Wednesday, March 27, 2019

DETECTIVE COMICS #1000 by Warren Ellis, Paul Dini, Tom King, Brian Michael Bendis, Peter J. Tomasi, Various, James T Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Kevin Smith, Christopher Priest, Dennis O'Neil, Geoff Johns - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: After 80 years, it’s here—the 1,000th issue of DETECTIVE COMICS, the title that literally defines DC! This 96-page issue is stacked with an unbelievable lineup of talent that will take you on a journey through Batman’s past, present and a sensational epilogue that features the first-ever DC Universe appearance of the deadly Arkham Knight! But who is under the mask? And why do they want Batman dead? The incredible future of Batman adventures begins here! 

Detective Comics #1000 is a milestone in comics. It's the second DC title to reach 1000, and it's the title that DC literally took it's name from (D - Detective; C - Comics). More than a continuation of any one Batman story, it's more of a celebration of who Batman is and why he is so popular and important. There are a number of stories in this collection, but I'd like to focus on my favorites.

Brian Michael Bendis wrote his first (I believe) Batman story for this collection, and I loved it. It focuses on a conversation between an older Penguin and Bruce Wayne. Penguin is relating how he has known who Batman really is for a long time, but never revealed it. It is an interesting take on the relationship between Batman and Bruce Wayne, with a fun twist at the end.

Tom King has added his name to the list of legendary Batman writers with his recent run. His story is probably my favorite, because it's so poignant. The various members of the Bat-family are gathered in the hopes of discovering just what Batman's greatest case is. What they find out is something much more important. I love the emotional depth King brings to these characters.

Paul Dini, the man behind the animated Batman of the 90s, adds a story as well. His tale looks at the story of Knute Brody, quite possibly the worst henchman ever. As various villains relate how Brody's bumbling ways ruined any number of plans, Dini begins tying all the threads together. There is definitely an echo of Dini's tv series in this story.

Finally, Peter Tomasi introduces the Arkham Knight (from the Batman: Arkham video games) into the comic continuity. The story is told from his perspective, which promises to put a Batman under a new microscope. This is definitely a match-up worth watching.

Several other authors have written their own odes to The World's Greatest Detective. The stories cover different eras of Batman's career, and are written and illustrated by a who's who of Batman creators.

Overall, Detective Comics #1000 is a great celebration of the Dark Knight. I really enjoyed the various stories, and recommend picking it up to all Batman fans. Here's to 1000 more!

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

Heroes in Crisis #7 by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The Trinity may have uncovered the true killer responsible for the deaths at Sanctuary, but the artificial intelligence that ran the institution is the one thing standing between them and the culprit. Now Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman must face off with their own creation—and face the consequences for what they created. Also, as the truth is uncovered, Booster and Harley go from being enemies to allies.

So, once again, the publisher copy for this book is misleading. Heroes in Crisis #7 does not reveal who is responsible for killing all the heroes, nor did the previous issue. Plus, the Trinity don't face off with anyone or anything. That said, Tom King has written another excellent chapter in this deeply emotional series. This issue focuses on Wally West/Flash, and the foursome of Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Harley Quinn, and Batgirl. Batman and Barry Allen/ Flash also make an appearance.

Apparently Harley and Booster saw each other killing the heroes; so, Beetle and Batgirl realize something is off. They unite and come up with a plan to reveal the truth (next issue?). This was a darkly funny storyline, but there is an undercurrent of sadness to Booster and Harley that makes them seem more real.

The other main story focuses on Wally West, and all the trauma he has dealt with in his life going all the way back to when he became Kid Flash. It really pulls into focus just how much Wally has gone through, including being erased during the New 52 along with his family (this is probably the most grievous of them all). The confessional interludes also involve Wally and add to the struggles he faces. By the time the issue reaches it's end, the last couple of pages seem to indicate a decision Wally has come to, and it's leading to a resolution for this series.

I'm not sure I like where King is taking things in Heroes in Crises, but I'm here for the long haul. I'm extremely curious about how all of this will play out, and what the larger consequences are for the DC universe at large. There still should be a tie-in to the Doomsday Clock series, as well, since it seems Dr. Manhattan and his manipulations are ultimately responsible for much of Wally's trauma.

If you aren't reading this series yet, why not? Heroes in Crisis #7 is just the latest chapter in Tom King's examination of the tragedy and sacrifice that heroes deal with as part of their bargain with all of us. It's a heartbreaking story that is well worth the read.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Wild Storm #21 by Warren Ellis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The experimental subjects code-named Apollo and Midnighter have broken cover. Combat-optimized superhumans are now loose on the Earth.

The Wild Storm #21 puts us just a handful of issues from the end of Warren Ellis's reboot/retelling/update of the Wild Storm universe, and he's crammed just about everything he possibly could into this series. This particular issue continues it's focus on Jenny Sparks, Shen/The Doctor, Jack Hawksmoor, and Angie Spica. These four characters, plus Midnighter and Apollo, formed the original Authority. And it looks like that is where Ellis is heading, as Jenny's group are looking to make contact with the other two. Along with Jack, Apollo and Midnighter are Skywatch experiments that, for one reason or another, no longer work, for or are a part of, Skywatch. We once again get a quick glimpse at Miles  Craven and IO, as well as Henry Bendix and Skywatch. Oh, and a major war between the two is on the verge of occurring.

This series is a fun ride, and it's a callback (at least to me) to some of the more over-the-top stories and situations that Ellis told in his original run on Stormwatch and The Authority. Larger than life characters, bizarre situations, and ridiculous fights made those books huge hits. The Wild Storm continues the tradition as Ellis continues to build to a massive climax. I've said it before, but I have absolutely no idea how he's going to wrap this story up. Ellis has what seems like a gazillion plates spinning and he somehow needs to address them all. I mean, where has Marlowe and his Wild CAT group, featuring Grifter/Cole Cash, been? And I don't remember seeing Zealot anywhere recently, nor John Lynch, who I believe was last seen tracking down other powered individuals.

Regardless, The Wild Storm #21 is another fun comic. Warren Ellis is doing a wonderful job, and I, for one, am anxious to see how the story plays out over the next few issues. Grab a copy and don't get left behind.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cover #6 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The first volume of one of the best-reviewed series of the year comes to its shocking conclusion! It’s an industry dinner in New York City, and comic book creator Max finds himself juggling his responsibilities as a spy for the United States government and his role as a member of the creative community! This unique, genre-bending look at the comics industry has received rave reviews for Emmy and Eisner Award-nominated artist David Mack and Peabody Award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis! COVER will return next year—but this shocking conclusion will have people talking about what is—and isn’t—true in this “based on a true story” story.

Cover is such a wonderful story, and #6 wraps up the first arc perfectly. Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack have done a superb job with this book, hooking me with the premise and then fulfilling the promise the series began with.

In issue 6, Max Field is at a convention in Rio de Janeiro with his friends. However, the con is being put on by the CIA, with the express purpose of bringing Max face to face with Esaad Sinn, a fellow comic creator and a foreign agent. Max's job is to turn Sinn, and pass him on to his CIA handler. The conclusion was unexpected, but fits with how things have been going for Max. This summary just scratches the surface, though, as Mack and Bendis have been telling a much deeper story, and that is where the heart of the book is.

I don't really know what else I can say about Cover that I haven't said before. This is one of those stories that just connected with me, and I'm having a hard time articulating why. I felt the same about the Mack's first Kabuki collection, Gaiman's Sandman books, and Dave McKean's Cages, among others. There is just something about Max and what he is experiencing that I really find fascinating.

Additionally, I really enjoyed the comic-within-the-comic of Ninja Sword Odyssey. The finale of that series also works as an ending of sorts to this arc of Cover. The echoes of Max's story that are in Ninja Sword Odyssey are extremely well-done and add a tremendous amount of depth to this book as a whole. I keep saying it, but I would absolutely read an actual collection of Ninja Sword Odyssey should Bendis and Mack choose to produce one.

At this point, I might be rambling, but I find myself wondering just how much of this story is true. It's billed as being sort-of a true story, and the main characters are stand-ins for Bendis and Mack. I also remember Bendis writing a book early in his career (I believe it was called Fire?) wherein a college student was recruited by a secret agency. Is Cover another attempt to tell a story that can't be told, or is this Mack's story to tell and Bendis had a similar experience? I'd love to know.

Finally, Mack's artwork is beautiful. If you've read any of his books, then you know Mack has a style all his own (it's sort of a water-color painting look, maybe?), and most of the book is done that way. But there are some chase scenes that seemed to be an homage to some of Jim Steranko's Nick Fury/SHIELD stuff. Maybe the spy stuff of Steranko was influenced Mack.

Regardless, I loved reading Cover #6, and love the whole story. Unfortunately, this is it until next year, at which point Bendis and Mack will (hopefully) continue to relate Max's adventures. I can't recommend this book high enough. If you missed the individual issues, make sure you grab a collected edition when it's released. P.S. Cover ought to be nominated for an Eisner in both writing and art, and any other category that it would fit.

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Doomsday Clock #9 by Geoff Johns - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The critically acclaimed series by master storytellers Geoff Johns and Gary Frank reaches its most shocking chapter yet when the DC Universe collides with its greatest threat: Dr. Manhattan. But nothing is hidden from Manhattan, and the secrets of the past, present and future will rock the very foundation of the DC Universe.

Doomsday Clock #9 by Geoff Johns finally brings the DC heroes face to face with Dr. Manhattan. After figuring out the source behind Firestorm's explosion is on Mars, most of the heroes leave Earth to confront whoever or whatever is responsible. What results is a pretty cool confrontation with Dr. Manhattan, who finds himself trying to explain how he can see/hear everything and be everywhere simultaneously. Before he can, though, a battle ensues (my favorite part is Captain Atom, whom Dr. Manhattan was a stand-in for in Watchmen, attacking Dr. Manhattan).  This is basically the battle readers have been waiting for since it was hinted that Dr. Manhattan was behind everything. Although, I'm beginning to think he isn't behind it after all.

Additionally, this issue contains Bruce Wayne coming to some sort of important conclusion about what has been happening, and Lex Luthor approaching Lois Lane with information. There is also a very interesting focus on Dr. Manhattan before all the fireworks, where he describes various decisions he can make in the past and how they will affect the future of Earth, which seems to end in 3019. Manhattan describes how he can't see anything past a certain point, and he rather enjoys not knowing the outcome already.

Johns is now left with three issues to wrap up the multiple storylines that he has going on, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how he does this. I'm no closer to understanding the mystery behind all of these events at this point than I was when I began reading Doomsday Clock, but I'm just as interested in finding out. This is due to the wonderful story and plotting of Johns, who has captured the spirit of Watchmen and brought it into the mainstream DC Universe. I feel like there will be long ranging effects from this series, but with it being behind schedule, have we already seen some of the consequences? I'm particularly wondering about Wally West, who is currently dead in the Heroes in Crisis mini-series but is one of the main figures affected by the maneuverings of Dr. Manhattan, or whoever is actually responsible for the many DC crises events.

I continue to give my highest recommendation to Doomsday Clock. Johns is doing a fantastic job, and this should be required reading for all DC fans.

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

The Dreaming #7 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: A pale god has wandered the Earth, banished and bound. For one ill-fated family, he leaves only the wreckage of a cataclysmic romance.

As the Dreaming convalesces after its recent upheavals, at long last it’s time to follow the footsteps of its absent master.

But we must tread lightly. For where Dream walks, heartbreak follows.

Reading The Dreaming #7 gave me serious Neil Gaiman/Sandman flashbacks. After Simon Spurrier wrapped up the first arc of The Dreaming, I liked it but wondered where the story was going; now, I'm thrilled with this next arc. The first chapter in this story seems to capture much of what Gaiman was able to do with Sandman (not saying Spurrier is as good, but the atmosphere is similar). There was a depth and a sense that there was something more than merely a story; something bigger was taking place.

This particular issue focuses on Daniel aka Dream and promises to show the reader why the Dreaming was left without a leader in the previous arc. Rose Walker, who played a prominent role in several Sandman arcs, is the narrator in this particular story. She is in the hospital with her cancer-stricken mother, and a John Doe, who looks a lot like Lucien the Librarian. She proceeds to share the story of her encounter with Daniel, and how she introduced him to her daughter Ivy, who is also in the hospital at the moment. Rose's tale is one of love and hope, and sadness and despair. And, I'm hooked. I'm excited for this arc, and can't wait for the next issue.

My favorite stories from Sandman were ones about Dream, but were told from the perspective of other characters. By making Rose Walker the point of view character, Spurrier has captured the beginnings of that feeling I get when reading Gaiman's stories. That's the highest praise I can give a comic writer (or pretty much any writer), but particularly one playing in the sandbox (no pun intended) that Gaiman created and wrote with such elegance and style. The character of Dream is terrific, and the story of what happened to him has the makings of being a classic tale. As Rose was told, "You gotta focus on the stories, not the ends." Great advice, especially when it comes to the world of the Endless.

I highly recommend The Dreaming #7 by Simon Spurrier. If you were on the fence about this series early on, or were skeptical about anyone filling Gaiman's shoes, this is the issue to read. The start of this new arc is the perfect jumping on point, and is well worth your time.

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