Heroes in Crisis #1

Heroes in Crisis #1

Tom King seems to have really found his stride with the DC Comics world. He’s been given a lot of work recently, and it seems people respond well to his work. When DC canceled the 12 issue comic series Omega Men there was a massive outcry from the community, and King was able to finish the series. DC seems to have realized he has a dedicated following that won’t waver through thick and thin. The name sells now, similarly to Lemire or Snyder, and that’s enough for DC to give King this big ‘Crisis’ event – which is a very powerful term in the DC comics world. Heroes in Crisis screams Identity Crisis, a grounded 2004 comic book series centered around a more emotional, human level story. I consider Identity Crisis to be one of the best comic books of all time, and DC’s best comic book of all time. It’s hard to hold a flame to it, but if anyone can bring the sheer intensity and the weight of Identity Crisis, it’s Tom King. However, if anyone can totally fail to meet my expectations and create something far too clever for its own good, it’s also Tom King. Heroes in Crisis is promising in theory, but as long as King is as crazy as he is, I’m always skeptical, but I’m also always ready to be impressed by his work.

The first issue of Heroes is a bit of a mystery. Harley Quinn and Booster Gold are duking it out, why? Not so sure. These characters have some kind of unknown connection and appear to be blaming each other for a similar event that occurred sometime before. Said event was bloody, but that’s truly the extent of our current knowledge. Meanwhile the trio of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman are traveling place to place and finding, unbelievably, the bodies of various superheroes of renown, including Wally West and Arsenal. Considering there’s no way these characters are just dead, something particularly weird is going on. As it turns out – all dead heroes in question were receiving treatment from a group called Sanctuary, a hidden hospital created by the leaders of the Justice League to treat super heroes that had been traumatized during their heroism. Somehow, someone infiltrated Sanctuary, killed its purveyors and all of the heroes involved. Somehow, Booster Gold and Harley are connected, but still alive. So the question is raised, who did it?

To no surprise, Tom King’s style and tendencies show all over this comic book. It’s cryptic, people talk in riddles, and its incredibly stylized in its writing. When it comes to these stories, especially mysteries and psychological thrillers, King’s methods do shine. However, Identity Crisis was not only a beautifully dramatic and emotional story, its first issue alone sets up something that feels massive in scale but completely contained at the heart. Additionally, Identity Crisis made things feel real in ways that comic books usually don’t. Characters talked like people talked, they interacted like people interact, with or without superpowers. Heroes in Crisis already struggles to feel these ways by being wholly uninterpretable due to King’s proneness for the ambiguous and being extremely pattern-logged and stylistic in its dialogue. This is King’s signature writing method, I don’t think that’s terrible. However, issues going forward are more deterministic of the quality of this comic than I’d hoped, and that’s never a major win in my book. Heroes in Crisis has a hopeful, but questionable start. I’m eager to see where it goes, though ever skeptical.

(4 / 5)

Batman: Damned #1

Batman: Damned #1

   Amidst all the absurd controversy surrounding Batman: Damned, DC’s first ‘DC Black Label’ comic book and similar controversies with other comic books, we forget everything else about them. Brian Azzarello is a phenomenal writer with a big track record. I have no doubt that when offered a limitless medium to write a Batman comic book, he couldn’t refuse. This comic book has really fallen into a dark hole all over the internet, and for how much I’ve heard about the comic’s scene in question, I know very little about the comic book itself and what it entails. I wasn’t going to review this comic. Most elseworld Batman comics don’t interest me, even if they’re good. There’s a massive over-saturation of them on the market and while they all might offer something new to the plate, I’m just not that into Batman as a character. That being said, this comic book deserves to be reviewed fairly, and while I’m sure Azzarello isn’t particularly bothered by the uproar that’s surfaced around this first issue, I think it’s unfair how it’s been received and how its been flying off the selves for the wrong reasons. Kudos to the creative team for doing something brave, but I’m going to review this comic as I would any other.

   Batman’s injured, and an injured Batman is a desperate Batman. That makes for a pretty dangerous vigilante. Alfred is off the grid and all his tech is down, so Bruce is stranded, barely functioning on the streets with no backup, and in his desperation he’ll take down anyone and anything that gets in his way as he limps back to the Cave. John Constantine, our dark DC comic mascot, comes to save Bruce nearly dead in an alleyway. We soon learn the Brit is our narrator, but we’re still a little foggy on why exactly he’s here. Formalities aside, Bruce learns soon after that The Joker is dead, thanks to Constantine’s knowledge about Gotham and his apparent near omnipotence of current events. The Bat’s not so sure, and despite his injuries he’s out to find out exactly what’s going on in the city as it seems to be tearing itself apart. Constantine and friend’s hanging around Gotham is cause enough for concern, but patternistic killings around the city cause Bruce to begin to unravel something perhaps too big even for him.

   There’s a couple of noteworthy things about Damned #1. The writing and the art coexist beautifully. DC has a hard time sometimes making something R rated. It’s a path they keep traveling down unnecessarily, especially with their animated movies, and they seem to chalk an R rating down to heads exploding and lots of swearing. I think that’s lazy and terrible. Azzarello does a really respectable job of making something heavier themed without trying too hard. This is a ruthless Gotham and an experienced Batman. On top of that, the Justice League Dark with all their underbelly methods are sticking around. There is room for these kinds of mature themes in the Superhero comicverse, and this is how they should be. The story itself is interesting, though a little too cryptic and stylized for my taste. It reminds me a bit of a Tom King style with its psychological drama and mysterious writing style. The comic often flashes back to Bruce’s past, and it never breaks pace. All of these things come together to make a pretty enjoyable story and set up an interesting elseworld DC universe. This comic didn’t deserve the ridiculous controversy around it, but I’m glad it’s selling at least.

(3.5 / 5)

Adventures of the Super Sons #1

Adventures of the Super Sons #1

Super Sons is incredible, and if you think otherwise you’re wrong. Tomasi has created and continues to improve on his best work in his entire career, and that’s really saying something. I love everything this man writes, but Super Sons is a total treasure, and that’s why when the original Super Sons comic book was canceled by DC Comics I nearly had a mental breakdown. Unbeknownst to the fans, despite Super Son’s numbers, the 16 issue comic book run would come to and end and return a few months later as Adventures of the Super Sons. I have no idea why they made this change, and everything here seems like a direct continuation of the Super Sons story. Perhaps Tomasi had to put the comic book on hiatus for a short while and DC would rather rebrand and renumber than break their monthly schedule? Perhaps Tomasi still has something different in mind for the comic book he couldn’t originally do under the last comic’s title. It’s a bit of a mystery, and Tomasi was pretty quiet about the whole ordeal, say for thanking all his fans for all the support and clearing up some of the outrage behind Super Sons’ sudden and unexpected cancellation. Despite the rebranding, I’m 110% on board, and excited to read more.

Banter between Damian and Jonathan has never been better, and as they stop an animated golden statue of Superman from rampaging across Metropolis, they have to make sure to get to school in time before they’re late. Luckily they have a little bit of leniency with it being the last day of the school year. Despite being a little cruel since summer is wrapping up and everyone in the real world is started to head back to school, the Super Sons are planning out their summer vacation for 3 months full of Superhero badassery. With their underwater base fully functional once more, having been severely damaged toward the end of the Super Sons run, and the rest of the Justice League busy with bigger problems, the Sons are out to clean up the streets. Under the nose of the League however  there appears to be some alien invaders, though it’s unclear whether they’re from a different planet, or a different time. To both super’s surprise, the dastardly gang of new villains look an awful lot like Batman and Superman villains in kid form. Joker Jr. and Kid Deadshot, just to name a couple. They know way more about the 2 kids than they should, and it appears they know and have harnessed their weaknesses as well.

Super Sons in all its light heartedness is a wonderfully written and executed comic book through and through. It’s funny, action packed, entertaining, and the Damian Jonathan combo has a seemingly unlimited amount of chemistry. Like I’ve mentioned before, the reason why Superman and Batman work so well is their polar opposite personalities. They fill each others negative spaces really well. The super sons work very similarly, but in a much more comical and campy way, and with Tomasi at the helm it makes for a near perfect duo. As long as these two characters can work off of eachother, story and setting simply doesn’t matter. Tomasi can run any weird and wacky entertaining story arch because it’s not what you’re reading the comic book for, it’s just gravy on top. Super Sons is just as good as it’s ever been, and that’s all you can ask for. Anything better would simply be unrealistic.

 

(5 / 5)

 

Batman #50

Batman #50

The big Tom King event has finally come to its long awaited climax, the wedding is upon us, Batman 50 is here. There has been so much buildup and anticipation for this comic book it’s actually mind blowing. I’ll give it to Tom King, It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much mainstream hype and knowledge about this storyline specifically and it’s really been making some waves in the comic book world. Like King’s run or not, it’s been a very vital and risky project that will go down in Batman’s history as a very memorable run. 50 marks King’s halfway point, but this issue really is the peak of the story so far and the foundation for a bigger and better journey to come. Controversy abound, #50 is a big hefty issue that will leave you struggling to decide whether you love it or hate it.

Wedding Day is here. Not particularly planned, moreso a last minute decision. Unable to wait anymore, the two crime fighting lovers make their plans to have a very low brow wedding away from all the spectators and family, and before long the day quickly approaches. The reality our heroes must face however, is that their lives are far more complicated than the average everyday human. Perhaps marriage is the best thing for them. Perhaps if they marry they settle down and become the perfect, happily-ever-after couple and put their crime fighting days behind them. Perhaps they could continue their lives bringing down the evils of Gotham together, perfectly married and perfectly kick-ass. Perhaps these ideas are unrealistic. As the day draws nearer, they both must decide what’s best for them, and despite how deeply they’re in love with each other, one of them might break.

Batman #50, regardless of how the reader feels about the conclusion and the story in general, is an amazing issue for a couple of reasons. Every other page includes 2 pieces of art different from the main artist. Art drawn by previous artists of Batman’s many, many runs over the years. From Greg Capullo to Frank Miller tons of art styles come together in collaboration to not only make an amazing comic book but an amazing tribute to Batman over the past 80 years of his existence. It’s truly a family reunion of sorts, and it’s something that by no means had to happen. Tom King simply decided it was a great idea, and here we are with one of the coolest collabs I’ve ever seen in all of comic books. Batman #50 is a true celebration of Batman as a character and the love between Bruce and Selina. It’s also an awesome emotional storypiece. Half of the comic is told in letter form, each page alternating between reading through a letter written by Bruce to Selina and a letter written by Selina to Bruce. Both declaring their love, one declaring their doubts. It’s beautifully well paced and executed. King understands how to write Batman from an emotional standpoint, but where he really shines is writing Selina Kyle, a very powerful, independant, intelligent, but damaged person who struggles to make a decision between their love or the rest of the world. Perhaps Tom King’s run of Batman has had some major low points for me, and for the past 50 issues it’s been a consistent love hate relationship. Proper action seems few and far between at times. Sometimes writing just goes a bit too psychological and methodical for how I think Batman should be written, but when King succeeds, he succeeds big, and I think Batman #50 is an awesome work of art.

 

(5 / 5)

Justice League Dark #1

Justice League Dark #1

Apparently it’s the year of returning characters. Both Marvel and DC seem to be on their classic reintroduction and renumbering methods in order to pull in alienated fans (Marvel a little more egregious than DC) but these last few efforts at reintroducing teams and forgotten heroes / villains on DC’s part, to be fair, has actually been a lot of fun. Characters like Plastic Man, Booster Gold and Hawkman are characters that had a fundamental spot in the pre-New 52 era of DC comics and to see them coming back slowly into the spotlight is a welcomed change to the otherwise safe but stale main line of heroes. Batman / Superman / Wonder Woman and the rest of the league are great characters, I like them all, but they only go so far in entertainment value. DC Universe is massive in scale, and they’re finally showing that again for the first time since 2011. Justice League Dark is another addition to that growing gallery. In the beginning of the New 52, JL Dark had a healthy run unlike some of the other mentioned titles, but it quickly became somewhat bland. While we had some great, well-known characters like Constantine, the New 52 roster was quickly replaced by new and less interesting weirdos of the DC universe. This new JL Dark looks promising, bringing some much needed attention to the dark and mysterious underbelly of the DC Comics world with a roster of fan favorites.

Magic is all out of whack and the entire magic community of the DC Universe is feeling its effects. Zatanna’s magic shows are going all wrong, Constantine is lying low, Swamp Thing is in despair and much of the rest of the magic world has gone into hiding. After the events of No Justice, Wonder Woman is tasked with creating and leading a magic focused department of the Justice League. While WW isn’t exactly the most textbook Magic user on the League, her time on her home island Themyscira and history with the Greek Pantheon provide more experience than any other league member. Still, Wonder Woman doesn’t exactly fit into the Magic side of the world. It’s dark, mysterious and things aren’t quite so black and white as truth and justice. Wonder Woman is a paragon of light, and that alienates her. That, along with the unanswered going-ons with Magic in general makes things a little difficult for Diana. The Magic world isn’t exactly friendly with each other, though with a great evil force descending upon them in the near future, Wonder Woman will have to find a way to band these old allies together again and reform the Justice League Dark

Tynion IV is writing this comic, which is a good and a bad thing. His story writing and his big scale tendencies make for really exciting and intense comic books. But Tynion is most well known for writing big event style comics. Metal, Batman Eternal, Zero Year, etc. So JL Dark quickly feels perhaps too big for its britches. It’s extremely dialogue heavy, and we’re quickly thrown into a storyline that’s world ending in size. It’s a little jarring from what you would expect of Justice League Dark, which usually deals with the shadows and the terrors underneath your bed. I’m not saying the writing is bad, it’s actually quite good, but I’m concerned of the direction this comic is immediately going in, and how much staying power it has if it goes huge from the very beginning. Tynion’s work on Constantine does show that he knows the Magic world of the DC Universe, and his style and finesse with these kind of darker characters shows pretty well in this first issue. Wonder Woman is a great paragon to balance everything out, and I think she’s a really intelligent aspect that will bring an awesome spin on the otherwise bleak comic. Not to say the comic shouldn’t be bleak, it should, that’s what JL: Dark is, but we’re quickly finding a strong balance with WW and I really enjoy it.

Dark has great writing and beautiful art, to be expected, though its story starts out huge with questionable room to grow. Hopefully Tynion can pull through and deliver a team comic with some staying power.

(4.5 / 5)

Scroll Up