly to tears before a single word of dialogue appeared. What unfolds is a perfect end cap to the CIty At War arc, as well as a wonderful parallel to one of the most emotional moments in the first TMNT film.

To see one of the most stalwart families in comics shattered beyond comprehension is gut wrenching. Even the recent addition, Jennika, manages to tug at the heart strings in ways that I didn’t expect.

The stage is set for a powerful reunion of the Heroes on the Halfshell, and at a time when their city, their people need them the most. Now if they can just set aside their pain and rise to the occasion.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

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