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Comicbook Reviews – 2/5/20

Vader's Wrath



Batman #88


The conspiracy that will rock Batman’s world continues to unfold as the Dark Knight travels to Arkham Asylum to get answers from the Penguin!  What dark secret does he share with the Joker, the Riddler, and… Catwoman? Plus, the plague of assassins descending upon Gotham City in its weakest moments continues! Will this be the moment when Deathstroke finally takes down Batman?!

What I’m Excited For…

The plans of the mysterious “designer” are coming to a head, and quickly at that. Batman is still recovering from the abuses sustained during the City of Bane conflict and is holding on by sheer grit, which has served him well in the past but may not be enough this time around. The physical punishment and emotional betrayals are going to push him to the brink, and beyond.

What I Thought…

The “Dark Designs” just got seriously, seriously dark but I’ll get to that in a moment. As intriguing as the issue’s prologue is, seeing Catwoman and Riddler exchange barbs over the phone gave me some serious flashbacks to the Arkham games version of the Riddler. In fact the parallels were so strong they briefly overpowered the intended homage and I lost track of the actual conversation for a moment.

Racing from fight to fight amidst chaos, The Batman exudes a “I. DO. NOT. HAVE. TIME. FOR. THIS.” attitude that helps drive a sense of urgency throughout a story that is a very slow burn. Seeing him casually dispatch rogues like Cheshire and Merlyn while hunting down Penguin and Deathstroke further reinforces just how quickly Gotham is sinking back into the quagmire of chaos and villainy.

Personally, I’m still struggling to accept Harvey Bullock as the new GCPD Commissioner. Largely because the grumbling, disheveled office’s usual cynicism makes him bizarrely efficient in the role. His inherent skepticism in Batman allows him to react just that much faster to situations, whereas Gordon’s faith in the Dark Knight occasionally resembled inaction.

Oh, and I really love Lucious Fox’s new Bat-Toy.

Above Average Joe’s Rating



Justice League #40


An unexpected arrival from the stars brings a dire warning to the Justice League: A new breed of conquerors is on the march.  Led by Superman’s nemesis Eradicator, a genetically engineered, super-powered strike team has come to subjugate Earth.  To aid the Justice League, Batman makes the unprecedented decision of enlisting an ancient, unrivaled power, which calls into question who, exactly, is in charge.  With the League on unsure footing, will they be ready to save the world?

What I’m Excited For…

I do love a good Eradicator story, and while the somewhat awkward non-announcement of DC’s storytelling jump past the events of the forth coming ‘Death Metal’ was a little jarring , Venditti’s writing more than makes up for any of the publisher’s fumbles. The cover brings flashbacks of Brian Hitch’s JLA run…here’s hoping this tale plays better than that particular one.

What I Thought…

Like many i was a bit thrown by the narrative jump over the events of the Justice/Doom war and the recently announced “Death Metal”. I get the need to give “Hell Arisen” the room necessary to close out its story and set up the next and final chapter of the War but I can’t help but feel a little jipped.

These are a couple of continuity flubs throughout the book, nothing I would describe as ‘major’ but enough to make eagle-eyed fans raise an eyebrow. The use of Eradicator as a league worthy villain is interesting, largely because he’s been a mid level Superman rogue at best. His single minded obsession with safeguarding the Kryptonian race has not reached its zenith and only the Justice League and some unlikely allies stand in the way of total eradication.

Above Average Joe’s Rating



Lois Lane #8


As the world comes to realize Lois Lane is also the wife of Superman and mother of Superboy, the DC Universe’s most acclaimed reporter finds herself hunted by a deadly assassin code-named the Kiss of Death.  The only thing standing between Lois and execution is the Question, but can Renee Montoya stop the Kiss before she fulfills her contract?

What I’m Excited For…

To say that this book has escalated quickly is an understatement, especially since now it has to deal with the ramifications of Clark’s “Truth” while still managing to deliver on it’s own story. Ordinarily this would concern me, but its Rucka we’re talking about. He’s got this, which means Lois totally has it in the bag.

What I Thought…

Okay first off, Renee Montoya is a total BADASS. One of the best parts of this series is the return of Montoya’s version of “The Question”. I don’t even care that I have questions (heh) about how she & Vic are active at the same time.

Its a tad irksome that Lois’ story gets sidelined by the fallout of Clark’s “Truth” but it is to be expected. On the upside, Rucka writes Lois and Clark in a way that is both lighthearted and pragmatic. Seriously, why is it what everyone but Bendis writes Clark & Lois as they’re meant to be?

Man of Steel cameo aside, the book closes out with a return to the titular character and her faceless cohort back on the case. A fun side story that doesn’t unhinge the book’s overall narrative.

Above Average Joe’s Rating



Young Justice #13


Young Justice is searching for Conner Kent as the teen Superboy finds himself trapped in the mysterious world of Skartaris, the home of legendary DC character Warlord!

What I’m Excited For…

I really REALLY just want to know what is going on with Conner Kent, once and for all. This back and forth is driving up a damned wall…

What I Thought…

What. The. Hell. I swear, I honestly do not get what is going on with this book. Its like plotting with Mad Libs featuring the ‘Wheel of Morality’ from Animaniacs…only less charming.

This issue is little more than a Warlord character primer. Let’s stop the story for a Sword and Sorcery side quest because “reasons”. The supposed lessons that Warlord imparts on Conner fail to resonate; mostly due to the utterly random circumstances.

The art is…whatever is one rung above “downright garish” and while Conner is stuck listening to store brand Conan pontificate, the rest of the team is mired in indecision. Throw in a last page stinger that comes out of nowhere and is staged to capsize and already unbalanced plot and you have the recipe fora standard issue Bendis book.


Above Average Joe’s Rating





Daredevil #17


TARGET: DAREDEVIL! The war in Hell’s Kitchen builds as Owl takes his stab at Wilson Fisk, formerly the Kingpin of Crime—now Mayor of New York! Matt must come to terms with what Daredevil truly means. And he better do it soon, as a new and deadly foe makes a decisive return…

What I’m Excited For…

Hell’s Kitchen is going to Hell in a hand-basket and Matt’s new approach to protecting the city, while refreshing for the reader, is about to bite of more than it can chew. The road to him dawning the horns once more starts here.

What I Thought…

Every once in awhile a comic manages to perfectly capture the essence of the titular character and with this this issue, Zdarsky renders a flawless microcosm of the Man Without Fear.

Matt struggling with his own morality? Check

A crisis of faith? Check

Two Friends at one another’s throats over bad decisions and destiny? Check

Matt is at a crossroads. Struggling against who he is, who he was and who his city needs him to be. Is it possible for him to change tactics and still save the day or does Hell’s Kitchen need the devil to save its soul and the cost of his own?

Tip of ht hat to Zdarsky introducing chillingly enigmatic villains into an arena brimming with gritty streetwise thugs.

Above Average Joe’s Rating



Darth Vader #1


In the shattering climax of The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader infamously reveals his true relationship to Luke Skywalker and invites his son to rule the galaxy at his side. But Luke refuses—plunging into the abyss beneath Cloud City rather than turn to the Dark Side. We all remember Luke’s utter horror in this life-altering moment. But what about Vader? In this new epic chapter in the Darth Vader saga, the dark lord grapples with Luke’s unthinkable refusal and embarks on a bloody mission of rage-filled revenge against everything and everyone who had a hand in hiding and corrupting his only son. But even as he uncovers the secrets of Luke’s origins, Vader must face shocking new challenges from his own dark past.

What I’m Excited For…

The various volumes of Darth Vader have been the strongest of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, without question, and we are entering an era that is prime real estate for Vader storytelling.

What I Thought…

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Darth Vader has been the one consistent success of the Marvel era Star Wars comics. Now that we’re on the other side of Empire Strikes Back, Vader storytelling is about to shift into high gear.

While previous volumes have centered around the Dark Lord’s search for identity or his quest for Skywalker, this installment has a much more focused approach: revenge.

Vader sets out to punish those who kept his son’s existence from him. Granted its a small list and most of them are already dead but it is the hunt that makes this story enjoyable. The bodies will most certainly pile up as Vader begins to unravel the truth surrounding his long lost son.

Also, the Death Trooper joke was hilarious.

Above Average Joe’s Rating



Magnificent Ms. Marvel #12

When Ms. Marvel’s newest nemesis goes after one of her old ones, Kamala will have to choose between saving her enemy…and saving her father.

What I’m Excited For…

I absolutely love that the core of Kamala’s books is family. She’s at her best when she’s fighting for the people she cares about, and she’s entering a battle here that is different than any she’s waged before.

What I Thought…

Kamala has been a bit underwater recently. An intergalactic jaunt, a symbiotic new costume with zero compunction about lethal force and an ailing father are just the highlights of what the young hero has been dealing with.

The issue, at its core is about what matters most to Kamala. Its a cautionary tale about balance in the life of a Super Hero. Doing what’s right, like Magic, always comes at a cost and is time for Ms. Marvel to pick up the check.

Seeing the young hero risk it all in order to save lives is a great reminder of why she is one of the best and brightest additions to the Marvel universe. Last but not least, I’m still incredibly salty that she didn’t get together with Miles Morales.

Above Average Joe’s Rating



Miles Morales: Spider-Man #15


Miles’ journal has gone missing–you know, the one where he wrote his private thoughts about BEING SPIDER-MAN!!!  And it’s fallen into enemy hands! Does that have something to do with Miles’ high school under siege by the most monstrous goons he’s faced since CARNAGE?  You’re about to see more of Brooklyn Visions than ever–but is it for the last time?

What I’m Excited For…

Oh boy, this is a classic Spidey problem that Miles has been cruising towards for awhile now. A wall crawler’s identity is their greatest strength and biggest weakness, and Miles is about to find his in the hands of someone who already hates him…both sides of him in fact.

What I Thought

Let me get this out of the way. I am really, REALLY tired of Marvel’s killing off and then bringing back the Ultimate universe. Its dead, let it go and let the audience move on.

That said, this issue plays as a great parallel to an early entry into the Ultimate Spider-Man. Even with his identity up in the air, Miles doesn’t waste a second before leaping into action against Green Goblin and Ultimatum and risking his life and anonymity to save those in need. Proving once again that With Great Power, comes Great Responsibility.

Above Average Joe’s Rating


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