Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Batman/Superman #2 by Joshua WIlliamson - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The Batman Who Laughs' plot is bigger than either the Caped Crusader or the Man of Steel realized. Following a showdown with the devious killer's first sentinel, a jacked-up, Dark Multiverse-infected Shazam!, the pair has to figure out who else has been targeted for similar transformations. Their first two guesses: someone very close to Batman and the one hero that would make failure nearly impossible--Superman himself!

Batman/Superman #2 by Joshua Williamson comes right on the heels of issue #1. With the revelation that Shazam has been corrupted by The Batman Who Laughs, Superman and Batman are scrambling to restrain and help him. However, its not to be. Additionally, during the battle, Shazam lets slip that The Batman Who Laughs has a greater plan. As Batman and Superman recover from the fight, they discover that there are six people (the Secret Six) who have been infected. And since The Batman Who Laughs is essentially Bruce Wayne, he knows who and what is important to both Batman and Superman. This puts everyone in danger and leads to a potentially dangerous plan to infiltrate The Batman Who Laughs's plan.

I enjoyed this issue. Batman and Superman are cool, and they handled things pretty much like you would expect. However, Williamson turned Shazam (or The Shazam Who Laughs) into the star of the issue. The way Williamson writes him, Billy Batson/Shazam is just downright evil. Gone is the innocence and goofiness of a young teenager given the powers of Shazam. Instead, Billy is devious and clever, preying on Superman's nature to want to help people rather than eliminate them. He also uses his magic-based powers to his advantage in a way that I'm not sure a clear-thinking Shazam would do.

Williamson has also created a sense of unease and distrust in the series, due to the fact that anyone could be a part of the Secret Six. Batman and Superman are left with the fact that they can't trust anyone, but they need help in stopping The Batman Who Laughs. And while I realize that spoilers revealing the remaining Secret Six members are all over the internet, Williamson is slowing revealing just how deep this conspiracy goes. He maintains a level mystery, only showing his hand when he wants to, which therefore adds to the suspense.

I highly recommend Batman/Superman #2 by Joshua Williamson. This is a gripping and interesting series, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops. The potential for interesting takes on familiar characters is high, and I can't wait to see how Williamson writes them.

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Flash Forward #1 by Scott Lobdell - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: His name is Wally West-and he was the Fastest Man Alive. That is, until the Multiverse was rewritten without him or his family in it. Wally returned and tried to make it work, but the damage was done. Spinning out of the events of HEROES IN CRISIS, follow the man who called himself Flash on an adventure to find redemption in a cosmos that has fought so hard to destroy him.

When Heroes in Crisis ended, Wally West was a mess. He was responsible for the deaths of a number of heroes, including one of his best friends. He was ready to cover everything up by killing a future version of himself. And he was still heartbroken over the loss of his wife and kids due to the events of the New 52 (more on that later). Wally simply wanted to pay for his crimes, forget about being a hero, and wallow in self-pity.

When Scott Lobdell's Flash Forward #1 (of 6) begins, Wally is in Blackgate Prison, awaiting his trial. He has a power dampener collar on, and a bunch of angry, revenge seeking inmates after him. Meanwhile, someone or something known as Tempus Feuget realizes the multiverse is in danger from the dark multiverse, and that only the Flash can save it. Enter Wally West, who is recruited and given a mission he doesn't want. He must stop whatever it is that is corrupting the 52 alternate realities of the multiverse, and if he is successful, he just might find redemption and forgiveness along the way.

I like Wally West. I hate what has become of him during these continuity reboots.  More than maybe any other hero, Wally West was changed/effected by the New 52. With the Rebirth event, I was hopeful that Wally would return and resume his familiar place as a hero who brings light and joy to balance his more cynical friends. However, it doesn't seem to be, at least for the present. Wally was basically forgotten by everyone, and even with Rebirth, his marriage to Linda Park never existed, which means that his children never existed, either. But, Wally remembers everything, and it's this knowledge that drives him to Sanctuary, where he accidentally kills a group of heroes (see Heroes in Crisis). What has happened to Wally is one of the sadder stories I've read in comics, and I really want to see him rebound and find his place in the superhero world. That's the reason I picked up Flash Forward #1, and so far, Lobdell has got him going in the right direction. This first issue is all set-up for what will follow, and it has hooked me sufficiently. In fact, the plot seems intriguing, but even if it's just "okay", I'm going to be reading and cheering for Wally. If anyone deserves a little redemption, it's Wally West.

I would recommend Flash Forward #1 by Scott Lobdell to anyone who is a fan of the Flash and Wally West in particular. If you wondered what the fallout from Heroes in Crisis would be, this story is the first step in showing that. I'm looking forward to seeing what Lobdell has in store for the Flash.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Event Leviathan #4 by Brian Michael Bendis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Batman versus Superman! Witness the interrogation of the decade as Bruce Wayne tears into Superman to find the missing piece of the Leviathan puzzle they both need. It’s a battle of wits and wills as the greatest detectives in the universe get together to figure out the why and how of Leviathan before it’s too late. And when that doesn’t work”¦in comes Lois Lane! From the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, it’s another fully painted noir thriller that will tear a bloody trail through the DC Universe.

Brian Michael Bendis brings us another chapter in the mystery that is Event Leviathan. Issue #3 left off with Superman confronting Leviathan as they tried to take Amanda Waller. Much of issue #4, then, is Superman's explanation of how he ended being beaten by Leviathan and how Waller disappeared again. Due to Superman's lack of trust in them, the group of detectives (other than Batman and Lois Lane) find themselves excluded from hearing the story, which is a source of tension among the group. They discover that there are wheels within wheels working here, as Leviathan has set multiple people up, including Green Arrow, Manhunter (possibly?), and Red Hood. As Lois leaves Wayne Manor, an assassin and their handler are watching and speculating. Finally, there is a cliffhanger of an ending, which leads in to issue #5.

At this point, I have no idea who Leviathan is or what their endgame is. Bendis is throwing out plenty of red herrings. Each suspect seems likely based on the clues, but might be too obvious. It's hard to imagine a major hero becoming Leviathan, and a minor hero seems like cheating a bit to me. However, that might be what Bendis wants readers to think. With someone like Red Hood in the clear, it's an easy thing to double back on it and have him actually be Leviathan. Also, is Leviathan really a villain? Or just someone who's methods don't necessarily get approval from the Justice League and other heroes? I don't have the answers, but I'm definitely hooked on the mystery. Bendis is great at writing engaging mysteries, and after a bumpy beginning (in my opinion), this has really hooked me.

I would recommend Event Leviathan #4 by Brian Michael Bendis. I'm really looking forward to the next issue, and eventually discovering just who Leviathan really is.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Mythology by Peter J. Tomasi - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The Arkham Knight has arrived in Gotham City with an entire round table of deadly allies, and their first encounter will leave Batman shaken to his core!

Alfred Pennyworth...attacked at Wayne mansion! Who's hunting those closest to Batman? The monstrous shadow plaguing Gotham City gains the upper hand when two of the Dark Knight's most ardent allies fall prey to a violent vendetta!

Commissioner Gordon calls in the Dark Knight Detective when there's a murder at the Gotham City Aquarium--staged to look exactly like Thomas and Martha Wayne's crime scene, right down to the playbill and pearls. How does this bizarre homicide tie into the shadowy monster that attacks Dr. Leslie Thompkins? This creature looks to wage a war on Batman--and it's using Joker Gas to do it!

Collects Detective Comics #994-999

Detective Comics Vol. 1: Mythology by Peter J. Tomasi is a pretty good read. Leading up to Detective Comics 1000, it sets the stage for the debut of the Arkham Knight, and the next story arc for Detective Comics.

The story opens with Batman and Jim Gordon investigating the deaths of a man and woman who look exactly like Bruce Wayne's parents. Next, Leslie Thompkins is attacked by a strange creature who is looking to draw Batman out. Alfred is the next victim. Batman soon figures out that it is going after the people responsible for helping him become Batman, and the race is on to save his mentors. The creature (who doesn't have a name) acts a bit like Clayface, as it takes on various faces of Batman's villains, friends, and fellow heroes. It is relentless, attacking and reforming constantly. It also is constantly reminding Bruce of how and why he became Batman. As Batman races from one friend to the next, the mystery of the creature and its purpose in tormenting Batman are slowly revealed. As Bruce discovers who created it, Tomasi wraps things up with a twist.

Mythology was an interesting story. There wasn't clear bad guy or underlying plot that Batman was trying to stop. Rather, this was a trip down memory lane for Bruce Wayne, and Tomasi used his "mythology" to examine and almost reset Batman as issue #1000 looms. This approach is not unusual for writers, as I've read multiple stories that examine who Batman is and why he does what he does, on a level that goes beyond just revenge for his parents' murders. The way Tomasi conducts this soul-searching is a bit unique, and an interesting addition to the Batman mythology (see what I did there?).

Overall, I enjoyed Detective Comics Vol. 1: Mythology by Peter J. Tomasi. It was an exciting book, with action that never let up and a surprising twist. I would recommend it to Batman fans for sure.

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: MILLENNIUM #1 by Brian Michael Bendis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Brought to you by some of comics’ greatest talents, this epic story spans the course of 1,000 years and, for the very first time, connects all of DC’s future timelines! Starring the unlikeliest of DC heroes as she learns to cope with newfound immortality and roams through the disparate societies of Batman Beyond, Kamandi and Tommy Tomorrow, wrestling with her own inner demons and desperately trying to find her purpose in an ever-changing world. Do not miss this truly unique take on tomorrow’s DC Universe, all leading up to a special launch on the millennium!

Brian Michael Bendis is bringing the Legion of Super-Heroes back, but first we have Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 (of 2). And I'm a little confused as to the purpose of this mini-series.

So here is what I understand: A woman named Rose has a violent, powered alter-ego named Thorn (it's unclear whether she is a hero or villain, or something in-between). She discovers that she is immortal. In various episodes throughout DC's future(s), we see that Rose encounters many of the heroes from future timelines, and she struggles to understand just what she is. We, the readers, aren't really given any clues, either. There are some neat nods to some some futuristic characters, like Kamandi, Supergirl (the older version), and Batman Beyond, but not a lot of substance. Most importantly, there is no Legion of Super-Heroes! At least not yet.

I've been a fan of the Legion off and on for 35ish years. I really liked the variety of heroes and their various planets, power sets, and biology. Lightning Lad, Wildfire, Timber Wolf, Saturn Girl, etc. are all pretty cool, and the DC Universe is lesser for their absence. In that regard, I'm glad they are returning, as they were definitely a casualty of the New 52 reboot. And, I'm glad it's Bendis who is writing their return. I trust Bendis's writing, so I'll read the second part of this series, along with the continuing series that is set to come out later this year. But, I hope this begins to make some sort of sense in the long run.

I would tentatively recommend Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, contingent on the second issue. I have high hopes for Bendis's take on the Legion.

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

The Dreaming #13 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: As they fade from the world’s consciousness, Nurse Nikki’s support group of marginalized myths and monsters gathers to discuss their shared crisis and forge a path to their former glory. When they decide that the best way to reclaim their power in the minds of men is to take to the streets to party, the motley parade of spirits, demons, and legends provokes an unimaginable existential hangover.

I enjoyed Simon Spurrier's previous story arc in The Dreaming, and The Dreaming #13 feels like palate cleanser or deep breath before the next arc gets started. And while I enjoy the multi-issue stories, and seem to remember Gaiman doing this occasionally during The Sandman.

Hot on the heels of major revelations about Dream and the Dreaming, Spurrier cuts to present day England and a support group of mythical monsters. The crux of the story is that the monsters are fading away as humanity's beliefs change. The group bans together to try and draw some attention to themselves in order to strengthen their grasp on reality. They discover both a type of freedom and joy, and a deep disappointment and sorrow. Spurrier's characterization was interesting, giving each monster a distinct personality that fit it's nature, and he did a good job of showing a little background as to who they were or where they came from for those of us unfamiliar with these creatures.

This wasn't my favorite story, as it was a little strange for my tastes, but I did like the examination of myths. Gaiman and others have done similar things in other stories, but Spurrier put his own spin on the idea. His myths are disguised as regular humans, but when they gather they take on their true forms. This story is an examination of the power of belief and also one that shows the freedom in being who you were meant to be. To that end, I think Spurrier did a great job. I also think this issue looked at some of the consequences of Dream's absence from his realm, and hopefully that will tie it back into the overarching tale that Spurrier has been telling over the past year.

I'm not sure where Spurrier is going with these next few issues, whether they are tied together tightly or are loosely gathered around a common theme, but I'm anxious to move back into the mystery of who is attacking Dream, and what he is going to do about it.

I would recommend The Dreaming #13 by Simon Spurrier. It is a fine interlude (I think) issue, but is not my favorite.

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

Doomsday Clock #11 by Geoff Johns - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The critically acclaimed series by the renowned team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank marches toward its conclusion. In this penultimate issue, the truth behind “Rebirth” is revealed as Batman searches for the one person he believes can help him save the world…Rorschach!

I've really enjoyed Doomsday Clock, in spite of the irregular publishing schedule and the sometimes multiple storylines that have yet to converge. In fact, I'm really really curious to find out how everything ties together and how it all ends. Geoff Johns has done a fine job capturing some of the feel of Alan Moore's original Watchmen, while creating something new, current, and relevant to DC's multiple resets/reboots/rebirths over the years. Using Dr. Manhattan and the Watchmen storyline to explain the various continuity changes is actually quite brilliant, and it seems like this could have been the master plan all along (although it wasn't, was it?).

Which brings me to Doomsday Clock #11. Johns has been weaving a very intertwined story with so many different threads that its impossible to give them each adequate time in every issue. But with only two issues left, Johns uses one to finally reveal Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias's plan, and it is a doozy. I'm going to refrain from spoilers, so suffice it to say that Veidt's scheme is incredibly complicated and complex, maybe moreso than in Watchmen. We've been given bits and pieces, so there is not a lot of new info to reveal, but the wheels-within-wheels are finally connected for the reader. I'm still waiting for a couple of things, though. One, Imra aka Saturn Girl, appears to be addressed in this issue. However, I want to know how Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt play into this whole thing. If I remember correctly, an elderly Johnny has been looking for his Thunderbolt as far back as the Rebirth special that started the current DC continuity, so some resolution to this mystery would be nice.

I highly recommend Doomsday Clock #11 by Geoff Johns. At this point, you're either reading the series as its released so this is a must read, or you're waiting for the collected edition. I'm glad I've hung in there on this series, and with one issue left, I can't wait to see how Johns wraps it up.

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