Monday, November 18, 2019

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Teen Titans #35

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Adam Glass, writer

Bernard Chang, art

Marcelo Maiolo, colors

Rob Leigh, letters

Recap

This issue begins, D’Jinn captures Damian and places him in a cell with the other members of the Teen Titans. The next sequence reveals that Roundhouse is behind this ploy to get back at Damian for the ways he’s manipulated the Teen Titans. The other members of the Teen Titans are confused to why they too were captured. Roundhouse states that it was to save them from themselves because they have been so easily manipulated by Damian. The issue ends with a cliffhanger as Roundhouse uses the ring belonging to D’Jinn and accidentally sends her into the ring, which could mean that she trapped forever! 

The story moves from topic to topic with fluidity, which keeps the reader engaged. However, the tension in this story hangs on why Roundhouse captured Damian and the Teen Titans. He reveals that he has held on to anger he felt due to Damian’s negligence that contributed to the death of his sister, Claire. Roundhouse states that although it was accidental, Damian did not return to see if he could rescue her. This motivation feels authentic and also connects with what we know about Damian.

The confrontation between Roundhouse and Damian is a potential game-changer for Damian’s relationship with the team. Damian tries to play the empathy card and Roundhouse calls him out. These types of exchanges helps this book feel authentic because the tackle important issues in relationships. 

The art is strong and it supports the emotional atmosphere in each sequence. The bold lines and detailed emotions are evident when Crush breaks free from her chains and attacks Roundhouse. The reader can actually feel the fear the rest of the Teen Titans felt for Roundhouse as he is assaulted. 

Overall = 9/10

Final Impressions

Teen Titans continues to be one of the best books DC is publishing currently. The exchanges between characters are emotional and authentic. The solutions are not easy to identify, which feels like real life. I highly recommend this book to fans of the Teen Titans and DC Comics.    

Detective Comics #1014

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Peter J. Tomasi, writer

Doug Mahnke, pencils

Keith Champagne & Christain Alamy, inks

David Baron, colors

Rob Leigh, letters

Recap

In the previous issue, Batman confronts Mr. Freeze, attacks, which leads to an action-packed high-speed chase over a frozen lake bed. Mr. Freeze gets away; however, Batman rescues three women from Freeze’s hideout who were previously captured and frozen. This issue, Batman continues to assess and investigate the evidence he gathered during his previous encounter with Freeze. Meanwhile, Mr. Freeze helps his wife Nora make the transition back to full consciousness. She is shocked thinking that she was dead due to cancer. Mr. Freeze instructs her that he made a great sacrifice to keep her alive. 

This story hinges on the dynamic between Nora and Mr. Freeze and the audience connecting with Mr. Freeze’s motives for keeping Nora alive. This part of the story is grounded in Mr. Freeze’s reality; that he couldn’t envision life without Nora and that’s why he went to the extreme of freezing her. The connection between the pair feels real but rushed.  At the end of the issue Freeze and Nora are pictured breaking into Wayne enterprises together. It’s a hard sell for me. How could Nora be able to make an adjustment from being frozen and living in a tube to participating in an attack on a building? 

The investigation work in the Batcave and later at Wayne enterprises is very interesting in it’s analysis of Freeze’s technology and builds heavily on the lore that Batman is DC’s greatest detective. The strength of this sequence to the methodical and careful approach Batman employs. It’s very interesting to see Batman uncover and peace together the evidence. 

The art in this issue is solid. Visually, the half panel that pictures Nora and Freeze embracing once she’s fully awake, is the highlight of the issue. I struggled to differentiate Alred while he was wearing The Flash’ mask but it was funny and potentially layered, as The Flash is a good detective, as well.  

Overall 8/10

Final Impressions

This issue is another classic Batman investigation story. The twist involving Freeze, his advanced use of technology, and his connection to the larger Year of the Villain storyline is interesting. The connections to Nora’s past and her battle with cancer give the issue emotional depth. I recommend this book to fans of the classic Batman stories. 

Aquaman Annual #2

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Writers: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Vita AyalaArtist: Victor Ibanez Colorist: Jay David RamosLetters: Clayton Cowles

Ever since I was a kid Aquaman has been my favorite superhero. This didn’t necessarily make me the coolest kid in the world, but clearly I was ahead of my time. He’s starred in a billion dollar movie and his comics are some of the best on the shelves. Aquaman Annual #2 is no exception. Kelly Sue DeConnick & Vita Ayala tell a charming story that plays out like a bottle episode of a TV show. I love Annual issues because whatever is going on in the main book (A LOT), it gives the writers an opportunity to slow down and tell a standalone story. This gives the reader an opportunity to step back from a big plot and just enjoy themselves. The entire issue takes place in Amnesty Bay after the Legion Of Doom’s symbol has filled the skies across the world. The citizens of the bay are on edge, but they have Aquaman and Aqualad (Jackson Hyde) there to keep the peace. DeConnick & Ayala really do an excellent job bringing Arthur’s voice alive. He’s not a king anymore, but you can still see how much a leader he is. I feel like often times writers present Arthur as a tortured soul trying to be a king, but now he’s accepted where he’s at and he’s just a powerful man that wants to be a light for other people. This issue also gives us some insight into how the old gods are getting along with the villagers. There are obviously some growing pains that go along with having immortal deities living in your town. We also get a great story about Arthur’s dog salty. I won’t spoil that one, but it didn’t go where I thought it would. DeConnick & Ayala go out of their way to show the effect Arthur has on those around him, and I couldn’t be happier with the direction they are taking this character. I also want to shout out their choice to bring Jackson Hyde into the fold (a few issues ago). I love that he’s with Arthur and learning what it takes to have the Aqua name. I’m always a fan of seeing a hero with the same skin color I do. Representation is important and Jackson would’ve made a big difference to me 15 years ago when I was a kid. I’m glad I get to read about him now. The pacing of this issue is perfect. There are surprises, scares, and genuine sweet moments. Victor Ibanez and Jay David Ramos do a beautiful job bringing these characters to life. The sky is dark Amnesty Bay and it’s an image that looms large in every panel. The last page of this issue is a gorgeous example of what this art team is able to do. If I have the opportunity to buy that page I’ll take it. The lettering is perfect. The reason for this is the incredible Clayton Cowles. He’s a busy man and we are all the better because of it. I also want to say Sea Daddy is a thing now. He’s canon, and I couldn’t be happier with that choice. It’s clear the Legion Of Doom is going to have a major impact on the universe, but this incredible team gave us all a moment to slow down, breathe, and enjoy the little town that is Amnesty Bay. 

10/10

Batman: Knightfall #1 Review

Written by: Scott Snyder & Kyle Higgins 

Art by: Javier Fernandez 

Colors by: Alex Guimarães

Letters by: Clayton Cowles

Marvel What If? Was easily my favorite comic book when I was a kid. I loved the idea of alternate realities and how everything can change if one thing goes differently than it originally did. Ever since, I have always clamored for a DC book of the same vein, and now we finally get it with “Tales of the Dark Multiverse.” In this book, we take a tour through the dark multiverse and see how famous DC storylines throughout history unfolded differently in the Dark Multiverse. In this issue, we take a look at the Batman: Knightfall storyline, and see what would have happened if Azrael had defeated Bruce Wayne and Bane to become Gotham’s permanent new Batman. 

Jean-Paul Valley is a character that I think hasn’t gotten the exploration that he deserves, as I feel he’s got an interesting story and dynamic with justice. I was glad to see him get a spotlight in Justice League Odyssey, but outside of that he seems like a forgotten character. Knightfall is a story that has one of Batman’s most famous moments in it when Bane breaks his back, but a major character in the story like Valley often gets left out of the discussion. This issue was cool to read because it gives Azrael the spotlight as Saint Batman, and we get to see what Gotham would have been like under his reign. 

I loved the way that the story unfolded in this issue, and Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins told it in a way that it felt like the massive ending to a long story that’s been around forever, but you don’t have to read 100 different issues to understand anything. It felt like I was stepping into a well developed universe where these characters have had along stories and I’ve known them well, but I didn’t have to invest in anything other than this issue. The artwork is also amazing and does a good job of making this story feel like it takes place in another universe. 

My biggest concern with this issue is the characters that were introduced. Not because they were bad or anything, but more because I’m interested in what the future of them is. In the beginning of the issue, Tempus Fuginaut introduces the idea that he’s looking for heroes to fight in the upcoming crisis and that’s why we’re looking at these earths. This is where I encourage you to read the book and come back, because there’s some light spoilers here. I thought Bane’s son was a cool character and I love the idea of him joining DC proper for a crisis, but that seems unlikely now. And I loved Bruce Wayne’s presence in this issue and him being a different sort of evil Batman by the end of it, but I’m not sure that we’ll get the chance to see him again either. Overall, the issue was very good and I’d like to see more from this universe, but I’m not sure that we’ll get to. I’m definitely interested in the future of this line, especially with writers like Scott Snyder at the helm. 

Flash Forward #2 Review

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Artist: Brett booth

Colors: Luis Guerrero 

Letters: Troy Peteri 

In the wake of Heroes in Crisis the DC comics phenomenal comic event, Wally West is Dead, well one of him is. Death is not always the end, at least when you’re a time traveling speedster. The first issue left us off with Wally sitting Blackgate prison for the crimes he did and didn’t commit Wally is no way thinking of escape, but Tempus Fuginaut has something to say about that.

The universe is dying and only the fastest man alive can save it. Tempus Fuginaut an interdimensional super being, kidnaped Wally and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse – save the universe and redeem himself, reignite the beacon of hope. Speaking of hope, Wally finds himself on Earth 23, home of president Superman. The Superman of this Earth is fighting a dark cosmic all black creature composed of dark anti-matter. Wally has the only weapon that can save Superman and his planet.

This issue dramatically surpassed my already high expectations, full of action packed fight scenes. We see Flash take on some pretty heavy hitters! They are no match for the Scarlet Speedster, one of my favorite parts involved some thunder and lightning! Deep emotional tugs at the heart strings while we see Wally struggle with his failures and past mistakes. Can Wally West truly redeem himself? Will he allow himself to be redeemed?

Also the last page reveal will have Flash fans screaming!

Detective Comics #1013

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Peter J. Tomasi, writer

Doug Mahnke, pencils

Keith Champagne & Christain Alamy, inks

David Baron, colors

Rob Leigh, letters

Recap

This issue begins, Batman beats up a group of street villains and interrogates one of them. He gathers evidence that leads him to Mr. Freeze who is gathering ingredients for a formula that he hopes will raise his late wife Nora from the dead. Batman locates Freeze, attacks, which leads to a action-packed high-speed chase over a frozen lake bed. Mr. Freeze gets away; however, Batman obtains three specimens from Freeze’s hideout. Three women, frozen in large glass tubes, were kidnapped and held as test subjects. The issue ends with Mr. Freeze injecting Nora with an experimental serum. 

This issue is another tie in to the Year of Villains DC event. The direct connection to Mr. Freeze makes it feel more relevant than other YOV tie in issues in other books because the villain is directly tied to the issue. The action sequences, which involve Batman’s pursuit and fight with Mr. Freeze, are entertaining and the tension created by the high-speed chase feels earned. I liked that they had DC’s greatest detective locate key evidence to unlock Mr. Freeze’s motivations and intent for kidnapping women in Gotham. I also liked that Mr. Freeze is foolhardy enough to inject his wife with an experimental drug not worried about potential negative side effects. It makes the villain in Mr. Freeze seem more believable.

I’m not sure that the story was as compelling as it could have been. The investigation and pursuit of Mr. Freeze was very straightforward creating a knock-em’ up action book with very little room for mystery or intrigue. It may have benefitted the story to leave some additional cryptic hints of a larger mystery to keep the reader engaged and interested.  

The art in the issue is solid. Doug Mahnke is a good artist who does a lot of good pencil work that DC fans have grown to enjoy. He doesn’t disappoint in this issue. My favorite panel is on page 10 of the digital comic. Batman is pictured breaking into Mr. Freeze’s underwater hideout dressed in a “flame-thrower” suit. The bright orange and yellows from the flame-thrower contrast with Batman’s black suit nicely and reflect off the white-blue snow creating a nice visual.  

Overall 8/10

Final Impressions

This issue is a classic Batman story that includes solid detective work and action sequences. The art is solid and the overall story fits comfortably in DC’s Year of the Villain event. I recommend this book to fans of Batman and the DC universe. We’ll have to wait to see how this issue fits into the larger YOV event. 

Hawkman #17 Review

Written by: Robert Venditti

Pencils by: Pat Olliffe

Inks by: Tom Palmer

Colors by: Jeremiah Shipper

Letters by: Stockings & Comicraft

Since the first issue came out a couple of years ago, “Hawkman” has been a book that I read the second I get my hands on it, and I anxiously wait for the next issue after I finish it. I say it all the time, but I genuinely believe that Robert Venditti’s run on this book will go down as the defining arc in the history of Hawkman. I’ve never felt like anyone has gotten the character as well as Venditti has and I believe that he’s the writer DC needs to go to anytime they need to straighten out a character’s history and fix the canon.

“Hawkman” 17 is the conclusion to the great story arc about Hawkman battling against the Shadow Thief with the Shade. It’s been a fun storyline that’s had some great character moments and great artwork by Pat Olliffe. I’ve really enjoyed seeing Carter’s past with the Shade being explored, and Shadow Thief has gone from a nothing character to a really interesting villain in my eyes. The final battle between Hawkman and the Shadow Thief is a really cool one that includes the Thief’s powers, and there’s a great moral struggle in the final moments between Hawkman and the Shade.

My biggest concern with this issue and this book going forward is that it ends with Hawkman being taken over by The Batman Who Laughs’ infection. It feels like DC saddled Hawkman with this and now we’re having to take a break from his story to fit their universe. I feel like Hawkman is a character that is always plagued by editorial issues like this and I wish he wasn’t involved. That being said, I think it was incorporated in a really great way throughout this issue, and I have faith that Venditti will write it well. Regardless, I have good faith in the team and I’ll follow them in whatever direction they take this character.

Joker Movie Review

Directed By Todd Phillips

Written by Todd Phillips/Scott Silver

Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures

One of the most talked about movies of 2019 has finally landed but did it live up to the hype? Or was the criticism the film faced prior to release justified? Lets put on a happy face and find out.

Whether you liked the movie or not you cant deny the fact the entire movie itself was bold to begin with. Not only was there a decision to give one of the greatest villains of all time a solo movie, but it was also decided to give him an identity. Fans of DC have grown to accept that the Joker has no identity and his origins will usually remain a mystery, but in this film the creators gave Joker the name Arthur Fleck and I have to say the gamble payed off. The story revolves around a failing party clown and aspiring comedian with a love for dancing as he barely makes his way through the world. Arthur is hindered by a neurological disorder and a slight lack of talent. Todd Phillips and Scott Silver were playing with fire in their writing as they had to create an interesting character to face and overcome challenges while avoiding inadvertently making a truly evil character relatable. I can speak for myself at least that while I did feel sympathy for Arthur at times, in the end the poor treatment he received was no excuse for the horrible deeds he committed. I refuse to give any spoilers but I will tell you that as the story progressed I inched closer and closer to the edge of my seat, I felt anxiety and shock as many unpredictable scenes brought my hands that have become sweaty to cover my mouth. This rollercoaster ride of a story has many unexpected drops, loops and turns that left me leaving the theatre wanting to come back for another viewing.

While the writing was amazing it cant take all the credit for what made this movie good. The quality of this film is a perfect example of what happens when beautiful cinematography is amplified by a powerful score. Lawrence Sher and Hildur Guonadottir have earned so much praise when they combined their work to create breathtaking scenes. While writing, cinematography and music is crucial to a good film, it will all be for nothing if the star doesn’t match the quality of the work surrounding them. Joaquin Phoenix delivered the performance of a lifetime as the Joker. His dedication to the role was obvious as he pushed his body to an unhealthy weight to push the immersion of the audience even further. He was able to create many different laughs all unique in their own way and all perfect for the character. His unsettling and terrifying behavior sold me on the idea that this man was truly insane and it was a treat to seem him slowly go though a transformation of sorts as the movie progressed. I do realize Joaquin had the advantage of his own movie to showcase his acting skills as the Joker while previous actors did not have that privilege, but he still must not only be considered for the greatest Joker of all time but acting performance of the year.

Joker was not shown any mercy in the media backlash leading up to release but it overcame that and solidified itself as a straight up good movie. The stellar quality of Joker cannot be denied as every facet of this movie was excellent, from the cast to the writing, from music to the cinematography. I cannot praise this movie enough and I can assure you it is definitely worth your time.

DC Comics Establish New Timeline. A New Era to Begin?

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Today We discuss the rumors of DC Comic’s New established timeline of all events and we chat about the future of continuity and learn more about DC 5G.

Deathstroke #48

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Christopher Priest, writer

Fernando Pasarin & Carlo Pagulayan, pencils

Cam Smith, inks 

Jeremy Cox, colors

Willie Schubert, letters 

Recap

This issue begins: Slade Wilson is alive! He confronts the group he thinks was responsible for taking away his technology, but they refuse. He leaves to locate his son who was given the technology. The issue does some foreshadowing. Slade and another man, Dabney, meet and discuss recent events. Dabney asks, “I thought you were dead.” Slade explains that when Raptu (issue #44) iinfected him with leprosy, it elevated his immune system causing him to recover quicker from the arrow he took to his head. Meanwhile, Slade’s son, Jericho, meets with Lex Luthor who demands he return the power enhancing tech Luthor gave him. Jericho refuses. Luthor agrees, but leaves him to defend himself against Slade Wilson who wants the technology back. The issue ends with a brutal encounter where Slade confronts his daughter Rose in his pursuit of Jericho.   

This is a fast-paced and gripping issue. The death of a villain in comics is hard to pull off. Even more difficult is explaining how they were never permanently dead. Even though we all saw this coming, the explanation has to make sense. I like that the writer chose to identify Deathstroke’s healing factor being elevated as to why he didn’t stay dead. At least it makes sense. 

The central conflict in the story is between Slade Wilson and his son Jericho. It’s a common occurrence for villains to have conflicting relationships with their children. The presence of evil in a family system causes problems. What makes this interesting is Slade’s willingness to do anything to find answers as to how to get his technology back – as if he cares more about being Deathstroke than his own children. See the fight at the end of the issue as evidence. What will be even more interesting is to what extent Jericho is willing to hand over the power-enhancing technology that Slade desperately wants. Like father like son is my guess. 

The art in this issue is solid. Specifically, the coloring makes the pencil work come to life. The highlight for me is a full panel spread that depicts Deathstroke bathed in flames and pulling a sword out of an object. The context is a Nova Scotia snow-covered landscape. The yellow and red flames and their reflection off the snowy mountainside is a nice contrast. 

Overall = 9/10

Final Impressions

This issue builds on the suspense of this story arc by giving the reader an explanation for Slade Wilson’s return from the dead and setting up a conflict with his son Jericho. The tie in to the Year of the Villain makes more sense in this issue then in other books due to Lex Luthor’s meeting with Jericho. It appears that Deathstroke could have a larger part to play in Luthor’s overall plans. I encourage fans of Deathstroke to jump on this book. 

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