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.