Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for the 'Reviews – DC' Category

Death Metal

Posted by Don MacPherson on 17th June 2017

Dark Days: The Forge #1
Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Pencils: Jim Lee, Andy Kubert & John Romita Jr.
Inks: Scott Williams, Klaus Janson & Danny Miki
Colors: Alex Sinclair & Jeremiah Skipper
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover artists: Jim Lee & Scott Williams (regular)/Andy Kubert and John Romita Jr. & Danny Miki
Editor: Mark Doyle
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

This is not a good comic book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, mind you, but it’s awkwardly crafted.

It makes sense that Scott Snyder would helm an event-driven book for DC. He’s been the publisher’s most bankable writer for some time now thanks to his work with Batman. Here, he and James Tynion IV work to build on some of those Batman stories to develop a cosmic level event, but they also mine the 1980s for the raw material here as well. They tap a couple of rich veins of nostalgia, and that’s one of the reasons I was so entertained. It would seem these writers read and loved the same comics I did when they were kids. Batman and the Outsiders. Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s a delight. But the problem with the carts full of nostalgic ore is that they don’t have a proper mechanism in place to refine that yield (OK, that metal metaphor has been soundly beaten to death). This script is inaccessible, and as the title suggests, it’s unfortunately dark. Given the recent success of the Wonder Woman movie, I suspect we’ll see DC pivot to a lighter, more traditional tone in its storytelling in the months ahead. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stag Party

Posted by Don MacPherson on 28th May 2017

Batman/Shadow #2
“Batman/Shadow, Part Two”
Writers: Scott Snyder & Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colors: Ivan Plascencia
Letters: Clem Robins
Cover artists: Rossmo (regular)/Chris Burnham & Tim Sale (variants)
Editor: Mark Doyle
Publishers: DC Comics & Dynamite Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US
I’ve been trying to limit the number of four-dollar comics I’m buying these days, as they can make for expensive weekly trips to the local comic shop. However, given Scott Snyder’s and Riley Rossmo’s involvement in this series, I couldn’t resist the first issue. I was pleased enough with what I found to seek out the second issue this past week. And now I’m hooked on the series. Not surprisingly, Snyder and Steve Orlando don’t disappoint with their take on the Batman and his dark world, but I’m quite intrigued by this eternal, supernatural take on the Shadow. I really don’t know all that much about the anti-hero who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men, but I rather enjoyed him as a figure who throws the Dark Knight off his game. Rossmo’s exaggerated and dynamic interpretation of Batman and Gotham are as sharp as ever, but his fluid, elongated portrayal of the Shadow and his eerie presentation of the serial-killing antagonist of the book really grab the eye as well. This is a thoroughly accessible and entertaining inter-company crossover that clicks in no small part because of the compatibility of the two title properties. Read the rest of this entry »

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On the Lighter Side…

Posted by Don MacPherson on 20th January 2017

Justice League of America: The Ray – Rebirth #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist/Color: Stephen Byrne
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado (regular)/Stephen Byrne (variant)
Editor: Andy Khouri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

A couple of weeks ago, the cover of the Justice League of America: The Atom – Rebirth one-shot caught my eye, and on impulse, I picked it up. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I started to realize Steve Orlando was a writer I needed to follow more closely. While the recent Vixen one-shot didn’t grab me, there was something about the cover on The Ray and its interior art that drew me in. Once again, Orlando delivers a thoughtful, character-driven story. It’s also a well-timed one, given the political and social climate in the United States as of late. Orlando’s story is about inclusion, about differences adding to society’s strengths and about how xenophobia is a lurking danger that’s emerging from the shadows. The story is something of a dichotomy, boasting a dark tone but ultimately a hopeful message as well. And artist Stephen Byrne stands as a new talent who merits more attention as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Eye in Comic

Posted by Don MacPherson on 20th October 2016

VariantVariantCave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #1
“Part One: Going Underground”
Writers: Gerard Way & Jon Rivera
Artists: Michael Avon Oeming
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letters: Clem Robins

“Super Powers”
Writer/Artist: Tom Scioli

Cover artists: Oeming (regular)/Matt Wagner and Brennan Wagner, & Bill Sienkiewicz (variants)
Editor: Molly Mahan
Publisher: DC Comics/Young Animal imprint
Price: $3.99 US

Of the three Young Animal titles to be released thus far, this stood out as my favorite thus far. While it’s still weird and mature, it’s probably also the most grounded and relatable of all of Gerard Way-led new titles. The fact that it’s far more rooted in the DC super-hero universe, with its inclusion of oddball characters and concepts, probably doesn’t hurt either, given my lifelong affinity for DC properties. Despite the obscurity of the characters here, Way and co-writer Jon Rivera don’t offer up a lot of exposition about their back stories, but the script is nevertheless accessible. One is able to piece together the relevant character bits pretty well from information that woven organically into the dialogue. Furthermore, there’s an air of mystery that’s fostered by the writers’ decision not to explain every little detail, not to offer deep background on the players in this drama. Ultimately, what drew me in was the character study of Cave Carson himself – not the mystery of his cybernetic eye, not the question of what the corporate EBX is plotting, but rather his sense of loss. That relatability really anchors a truly weird and even playful story. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Kids Are Alright

Posted by Don MacPherson on 28th September 2016

VariantTeen Titans: Rebirth #1
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Jonboy Meyers
Colors: Jim Charalampidis
Letters: Corey Breen
Cover artists: Jonboy Meyers (regular edition)/Evan “Doc” Shaner (variant)
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

DC’s Rebirth initiative has proven to be a sales success thus far; of that, there can be no doubt. Creatively, I’ve found it to be something of a mixed bag, but overall, DC has definitely improved and reinvigorated its broader line of super-hero titles. Some of what it’s doing is definitely influenced by adaptations of its properties in other media, and that holds true with its latest relaunch of its Teen Titans team. Teen Titans Go! is immensely popular. My six-year-old can’t get enough of the cartoon, and it’s been around in one form or another long enough so that young adults have some attachment to the Titans, despite a possible lack of familiarity with the comic-book counterparts that gave rise to the animated zaniness. As such, it’s no surprise that DC is giving the concept another go-around.

A number of elements drew me to this relaunch, not the least of which is the acerbic personality of the current incarnation of Robin and the undeniable energy that was apparent in previews of Jonboy Meyers’ art. There’s not a lot to be found in this Rebirth one-shot in terms of plot, but writer Benjamin Percy’s meticulous inner monologues offer excellent introductions to four of the five main characters. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I’ll Not Love Ya, Tomorrow…

Posted by Don MacPherson on 25th March 2016

Legends of Tomorrow Anthology #1
Writers: Gerry Conway, Aaron Lopresti, Keith Giffen & Len Wein
Pencils: Eduardo Panisica, Aaron Lopresti, Bilquis Evely & Yildiray Cinar
Inks: Rob Hunter, Matt Banning, Bilquis Evely & Trevor Scott
Colors: Chris Sotomayor, Ivan Plascencia & Dean White
Letters: Corey Breen, Michael Heisler, Tom Napolitano & Steve Wands
Cover artists: Lopresti & Banning
Editors: Jessica Chen, Dave Wielgosz, Amedeo Turturro & Andrew Marino
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $7.99 US

I’ve been enjoying the cheesy (if somewhat awkward) fun of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on television, and I’m a sucker for a super-hero anthology title. Furthermore, I haven’t been delving into many DC titles as of late, and as someone who came to love comics through the DC brand as a kid, I figured this issue would give me more bang for my buck. I also like to support less conventional and proven avenues at comics publication, so for those reasons, I decided to take a chance on Legends of Tomorrow Anthology (yes, despite the lack of the word “anthology” on the cover, the indicia indicates it’s a part of the official name of this publication). Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s DeMatteis With You?

Posted by Don MacPherson on 10th January 2016

I watched Bruce Timm’s Justice League: Gods and Monsters direct-to-video animated movie not long after its release last year, and I enjoyed the alt-reality take on radically different incarnations of the iconic trinity of DC’s super-heroes. I also watched the three related film shorts released in advance of the movie’s retail release. It occurred to me that Timm’s harsher vision of super-heroes would add to the criticism that DC and Warner Bros. have adopted too dark an approach to their library of super-hero properties. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the shorts as well. However, I didn’t pay any attention to the comics released in conjunction with the movie. That was a mistake on my part.

The trio of one-shots issued by DC Comics featuring solo stories (and backstories) of Hernan Guerra, Bekka and Kirk Langstrom turned out to be some compelling and laudable mainstream comics storytelling. I recently picked them up for a song during a holiday sale at my local comic shop, after having read them, I can admit if I had to replace them, I’d pay full cover price for them. All three were plotted by Timm and comics mainstay J.M. DeMatteis, with scripts by the latter. And without a doubt, it’s DeMatteis who made all three comics well worth experiencing. His trademark focus on self-exploration makes for engaging, character-driven stories. It’s also clear that the fact DeMatteis and Timm were involved in these projects that some top, talented creators lined up to participate. With cover artwork provided by such artists as Darwyn Cooke, Jae Lee, Gabriel Hardman and Franco Francavilla, it’s clear others recognized either the strength of the storytelling offered or the reputation of the writers (or both). Or perhaps DC was recruiting luminaries to attract attention to these comics. I can’t say the publisher was entirely successful, as I don’t recall seeing much chatter about these comics last summer, which is a shame. Read the rest of this entry »

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Knight

Posted by Don MacPherson on 27th November 2015

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 and Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom #1
Writers: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello
Pencils: Andy Kubert & Frank Miller
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Brad Anderson & Alex Sinclair
Letters: Clem Robins
Cover artists: Kubert & Janson (regular edition)/Too many to list (variant editions)
Editor: Mark Doyle
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $5.99 US

I’ll be honest — I really enjoyed the inaugural issue of DK2, the first wholly unnecessary sequel to Frank Miller’s landmark The Dark Knight Returns, but subsequent issues saw the storytelling fall apart. Not only did it pale in comparison to the creative achievement from which it flowed, but it just wasn’t a good comic book in any sense. Miller’s subsequent forays into the super-hero genre have disappointed as well (*cough* Holy Terror *cough*). So when Dark Knight III, with its unfortunate subtitle “The Master Race,” was announced, I had no interest in reading it, even with writer Brian Azzarello attached to it. And then I wrote an essay about Jessica Jones, and it got me wanting to write about comics again. The site’s been dormant for months, but I’ve got so many words building up in the tips of my fingers, I just had to let them out. Reading Dark Knight III seemed like something topical to keep things going.

The good news is that DKIII isn’t terrible. It’s fairly clear and it’s even somewhat accessible if one isn’t all that familiar with The Dark Knight Returns. Mind you, I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t read TDKR wanting to read DKIII, save for perhaps some random white supremacists who could happen upon the book and be drawn in by the subtitle. While DKIII #1 continues the trend of exploring DC heroes as myths in yet another climactic endgame, it’s a rather mediocre comic that fails to say anything new about the icons populating its pages. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Verge of a Breakdown

Posted by Don MacPherson on 2nd April 2015

VariantVariantConvergence #0
“The God Machine”
Writers: Dan Jurgens & Jeff King
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artists: Van Sciver (regular edition)/Tony Daniel & Mark Morales, Patrick Zircher and Adam Hughes (variants)
Editor: Dan DiDio & David Piña
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

I’ve been reading DC titles since the late 1970s, and the notion that this new event would bring back so many of the iterations of the DC characters I’ve come to know and enjoy over the decades appealed to me. As we moved closer to Convergence, my interest in it slowly grew. And now that I’ve waded into these waters, my interest has been eliminated altogether. I know DC’s multiverse quite well through my years as a DC reader, and I had no idea what was going on here. Convergence is the latest answer to DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths from 1985, during which the multiverse was done away with. It was meant to simplify a publishing line that really wasn’t all that complicated. Convergence ends up complicating something rather simple. Read the rest of this entry »

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Terror Plot

Posted by Don MacPherson on 7th March 2015

VariantThe Multiversity: Mastermen #1
“Splendour Falls”
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams, Sandra Hope, Mark Irwin & Jonathan Glapion
Colors: Alex Sinclair & Jeromy Cox
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Lee (regular edition)/Aaron Kuder, Howard Porter and Grant Morrison (variants)
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

This is the first of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity comics that disappointed me, and that makes it unique in a line of rather unique and unusual comics. Like Morrison’s other works, Mastermen is full of great and mad ideas, and there’s a powerful commentary to be found in its pages. Unfortunately, it’s marred by a couple of major flaws, the most obvious of which is Jim Lee’s art. It just isn’t up to the task of conveying something beyond traditional super-hero fare, and I think we can all agree Morrison’s approach to the genre is far from traditional. The other issue is an occasionally casual, even silly approach in the portrayal of the horrors of Nazism. The depth and dire nature of the history with which the writer tinkers here seems ill-served somehow by some of the choices Morrison makes in his script. Read the rest of this entry »

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Flea Market Finds: Superman v.2 #35

Posted by Don MacPherson on 24th August 2014

Superman v.2 #35
“Visions of Grandeur” & “the Racer’s Edge”
Writer: Jerry Ordway
Pencils: Curt Swan & Kerry Gammill
Inks: Dennis Janke
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: John Costanza
Cover artists: Gammill & Janke
Editor: Mike Carlin
Price: 75 cents US/95 cents CAN

Those original 1989 prices listed above may seem like an incredible bargain by today’s standards, but I got this quirky, quarter-century-old (!) comic book at a local flea market along with three other 1980s books for a mere two bucks. Money well spent. This particular post-Crisis comic is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First of all, there’s the participation of the late, legendary Curt Swan, whose work in the 1960s to the early ’80s defined the look of the Man of Steel for a couple of generations. But more interesting is the unconventional, divided approach to the storytelling. Jerry Ordway has crafted two tales here, one occupying the top half of each page and the other, the bottom. Each is illustrated by a different penciller and focuses on a different character, but what’s so novel about it is how the two stories and their visuals mirror on another. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grant Me the Wisdom

Posted by Don MacPherson on 21st August 2014

The Multiversity #1
“House of Heroes”
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover artists: Reis & Prado (regular)/Chris Burnham, Bryan Hitch and Morrison (variants)
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

Until I saw a six-page preview of this comic book online last week, I had no idea Grant Morrison’s long-awaited super-hero epic was about to begin publication; I thought it was starting much later in the fall. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to know it was nigh, and I was even moreso after reading the preview. Grant Morrison has a way of writing comics that I don’t fully understand — in some cases, they completely befuddle me (I’m looking at you, The Filth). But that puzzlement never dampened my enjoyment of those comics. In fact, sometimes it made the experience all the more rewarding, because the intellectual exercise of delving into the writer’s meta-textual concepts made me a better reader and demonstrated the versatility and untapped potential in comics storytelling. My hope for The Multiversity was that it would offer a similar experience. That hope was fulfilled. Not only is the adult intellectual comics reader satisfied, but the kid who loved DC’s super-hero books of the 1970s and ’80s is elated as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Orphan Back

Posted by Don MacPherson on 26th June 2014

Bombshells variantVariant coverSuperman #32
“The Men of Tomorrow, Chapter One: Ulysses”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover artists: Romita & Janson (regular & variant)/Ant Lucia (variant)
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

DC’s big marketing push proclaiming not only the arrival of John Romita Jr. at the publisher for the first time but his association with the most iconic super-hero character of all time was a merited one and a smart move. I was certainly interested in what he’d do with Superman. Furthermore, pairing Romita with DC exec and top writer Geoff Johns was another wise choice. It’s heartening that what’s making this comic book an important one for DC is the talent, not necessarily the story. That being said, the story here struck me as somewhat generic, but a bit clever, but it’s not enough to keep me coming back. However, the art is exciting and fun, and Johns has instilled some strong characterization bits that have definitely piqued my interest. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Limits of Infinity

Posted by Don MacPherson on 14th June 2014

Variant coverInfinity Man and the Forever People #1
“Planet of the Humans”
Writers: Keith Giffen & Dan DiDio
Pencils: Keith Giffen
Inks: Scott Koblish
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artists: Giffen & Koblish (regular)/J.G. Jones (variant)
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I’ve never really been a big fan of the late Jack Kirby’s Fourth World characters, which he created while working for DC Comics in the 1970s. I later appreciated the quirky, bizarre flavors of those ideas later in life, but they still weren’t something that excited me like other super-hero characters did. When I have been interested in those characters, it was usually through the interpretations offered by other comics creators. For example, I thought Keith Giffen and Dan DiDio’s short-lived OMAC series in the first wave of the New 52 was an underappreciated and entertaining series that celebrated Kirby’s concepts, updating them while also staying true to them. So when DC announced Infinity Man and the Forever People, featuring another revival of a Kirby-created property by the same creative team, I was immediately intrigued. I just picked up a shelf copy at my local comic shop this week rather than add it to my pull list earlier, and I’m glad I did. The reason: I won’t be reading the second issue. While I appreciated the personality the writers brought to the characters as well as some of the tweaks they’ve made to the original source material, there’s not a lot of story here to hook a reader. Read the rest of this entry »

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Eternal Torment

Posted by Don MacPherson on 13th April 2014

Variant coverBatman Eternal #1
Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Consulting writers: Ray Fawkes, John Layman & Tim Seeley
Artist: Jason Fabok
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Cover artists: Jason Fabok (regular)/Andy Kubert & Jonathan Glapion (variant)
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I wasn’t planning on picking up this weekly series, but a light week at the comic shop, an appreciation for weekly titles and a somewhat deluded sense that a $3 comic is a bargain in the 21st century all converged to get me to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found within — a story that focuses on supporting characters in Batman’s world rather than the title character himself. I was also expecting a simpler approach in the artwork, given the tight publishing timeline on which is series is set to unfold, but artist Jason Fabok has injected a meticulous level of detail into this inaugural issue. The comic definitely has its flaws, but it succeeds in the most important aspect for a weekly serial: it had me curious about what happens next. Read the rest of this entry »

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