Category Archives: Reviews – DC

Bruce Almighty

Batman: Creature of the Night #1
“Book One: I Shall Become…”
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist/Colors/Cover artist: John Paul Leon
Letters: Todd Klein
Editors: Chris Conroy & Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $5.99 US

I had no idea this project was in the works at DC, but as soon as I saw the cover and who was writing it, I immediately recognized it as a sister book to the much heralded (and deservedly so) Superman: Secret Identity from 2004. In that book, a man living in a world in which Superman is a comic-book character just as he is in ours ends up developing the same powers as the Man of Steel, and essentially becomes Superman. It was a fascinating character study and an exploration of how the world who really react to such a powerful figure. With Creature of the Night, Busiek offers the same examination, but this time, he delves into the notion of the Batman. I suspected it wouldn’t work as well in this context, given that Batman is a hero without powers; I thought the lack of the fantastic might not offer the same opportunities to the writer. I might be right, but I don’t know, because Busiek surprised me, bringing an element of the supernatural or paranormal to bear here as well. Creature of the Night hasn’t quite hooked me as strongly as Secret Identity did right off the bat, but I remain intrigued. What pleased me the most about this book was how it appears to serve as another example of DC’s willingness to experiment with format and non-continuity examinations of its more noteworthy properties again.

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Clock Works


Doomsday Clock #1
“That Annihilated Place”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Gary Frank (regular)/Gary Frank & Dave Gibbons (variants)
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US/$5.99 US (lenticular)

World-building. That’s what shared super-hero continuities are about. The juxtaposition of diverse characters and the connections that link them have become a huge part of the genre’s appeal over the years, and more recently, TV and movie audiences have discovered that appeal. Watchmen featured a huge world with such connections among an unusual array of characters, but it was crafted as a limited story. A few years ago, DC tried building on that limited world with its Before Watchmen line of limited series. Doomsday Clock is different, as it aims not only to build on the world constructed by Alan Moore going forward rather than add to the backstory, but it also seeks to connect that world to DC’s other super-hero properties. It’s a controversial project, as many felt this world was complete as it was when Moore finished with it three decades ago. The controversy, I’m sure, won’t stop this book from performing well for DC (though I question the publisher’s decision to launch this event book when another, Metal, is still unfolding). It remains to be seen if Doomsday Clock will prove to be a successful creative enterprise; thus far, I have to admit I’m intrigued.

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Justice, Like Lightning…

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1
“Cold Dead Hands, Part One: Ready to Do It All Over”
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Josh Reed
Cover artists: Clayton Henry (regular)/Ken Lashley (variant)
Editors: Rob Levin, Harvey Richards & Jim Chadwick
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

I took note of this comic book’s release this week because it marks a turning point in a creative relationship between DC Comics and a writer, Tony Isabella. The latter has been quite vocal over the years about his dissatisfaction with how the Black Lightning property has been handled in the decades since it debuted, and how he’s been treated as the character’s main creator. With a Black Lightning TV series set to begin next year and Isabella’s return to pen new BL comics, it’s clear the relationship has been repaired. The problem with such a backstory is that it sets an awfully high bar for a creator’s return to the notable character he crafted, so it begs the question: is the comic any good? I’ll be honest that I was expecting something different — something edgier and far more steeped in socio-political issues than it is. I was surprised to find a rather traditional super-hero comic, not nearly as dark as I anticipated. There’s actually an unexpected playfulness to the titular hero that was a bit of fun. Easily the best thing this comic has going for it is the artwork by Clayton Henry, whose crisp lines, paired with some popping colors, bring as much energy to the story as what we see pouring out of the protagonist’s fingertips.

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Flea Market Finds: Batman: Dreamland

Batman: Dreamland original graphic novella
Writers: Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle
Artist/Cover artist: Breyfogle
Colors: Noelle C. Giddings
Letters: John Workman
Editor: Dennis O’Neil & Joseph Illidge
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $5.95 US/$9.25 CAN

The two Batman artists who made the greatest impression of me in my 40 years of comics reading have been Jim Aparo and Norm Breyfogle, and one could argue they both offered up the least conventional interpretations of the Dark Knight. I loved Breyfogle’s runs on Detective Comics, Batman and Shadow of the Bat in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, so I was taken aback when I happened upon this prestige-format one-shot from 2000 at a local flea market. It’s an unusual example of the work of the creative team of Alan Grant and Breyfogle for a number of noteworthy reasons. It has its flaws, but it definitely satisfied that part of me that loved this team’s work years ago. After reading it, I completely understood why this was released as a one-shot (though it needn’t have been so expensive), because the premise just wouldn’t have worked in the context of serialized DC Universe comics.

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Flea Market Finds: Future Quest #1



Future Quest #1
“Part One: Lights In the Sky”
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Evan “Doc” Shaner & Steve Rude
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Cover artists: Shaner (regular)/Rude, Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Quinones & Aaron Lopresti (variants)
Editor: Marie Javins
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

I was sorely tempted to pick this comic up when it was released last year, given the creative team and the strong recommendation of the manager of my local comic shop. However, I was reticent, given my lack of nostalgic attachment to the many Hanna-Barbera adventure properties that populate the book. When I saw a copy at a flea market for a steal, I saw my chance to indulge my curiosity and appreciation of the work of writer Jeff Parker and artist Evan Shaner. While I’m pleased I was finally able to examine the book, my initial instinct proved to be correct: Future Quest is for the die-hard fan of these 1960s and ‘70s cartoons, and that’s about it. There’s nothing wrong, per se, with how the writer and artists present the material; it’s solid. But it seems clear to me that appreciation of this comic is wholly dependent on a pre-existing love for these characters.

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Death Metal

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.

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Stag Party

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.

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On the Lighter Side…

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.

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Eye in Comic

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.

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The Kids Are Alright

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.

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

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).

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What’s DeMatteis With You?

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.

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Knight

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.

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‘Verge of a Breakdown

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.

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Terror Plot

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.

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