Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Aquaman #48 Review

Writer: Kelly DeConnick

Art: Viktor Bogdanovic

Inker: Daniel Henriques

Colors: Sunny Gho

We pick up right after Aquaman fought and defeated Namma the Salt God, with the help of the Old Gods he remembered his powers and ability to speak to ocean life. The Father Ocean brings him his lost trident, slowly but surely the King of Atlantis rebuilding the pieces of his former life. The Old Gods are performing a ritual to bring the rest of Arthur back.

No more dragons, no more Old Gods. Andy must enter the Mother Shark himself and become one with the Sunken Forest, which is an inception-like dream state where he must purge himself of Andy and bring back Arthur. Aquaman must fight through the memories and flashbacks to become complete. He remembers his mother’s love and her selfless sacrifice to keep him alive. He recalls his friends from the Justice league and then finally asks the Mother Shark about the mystery red-haired woman he keeps seeing. Love is pain and pain is love; Arthur may not like the answer he gets in this last page monster reveal.

This issue was easily one of my favorites of any Aquaman comic book run. The focus of life, death and rebirth. The magic of life that clings to the King, the true warrior spirit we see within Arthur, as he endures unbelievable pain and torment is truly poetic. To have everything he has ever loved and holds dear taken from him and still he fights.

Batman #70 Explored & Explained

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Video provided by Kelly OneShot a Comic Book Legion contributor

Follow Kelly on twitter @KellyOneShot518

Hawkman #12 Review

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Writer: Robert Venditti

Penciler: Bryan Hitch

Inker: Andrew Currie, Norm Rapmund, Scott Hanna

Colorer: Jeremiah Skipper

Letterer: Richard Starkings

Release Date: May 8th, 2019

I think it takes a special person to enjoy and appreciate Hawkman. Here’s a hero whose story is one that focuses on destiny, eternity, and reincarnation. A hero who is cursed or blessed, depending on the reader, with being reincarnated and getting the opportunity to be reunited with his true love over and over. As many can no doubt assume, that caused Hawkman’s continuity to become a bit of a torrid heap. This is probably why the character doesn’t have more fans. However, that’s all changed with the team of Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch. Together, they’ve breathed new life into this classic character. This first 12 issue story-arc is a MUST for any Hawkman fan or future fans.

Now, we get to the magnum opus of Venditti and Hitch’s Hawkman. When last we left our hero, Carter Hall had called forth all his previous incarnations to battle the Deathbringers and we thought the tide was finally turned. That was not the case as their foes’ giant mechs arrived to lay waste to the planet. This issue features the final battle between the swarm of Hawkmen and the Deathbringers. On a personal note, it is the showdown between former friends and comrades – Idamm and Carter Hall. Will the heroes overcome these insurmountable odds and save the planet? If they are victorious, what’s next for Carter? Is there another foe on the horizon as we approach the Year of the Villian? These questions require you to go out and buy this issue today!

If there was an issue for Bryan Hitch to go all out on, this was it. He always brings his A-game to everything he does. That continues with this issue. Hitch again shows readers his mastery of detail, such as with page 2. Need a panel of hundreds of Hawkmen forming a swarm to face the Deathbringers? There are few people that I would think can pull it off and Hitch is towards the top of that list. Then there’s page 19, where the memories of all the previous incarnations of Hawkman are put into Carter. I loved staring at the minute details of each of the incarnations shown – Katar Hol, Golden Age Carter, Prince Khufu, Catar-Ol. Hitch took his time and fleshed out each glimpse into their world. Lastly, I have to talk about the beautiful cover that Hitch and Alex Sinclair. This cover is one that I would frame and hang up in my lair. I love how all the Hawkmen are soaring up to the sun. Then you get some amazing color work on that sun by Sinclair. I can just see the warmth emanating from the sun and washing all over the characters.

I can’t sing enough praises about this book. I’ll admit that I was skeptical about the new direction and origin that Venditti put together for Hawkman. However, after reading these first twelve issues, I’m excited to see what else is in store for the character. Hawkman’s old origin has been blended together with Venditti’s new take and it absolutely works. I will miss Bryan Hitch on this series, but I am looking forward to whatever project he has lined up next. I can only hope the next artist puts his all into this book like Bryan did. Fans definitely deserve to see Hawkman stick around for 100 issues.

Batman & the Outsiders #1 Review

Writer: Bryan Edward Hill

Artist: Dexter Soy

Colors: Veronica Gandini

Letters: Clayton Cowles

Release Date: 5/8/19

  The long-awaited team up has finally arrived! Batman has called upon his very own black-ops team to work covertly in the shadows, bring in The Outsiders! The team of Cassandra Cain, The Signal, Katana, and their leader; Black Lightning seem to pick up right where Bryan Hill left off in the pages of Detective Comics. Still a newly formed group with kinks to work out, I thoroughly enjoy the team’s dynamic. The two veteran heroes in Black Lightning and Katana take on the mentor roles for the two badass JV heroes in Signal and Cassandra Cain, or as she’s referred to now as Orphan. Batman has tasked the four of them with a search and rescue mission with no holds barred, how will each of them fare as they face their own personal struggles while continuing to carry out his assignment?

Bryan Edward Hill has created one glorious opening issue, developing conflict within the first few pages that’ll have you hooked. Dexter Soy adds art that carries the dialogue perfectly. His artistic style seems to fit seamlessly in a fast paced, action packed book such as this one. From the slash of Katana’s sword, to the bolts of electricity conjured up by Black Lightning, to every explosion in between; Veronica Gandini’s color work added to Soy’s art draws the readers eyes right to the focal point of each panel. If you you’d like a perfect example of how striking the art is, let me direct you to the splash page of Batman zip-lining above the rest of his Outsider squad. I’ve mentioned in some of my previous reviews how much I appreciate great lettering, and Clayton Cowles delivers just that. Using colors to differentiate the internal dialogue within the text boxes is just one of the little things that makes for more enjoyable, less messy reading.

Batman and the Outsiders may have faced some delays before finally hitting the shelves, but for those fans who’ve been patiently waiting, it will definitely be worth the wait. Hill has laid the foundation for what could be an exhilarating story. By bringing in a new villain, and name dropping one of Batman’s rogues in the same issue, issue #1 has me very eager to see where things go. Stop by your local comic book store and pick up Batman and The Outsiders today!

The Batman Who Laughs #5 Review

Writer: Scott Snyder

Art: Jock

Colors: David Baron

Letters: Sal Cipriano

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Batman is at war, war with his most terrifying villain ever, himself! The Batman Who Laughs! The Nightmare Batman, a dark and twisted shadow of Bruce Wayne is ripping through the city leaving everyone in his path devastated. Gotham is just as much a part of Batman as the cape and the cowl – without it what would Batman be? The BMWL tends to find out exactly that!

The Batman Who Laughs has a crippling endgame for Gotham that is The Last Laugh. With Bruce doing everything in his power to stop him, but how do you stop someone who is you? A Nightmare version of you who knows each and every thought and memory. Batman has always used darkness and fear to break the criminals in his gallery and this story is that 10 fold, Batman will go down his darkest and most brutally twisted path EVER! It will blow your head off.

In a wild gambit the BMWL will track down an old villain, in hopes to help him bring about the end of Gotham. In an amazing call back to the New York Times Best Selling New 52 Batman run, this will have everyone running and screaming. This is easily the darkest take on Batman and his mythos – you are in for the bloodiest and most brutal ride of your lives!

Flash #70 Review

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Storytellers: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Color: Hi-Fi

Cover: Porter & Hi-Fi

Every hero has a beginning and when one has been around for 63 years it’s never a bad idea to offer a modern take on that origin. The Flash: Year One offers readers a new glimpse into the begining of Barry Allen’s time as the Flash. Williamson has been writing Barry Allen since the beginning of DC Rebirth, so it’s very fitting that he’s the one to tell this story. The thing I enjoy most about Williamson’s writing is that he understands the mind of Barry Allen. This issue demonstrates over and over again how smart Barry is before he gets his powers. I love the time Williamson takes to show Barry doing police work. The pacing of this book is fantastic and it actually feels like the book speeds up once Barry gets struck by lightning. Seeing Barry navigate his newfound powers is really enjoyable. I wouldn’t be upset if the new Flash movie used this book as inspiration. I thought that this was going to be standard origin story, but Williamson makes it very clear in the last couple pages that we haven’t seen anything like this before. Howard Porter and Hi-Fi are the perfect artistic duo to bring this book to life. Porters art as always is excellent. Their take on Barry’s accident is just straight up awesome. As the issue moves forward Hi-Fi uses more and more color. I took this to represent Barry truly starting to live for the first time in a long time. Throughout the issue this team puts plenty of “easter eggs” for Flash fans to enjoy. The cliffhanger at the end of this book will leave you wanting more.

Flash Fact: I’m very into the direction this book is headed.

Shazam #5 Review

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Written by: Geoff Johns and Marco Santucci
Art by: Dale Eaglesham, Marco Santucci, Scott Kolins, Max Raynor
Colors by: Mike Atiyeh
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Release Date: May 8th, 2019

This issue opens with Black Adam chastising Billy’s opening of the Magiclands to himself. He vows to finally destroy Billy, convincing himself he’s doing the right thing (typical…). We quickly shift to the Funlands as Billy and Mary are still in the grip of King Kid. Without giving away any of the story, things flow across the Magiclands and briefly focus on what is happening to the rest of the Shazam Family. We center on the Wildlands, specifically Tawky Tawny, after checking in with Freddy and Darla. I’m convinced that we’ll come out of this first story-arc with him as a permanent member of the Family. This issue wraps up by showing all the members of the Shazam Family dealing with their current obstacles before returning to Black Adam. His journey is impeded by a newcomer. One who has strong connections to the Shazam Family. Why is this person here and what are his plans?

So this issue had a total of four artists on it. FOUR! Wow, I have rarely seen this many artists on one book that wasn’t an over-sized book of some sort. First up is Marco Santucci formerly of Injustice 2 and Green Lanterns. His Black Adam is fantastic. The details he puts into Adam’s face, especially the close-up of his lips can’t be understated. I love the incorporation of the lightning as well! Definitely would love to see Santucci as the artist of a Black Adam series. Next, is series regular Dale Eaglesham. Do I really need to go on about how I love Eaglesham’s art? He continues to show off his skill in this issue with an opening page of the Funlands. I spent around five minutes look at every detail of that splash page – the rides, the kids, and the prisoners. It must have taken Eaglesham hours to finish this page. I’m also obsessed with Eaglesham’s cover. It just comes across as a mash-up between Shazam and Tron. The colorwork is exceptional as well. Everything pops off the page.

Then, we have one of my absolute favorite artists – Scott Kolins. His pages focus on the Gamelands area of the Magiclands. Kolins has been one of my favorite artists since his days on the Flash with Geoff Johns. His style is hard to describe, but it absolutely works. Simple and gritty, it reminds me of early cel-shading for video games. Our last artist is Max Raynor. I am not familiar with his work at all, but based on what I saw in this issue? I am a huge fan! There’s a slight cartoon feel to his work that fits in with the talking animals of the Wildlands. I would not be opposed to seeing Raynor more on Shazam or other titles!

Now was I a fan of having four artists on one 22-page book? Not particularly. I think that it forces readers to focus too much on the abrupt change instead of just focusing on the story and art. I enjoy each artist separately and would be very favorable to have them all do an issue or two in this title or become the new series regular artist.

Shazam continues to be a great book and I can’t recommend it enough. It is such fun reading, from page 1 to page 22. I look forward to opening it up each month and seeing what adventures are ahead for the Shazam Family. Series like this one really deserves a lot more love. It isn’t a major series and sales make the final decision. So if we want to keep on reading more of the wonderful escapades of Shazam, we need to show it.

The Green Lantern #7 Review

Writer:Grant Morrison

Art: Liam Sharp

Legendary writer Grant Morrison and All Star artist Liam Sharp deliver us another emerald jewel in the cosmic symphony that is The Green Lantern #7. Hal Jordan is dead! Or is he? In the wake of “Total Annihilation” Hal Jordan had to use every ounce of will to disarm the U-Bomb. Regardless of the cost of his own life, Hal would gladly risk it all to save the universe.

Everything comes with a cost and that price is The Emerald Sands! With Green Lantern absorbing ten to the 44th power joules ,which is about the equivalent of a supernova, Energy from the U-Bomb into his power ring along with himself, has left his ring powerless and himself stranded inside. Floating in the cold void of space is where Hal finds himself lost in the green lifeless desert that is the Emerald Sands. The Wizard Myrwhydden awaits our space cop, is he friend or foe? Only time will tell.

This issue was absolutely astounding. A poetic telling of love and death and the will it takes to live. Even when everything is stacked against you in the desert of decay that doesn’t end. Hal is more like a nomad in this story where he must find any hope of escaping. This is easily the best book on the shelves, in 20 years from now this will be the Green Lantern series your local comic book store will be recommending.

DCeased #1 Review

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Writer: Tom Taylor

Artists: Trevor Hairsine & Stefano Gaudiano (pp.1-6,15-26) James Harren (pp.7-14)

Colorist: Rain Beredo

Letterer: Saida Temofonte

Editor: Ben Abernathy

One of the best decisions DC Comics ever made was deciding to pick Tom Taylor to write the Injustice comic series. They let him explore the world based on the Injustice video game and tell a compelling story. It appears that DC has made another one of these fantastic decisions with DCeased. This time Taylor has been given the keys to his own version of the DC universe and I couldn’t be more excited to see what he does with it. DCeased explores what happens when a (more) twisted version of the Anti-Life equation is released on earth via the internet. It instantly infects 600 million people and turns them into crazed murderous monsters. Can the superheroes of earth band together and stop it? Can they survive the first 24 hours? We are going to find out.

This issue is paced excellently and wastes no time in explaining what the virus is and how high the stakes truly are. He makes use of a mysterious narrator throughout the book and the effect is excellent. I really enjoyed seeing this earth’s version of the Justice League. In two pages Taylor manages to plant the seed for an issue that may divide the team going forward. Tom Taylor has always been excellent at channeling the voice of the characters he’s writing and he really does an excellent job in this book. Cyborg is humorous and brave in a truly dire situation. Batman is prepared for every scenario even if that means making the unpopular choice. Superman has hope when facing impossible odds and it’s clear in this issue how much he loves his wife and son.

The lettering from Saida Temofonte in this book is very powerful tool. Throughout the book you are reading narration of the events from a mysterious person. It feels like you are reading out of an old journal and it provides hints of where the story is going.

With a book handling such a horrifying concept the art is crucial to how the story is told. Rain Beredo’s color is consistent and excellent throughout the whole issue. I particularly enjoyed James Harren’s take on Apokolips. It’s here that Harren shows us how high the stakes are and how awful this techno-virus is. Trevor Hairsine & Stefano Gaudiano do an excellent job of depicting what happens immediately when the techno-virus is released on earth. There are two panels, with Superman and Cyborg, where you truly are given the sense of horror that they are experiencing. I would love to know what Hairsine and Gaudiano thought when Taylor told them about the last two pages of this issue. They nailed it and the result is horrifying.

Tom Taylor wastes no time in this riveting first issue to make one thing abundantly clear. No one is safe and things are going to get a lot worse from here. This is going to be a wild ride and i’m terrified and excited to see what’s next.

Batman #70 Review

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Writer: Tom King
Art: Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: May 1st, 2019

Are you interested in seeing Batman being Batman? Do you want to see why he has the nickname the Dark Knight? Then look no further than this latest issue of Batman! The Knightmares have passed and now comes the Fall.

Batman has finally awakened from his series of Knightmares to find the Riddler before him, with a riddle of course. Only Batman is not in the mood for riddles, fun, or games. He proceeds to take down the majority of his rogues one after the other. Nothing stops him as he sends his message to Bane the only way he knows how: through violence and fear. Speaking of fear, Scarecrow’s toxin doesn’t work on him anymore! Not even the brute strength of Solomon Grundy and Amygdala can prevent him from leaving the Asylum. This epic issue ends with a threat given to Two-Face for Bane: Batman has survived everything thrown at him. He may be tired, but he’s coming back. cue dramatic music

King’s gift at prose and story cannot be understated. To bookend this great story with excerpts from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” by William Blake and Dante’s Inferno…it’s just masterful. The story flows from villain to villain at a natural pace and nothing feels forced. King’s use of dialogue shouldn’t be underestimated either. As I read Batman’s one-sided conversation with Bane, I felt like I was watching an episode of Batman: The Animated Series and heard everything in Kevin Conroy’s voice.

As much as I love getting 22 or so pages of Janin’s work, I am happy that he was paired with Jorge Fornes for this issue. The grit that Fornes uses definitely suits the ending of the book. The raw emotion that both Batman and Two-Face have is portrayed perfectly in Fornes’ pencil strokes. I also get similarities between his work and David Mazzucchelli’s pencils in Year One, which is never a bad thing to be compared to. Janin continues to deliver great art and is the perfect compliment to the story that King is telling. The panel where Batman rips himself from the nightmare machine is fantastic. Definitely one of my favorites these past few issues. I am 100% honest when I say that Mikel Janin has jumped into my Top 10 of Batman artists.

If you haven’t been reading King’s Batman, what are you waiting for? Go out and pick up the trades today! Tom King has woven a great web of emotion, romance, intrigue, and heartbreak that has hooked many readers, including myself. The epic levels of hype are delivered month after month and issue after issue. Tom King…never leave us.

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