Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Titans Special #1 by Dan Abnett - Book Review


From the publisher: It’s the dawn of a new age of TITANS! The events of METAL and NO JUSTICE have left the team in tatters, but a strange new threat has emerged to lead Nightwing to reassemble the Titans with a mix of old blood and new. A rash of metahuman power fluctuations are threatening people around the globe, and only the friends who grew up as superheroes can help those whose powers have grown out of control! It all starts here in this special issue kicking off a bold new direction!

Titans Special #1 by Dan Abnett is a new direction for the Titans (the adult team, not the teen version). Due to the Source Wall falling as a result of the events of Dark Nights: Metal, many "normal" people are having the meta gene activated. People unprepared for powers can have and cause all sorts of problems, which is where Nightwing and his team come in.

As a result of a run-in with one of these newly powered people, Nightwing realizes that there is a need for a team of heroes to help the newly powered, or to stop them. Being sanctioned by the Justice League gives his idea legitimacy (although there is a hesitancy due to the events of Justice League: No Justice). This issue focuses on Nightwing putting his team together. As he gathers heroes with varying power sets, Nightwing readies the Titans to accomplish their mission.

This book was okay. I generally enjoy the Titans, and Nightwing is one of my favorites. Visiting and recruiting heroes is a tried and true formula for new/special issues, so the story didn't break any ground here. Also, the basis for this team and how they are to operate refer back to previous series, and while the story itself didn't require any previous knowledge, I feel like I'm missing a little not having read one of those series. Hopefully, this won't be an ongoing issue as the main Titans book transitions to this new team.

Titans Special #1 by Dan Abnett fulfills its function admirably. Abnett is tasked with introducing a new team of Titans and setting them on their path. Titans Special #1 does both of those things, but its hard to really evaluate how the team and the new direction are going to look going forward. Abnett does have a pretty good track record writing interesting comics, so Titans bears watching in the future.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Michael Cray #8 by Bryan Hill - Book Review


From the publisher: Constantine and Diana Prince promise Michael they can help free him from the alien consciousness growing inside him, but in order for them to help, Cray must keep them both alive...protecting them from his former team as Trelane aims war at them all. How far is Cray willing to go to rid himself of the thing festering inside his mind? And how far will that alien inside Cray go to protect itself?

Finally, Michael Cray begins to pick up steam. Bryan Hill uses issue #8 to ramp things up, and rather than the villain of the month, we get a piece of the bigger story. Cray and Constantine face off, with Constantine telling Cray that he can help him to get rid of the "alien" voice/presence in his mind. Meanwhile, that voice wants Cray to turn over total control to it. Diana Prince begins to reveal her plan, and Trelane fears she may have lost Cray for good.

This was a terrific issue of Michael Cray. I felt like Hill began to pull back the curtain on what is really going on, and give readers a glimpse of the bigger story. The conflict between Cray and his inner voice points towards interesting future developments. Diana and Constantine, rather than being killed right away like the other familiar faces in past issues, promise to play major roles in the story to come. And for once, Trelane and company might actually be the sympathetic group.

Much like in past issues, I still don't know just what is going on overall, but Hill is starting to pull threads together. With only a handful of issues left (according to what I've read), the action should continue to run at a breakneck pace. I recommend Michael Cray #8 by Bryan Hill, but if you haven't been reading it so far, this is definitely not the place to start.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

The Man of Steel #3 by Brian Michael Bendis - Book Review


From the publisher: The merciless killer and zealot calling himself Rogol Zaar has searched the cosmos for Superman—and when he reaches the Fortress of Solitude, his actions will cut Superman to the core.

Brian Michael Bendis uses The Man of Steel #3 to ramp up the threat to Superman. As Superman continues to investigate the mysterious fires plaguing Metropolis with the help of a friend, he receives an alarm only someone with his senses could hear. The Fortress of Solitude has been attacked, and Kandor (the last remaining Kryptonian city) is in danger. Supergirl joins him, as Rogol Zaar makes his presence known on Earth.

This issue of The Man of Steel moves the main story forward, and Bendis ups the stakes for Superman. The threat to Kandor, and indirectly to Lois and Jon, makes things very real for him. While he hasn't yet been made aware of Rogol Zaar's past encounter with Krypton, I have to imagine Bendis has that planned for the near future.

As far as the secondary stories that have been moving through the previous issues, Bendis deals with one a bit, but doesn't really touch on the other. The rash of fires and Fire Chief Moore both show up, but there isn't a lot to be revealed here. As far as the relationship between Lois and Clark, and the whereabouts of Lois and Jon, there are a couple of panels with them, but I didn't understand the context. Unfortunately for me, because this is the most interesting story to me so far.

The Man of Steel #3 by Brian Michael Bendis is a decent read. I still keep waiting for that "aha" moment that really captures my attention, but at this point, halfway through the series, I'm thinking I'm going to have to look at The Man of Steel as a whole story, which hopefully is a better read altogether than it is chapter by chapter. This is still a series that needs to be read by Superman and Bendis fans.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Batgirl vs. Riddler #1 by Tim Seeley - Book Review


From the publisher: On the eve of Batman’s wedding to Catwoman, two of Gotham City’s finest minds clash. In her role as Oracle, Barbara Gordon wired all of her allies together. But when The Riddler takes on Batgirl, will he tear everything asunder?

Another wedding prelude, another winner from Tim Seeley. This time, its Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Batgirl vs. Riddler, and its a fun story. Riddler has kidnapped four people, hidden them around Burnside, and challenged Batgirl to find them before they die. But what do they have in common? There is a wedding theme running through his riddles, including Riddler rethinking his life through the lens of Batman's upcoming marriage to Catwoman. Oh, and there is another epilogue, but it's not the Joker this time.

This was an entertaining story, and another chance to look at what some of the side characters think about the upcoming wedding. The Riddler can be a fun villain and Seeley does an excellent job writing him that way. Riddler challenges Batgirl and her perfect memory, all the while monologuing about his new outlook on life. Batgirl, for her part, is also thinking about her romantic future, wondering if there is still anything between Nightwing and herself. While not a deep story, there were some fun parts. I also enjoyed the battle of intelligence between Riddler and Batgirl. I can't remember those two going up against each other before, but it seems like a natural pairing. I would definitely look forward to round two, if it were to happen.

Overall, I recommend Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Batgirl vs. Riddler #1 by Tim Seeley. It's a good, self-contained story that adds to the wedding preparations without being required reading.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

BATMAN: PRELUDE TO THE WEDDING - NIGHTWING VS. HUSH #1 by Tim Seeley - Book Review


From the publisher: Dick Grayson has a lot of responsibility. Being the original partner to Batman, he’s the natural choice to be Bruce Wayne’s best man. So if anyone has to get to the wedding, it’s going to be him. Too bad Hush has other plans—and maybe Bruce Wayne does, too!

Nightwing vs. Hush #1 is the second book in the Batman: Prelude to the Wedding series by Tim Seeley. Each issue looks at a confrontation between part of Batman's "family" and one of his villains, as Batman and Catwoman move closer to their big day.

In this issue, Nightwing and Superman have taken Batman out for his bachelor party. Unfortunately, Hush interferes, and he and Nightwing find themselves in a weird sort of pocket dimension where faceless beings are after them. While light on story/plot, this issue does look at the relationship between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Dick Grayson/Nightwing and contrasts it with the relationship between Batman and Hush, his childhood friend. This forms the emotional backbone of the story and is an interesting examination of complicated friendship between Bruce and Dick. Meanwhile, the issue ends with more Joker undercurrents and sets up the next Prelude book: Batgirl vs. Riddler.

Seeley is doing a nice job with these books so far. I've enjoyed looking at the peripheral characters that are involved in Batman's life and how his pending marriage might affect them. These are people who are important in Batman's history, but would just receive a cameo if left to the "wedding" issue. I also like how Seeley is adding a touch of creepiness and fear by touching on Joker's actions during this time. The suspense for the actual wedding continues to rise.

I highly recommend Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Nightwing vs. Hush by Tim Seeley. This is a tie-in book that is adding to the main storyline without being required reading. It's also a great read for fans of the greater Bat-family, rather than just the man himself.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

THE MAN OF STEEL #2 by Brian Michael Bendis - Book Review


From the publisher: With an arsonist loose in Metropolis, Superman’s powers are almost useless in finding the culprit. And back at the Daily Planet, everyone wants to know what’s going on with Lois Lane. How can Clark hold on to the secret of what happened to Lois and Jon much longer?

Brian Michael Bendis continues his first Superman arc with The Man of Steel #2. There are several things going on in this issue. There is another suspicious fire. Everyone wants to know just what exactly happened between Clark and Lois (me too; are they having marital strife I missed somewhere?). Rogol Zaar is shown in the present day, for the first time. And the Guardians and others once again mention a decision they made regarding Krypton.

This issue was okay. Bendis is still laying groundwork and teasing out mysteries. It wasn't a great story, but it was also only one part of a larger whole. As such, it's tough for me to evaluate it. I'm curious about what is going on in the lives of Clark, Lois, and Jon, but I don't really care (at this point) about the fires in Metropolis. I'm not really sure why I should care, though. I'm also not that interested or invested in the actions of Rogol Zaar. As of right now, it seems like this is just another version of who or what destroyed Krypton. For me, the hope lies in Bendis's track record. He has written so many excellent stories, that I'm trusting in his storytelling skills. Other than that, there currently isn't a lot making me want to continue with The Man of Steel.

I would recommend The Man of Steel #2 only on the basis of Brian Michael Bendis's past writing. As far as hooking the reader, I'm not there yet.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

BATMAN: PRELUDE TO THE WEDDING - ROBIN VS. RA'S AL GHUL #1 by Tim Seeley - Book Review


From the publisher: Ra’s al Ghul returns to have a heart-to-heart with his grandson, Damian. Once upon a time, Ra’s thought Bruce Wayne would be the heir apparent to his criminal empire, but now that Batman has turned his back on Talia for good, Ra’s wants to know if Damian Wayne will honor his mother by stepping into the family business at last.

Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Robin vs. Ra's Al Ghul #1 by Tim Seeley starts off a series that, as it's name suggests, leads up the wedding between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Selina Kyle/Catwoman. In this particular issue, Bruce's son Damian comes face to face with his grandfather, who challenges Damian to question his place in this new "family".

Seeley has presented an interesting take on superheroes and blended families. This issue starts off with Damian and Selina spending some time together, but it's clear Damian is worried about how his life will change with a "new" mom, as any preteen might. To further complicate matters, Damian's grandfather Ra's al Ghul is the head of the League of Assassins, and he ultimately wants Damian to follow him. One thing leads to another, and Damian is forced to confront his uncertainty and insecurities surrounding the upcoming wedding. The resolution is nice and fitting. Finally, there is an epilogue, as a longtime Batman character has made his interest, and lack of wedding invitation, known behind the scenes in recent issues.

I enjoyed this story. Seeley did a great job capturing how a boy with Damian's background might be feeling about his father getting married. It was a nice side story to the main wedding plot that is going on in the Batman titles. I like having the opportunity to focus on some of the important figures in Bruce Wayne's life, both good and bad.

I recommend Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Robin vs. Ra's Al Ghul #1. Tim Seeley has done a nice job, and if future issues are like this, there should be a well-rounded look at how people feel about Bruce marrying Selina. This is definitely for Batman fans, and is a self-contained story.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.