Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Leviathan Dawn #1 by Brian Michael Bendis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Exploding out of the pages of the Event Leviathan miniseries, this all-new special blasts the DC Universe into a dangerous and brave new future! With Leviathan arrived, its leader’s identity revealed, and its plans known, what happens next? Now the heroes fight back! Leviathan changed the rules of the game, so now’s the time for the biggest players to get together and figure out a new strategy in this brave new world. It’s an extra-sized super-spy yarn from the Eisner Award-winning team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev!

I wasn't really impressed with Event Leviathan, Brian Michael Bendis's limited series that expanded on the Leviathan storyline that began in the Superman comics, and introduced both the character of Leviathan and the consequences of his group's takedown of all the major spy-like organizations in the DC Universe. However, when Leviathan was unmasked and his motivations were made known, the series just sort of petered out for me.

Leviathan Dawn #1, on the other hand, is more of what I was expecting. The storyline jumps back and forth between Leviathan (the man) and Leviathan (the group) coming to terms with what they started and pushing the master plan forward. Elsewhere, Steve Trevor is both rescued and recruited by Kingsley Jacobs, a mysterious man who has tasked Trevor with putting together a team from some of the other heroes and villains that Leviathan attempted to remove during his quest for power. They include Manhunter, Green Arrow, Mr. Bones, Talia Al Ghul, Lois Lane, and the Question. Together with Jacobs, they are forming the new Checkmate, a group who is determined to take down Leviathan. There is only one problem: Leviathan is now a legitimate group (I won't reveal how this happens), and any direct attack on them is likely to cause bigger problems than anyone cares to deal with.

I'm not sure what the next step for the Leviathan story is. I haven't heard whether it and he will receive their own series, if Checkmate will get a series, or if this story will be written into an existing book. What I do know is that Bendis just made things interesting for me. One covert group looking to take down a formerly covert, now globally recognized, group has all the makings of a fun read. I hope the focus remains on the spy shenanigans and the characterization and development of the various characters. Throw in Bendis's snappy dialogue, and I'm in.

I would recommend Leviathan Dawn #1 by Brian Michael Bendis to fans of covert, spy stories. This feels like it is built for Bendis's wheelhouse and I'm willing to go along for the ride.

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Flash Forward #6 by Scott Lobdell - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The finale of Flash Forward is here, and Wally West must make the toughest choice of his life: save the day, or save his family. With the crack in the Dark Multiversal barrier reaching critical mass, Wally’s mettle will be tested in ways the young hero has never seen before…and this surprise ending will leave you speechless!

The entire time I've been reading Scott Lobdell's Flash Forward series, I've been wondering if once again, Wally West was going to get a raw deal. I've said it several times, but other than characters who were no longer being written, Wally was treated the worst as a result of DC's New 52 initiative and then Rebirth, which was an attempt to fix all the problems that the New 52 caused, both with continuity and with fans. Wally was erased from existence.Then he was the impetus for all the heroes to "remember" their prior history when it was discovered he had actually been trapped in the Speed Force. When he was released, he found out his whole life was gone; his wife, Linda, didn't remember him and their twins, Jai and Iris, had never existed. Then, as Wally attempted to reconcile his new life at Sanctuary, he accidentally caused the deaths of a number of heroes and villains, including one of his best friends. The guy couldn't catch a break. But then Tempus Fuginaut recruited him to save the Multiverse from a Dark Multiverse that was threatening everything. Wally accepted as a way to atone for his mistakes, and Flash Forward began. Along the way to personal redemption, Wally saved multiple worlds, came face to face with a version of his dead friend, and best and/or worst of all, he found his twins, who knew what had happened to them. It seemed like Wally would have his life restored, as well as the hope he always represented. However, I kept waiting for Lobdell to pull the rug out from under him one final time.

This brings us to Flash Forward #6, the final issue in the series and the end of Wally's quest to defeat the Dark Multiverse. Without spoiling anything (I hope), let me just say that the ending was bittersweet. Through a strange circumstance involving the Mobius Chair, the creation of Dark Multiverses, and a father's love for his children, Wally was able to restore much of his life but at a cost (one I won't share here). It was a satisfying conclusion up to a point; I continue to wait for Wally to be returned to who he was before all of these reboots. On the downside, it appears that this mini-series was just a way of setting up yet another change for Wally West. Yes, it did some positive things for Wally, but it now seems like more of means to an end type of story. The ending is definitely leading towards something big (and we are pointed towards Flash #750 to see what happens next).

Flash Forward #6 by Scott Lobdell was pretty good. I was pretty happy with most of the outcome, and would recommend it to most Flash readers. But, I'm a little hesitant to keep reading about Wally West. I'm not really interested in seeing him become something different with every new series. I enjoyed reading about Wally because of who he was and what he represented. This doesn't mean I don't want to see him evolve or grow as a character, but if you are the Flash, and you don't do Flash things anymore, are you really the Flash? In my opinion, these characters should remain true to their core values, or you lose something that makes them beloved and important to many readers, much in the way Hal Jordan became Parallax. I'm definitely not finished with Wally, but I'll be keeping an eye on what he becomes.

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. #1 by James Tynion IV and Peter J. Tomasi - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Alfred Pennyworth served the Wayne family for decades-even through the tragic loss of Bruce Wayne’s parents. His death at the hands of Bane is the only event that could possibly compare to that fateful night in Crime Alley, and it leaves Bruce at a similar crossroads. If Alfred was the glue that held the Bat-Family together, how will Batman deal with that all falling apart? And if the Caped Crusader is to be truly alone, he might either hang that cape up once and for all…or double down and carry on with this vengeful quest forever. Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. #1 celebrates the life of one of the most important people in the history of Gotham City, while also addressing questions about what’s next.

When Bane killed Alfred Pennyworth, it left a whole in the middle of the Bat Family, one that might be impossible to fill. James Tynion IV and Peter J. Tomasiuse Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. #1 to look at the immediate effects of Alfred's death, and it also serves as a wake of sorts for Bruce Wayne's butler and fill-in parent.

The issue opens with the gang gathering for the dedication of a children's hospital that has been built and dedicated in Alfred's honor. Following the ceremony, the group decides to meet together and talk about Alfred. They find a sleazy dive bar in a rotten neighborhood and have it all too themselves. With typical arguing and angst, the various Bat Family members offer a toast to Alfred with a memory of an impact he had on their lives. We hear from Damian Wayne, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, Dick (Ric) Grayson, and Bruce Wayne. Together, their stories serve as a touching tribute to one of the oldest and most enduring characters in DC Comics history, let alone in the Batman books.

Alfred Pennyworth is often seen/referred to as the "glue" that holds the Bat Family together, and he served as Bruce Wayne's parent following the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. He has been a steady influence in the lives of the various members of the family, and has seen them through thick and thin. Tynion and Tomasi do a wonderful job of capturing the spirit and heart of Alfred Pennyworth, as well as the individual voices of the people he spent his life with. Additionally, it seems as if the artwork for each toast was reminiscent of the style during which each memory took place, reflecting again on just how far reaching Alfred's reach was. He will be missed, and I'm very curious to see just how he will be "replaced" (for lack of a better word), and how Bruce and the rest will adjust and deal with his absence. Also, I wonder if Alfred will remain dead, or if he will be brought back to serve another story at a later date. I know this is a tradition in comics, but it bears mentioning considering the impact Alfred Pennyworth's death has on Batman and company.

I highly recommend Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. by James Tynion IV and Peter J. Tomasi. It is an emotional and heartfelt story honoring a beloved character. This is a must read for Batman fans.

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

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Dreaming #18 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Rose Walker was a vortex, once. And as a vortex, she draws dreams to herself…and she is drawn to them. And it’s a good thing, too, because Dora, Matthew, and Abel are in well over their heads in the waking world-a world that is slowly destroying itself, as Wan’s plans for the collective unconscious of humanity have come to pass!

The Dreaming #18 finishes one story arc (sort of), but Simon Spurrier also sets up what should be (I think) the concluding story in a tale he has been telling since this version of The Dreaming began. That story is this: Where has Dream gone, and why did he leave? Over the course of this run, we've seen Dora find out what she is and what happened to her; why Dream left; an attack on The Dreaming; a new ruler, the sentient AI Wan; Cain's death; Abel's transformation; Lucien giving up; mythological-type beings disappearing; and a quest to fix things in both the waking world and the Dreaming.

Issue #18 brings back Rose Walker, a character who was a dream vortex in The Sandman series and who we saw earlier in The Dreaming. She is being pulled across an America where things are weirdly wrong, and she eventually arrives in the home of the now deceased man who is responsible for the mess the Dreaming (and the world) is in. There, she discovers Dora fading from existence; Cain and Abel trying to reconcile; and Matthew the Raven. What Rose does and the character who shows up unexpectedly set the stage for the battle/confrontation to come, one in which our heroes (?) must confront Wan and save The Dreaming, along with everyone in the waking world. Oh, and maybe restore Dream to his throne.

I've really been enjoying this series. Spurrier continues to capture the feeling that Gaiman instilled in his creations many years ago. Stories about stories, and myths, and deep connections are what the Sandman universe is all about, and The Dreaming is fully engaged in that. The quest to find Dream, along with Dora discovering herself, has been very engaging. Spurrier has been slowly spooling out information, all the while adding depth and texture to this universe. It can be tough to put your own spin on characters as well formed as the denizens of The Dreaming and to bring something new to a beloved story, and I've been pleased with Spurrier's effort. Every month, I look forward to reading the next chapter, and my only complaint is that I have to wait another month to see what happens next.

I highly recommend The Dreaming #18 by Simon Spurrier. I'm fully invested in seeing how the story wraps up, and can't wait to read the next issue(s) and discover how Spurrier ties everything together.

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