Comicbook Reviews – 1/22/20

Batman #87

Batman #87

THEIR DARK DESIGNS, PART 2

The Riddler has been lying low since his humiliating defeat as part of Bane’s army – but as costumed assassins start to make their way into Gotham City, Edward Nygma may have the answers he’s been looking for.  Or at least, the answer to why Deathstroke is trying to kill him! Is it possible that Batman’s tussle with Slade Wilson was all just a ruse to get the killer closer to his true target?

What I’m Excited For…

With the last issue striking a balance between frenzied action and emotional blows, I’m hoping that this installment is a bit more traditional superhero fare. If only so that I can come up for air, the last several issues of Batman have been a roller coaster of change.

What I Thought…

This installment of Tynion’s Batman run was…interesting to say the very least. Despite my hopes, the frantic pace has yet to let up. If anything, this issue put the pedal to the metal and refused to let up. The all too easy takedown of 5 of the most rutheless assassins in the DC Universe is quickly and predictably undone, but not without offering a few interesting glimpses into the state of affairs in Gotham post City of Bane.

I always enjoy seeing new elements of the Batman’s crime fighting infrastructure come into play, it always seems to add another layer of complexity to the tapestry of Gotham City. That being said, this issue’s frantic pace robs the reader of the chance to enjoy these new entries and primarily serves to show just how reckless Bruce has become without Alfred. Once can only hope this is the intended interpretation of his actions, instead of happy accident.

The real hallmark of this issue is the art. March’s pencils in conjunction with Morey’s colors offer deliciously grotesque renderings of Gotham’s worst villains. The Riddler is particularly disturbing, his lanky form is now as twisted as his mind and the visuals call to mind some very 80’s body horror elements that both enhance his presence and make every second it takes to read his scenes that much more uncomfortable. Likewise, the Penguin is both classic and feral, evoking the same unearthly vibes that made Danny DeVito’s turn as the villain so chilling. In fact I could practically hear the muttered squawking without it actually being scripted.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Batman / Superman #6

Batman / Superman #6

INFECTION AFTERMATH

The Secret Six may have met their match when they faced the combined might of Superman and Batman, but don’t count these infected heroes out yet.  With the Batman Who Laughs freed from his prison at last, the clock is ticking for the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel to track down the escaped Deathbringer, Sky Tyrant, King Shazam, Scarab, and the most tragic to Superman… his cousin Kara.

What I’m Excited For…

I look forward to the pain this book is going to inflict. I’m not sure I like what that says about me as a person, but seeing how much I loved Williamson’s Nailbiter it isn’t all that out of place. The Batman Who Laughs is just getting started, and I’m both scared and excited to see what he has in store.

What I Thought…

There was a lot to consider in this issue. With the Secret Six finally revealed in full, and the Batman Who Laughs insidious plot just beginning to truly take shape, Bruce and Clark have their work cut out for them.

What impressed me most in this issue wasn’t the grim understanding that in trying to protect the world, Batman and Superman effectively put it in greater jeopardy by playing things close to the vest. Rather it was the clever inversion on one of the most poignant moments from Infinite Crisis. To have Wonder Woman the World’s Finest heroes on the merits of trust and how they are and will always be at their best when they trust in each other was a much needed emotional rebuke. Despite her working off some obvious frustration by whaling on all manners of monsters, the whole interchange comes across as a well deserved “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed”.

Williamson continues to prove himself as a capable steward for DC’s top tier characters, as his Wonder Woman rings true to form and plays well with his evolving characterization of both The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

 

Detective Comics #1019

Detective Comics #1019

DEAD OF WINTER, PART TWO: A BLOODY NEW YEAR

The Dark Knight is on the trail of the figure behind a brutal series of murders across Gotham City — and what he finds will send a cold shiver up his spine!  A public attack on Bruce Wayne has brought the possible perpetrator of these murders to light… so what is an axe-wielding cult leader from the 1600s doing in present-day Gotham?

What I’m Excited For…

Tomasi is a writer that I’ve learned to stop trying to outguess and just let his story take me where it will. Not an easy feat to be sure, but I’m really curious as to how he’ll be able to sell the idea of a crazed Norse Santa Clause larper trying to take off Batman’s head with an axe.

What I Thought…

This issue was a bit of a headscratcher. The central conflict struck an odd balance of obvious and original. To be frank, it reminded me of the Mr. Mind arc from Fifty-Two, but that likely has more to do with the art rather than any true story elements.

The best thing here is the growth of Batman’s post-Alfred world. His relationship with Lucius is evolving in new ways, and it was refreshing to see Lucius have to think on his feet and operate as more than just Batman’s IT department. A fun issue, if not exactly fulfilling one.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

 

Superman #19

TRUTH, PART TWO

One day later!  What happens the day after Superman reveals his secret identity to the world?  And what repercussions will his decision have across the entire DC Universe?  Plus, Superman: president of Earth?

What I’m Excited For…

I’m curious to see how Clark’s identity being publicly revealed will pan out. It isn’t a new concept, but the circumstances certainly make it a interesting one.

What I Thought…

This was actually a fairly balanced issue. The aftermath of Clark’s revelation is handled with a grace that the previous chapter lacked, and I enjoyed seeing the reactions of the various Daily Planet co-workers being able to personally thank Clark for saving them. It was an emotional beat that really stuck the landing, and added the necessary gravitas to this evolving story.

The absence of Jon Kent during one of the most historic moments in his father’s life is keenly felt, and if there is one constant failing in Bendis’ handling of Superman, it is the relationship between Father and Son. This gap is made all the more poignant by randomly including characters like Harley, the Wonder Twins and the Dial H for Hero gang in the celebrations. They get to bask in Clark’s moment but his only son is a no show? Insert disappointed onomatopoeia here.

The struggles with the burgeoning United Planets government helped ground the events of previous arcs in reality, though it still feels like fixing the barn door after the horse has come home. Mongul is a smart choice of their first despot interaction, although some of the background dialogue during the fight between Superman and Mongul is downright cringe-worthy and smacks of a parent trying to use their kid’s slang at inopportune moments.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

 

Wonder Woman #750

THE WILD HUNT FINALE AND A NEW BEGINNING!

Wonder Woman’s epic “Year of the Villain” battle comes to a close, leading the way to new challenges ahead.

FROM SMALL THINGS, MAMA / THE INTERROGATION / NEVER CHANGE / TO LEAVE PARADISE… / EMERGENCY VISIT / TO ME / ALWAYS / A BRAVE NEW WORLD

Additionally, this oversized gem tells tales from Diana’s past, present and future by some of the greatest storytellers in the business.

What I’m Excited For…

Legacy Numbering and our first glimpse at DC’s New Timeline

What I Thought…

The Conclusion of the ‘Year of the Villain’ conflict was brilliant, and highlighted the bond between Cheetah and Wonder Woman. In many ways they are starcrossed, destined to be opposed despite being forever connected and I enjoyed how well Orlando was able to resolve the conflict without returning to the status quo. The conflict has changed Diana, and she is set to forge a new path for herself and for Wonder Woman.

Much like Action Comics & Detective Comics #1000, the remainder of this anniversary issue was spent on vignettes that drew focus to Wonder Woman’s thematic resonance and her overall impact on the DC Universe as a whole. From reforging her bracelets of submission, to inspiring a next generation of young heroines, it is a nuanced study on the often under-appreciated champion.

The standout tale, is Scott Snyder’s “A Brave New World”, which returns to Diana’s Golden Age roots and cements her origins into the early days of WWII. With the Justice Society of America returning to mainline continuity in the wake of Snyder’s “Justice/Doom War” and Diana once again part of the legendary Golden Age team, it will be interesting to see how the revamped timeline will play out.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

 

 

Amazing Spider-Man #38

Breaking News, Part One

 J. Jonah Jameson kicks off his new life as a podcast host and his first guest? SPIDER-MAN!  JJJ and Spidey have been on pretty good terms for a while now, so it seems fitting that JJJ needs to sabotage it and put the entire city in danger, right?  Don’t miss “My Podcast with Jonah”!

What I’m Excited For…

Eh, excited is a bit of an overstatement. It’s a filler issue before the big summer event ramps up. Fun, but not exactly heavy lifting in terms of storytelling.

What I Thought…

I’m sure some will find J. Jonah’s railing against Millennials and Buzzfeed like office spaces entertaining, but the cliches were just a little too old hat to be anything other than groan inducing. We get it, he’s old school, moving on. There are a few clever callbacks to how he treated Peter in his early days, and the commentary on unpaid internships and taking young workers for served to highlight just how much Jonah has grown as a character.

With him being the comicbook posterchild for Yellow Journalism, it was interesting to see him gobsmacked by increasingly casual disregard for journalistic integrity. How this flip pushes him to try (and fail) to do right by Spider-Man, while simultaneously doing right by the people of New York was amusing. No good dead goes unpunished, and that goes double for JJ when he’s trying to act as Peter’s PR Rep.

I love seeing the Teresa Parker character, although I wish Marvel would quit dancing around her parentage and just confirm her to be Peter’s blood relative instead of the never ending *wink wink, nudge nudge* treatment.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

 

Fantastic Four #

“POINT OF ORIGIN” Part 5!

•  We weren’t kidding. That big secret that we promised last issue, that really happened. This issue is the fallout.

•  Punches will be thrown. Lives will be changed. And Reed Richards is going to drop some scary science on the planet called Spyre.

•  You know those sci-fi rules about “prime directives”? The Fantastic Four aren’t playing by those rules. Not this time.

What I’m Excited For…

With the “Secret Origin” of the Fantastic Four finally revealed, there is sure to be a fallout that will resonate not only through the Richards family but the galaxy at large.

What I Thought…

I’m glad this issue centered on Ben and the impact that the Overseer’s involvement in the F4’s creation would have on him. For years he blamed his best friend for the accident that turned him into the monstrous ‘Thing’ he is today. The pain he has carried all the years, punishing himself to the flicker of hatred he felt for the man who stood shoulder to shoulder with him on his best and worst days bursts forth and reminds us all that Clobbering Time is just around the corner.

As expected, Reed is well meaning but slightly obtuse in the way he handles the situation and Sue proves yet again why she is the matriarch of family, and by extension, the whole Marvel Universe.

The final chapter of ‘Point of Origin’ is going to leave the F4 changed forver, and I for one can’t wait to see what shape Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny will be in once they’re on the other side of this conflict.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

 

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #47

NECESSARY EVIL CONTINUES! After a shocking betrayal, the Omega Rangers are forced to return to earth-and to reveal their identities to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Can either team of Power Rangers survive the truth?

What I’m Excited For…

The fallout of the Omega Rangers revealing their identities. This is going to change Ranger history forever

What I Thought…

I don’t want to say “called it”, but …”called it”!

Seeing the Omega Rangers interact with their replacements was unexpectedly hard. The conversation between Trini and Aisha was brilliant, and for my money, helped one of the weaker Rangers feel like a more integral part of the team.

With Jason still being out of action, it was nice to see the Comic version of Rocky step up in a way that his live action parallel never quite managed to. Will this change my feelings on Rocky DeSanto as the keeper of the Red Ranger powers? Probably not, but it didn’t hurt and really , that’s about all I can ask for.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

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