This really is a great time to be reading for fans of comics and those just joining the comic readership. With comics hitting many theater adaptions and getting story renewals and reboots, companies are investing into comics to keep the stories and interest going during the off seasons.
Just a heads up that some of these book reviews do contain spoilers so if you think you’re going to read a particular story, just skip to the next photo and review to avoid reading something and putting you off.
For the book of the week…
Batman Superman #1:
There was no way I was going to not pick Batman Superman #1 as the top book. Greg Pak has been a decent writer but more importantly Jae Lee was the advertised artist. From the opening page we see Jae Lee’s interpretation of a dark, gruesome Gotham City being depicted. Greg Pak offers dual point of views from both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent as they egotistically show off without breaking their fake identity guards. They later have a minor showoff showdown in their superhero undies which is where the story is left cliffhanging. I don’t want to reveal much more about the early plot but we do get a Catwoman cameo.
However, the deepest thing about this book I feel is the art. Jae Lee knows how to bring to life a dark nightmare, frightening yet beautiful. With every page I could feel tears of happiness swell in my eyes knowing this was the book I’ve been waiting months for and I finally got it in my hands. And then suddenly… the art changed.
Jae Lee’s art finished on page 18, and then was given over Ben Oliver for the conclusion, pages 19-25. It was like getting an appetizer from a 5-star restaurant but going back home for dinner. Not that Ben Oliver’s art isn’t good or similar, but Jae Lee is in league of his own and I don’t want to see a half/half comic with such a huge artist. This better not happen again, DC Comics! Bottom line, if this book was just a collection of Jae Lee doodling Batman and Superman that alone would have me sold and been worth the cost. The writing is a huge bonus and came much cheaper than Superman Unchained #1‘s entry price.
The best thing about this comic is the stern comedic theme held while still telling a good story. My only sadness comes from Tony Moore still not being back as the artist, which I hope happens soon. Gerard Duggan and Brian Posehn have done a good job with the research and character cameos keeping Deadpool relevant. The demon Vetis faces off against Deadpool and Preston as revenge for undermining him and as his source, Vetis uses the powers he repossessed from the humans Deadpool killed against our favorite Merc. Deadpool does some clever stalling by breaking into the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four but the security system doesn’t last. A brief standoff ensues which buys Michael enough time to return from Hell with Mephisto. As a show of gratitude, Mephisto offers a deal to restore Preston’s conscious to a body. Deadpool wants to agree to the deal but his friends persuade him not to deal with the devil. Deadpool #13 starts a new arc and is a good time to jump on.
After being killed by Bane, the re-animated Court of Owls Calvin is blackmailed to break into Bane’s home and sanctuary on the Island of Santa Prisca to retrieve his old partner, Sebastian Clark! The exchange would be for the safety of Casey Washington and her daughter. Since Calvin didn’t expect either his survival or the Court to honor their word, he slips a lockpick to Casey through a kiss. We do see some overly-aggressive Bane expressions with some actions clearly influenced by the Dark Knight Rises movie… which I wasn’t amused by (the comic imitating the movie, not the movie itself!). Overall I’ve been happy with the book after it got a few issues off the ground, and when Bane killed Calvin my jaw dropped.
Wake may be the biggest book on DC’s comic line Vertigo because of the headliner writer Scott Snyder, whom you may recognize from Batman. The story takes us further into the theorized history of the creature capture in the deep underwater facility. Unbeknownst to the crew, the creature seems to have a telepathic ability that may render keeping it captured in a straight jacket and chains useless… the book ending gave me the creeps! The art isn’t traditional comic which makes it even more attractive of a title, and I can’t wait for the next ish!
Mark Waid brings us to the conclusion of Daredevil’s misery! We’ve now learned that Bullseye is still alive but a mechanical vegetable in a mobile coffin. Bullseye has been behind Matt Murdock for months and pushed his remaining nerves to the limit! Ikari has beaten Daredevil senseless and frightened our hero once known as the ‘man without fear’. It was just chaos everywhere! I have to admit I’m excited that Bullseye is still alive and the way Mark Waid has it setup, we’ll probably see him back up and healthy soon. Daredevil also appears in the latest issue of The Incredible Hulk, also written by Mark Waid.
I’m not going to lie to you guys. I started but have not finished reading this book. I bought it because of the hot gothic girl on the cover, and because Greg Rucka wrote a mean Punisher story for Marvel that kept me hooked like a fish. I was a few pages in on Lazarus and saw her kill three guys and then I realized I would be late on my book reviews so I told myself I’d go back to the drawing board later. My biggest recommendations for fans is to pick up #1 issues because of the popularity you never know if you’ll ever get a chance to get it again for the same cover price. Because Greg Rucka is the man, I’m sure this book is worth it. I’ll let you know more details soon.
I follow Flash writer and artist Francis Manapul on Instagram. I had to write to him this week to tell him how consistent his book has flowed for nearly two years straight without a hiccup. Even if the story wasn’t strong, the art layouts and splash setups blow your mind. This is the dedication we want from book creators, not part time participators! This latest issue puts Flash against Kid-Flash in an attempt to discover who’s behind the murders of Flash’s acquaintances by the Speed Force. While Flash is distracted, Reverse-Flash commits another murder which increases his strength. I can’t wait to see Flash and Reverse-Flash square off because it doesn’t seem like Barry has gotten much of a break since coming back from the Speed Force time travel and saving the city from King Grodd’s attacking apes.
Catwoman teams up with Rat-Tail to continue the turf war against The Penguin. Our friend Cobblepot is pushing up on the Bad Lands where his extortion tactics have failed. Rafael Sandoval’s art has been insanely attractive like water to a desert, and has never showed any holes. Unfortunately I can’t dig into this title by Ann Nocenti like some of her other books. I’m enjoying the hell out of Ann Nocenti’s Katana though, and I love Gotham City so I don’t know why I just can’t touch with the Catwoman title. There are some good comedy moments behind Penguin’s closed doors and that was the highlight to me, outside of Sandoval’s invincible art.
This latest issue of Hawkeye is being praised for Matt Fraction’s story-telling through pizza dog, and it’s lack of using words. Dog is used to interpret his surroundings and what seems to be going on before Hawkeye Kate decides to leave. And then there’s that murder on the roof… This book never feels like a serious Marvel title, it tells a non-linear story away from the Marvel Universe and it feels very independent. This is why the book is often hitting high marks and reprint orders like many Image Comics titles. David Aja’s art and layouts have been a compliment to Matt Fraction’s ideas and if you haven’t been reading this title then you’ve been doing a huge dishonor to yourself!
Journey Into Mystery #653:
I’ve been attracted to Lady Sif for a while now, and it’s not just Jeff Dekal’s breathtaking real life art covers. Journey Into Mystery continues Sif’s adventure and brings us back good ol’ Beta Ray Bill! From the beginning when they see each other for the first time in a while, you can tell they have a huge history together. Bill’s ship Skuttlebutt is not responding and his love interest Ti Asha Ra is lost. Sif is also on the search for Gaea, and finds Ti Asha Ra whom later seems to either deactivate or die… I can’t tell because Galactus created her. This could mean Beta Ray Bill is the last living Korbinite 🙁 For whatever reason, the lonesome Bill and Lady Sif’s memories are being blocked by the environment they’re on and she seems to forget Gaea is lost.
Justice League #21:
For over a year we’ve gotten this backup story of Billy Batson becoming Shazam and the resurrection of Black Adam. It’s been a huge teaser with incredible art, and this issue seals the deal and brings us the conclusion. With the Trinity War coming, the Seven Deadly Sins released, I can’t wait see how this all ties in to each other Justice League titles. Gary Frank’s work is energetic and explosive page by page. For those that missed it, I hope for your sake DC Comics releases a hardcover with just the Shazam story because you have no idea what you’re missing!
Age of Ultron #10AI:
This book was the wrap up to the Age of Ultron title, as well as to form a bridge to the new Avengers A.I. book coming to us next week. The incredible Mark Waid was the writer of this one-shot style issue in where he allows Hank Pym to absorb the details of what just happened and contemplate his role as an Avenger and in the Marvel Universe in general. Mark Waid does a tremendous job as always keeping us interested, but the art work could have been somewhat stronger to match Mark’s golden story telling. In the end, Hank Pym has lost his only son, Ultron, but he invests his talent into a new technology which could be the ‘Doom’ of him… you’ll catch the pun when you read the book or get Avengers A.I. The cover to this book was gorgeous and that art alone was worth the book price.
Justice League Dark #21:
The Justice League Dark team face off against Dr. Destiny with the help and cameo of Flash and Swamp Thing in this great conclusion! Ray Fawkes and Jeff Lemire have done a tremendous job on this arc and series overall, but I’m just totally excited for the Trinity War coming up. We’ve already seen Phantom Stranger use the Justice League Dark’s assistance, Frankenstein help out during the Rot World storyline, and Constantine makes an appearance in Swamp Thing next week… Justice League Dark’s role in the DC Universe may not be as big as their superior title holders, but they do a great job supporting behind the scenes and we’re not going to see them go anywhere as long as strong writers like Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes back it up.
All-New X-Men #13:
After taking pounds of words from Captain America and the Uncanny Avengers across different titles, Wolverine decides to lead his own assault against Mystique, Sabretooth, and Mastermind for framing the original X-Men. From a distance he has the young Jean Grey scout with her mind to assess the situation which reveals Mystique set up a deal through Silver Samurai with Viper (Madame Hydra) to purchase her portion of Madripoor. Silver Samurai doesn’t look like his traditional self, and I’m assuming his change of suit to more cybernetics was a result of the new movie influence. Mastermind grabs a hold of Jean Grey which releases Wolverine’s worst nightmare. Stuart Immonen’s art is so attractive as always, I’m surprised the accelerated Marvel NOW schedule hasn’t worn him down a bit. Brian Michael Bendis is one of my favorite writers and his ability to keep readers hooked on this title is natural. Unfortunately I’m not feeling so attracted to the sister book, Uncanny X-Men…
Uncanny X-Men #7:
Dormammu attempts to suffocate Cyclops’ X-Men and Magik is the only one able to save them. While they do make it out alive, it comes at the sacrifice of Magik who absborbs Limbo in its entirety into her existence. She seeks help from the unlikely Dr. Strange to help restore her. Frazer Irving’s art isn’t the prettiest at times, but his Dr. Strange that you see above is beautiful. Being written also by Bendis, this is supposed to be the companion book to All-New X-Men showing the resistant Cyclops’ team perspective, but for the last three issues it’s been sort of weak. It might be because of Irving’s art but I loved his work on Batman and Robin. Maybe it’s that Goldball character who keeps whining. I hope he goes home.
Mera has always been weary of revealing her past to Arthur, but she finally returns home to the Bermuda Triangle and we learn she was sent to Atlantis to kill Aquaman. Of course she ‘failed’ and fell in love, which says a lot about her previous behavior and how she was perceived by his friends but her betrayal to her motherland earned her the spot of being a huge moral support to Arthur, before he returned to being the King of Atlantis. Speaking of kings, the Dead King follows Mera to her homeland and brings his ice power as you can see in the photo. He’s confronted by Arthur, which leaves Atlantis open to attack to the arms dealer who was scavenging the technology and selling it on the black market, only to make his way back to the source… Aquaman is an unlikely high quality book and I love this title every month.
Justice League of America #5:
There was some serious outrage after the last issue of this book where Catwoman was shot in the head and seemingly killed. To ease tensions in what was going to be an obvious turn for ‘her’, we learn that it was Martian Manhunter in her place all along and he fights back hard. We do get some great reveals out of the confrontation, and a bigger player is revealed to be looking over the villains’ Society. I don’t want to contemplate it being Darkseid because he would be way too complicated for a junior team like Justice League of America to handle. Dr. Light is transformed from the coin artifact he was studying and Director Waller, being the sadistic character she’s been so far in DC New 52, has no plans on helping him without it benefitting herself and the Justice League of America team. The backup story reveals how the Martian Manhunter was able to pull his switcheroo with Catwoman and allow himself to be captured before being shot. My only irk about this book is that David Finch wasn’t on it – Finch is one of my favorite ‘dark’ artists and I hope he finds his way back to the story because I loved his run on Batman: The Dark Knight, and he drew an insanely scary Martian Manhunter in the first issue of Justice League of America!
Batman: The Dark Knight #21:
The conclusion to The Mad Hatter’s crazy arc! Ethan Van Sciver is back on the art and this week he was selling off several original art pages from this issue. We posted it also on the blog so backtrack a post or two to find it; it is being updated with new pages so check it constantly. These original art pages go for dirt cheap in contrast to how much they’d usually go for, so make it a great present for yourself if you’re a Batman fan or gift it to someone who is: They will love you forever! Back to the story, Batman’s latest love interest is killed after being smashed against his Bat-signal and he’s out for blood. With the rage of the loss of Damian and now Natalya being murdered, what lengths will Batman go to save his loved ones? Gregg Hurwitz did a soft job on ending this story on what started as a great complex tale. Ethan’s art was very attractive and colorful during The Mad Hatter’s tea driven fits, but we need to see more strength from Gregg Hurwitz’s story in whatever he’s doing next. From the beginning of this Dark Knight series all we’ve seen is drugs and hypnotics: Joker, Scarecrow, and now Hatter… can we get something a bit different?
Wolverine and the X-Men #32:
Jason Aaron keeps this book very fresh and entertaining for those who enjoy a lighthearted title surrounding Wolverine and his students. You can never go wrong with Jason Aaron, but supporting artist Nick Bradshaw’s work is so solid that I never have to question anything about it either. After getting them drunk, Wolverine strategically takes a group of Bamfs to hunt for the Hellfire Academy’s whereabouts and begins teleporting all over the place. Meanwhile at the Hellfire, Quentin Quire is being tortured while his friends are secretly being exposed to elements used to mold them into better cooperative students. The best part about this book is the villain faculty and their reactions to their weak minded students and teaching methods of choice. I believe this ‘Hellfire’ arc is almost over so if you haven’t jumped on, give it a month or so.
The biggest book improvement to me by far was this X-Men title. I don’t want to say again that it’s supposed to be an all-female title, but wow. Olivier Coipel’s art didn’t look as rushed as the first issue seemed; in fact it was beautiful. Brian Wood’s writing dialogues kept it very interesting, and absolutely did not take away from the action whatsoever. I always tell you guys to pick up #1 issues of every book you’re slightly interested in, and with the quality this issue gave me so far I’m hooked for the rest of the arc. I hope Olivier Coipel can stick to dishing out this beautiful work because the fight scenes and facial expressions were just as stunning as what we get from Stuart Immonen for All-New X-Men. Also, we’ll be seeing Olivier Coipel this weekend at Florida SuperCon 😀
For this 4th of July comic release coming up, I don’t see too many huge titles. Later on in the day I’ll let you know what to be on the lookout for. We’ll be out at Florida SuperCon that weekend so don’t hurt me if the comic reviews come mildly late. In the meantime have a safe holiday!