Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Detective Comics Annual #3 by Peter J. Tomasi - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Of all the mayhem and madness that "City of Bane" visited upon Batman's world, the death of Alfred Pennyworth had the greatest impact. As Bruce struggles to pick up the pieces of his life, the absence of the man who had always helped him is felt with devastating consequences. With new storm clouds brewing on the horizon, does Bruce Wayne have what it takes to honor his dearest friend's memory?

I have been behind in my Batman/Detective Comics reading lately, preferring to wait for the collected editions so I can have a full storyline to read. However, when I learned of the death of Alfred Pennyworth and that Peter J. Tomasi was going to write a sort of coda to his life in Detective Comics Annual #3, I decided to check it out. And I'm glad I did!

Tomasi starts the story off with a glimpse into Alfred's SIS days, and it's pretty cool. Very James Bond-ish from the normally fastidious butler. The story then jumps to the present, where a mourning (and emotionally lost) Bruce Wayne is confronted by a person from Alfred's past - Marigold . She was a fellow SIS/MI-6 agent and friend of Alfred's, and she brings Bruce a proposal: a chance to catch the "one that got away", a former friend turned enemy spy that Alfred never caught. Needless to say, Bruce jumped at the chance. A trip to the Ukraine, a fake American city used to train KGB operatives, and the NKVDBeast all make an appearance, as Bruce has the chance to help do something good in Alfred's name as a way of honoring him and dealing with his death. Tomasi does a good job of capturing Bruce's grief, as well as his other emotions. In addition, Marigold's character and relationship with Alfred add depth and resonance to the story.

There is a second, back up story that is a letter from Alfred to Marigold detailing his work week with the newly returned young Bruce Wayne. While the words of the letter accurately describe the action, they are somewhat humorous in light of the illustrations that depict Bruce's first attempts at crime fighting as Batman. It is a sweet and heartfelt letter/story, and a fitting tribute to Alfred, a man many readers (as well as writers and characters) considered the heart behind Batman.

Killing off a beloved character can be challenging for a writer, and often the aftermath of the death is left for other writers to respond to. Tomasi does a great job in keeping with the spirit of both Detective Comics and Alfred Pennyworth himself. This is a worthwhile read and a fine epilogue to Alfred's life.

I highly recommend Detective Comics Annual #3 by Peter J. Tomasi.

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Flash Forward #5 by Scott Lobdell - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Wally West has gotten to the heart of his mission to save the Multiverse...and the heart he found was his own. When it's discovered that the dark multiversal world that's threatening all of existence is the world in which Wally's children are alive, our hero must overcome his greatest fears, regrets, and anger to do what's right. But what's right is the hardest thing anyone would ever imagine doing...letting go.

This is the one. Flash Forward #5 by Scott Lobdell finally brings Wally West back together with his children, Jai and Iris. As part as his mission to save the Multiverse, Wally lands on a planet made entirely of Dark Matter. However, it also contains his two children, who seem to be aware that they were erased from existence as part of DC's New 52 reboot.

During the course of this series, Wally has been trying to redeem himself from his actions in Heroes in Crisis and to recover his lost/missing life, including his kids. Now that he is reunited with them, he discovers that the planet is trying to rip them away from him again. Additionally, the only way for him to save the Multiverse is to destroy the planet, which would kill his kids. Caught in this dilemma, Wally approaches Tempus Fuginaut and is put in contact with the Morbius Chair. Upon touching the chair, Wally receives all the knowledge he needs, which is where Lobdell leaves us.

All along, I've been reading this series with the hope that Wally will somehow be restored to his former self and life. It seems to me that nearly all of the heroes who disappeared or were changed have now returned, and there isn't really a lot that has affected them (see Legion of Superheroes and the forthcoming Justice Society series). However, Wally can't seem to catch a break. Now that he finally has the chance to reclaim his life, Scott Lobdell has him in a nearly impossible situation, and with only one issue left, I'm very curious to find out how Lobdell plans to resolve this story. In fact, I'm at the point that if Wally doesn't receive some redemption and return to normalcy, I might have to quit reading his adventures, because they are almost too sad and depressing. After all, Wally West is a beacon of hope and positivity, not a dark and brooding hero such as Batman, where this lingering darkness would be more at home.

I recommend Flash Forward #5 by Scott Lobdell with one caveat - by the time this series ends, Wally needs to have hope, and his life, restored to him. If that happens, then reading this story was worth it; if not, then it has been a waste of time. I'm counting on you, Lobdell. Do the right thing!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Dreaming #17 by Simon Spurrier

From the publisher: Wan’s takeover of Dream’s realm is nearly complete. As his identity slips away, Abel only has one secret left in his pocket. And poor, tortured Lucien, lost and without purpose, longs for nothing but release, and to return to the foundations of the Dreaming. So why can’t he go? Does he have a purpose yet to serve? If he wants to die...why must he continue to pay the high cost of living?

With issue 16's reveal about Dora and just what Wan, the new "king" of the Dreaming, is, The Dreaming #17 by Simon Spurrier has a tough act to follow. But Spurrier keeps rolling along, dropping more info and letting this story pick up steam.

Issue #17 has several storylines that happen simultaneously. In one, Lucien the Librarian wants to die, but only Wan can do that for him. However, Wan doesn't want to end Lucien. Matthew the Raven is looking for Cain, using eyes given to him by Abel (so Wan can no longer use Matthew to see what is going on). And Abel tries to tell Wan that what he is doing is destroying the Dreaming, even if Wan is unaware of it. Plus, there is a surprise at the end that I should have seen coming, but clearly didn't. All three stories continue to push the main arc forward, and I can only believe that Spurrier is very close to wrapping up the story he began in The Dreaming #1 (or possibly in the Sandman Universe preview - I can't quite remember). Dream has been missing and everything that has happened since has seemingly been building towards these past several issues and the next few (at least I hope so).

I've really liked this arc and feel like Spurrier is doing a super job. He is definitely putting his own take on the Dreaming mythos, while keeping Gaiman's original feel. One example of that is the Lucien storyline in this issue. As Lucien longs to die and end his misery, the various subjects of the Dreaming gather around him in what is a particularly touching sequence. It was reminiscent of The Wake from the Sandman stories in its feel and the emotions it evokes.

I highly recommend The Dreaming #17. With the second collection about to be released, you can grab it and get caught up if you are new to the series. If you have been reading all along, this issue is vital to read.

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