Thursday, July 25, 2019

BATMAN: CURSE OF THE WHITE KNIGHT #1 by Sean Murphy - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: In this explosive sequel to the critically acclaimed blockbuster BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT from writer/artist Sean Murphy, The Joker recruits Azrael to help him expose a shocking secret from the Wayne family’s legacy—and to run Gotham City into the ground! As Batman rushes to protect the city and his loved ones from danger, the mystery of his ancestry unravels, dealing a devastating blow to the Dark Knight. Exciting new villains and unexpected allies will clash in this unforgettable chapter of the White Knight saga—and the truth about the blood they shed will shake Gotham to its core!

I enjoyed Sean Murphy's Batman: White Knight. It was an interesting take on the Batman/Joker relationship, and a different view on Joker than I had read before. So naturally, when Batman: Curse of the White Knight was announced, I looked forward to reading it.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight looks to have two stories that will eventually merge: in the present, there is the Joker's plan to take down Batman, and in the past, there is some mysterious goings on with the Arkham and Wayne ancestors. In issue #1, Murphy gives a little look at the mystery of the past, but most of the focus is on Joker (who isn't happy with his Napier personality) and his escape from Arkham Asylum. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is still dealing with the fallout from the previous series and is looking to go public with his identity. Basically, this issue is an introduction to what exactly is going to be happening.

Murphy's take on Batman is a little grittier than the normal Batman. There are plenty of familiar faces, but they are all just a bit harder edged. This makes Curse of the White Knight a nice change from the main Batman stories. Also, because the series isn't part of the standard continuity, Murphy has the freedom to take the story where he wants, and his characters can act differently than they might have to in the main DC universe. I think this gives Curse of the White Knight more of an ability to surprise and shock the reader, and Murphy did that with White Knight and I expect something similar with this one.

Overall, Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Murphy is a good opening chapter in this sequel series. I'm looking forward to seeing just how he ties the two timelines together. If you enjoyed Batman: White Knight or like different takes on the Caped Crusader, then grab a copy of this book.

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Event Leviathan #2 by Brian Michael Bendis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: “The Detectives”! EVENT LEVIATHAN, the new miniseries by the award-winning team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, continues! As the mystery of Leviathan continues to rock the very foundations of the DC Universe, the world’s greatest detectives gather for the first time anywhere to solve the mystery before it’s too late! Lois Lane leads Batman, Green Arrow, Plastic Man, Manhunter, the Question and a couple of genuine guest sleuths in the search for who Leviathan is and how their plans have already unfolded. This issue also guest-stars Red Hood, Batgirl and more!

Event Leviathan #2 by Brian Michael Bendis continues the search for Leviathan that began in issue #1. First, a disclaimer of sorts: this book/mini-series is a self-contained story with tie-ins. I haven't read any of the tie-ins yet, and I feel like I'm missing out on something when I read Event Leviathan. There are events that are referenced that seem to have happened in between issues. I felt this same way when I read Dark Nights: Metal. Self-contained should mean just that; any tie-ins should add to the story, not make readers feel as if they are missing something important.

All that said, this book moved fast. Batman and Red Hood met to discuss the Leviathan case, with Batman describing what had happened and what he knew. Red Hood knew a little, and they shared their info. The Question discovers what happened to Sam Lane, Lois's father and a super spy. Plastic Man investigates a dead Leviathan soldier who used to be an ARGUS agent. All this leads Batman and his team of detectives straight to their chief suspect.

I enjoyed Event Leviathan #2. Bendis is a great writer who knows how to spin out a mystery. There are some interesting characters appearing, including the Question and Plastic Man, neither of whom get a lot of play. I also expect a red herring, or two or three. I also like the connection between this series and Heroes in Crisis, as Red Hood is still dealing with the fallout of the death of a friend. While not totally a character-focused story, it was a nice added touch, and showed that the events these heroes face do have carry over effects.

Bendis reveals who Batman thinks is Leviathan, but I'm not buying it at this point. He is too good of a writer to reveal the villain this early in the story. But like usual, I'm trusting Bendis because of my past history with his writing. My only real issue is the tie-in concern I mentioned earlier. Books should either be support or required to the main series, and there should not be any confusion on this matter.

I recommend Event Leviathan #2 by Brian Michael Bendis. Fans who enjoy event series (no pun intended) and Bendis's writing will like this one. However, get this now (along with the first issue) or you'll be at a loss.

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

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Wild Storm #24 by Warren Ellis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The final issue. The final act. IO has betrayed the world, and Skywatch wants to burn it. The only people in the middle are Jenny Mei Sparks’ ragtag team of wounded orphans of the secret world. The storm has hit. This is how it ends.

So it comes down to this. After 23 issues, The Wild Storm #24 by Warren Ellis wraps up this particular story in the Wild Storm universe. And Ellis wraps it up in style. IO and Miles Craven vs. Skywatch and Henry Bendix vs. Jenny Sparks's new Authority. There are explosions, double-crosses, appearances by more weird powered people (presumably Skywatch experiments), and outrageous action as only Ellis can do. And also, this story gets a definitive ending, although not every plot point was resolved. It turns out this was Angie Spica's story all along.

Rather than just look at this issue, I want to talk about the series as a whole. I think Ellis did an excellent job, both recapturing the original feel of his Stormwatch/Authority series and a new sensibility or take on the concept. I really liked the crazy action, but some of the personal interactions I could take or leave. I also thought Ellis introduced so many different ideas in this series, but didn't see all of them through. Of particular interest to me was Cole Cash/Grifter and his Wild C.A.T. team. Grifter is one of my favorite Wild Storm characters, and it seems like they just got shuffled out after a few issues. Now, hopefully Ellis was just bringing these ideas in to use them in later Wild Storm series, as I believe there will be two more series set in this universe, starting with WildCats sometime in August.

Overall, I though The Wild Storm was a fun and entertaining book. I enjoyed the wild ideas, action, and re-introduction of some old favorite characters. The Wild Storm #24 by Warren Ellis was a solid ending to the story. I recommend this series to fans of Warren Ellis and his original take on Stormwatch and The Authority.

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

The Dreaming #11 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The World’s End pub is a place where ales and tales flow freely. A place where the netherfolk gather to spin stories and mark time between realities. But a blight has come to the Worlds’ End pub, and as the search for Dream of the Endless nears its end, our plucky hunters must confront the saddest thing of all: a fable that can’t stop fading. Meanwhile, the new Lord of the Dreaming, chafing against its unwanted throne, gropes for answers—and endings...

The Dreaming #11 by Simon Spurrier continues the story of Dora and Matthew the Raven's quest to find Daniel aka Dream. After their stop in Hell last issue, they are transported to The World's End Pub, which should be familiar to fans of Sandman. Here, stories are currency, and Dora and Matthew stumble into the pub only to find the entire pub full of people captivated by the stories being told by three strangers. However, a fire is loose on the upper floor of the pub, and no one seems eager to put it out. Only Dora seems immune, and this leads to an interesting conversation with a rabbit whom no one remembers. The issue ends with a twist that I didn't see coming which sets up next issue (which promises to reveal where Dream is or what he wants) nicely.

I've really enjoyed this quest for Dream storyline, but because each issue is only a part of the story arc, I find them hard to review. I enjoyed revisiting The World's End, which is a cool location with many story possibilities. I also found the story-within-a-story to be interesting, reflecting some popular story themes. Spurrier uses this issue to reflect on the nature of stories, which has always been a part of the Sandman world. I also liked the development of Dora, who seems to be growing as a character with each issue. I have a little trepidation at how Spurrier is going to wrap up the search for Dream, because it seems like he is leaning towards creating a new Dream, which Gaiman already did (in fact, he did it extremely well, since that was a major part of the original series). However, I'm going to trust that Spurrier won't just be repeating previous stories with his own take on them.

The Dreaming #11 by Simon Spurrier is an excellent chapter in this series. I highly recommend it, particularly to fans of Sandman.

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