Quick Review: MOTHER PANIC, Vol.1 (Young Animal/DC)

Writer: Jody Houser | Artists: Tommy Lee Edwards & Shawn Crystal | Colors: Tommy Lee Edwards, Jean-Francois Beaulieu | Covers: Tommy Lee Edwards

The shadow of the Bat falls over all of Gotham City, from its dark alleys to its glittering high-rises. But a new vigilante has just stepped away from that shadow, and she has her own brand of violent retribution to deal out to the city’s corrupt elites.

Meet Violet Paige, a rich young celebutante with a bad attitude and a worse reputation. No one would ever suspect that this tabloid-fodder wild child has a secret hidden beneath her spoiled heiress exterior — a secret that has driven her to become the terrifying force of vengeance against her privileged peers known as Mother Panic!

But even as Violet launches her all-out assault on the rich and twisted, her shaky allies threaten to betray her, and every one of Gotham’s guardians — from Batwoman to the Dark Knight himself — is hot on her trail. Will Mother Panic continue to strike terror into her enemies’ hearts? Or will her violent quest for justice reach an equally violent end?

Collects: Mother Panic #1-6

This is the first title that I’ve read from DC’s new Gerard Way-controlled Young Animal imprint, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been under the false impression that this was aimed at younger readers. After just a few pages, I realized this was very much not the case. Aside from the occasional swearing, this is a pretty brutal series. It also a very intriguing first arc. Continue reading

SDCC: New JUSTICE LEAGUE teaser trailer

Save for the superb Wonder Woman movie, DC’s cinematic output hasn’t been too well received. I’ve quite enjoyed each of the movies (though, I still haven’t seen Suicide Squad), and so I’m very much looking forward to Justice League. Warner Bros. has just unveiled a teaser trailer at San Diego ComicCon, featuring a lot of Steppenwolf, some parademons, and of course the League. Here it is:

Justice League should hit theatres in November 2017. During SDCC, a new poster was also unveiled, and I couldn’t agree more with io9, it really does look like an Alex Ross painting brought to life:

Upcoming: DETECTIVE COMICS #934 (& Some DC Comics Rebirth Thoughts)

DetectiveComics-934-ArtSo, DC Comics is re-branding again. After five years, the New 52 has been brought to an end (judging from the leaked images from the DC Rebirth #1 issue, through an entirely-expected timey-wimey bit of trickery), and the entire DC line-up is, you guessed it, being renumbered again. All but two series are turning back to #1s. The two exceptions? Action Comics and Detective Comics — both of which are turning back the clock even further, and… picking up their numbering pre-New 52. I don’t really understand why, because the continuity of the New 52 is supposedly staying (aside from the aforementioned timey-wimey muddling). The Action Comics storyline sounds interesting (see here), but not as interesting as Detective Comics. Here are the details and synopsis for the first issue, #934:

Writer: James Tynion IV | Pencils: Eddy Barrows | Inks: Eber Ferreira

“RISE OF THE BATMEN” Chapter One

An unknown predator begins outdoing Batman, taking down dangerous threats with military precision. It’s up to the Dark Knight and series costar Batwoman to rally and train the young heroes of Gotham City to end this mysterious threat!

WHAT NOW: Batman and Batwoman begin training Spoiler, Red Robin and Cassandra Cain, but is the villainous Clayface ready for redemption?

This sounds pretty interesting, so I think I’ll be checking this series out, when it’s released on June 8th. What I’ve read of Tynion’s New 52 work, he’s a good writer. The New 52 iteration of Detective Comics was pretty shaky to begin with, but was brilliantly rescued by Gregg Hurwitz (penning three of my favourite Batman stories), and then sadly petered out a bit again afterwards — with the exception of Benjamin Percy’s two-parter, which was excellent. Continue reading

Quick Reviews: Graphic Novels

Here are seven mini-reviews of graphic novels/collections that I’ve read over the last few weeks. Given that some of them are from now well-established series, I decided to keep them very short in order to not spoil things for new readers.

Batman-Vol.06-GraveyardShiftBATMAN, Vol.6 — Graveyard Shift (DC New 52)

Writer: Scott Snyder | Artist: Greg Capullo

In these tales from BATMAN #0, 18-20, 28, 34 and BATMAN ANNUAL #2, look back to the early days of the Dark Knight, then see the impact of the wake of the death of his son Damian! Plus, has Batman’s worst foe become…Bruce Wayne? This title also includes three pivotal chapters from the epic ZERO YEAR storyline, and a chapter that ties in to BATMAN ETERNAL!

Another good collection, but not the best. This book collects together the shorter and stand-alone stories. It’s a good, mixed collection. I miss the larger, multi-issue and more involved storylines, and I look forward to reading “End Game”.

A must for completists, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s essential. It is, however, also quite a good book to read if you want to sample Snyder and Capullo’s Batman work — they remain a creative force to be reckoned with.

*

DetectiveComics-Vol.06-IcarusBATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS, Vol.6 — Icarus (DC New 52)

Writer: Francis Manapul | Artist: Brian Buccellato

Batman finds himself knee-deep in a new mystery involving a deadly new narcotic that has hit the streets of Gotham City. Can the Dark Knight stop the threat before the entire town finds itself embroiled in a deadly gang war that could burn everything — and everyone — down to the ground?

Collects: Detective Comics #30-34 & Annual #3

This is a great new instalment in this series. After Gregg Hurwitz’s run on Batman: Dark Knight ended, I’ve been looking for some new life in the Bat-family titles. I think Manapul and Buccellato are the pair to do it: “Icarus” is a great story, focusing a lot on the “Detective” part of the series title. A drug ravaging the city, Batman and his allies must get to the bottom of things in order to take the unstable, deadly substance off the streets.

A great first storyline for the new creative team. Highly recommended for all fans of Batman.

*

Copperhead-Vol.01-NewSheriffInTownCOPPERHEAD, Vol.1 — A New Sheriff in Town (Image)

Writer: Jay Faerber | Artist: Scott Godlewski

Welcome to Copperhead, a grimy mining town on the edge of a backwater planet. Single mom Clara Bronson is the new sheriff, and on her first day she’ll have to contend with a resentful deputy, a shady mining tycoon, and a family of alien hillbillies. And did we mention the massacre?

Collects: Copperhead #1-5

Now this book was fantastic. A perfect transposition of the classic crime/cop story onto a weird and wonderful, Star Wars-esque science fictional setting. The writing and dialogue are punchy and perfectly paced, the artwork is fantastic. The characters are quickly established, the world and community Bronson finds herself in are great — populated by colourful characters and intriguing dynamics. Her supporting cast are interesting and diverse (in race as well as temperament), and Faerber and Godlewski give us some hints about their pasts and potential future storylines.

If you read only one new comic series this year, I’d highly recommend you make it this one. “A New Sheriff in Town” is the start of something awesome.

*

Low-Vol.01-DeliriumOfHopeLOW, Vol.1 — The Delirium of Hope (Image)

Writer: Rick Remender | Artist: Greg Tocchini

Millennia ago, mankind fled the earth’s surface into the bottomless depths of the darkest oceans. Shielded from a merciless sun’s scorching radiation, the human race tried to stave off certain extinction by sending robotic probes far into the galaxy, to search for a new home among the stars. Generations later, one family is about to be torn apart, in a conflict that will usher in the final race to save humanity from a world beyond hope.

Collects: Low #1-6

This series was getting a lot of attention when it was first announced, and the first few issues were equally praised. It’s not difficult to see why — Tocchini’s artwork is striking and vivid, and Remender’s story is pretty cool. The dystopian setting is unusual and well-built. That being said, the story never quite gripped me as much as I’d expected. I like Remender’s work, and this series has some fantastic, weird and wonderful moments within. But… it also felt just a tad plodding. It was slightly predictable, too. Nevertheless, and while those may sound like damning niggles, Low is worth checking out if you’re a fan of SF comic and/or dystopian fiction. An interesting book.

*

Unwritten-Vol.09-FablesTHE UNWRITTEN, Vol. 9 — The Unwritten Fables (Vertigo)

Writer: Mike Carey & Bill Willingham | Artist: Peter Gross & Mark Buckingham

The worlds of FABLES and THE UNWRITTEN collide in the epic comic event by Mike Carey and Bill Willingham!

Tommy Taylor is thrust into the world of Vertigo’s hit series Fables! But a dark and terrible foe has seized the fairy-tale homelands and our world. In desperation, the witches of Fabletown gather to summon the greatest mage the worlds have ever seen. But they are in for an unpleasant surprise.

Collects: The Unwritten #50-55

Long-time readers of CR have probably picked up on the fact that I’m a big fan of not only The Unwritten, but also Mike Carey’s fiction and Bill Willingham’s Fables universe. It was with great anticipation, therefore, that I started reading The Unwritten Fables. What I found was… disappointing. The story was fine, but didn’t come close to matching the quality of neither The Unwritten nor Fables. The connection felt forced, the story not as confident nor gripping as I have come to expect from both writers. The artwork is very good, of course, and is worth reading for that reason alone. Ultimately, though, I would not tell anyone that this is an essential book, and if you’ve been following either series, you wouldn’t miss anything by skipping it.

*

Unwritten-Vol.10-WarStoriesTHE UNWRITTEN, Vol. 10 — War Stories (Vertigo)

Writer: Mike Carey | Artist: Peter Gross

The tenth volume of the critically-acclaimed new series from the Eisner-nominated creative team, Mike Carey and Peter Gross is the perfect jumping on point, as Tom Taylor is stranded at the beginning of all creation!

Lost in the unwritten scenes of all the world’s stories, Tom Taylor is headed back to reality — and all the gods and beasts and monsters ever imagined can’t stop him. But there’s a toll on the road that may be too high for him or anyone to pay…

Collects: The Unwritten Apocalypse #1-5

So, I liked this better than The Unwritten Fables, but the book still didn’t engage me as much as the first eight volumes of the series did. It’s still a strong series, and one I’d recommend to everyone, but this one meandered just a little more than I had hoped. The artwork in the first chapter/issue is fantastic and tries something new. This book kicks off a new phase in the story. Imaginative, innovative, and pretty twisty, if you’re a fan of the series, this is a must. If you’ve never read anything in this series before, I’d recommend you go back to volume one and get hooked now.

*

Wayward-Vol.01-StringTheoryWAYWARD, Vol.1 — String Theory (Image)

Writer: Jim Zub | Artists: Steve Cummings, John Rauch & Tamra Bonvillain

Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late?

Collects: Wayward #1-5

This is a fantastic new series. I’ve enjoyed everything of Jim Zub’s that I’ve read in the past, but this may be my favourite. Set in Japan, the comic brings to the country and its culture to life on the page. Mashing it up with folklore and mythology, this has a Studio Gibli-esque feel, while very much maintaining its own identity. Magical conspiracies, amusing werecats, and pretty cool protagonists and antagonists. I can’t wait for book two. A definite must-read, and another success for Image Comics.

*

Review: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BATMAN and THE JOKER (Bantam/Transworld)

WorldAccordingToBatman&Joker

BATMAN

Written by Daniel Wallace | Illustrated by Joel Gomez & Beth Sotelo

Experience the world through the eyes of the Dark Knight, as Batman shares the secrets of his relentless battle against the villains of Gotham City.

Filled with insight on everything from his tragic origin story to invaluable crime-fighting tips, this fully illustrated book sees the World’s Greatest Detective give budding heroes all the advice they need to take on villainy wherever they find it.

THE JOKER

Written by Matthew K. Manning | Illustrated by Joel Gomez & Beth Sotelo

Enter the Joker’s twisted world as the Clown Prince of Crime shares his deranged worldview, revealing his skewed perspective on everything from life in Arkham Asylum to battling Batman.

This series of short, heavily-illustrated guides to the worlds of comic heroes and villains is a lot of fun. They’re very quick reads, and serve as excellent introductions, one-stop reference books and curios for fans new and old. Each of the books has a number of extra inserts and removable items — such as Arkham Asylum note cards (the Joker’s is amusing), Robin’s facemask, Post-It Note annotations from Dr. Arkham in the Joker’s book. In the Batman book, you’ll read about his equipment and world (include explanations of the most notable/stranger items in the Batcave), very brief descriptions of the key villains in the Rogues Gallery. The Joker’s book is appropriately zanier and more twisted, with riotous colours and scribblings from the mind of the demented clown. It’s a fun pair of books. I think they’d work as great stocking-stuffers for the Batman fan in your family. Readers already familiar with the characters may prefer one of the graphic novels or collections, though.

***

Bantam Press/Transworld have also published The World According To Spider-Man (review) and Wolverine (review).

Benjamin Percy Writes Two-Part DETECTIVE COMICS Story (DC Comics)

DetectiveComics-35AI am a huge fan of Benjamin Percy’s novel RED MOON – published in the UK by Hodder and North America by Grand Central. It’s the only book of his that I’ve read, but it will by no means be the last.

I also shared a few days ago information about THE DEAD LANDS, his next novel, which is one of my most anticipated novels. Today, though, I discovered that Percy has also written a two-part story for Detective Comics, one of DC Comics’ various Batman series! This is great news, in my opinion – some of my favourite comic story-arcs have been written by some of my favourite writers (Lauren Beukes’s run on Fairest, Gregg Hurwitz’s run on The Dark Knight, to name but two).

Percy has written the story “Terminus”, which will run over Detective Comics #35-36, to be published October 1st and 8th, respectively. Art for the issues is by John Paul Leon (The Massive, DMZ, American Vampire, Scalped), colours by Dave Stewart (Fray, Lex Luthor, Hellboy), letters by Jared K. Fletcher.

Here’s the synopsis for #35:

In the first chapter of a two-part tale by the guest team of writer Ben Percy and artist John Paul Leon, a civilian appearance at Gotham Airport turns into a horror show for Batman when a plane full of dead passengers arrives on the runway! What happened – and what can Bruce Wayne do about it?

There are also two variant covers, by Cliff Chiang (left) and Becky Cloonan:

DetectiveComics-35Variants

If ever there was an excuse for me to catch up on this series, this was it. I’m very eager to read this. Finally, here’s the artwork that will grace the cover of #36:

DetectiveComics-36-Art

Also on CR: Interview with Benjamin Percy

Batman, Vols. 4-5: Zero Year “Secret City” & “Dark City” (DC Comics)

Batman-Vol.04&05

Writer: Scott Snyder | Art: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, FCO Pascencia, Rafael Albuquerque

The New 52 origin of The Dark Knight delves into Bruce Wayne’s past with the Red Hood Gang and his run-ins with aspiring District Attorney Harvey Dent!

Before the Batcave and Robin, The Joker and the Batmobile, there was ZERO YEAR. The Riddler has plunged Gotham City into darkness. How will a young Dark Knight bring his beloved hometown from the brink of chaos and madness and back into the light?

Collects: Batman #21-24 (Vol.4); #25-27, 29-33 (Vol.5)

I’ve always had a soft-spot for origin stories, as I’m sure many fans do. In Zero Year, Snyder et al, have created a very good, more extensive and explanatory take on the origins of Gotham’s Dark Knight. Other stories and collections have touched up this period of Bruce’s development from spoiled rich kid to crime-fighting genius, but none have done it this well. If you haven’t been reading the New 52 Batman, then I’d strongly recommend you start – either here or at the beginning of Snyder’s run. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Volume 4 pretty much re-creates the background portion of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, but from Batman’s perspective, and with a little more focus on the wider actions of the Red Hood gang. Their fight against the new vigilante are relentless and bloody (Bruce is really put through the ringer, here). The story is very well-told, too. There are echoes with Nolan’s Dark Knight movie trilogy, but with shades of Fight Club and Gone in Sixty Seconds added in the back-up stories focused on Bruce’s overseas training stops.

Batman-23-Interior3

In Volume 5, things really get tricky for Batman and his new allies: the Riddler takes over the city (there is a strange leap forward in time, which wasn’t handled quite as smoothly or neatly as it could have been), and it is up to them to wrest control of the power grid and save the lives of their fellow Gothamites from the Riddler’s games. The story has an excellent flow to it, and there’s a nice, circular element to the narrative that takes us back to certain events in Volume 4. Snyder et al show us perhaps the most detailed account of the days leading up to the death of Bruce’s parents that I’ve ever seen. (Anyone know if it’s presented in greater detail anywhere else?) I really enjoyed this volume, made even better by the fact that it’s a pretty long book – not once did it feel like the story was dragging, and the creative team have done a wonderful job of making it visually and narratively engaging and attention-grabbing.

Across both books, and their back-ups, the artwork is fantastic – Capullo’s art is consistently brilliant, and the back-up artists (including Rafael Albuquerque, who has worked with Snyder on multiple other projects) offer welcome and refreshing alternatives. There really is nothing bad I can think of saying about the two books’ visuals – it’s all excellent. There were a couple of moments that were clearly meant to be homages to Frank Miller’s Batman work. First, there was this moment (thanks so the Mary Sue for putting together the image – I was reading the digital ARC, which has degraded artwork to prevent sharing, etc.)*:

Batman-Vol.05-MillerHomage1

Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (left) and the new image

And also this moment, which is another homage to a Dark Knight Returns cover (I put this one together):

Batman-Vol.05-MillerHomage

Snyder’s work on the Batman series continues to impress and entertain, and also expand the Batman mythology brilliantly. I’m concerned about the growing number of Batman titles, though, because I don’t want the story from each to become so cross-pollinated that you can’t properly follow any of them without reading all of them. So, please, just don’t go the way of Marvel?

In all? Batman continues to be very highly recommended. If you’re a fan of the character, you need to be reading Snyder et al’s series.

Batman-Vol.04-Content

Batman, Vol.4 – “Secret City” Contents

Batman-Vol.05-Contents

Batman, Vol.5 – “Dark City” Contents

* That Mary Sure piece also has one other homage example, this time to the first appearance of Batman – also something I spotted, but I thought the Miller homages were far more striking, so decided to share them.

Two Great New BATMAN Pieces by Lee Bermejo…

Long time readers of the blog will know I’m a big fan of Lee Bermejo’s artwork. You can find loads of great examples over on his website. Today, I spotted two more in particular that caught my eye, and thought I’d share them on here.

The first is the brooding artwork for Secret Origins #2, a new series published by DC Comics:

SecretOrigins-02-Bermejo

Secondly, we have a black-and-white piece of DC’s “Trinity” – Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman:

Bermejo-Trinity

Quick Review: BATMAN #20-21, Annual #2 (DC Comics)

Batman-21A-Art

Writer: Scott Snyder | Artist: Greg Capullo | Inks: Danny Miki | Colors: FCO Plascencia

Witness The New 52 origin of The Dark Knight in BATMAN: ZERO YEAR! Twists and turns are around every corner as Bruce Wayne takes the final steps toward his destiny! And in the backup story, learn more about how different Gotham City was at this dangerous point in time.

The second chapter of “Zero Year” delves into Bruce Wayne’s past with the Red Hood Gang and his run-ins with aspiring District Attorney Harvey Dent! And in the backup story, a secret moment from Bruce’s training abroad is revealed for the first time!

Batman-21&22

Covers & Best Variants for #21-22

These three issues comprise the beginning of a new, larger Batman story-arc. I thought I’d pick up with my comics reviewing, again, and this seemed like a perfect place to start. This storyline, “Zero Year”, focuses on Bruce Wayne’s evolution into the Batman. “Wait, hasn’t this been done before?” you may ask. Well, yes, it has. But Scott Snyder seems to have decided to go even further back, and take a little more time investigating Bruce’s change and development of the idea of the Batman.

Scott Snyder did a great job with “Death of the Family” (despite that going on just a teensy bit too long), so I was looking forward to seeing how he would approach the origin and evolution period of Batman. So far, on the strength of these two issues, he’s doing a great job, and I look forward to seeing how the story unfolds.

Batman-21-Interior6

The first of these issues starts off with what appears to be a dystopian Gotham City, not dissimilar to a post-apocalyptic New York (think of NYC in the I Am Legend movie), overrun by thugs. I hadn’t expected that. (See images, above.) The story then jumps to a different time, leaving all of my questions unanswered. We learn that Bruce has only been back in Gotham for a few weeks, and Alfred is struggling to understand and accept his ward’s approach to cleaning up the city. Bruce’s Uncle Philip Kane has tracked him down, though, and wants his nephew to take over Wayne Enterprises. Which, of course, Bruce doesn’t want to do. He’s waging his battle against the Red Hood Gang (doing some pretty crazy stunts), which I last read about in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke.

Batman-22-Interior2

In issues #21-22, the story is really only being developed. Bruce is outed by his uncle, Alfred is pushing him to come out of the shadows, to revive the Wayne name and status, and to honour his parents’ legacy and memory. Bruce meets Edward Nygma. And that’s about it, really. A bit tricky to really say much more, as we’re still only seeing the opening moves in a much larger storyline. There will be some cross-over into the other Bat-Family titles, too.

These two issues are pretty good, it’s true, but I think we’re still way too early to be able to write much more than that. As can be expected, the artwork is also top-notch, and I had no complaints in that department at all.

Batman-Annual-02Annual #2:

Story: Scott Snyder & Marguerite Bennett | Writer: Marguerite Bennett | Art: Wes Craig | Inks: Craig Yeung, Drew Geraci, Wes Craig, Jack Purcell, Sandu Florea, Marc Deering | Colours: Ian Hannin

A special “ZERO YEAR” tie-in! Bruce Wayne’s first year as the Dark Knight has just barely begun…and already dangerous elements are coalescing, leading Bruce toward his final destiny.

Despite broadcasting on the cover that this is connected to “Zero Year”, it isn’t, really. There is some mention of Bruce’s early days as a vigilante, as he broke into Arkham Asylum and bumped into the Anchoress. That being said, this is a really good issue – at just six pages longer than a normal issue, I’m not sure it justified its higher price-tag, but I think Bennett (a protégé of sorts of Synder’s) does a great job with the characters and story. Batman has been invited to test the security of an all-new, super-high-tech wing of the Asylum, which is intended to hold the worst of the worst. Unfortunately for Bats, the Anchoress blames him for Arkham’s change in purpose (it really did used to be focused on curing and treating the inmates, rather than merely incarcerating them).

Batman-Annual-02-Interior2

A solid issue, and certainly well-worth reading, but don’t be fooled by the mentions of “Zero Year”. It is tangentially connected, and not in a way that will be essential to the overall storyline. (Unless something weird happens later, I suppose…)  I certainly look forward to reading more by Bennett.

Two Years (ish) of DC Comics’ New 52

DCHeader

Someone asked me on Twitter if I was still reading comics (they pointed out I hadn’t posted many reviews of them lately). I have been, but because I’ve been reading them in big chunks, interspersed with work reading, as well as both fiction and (future-work-related) non-fiction books, I’ve been letting the comics reviews slide a fair bit. There is another reason, of course: not all of the comics have been single storylines, or complete storylines, which makes reviewing them really tricky. Once you get to around issue #10, anything you write about the story is likely to throw out spoilers. This, I think, is maybe a weakness of reading and reviewing comics on a weekly basis – and is really why I stopped doing that almost a year ago (that and financial considerations). Regardless, my insatiable need to read All The Things With Words means I have been reading a good number of comics via ComiXology’s app on my iPad. With the exception of the frankly phenomenal Hawkeye, I do not buy any issues full-price. I just can’t afford to. So, as and when things go on sale or are discounted (either one or two months after release), I’ve been collecting issues to read in bursts.

That being said, the number of series I’ve been reading has also been steadily culled. I usually give each series a single “volume” – that is, what would appear in a collected, printed trade hardcover or paperback. It’s been a useful way of separating storylines, as well as providing a “book’s worth” to review. (Ahem, if I bothered to review them, that is…)

So which of DC’s New 52 have I kept reading? Which ones will stay? And which will have to go, and why? Below is a brief run-down (by no means exhaustive) of the titles I’ve been reading, collected by theme/larger series…

[I may add to this, over time, as I remember other titles I’ve tried, or just think of something else I’d like to add.]

GREEN LANTERN SERIES

I’m starting with this one, because I recently completed the vast “Rise of the Third Army” and “Wrath of the First Lantern” cross-title events. It was an epic undertaking, and sadly it sometimes felt like it. Not to mention being rather more expensive than I would have wished (or should have given in to). The two events, really one mega-event, had its interesting and gripping moments, but ultimately outstayed its welcome. By the time it ended, expectations were so high, that it fell a bit flat. This, I’m noticing, is a common feeling at the end of comics Events…

Overall, though, the extended family of Green Lantern titles remain interesting. Not all of them are as consistent or gripping as I would like. Green Lantern is still very good. Red Lanterns is possibly the weakest, now, after what had been a promisingly dark beginning. New Guardians is starting to fizzle a bit, too, despite my continuing interest in the wider spectrum of Lantern corps. Green Lantern Corps has some very good moments, too.

GreenLantern-20

With Geoff Johns’s run on the flagship title now over (an epic, redefining era for the character and mythos, filled with many exceptional moments), and with each title now having hit their 20th issues, I think I’m going to retire the series from my ‘pull-list’. Mostly, this is a financial decision, but it is also because the story has hit a point when I feel like I’m overdosing, and just simply want a break. The expanded 20th issue of Green Lantern was a nice wander down memory lane, and offered some intriguing hints for what is to come, but I’m just not prepared to dive back in for a little while longer. When I do return, I think only Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps will be priorities.

*

BAT-FAMILY TITLES

The Batman family of titles remain my favourites, and (in my opinion) also the best-written. The flagship title, Batman, still written by the excellent Scott Snyder, continues strongly. In the wake of “Death of the Family”, we got some shorter, stand-alone issues and stories, which offered a nice breather. The latest Bat-event has now begun, though (“Year Zero”), so it’ll be interesting to see how that develops. I’ll be keeping this title on the list, and will actually be writing a review of the first three parts of “Year Zero” in the near future (#21-22 and Annual #2).

I’ve been following Detective Comics, too, but it hasn’t been firing on all cylinders for a little while. I’ll probably stick with it a little while longer, but it may have to go at some point. [As a somewhat related aside, I’m considering delving into the pre-New 52 Detective Comics stories, as some of them sound pretty great.]

BatmanDarkKnight-11-ArtGregg Hurwitz’s Scarecrow story for Batman: The Dark Knight was one of the best Batman storylines I’ve ever read. No joke. Yesterday I picked up the final part of his Mad Hatter story-arc (it’s been discounted on ComiXology), and will be reading it all in one go. I will certainly write a review for it, too. Hurwitz has done a truly fantastic job with this title. Very highly recommended indeed. It’s staying on my to-read list.

Batgirl is still going strong, with some potential closure on the question of Barbara’s serial-killer brother. Gail Simone’s keeping the quality high, and the story engaging and fresh. The artwork, too, remains strong throughout. A keeper, and I’m looking forward to picking up some of the creepier-looking recent issues in the near future.

I’m still enjoying Nightwing, as the story and character remain interesting. Post-“Death of the Family”, Dick Grayson moves to Chicago, which I think will be really great for the character – not only is it a change of pace from Gotham, but it will hopefully open up the possibility for plenty of original stories and enemies. I have every intention of continuing with the series, but I may wait longer chunks of time and binge on a complete story-arc each time I do.

Batwoman-09-ArtI haven’t been keeping up-to-date with Batwoman, despite every intention to do so. I had been waiting for printed collections before I left NYC, but chose to de-prioritize it after “Death of the Family” started, because it wasn’t connected. I enjoyed the more horror-leaning aesthetic and storylines, though, so I do hope to get caught up again. (I’ve read up to issue #9, so there is a fair bit of reading to do before I’m up-to-speed… Won’t be too soon, sadly.) It is probably the most eye-catching, artistically of all the New 52 titles. Really superb, original compositions.

Batwing is in the same position as Batwoman. It’s a series I certainly want to read more of, I just can’t afford to right now. Writing duties have changed hands (#19), and it looks like the new team (Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray) have taken the series in an interesting direction. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I get back to it.

One of my favourite series remains Red Hood & The Outlaws. If I had to say why it remains such a good read for me, I think I’d struggle to say. I like the characters – especially Jason “Red Hood” Todd – and they dynamic between them is really good. It’s a bit different, with a more sci-fi feel to it than other Batman-related titles, but perhaps it’s this difference that gives it a fresher feel? It also tied in really nicely with “Death of the Family”. I imagine this will be a keeper for some time.

I’ve also managed to read the first volume’s-worth of new title Talon. James Tynion III is doing something really interesting with this character, and I hope he becomes a permanent member of the DC stable. The first storyline was a slow-burn narrative, but with plenty of action sequences, as we follow Calvin Rose make a sort-of life for himself, with a couple of allies. And also a rogues’ gallery of his very own. It’s quite different to Batman, and I liked a lot about the series. It took me longer than it perhaps should have to adjust my expectations of story-type (I’d not been sleeping and was exhausted when I read it). Nevertheless, it is a pretty great story. The first book also has one hell of a cliff-hanger ending…

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My favourite series in the Batman family, though, has got to be Batman & Robin. Each issue is superb, but the silent issue #18 (image above), is one of the most powerful comics I’ve read. Absolutely superb, and I’ll be writing reviews of Volumes 2 and 3 in the near future. A must-read series (along with Hurwitz’s Dark Knight).

Teen Titans, led by Tim “Red Robin” Drake, has had a lot of ups and downs. Scott Lobdell’s humour can work pretty well, but overall I just don’t think I care enough about the characters to stick around any longer than I already have. The future storylines, which seem to feature six-eyed demons, also don’t appeal much.

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SUPERMAN FAMILY

Personally, I think there has been too much crossover and needed catch-up to fully follow all the storylines, which is also too much to justify financially.

Superman-11-ArtI actually like the Superman series. I seem to be one of the only people who liked the first story arc, which offered some interesting modern-era-media concerns into the story (I studied the role of the media in politics as part of my PhD, so maybe that’s why I liked it more than some others). I did get bored when the DC Powers That Be tied this series in with the daemonites storyline (which was just dull – sorry, there’s really no other way to describe it other than “just dull”, in the end). I bought the issues for Volume 3 (#13-19), not realising that they were all “H’el on Earth” issues. I have no idea if I have to read the other two Super-titles to ‘get’ the story, but it has made me hesitate (perhaps stupidly, seeing as I do own them)…

What of Superboy? Meh. I lost interest, despite enjoying Volume 1. I just never got around to reading any more of the series. Will I in the future? Perhaps. But probably not in the near future.

I finally read the first volume of Supergirl, and while there was some good stuff therein, it was mainly all-action-all-the-time, which left minimal time and space for actual story. Distracting readers with endless set-piece-battles does not a good story make. I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of the series, sadly.

Which brings us to Action Comics. I remain on the fence: Grant Morrison has finally left the series, but I’m not sure if it’s ok to just dive in with the new writers’ work. And my OCD shudders at the incompletion prospect…

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JUSTICE LEAGUE TITLES

I just finished Justice League #17-19 the other day, aiming to catch up for the latest cross-over event, “Trinity War”. (See? Told you there were a lot of them…) I must say, though, that I was thoroughly underwhelmed with these issues. The story was just weak. The artwork wasn’t great (not to mention schizophrenic, as multiple art-teams were involved). The series has not been without its strong moments, though – for example, when Batman discusses his contingency plans with Superman, and the “Throne of Atlantis” cross-over story.

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Aquaman has been a good title throughout, but due to financial constraints, I haven’t been able to keep up with it as much as I would have liked. It remains a keeper, but not an urgent one. I’ll pick up issues in chunks.

Brain Azzarello’s run on Wonder Woman has been interesting. I have a weakness for anything linked with Mythology (especially Roman, Egyptian, Norse, and as in this case Greek – all of them formed a large part of my youthful and formative reading). The story sometimes veers into the WTF-territory, which I’m not a fan of. But, at the same time, I think the interpretations of the Gods and mythical creatures and characters is really interesting. The first two volumes (“Blood” and “Guts”) were strong, despite a bit of a dip in quality in Volume 2. I’ll keep reading this for at least one more story-arc. And I really do like Cliff Chiang’s artwork.

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For some reason, I haven’t been keeping up-to-date with The Flash. I enjoyed the first volume a good deal. Perhaps it’s my innate caution when a storyline suddenly features Gorillas…? It is becoming clearer to me that I really like my comics a little less ‘out there’, unless they’re obviously meant to be totally out there – Hellboy and Justice League Dark (below), for example. I’d like to catch up with this at some point, though, as I do find the Flash to be an interesting character. Speaking of, though, I picked up a few more of the Flashpoint comics recently (again, a ComiXology sale), so I hope to get those read and reviewed at some point soon.

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THE DARK & EDGE

I really like a lot of Justice League Dark – the artwork is often pretty great, and the story has some great moments. It feels like it’s weakening a bit, but this might be because the creative team had to tread water until the “Trinity War” event could start. I hope it picks up again. I thought Lemire was going to revive it nicely, and on the strength of his first handful of issues, I bought a fair bit of his other work (including Sweet Tooth, which enjoyed an excellent 99c sale on ComiXology not so long ago). We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. I’m sticking around for “Trinity War”, but I will re-assess afterwards.

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The only other series I’ve maintained from these ‘sections’ of the New 52 is Demon Knights. I have the issues for Volume 2, but because I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy fiction, I haven’t felt an urgent need to read these. I will, though, as I like the option of reading some fantasy in my comics. Watch this space, I guess.

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Constantine-01Overall, it looks like I’m losing steam with DC’s wider New 52 line. Some series remain strong, true, but I’m not sure if reading them on an issue-by-issue basis is enough for me. Too often, the story feels incomplete, insufficient, rushed, or what have you. Maybe I just need a bit of a break from them? Who knows. I have picked up some issues from two of the newer series – Constantine and Justice League America – primarily because they are connected to the “Trinity War” event. For some reason, I didn’t feel the need to get The Phantom Stranger or Pandora

Instead of spending my few funds on more super-hero comics, I’ve been picking up some other comics. The aforementioned Sweet Tooth, as well as American Vampire, Locke & Key, and a handful of others. I’m also going to try to get back into the G.I.Joe titles, and maybe dip in to some more Dark Horse (Star Wars and The Massive), Image (Chew, Thief of Thieves) and Zenescope titles. I will also, actually, be delving into the back-catalogues of both DC and Marvel, too – I have a number of older Superman stories, for example, as well as a wealth of X-Men stuff to catch up on.

Does anyone else have any suggestions? Or opinions on the New 52 this far in? Feel free to share in the comments, below, or on Twitter or Facebook.

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“Trinity War” Artwork