The Swamp Thing #9 – Review

Following the events of ‘In My Infancy’, Ram V and company bring us to a new chapter, ‘Conduit’.

The Swamp Thing #9

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC Comics
Released -Nov 2021

The cover for issue 9 feels like a promotional poster for a title fight, more so with the tagline ‘Brother vs. Brother’. This continues a vibe established by Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer on the title page of last issue, only here Levi/Swamp Thing faces his brother Jacob as the warped, vengeful perversion of the Green he has become. It’s powerful stuff, exuding the inner turmoil of both characters. Perhaps fight promoters ought to be approaching these guys to do some poster work…

Following the events of ‘In My Infancy’, Ram V and company bring us to a new chapter, ‘Conduit’. Part one opens on Jennifer Reece (Levi Kamei’s close friend/love interest) being ‘escorted’ through an imposing facility to meet with the apparent mastermind behind the machinations of the Prescot corporation. Mr. Pilgrim seems to know a lot about her, Levi and the Swamp Thing and, perhaps more dangerously, hints at considerable knowledge of The Green.

We then cut to New York and Levi trying to visit Jennifer, only to discover her missing. What follows is classic Swamp Thing and shows a much more ‘in-tune’, self-assured Levi as he puts his abilities to work tracking Jennifer down.

The story goes from there, with Ram V giving us a matter-of-fact ‘villain’ in Mr. Pilgrim, who goes on to outline his version of the big picture. In his hubris, he is quite unaware of the doom that approaches. It’s not long before chaos unfolds, with Jacob arriving to lay waste to the Prescot site.

As ever, this is a compelling read, initially offering a few moments to breathe following last issue’s action packed, fast paced events. Ram V does a great job of revealing the man behind the curtain while also showing us a more confident Levi alongside a further portrait of his brother, Jacob. The history of Prescot an Mr. Pilgrim’s involvement with Swamp Thing and The Green unfolds over a fascinating and brilliantly executed double page spread; one of many highlights in this issue.

Mike Perkins brings us everything here, from clever use of organic structures as both frames and panel elements through to inventive action and intricately rendered human emotion. His artwork is consistently amazing and is always perfectly complimented by Mike Spicer’s colours, whose palettes guide our subconscious mind as we read. Every colour choice has a purpose, beyond the function of looking good. Spicer makes a lab seem cold, a person seem even angrier, a moment of violence all the more unsettling.

As an interesting side note here on the subject of colours, at a recent panel discussing Swamp Thing, Mike Perkins and Ram V talked about some of the palette used in the title and its predecessors. Apparently, forests and swamps are often rendered in shades of purple so that Swamp Thing can stand out against the backdrop (avoiding a green-on-green mush of confusion). We can see this on not only the cover of issue 9 but in several interior panels as well.


Verdict

From cover to cover, this is an outstanding experience, with one of the best creative teams bringing us one of the best titles. It holds so much for the reader to engage with and gives us characters and events that we actually care about. And after all that, it’s full of cool things that we can check out again and again and say ‘wow’ to. I know I’m a proverbial stuck record on this, but Swamp Thing really is just that good.


Review by Andy Flood, 17/1/22



Everyone’s Favourite Meme Pokemon Bidoof Takes Centre Stage In “Bidoof’s Big Stand” Animated Short

Check out “Bidoof’s Big Stand” here in full and be sure to let us know what you think of our furry friend’s new adventure!


As excitement builds towards the upcoming release of Pokemon Legends: Arceus, last week Pokemon fans across the globe were treated to a hilarious and heartwarming new animated short featuring fan-favourite Bidoof!

Its Bidoof’s Big Stand!

Well known in the world of Pokemania for his rather derpy (yet adorable) appearance alongside being very useful in-game when it comes to learning HMs, Bidoof has become cemented as one of Pokemon’s most beloved critters, partially thanks to his additional popularity when it comes to meme culture. In his latest adventure, “Bidoof’s Big Stand”, we find a rather unfortunate Bidoof down on his luck after being cast out from it’s group of fellow Bidoof due to his clumsiness. After a close call with a villainous Stratraptor, our Bidoof buddy is rescued by a kindly Pokemon trainer, who takes Bidoof under his wing and together they become a battle-ready force to be reckoned with!

Aww, tired face!

“Bidoof’s Big Stand” follows the other recent animated shorts “Hisuian Voltorb Is Berry Excited” and “Hisuian Voltorb Is Berry Sorry” and I must say I would absolutely love to see The Pokemon Company produce more of these stand-alone animated projects, as I personally think they show a great deal of heart, humour and originality that the animation aspect of the Pokemon franchise is currently very much in need of. When the first handful of Pokemon movies were theatrically released they were packed with fun adventures, silly (and often fourth-wall breaking) humour and iconic animation, but after over 20 films and 1,000 episodes of the anime series I think changing up the formula (and perhaps focusing more on the Pokemon themselves as protagonists) in a similar vein to these recent animated shorts could be very successful in introducing the animated world of Pokemon to a whole new audience.

Check out “Bidoof’s Big Stand” here in full and be sure to let us know what you think of our furry friend’s new adventure! –



Written By Emily Carney

The Amazing Spider-Man #82 – Review

In previous ‘Beyond’ issues, Peter Parker has been slowly recovering from radiation poisoning and at this point in the beyond storyline, he’s in a very weakened state and can barely remain consciou


The Amazing Spider-man #82

Written by: Saladin Ahmed
Artwork by: Jorge Fornés
Published by Marvel comics
Released – 22/12/21

Spider-Man gets spooky in this oddball issue of the Amazing Spider-Man as writer Saladin Ahmed teams up with eerie artist Jorge Fornés to create a one off, special issue!

In previous ‘Beyond’ issues, Peter Parker has been slowly recovering from radiation poisoning and at this point in the beyond storyline, he’s in a very weakened state and can barely remain conscious for 5 minutes. After being moved out of the ICU , Peter meets a guy in the same ward, after talking to him for only a few moments, a doctor comes and wheels him Away, Fornés manages to use his art create an off-putting tone for the issue by obscuring the doctor and he is helped by the colourist Dan Brown, choosing to use a colder colour pallet in the room.

Being wheeled away, the patient cheerfully says goodbye to Pete as MJ enters the room to visit. Midway through the conversation, the mysterious Doctor, whose face is still hidden tells the wife of the other patient that he was never registered to the hospital, which is evidence enough this Doc is one bad dude. Another nice bit of attention to detail is that the panels showing the outside of the ward displays mostly warm colours, just a nice touch to emphasise the dark, cold feeling of the room. Pete notices the doctors lies but before he can say anything, he falls asleep.

Finally, the doctor enters the page on full display, a grotesque looking man with blood red eyes, it’s such an exciting moment as you see the villain of the story emerge, looking just as you’d expect. Great stuff. The doctor clears MJ out if the room and takes another woman from the ward, unbeknownst to her, his intentions are far more sinister then he let’s on and as she’s wheeled away. Peter tries to stop him but he moves to fast, jolting into pain and fading into unconsciousness. Ahmed is surprisingly good at knowing how to build tension in readers through his storytelling like in a movie when the main character has solved the mystery but is helpless to do anything about it.

When Parker awakens, the doctor decides it’s time to take him away and wheels him through the hospital, taking him to the abandoned -2 level. These pages are riddled with gorgeously morbid images of subtly uncomfortable panels such as The use of shadows the doctor emits which show him to look even more disgusting then he himself does and the Dutch angle shots, symbolising a sense of uneasiness . Once the doctor reaches his destination, he gives some exposition to Peter and shows him a pile of bones (presumably from the other patients) before walking into the darkness to emerge as a giant demon monster thing! In its creepy glory, it prepares to star eating Spider-man as it tells him about its weakness (which is incredibly stupid, I mean c’mon man he’s Spider-man you should know that’s a bad idea even if you don’t know he’s Spider-man). He says that light causes him pain which helps out MJ a lot, who was spying on the pair and flashes the monster with her phone, temporarily stunning it!

Leading him into a room of lights, she manages to set the creature on fire and burn it to a crisp in a particularly horror movie fashion. I just have to mention the colours once again, they make this scene so much more energetic from the moody blues of the abandon corridors to the blinding light of the fire, it’s probably one of the best colour jobs marvel have put out in a while. And sticking to the horror movie tropes, the two treat the whole fiasco like its no big deal and move on.

After that, we get a little epilogue with Misty Knight and Coleen Wing in the sewers, stumbling upon the lizard. This weird little spinoff in the beyond saga is the only part I don’t really understand. I mean, why are they there? I’ve tried to find other books they’re in to try and piece together their involvement but this is it. They just show up in random spots with no explanation. Weird, right?


Overall, this book is a special one, it was a really great one off read with great atmospheric writing, art and colour similar to stylish horror movie from the 70’s. This issue really impressed me and I hope we can get more off shoot stories like this in Spidey’s future. Next time, we stay with Peter in an issue Marvel says contains “on of the biggest moments in Spider-man history!”, Be here!

10/10 (wow!)



Reviewed by Leo Brocklehurst on 11/1/22



The Swamp Thing #8 – Review

Reading ‘In my Infancy’ part 3, we open on a scene with Nightmare Nurse offering a warning to Peacemaker which serves as a strong reminder of the true nature of what Levi Kamei has become.

The Swamp Thing #8

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

Published by DC Comics
Released – October 2021

With the cover of issue 8, Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer bring a new, twisted meaning to the notion of becoming one with nature. We see the suggestion of Swamp Thing in the throes of emergence or rebirth, his features in a tortured scream as he regenerates from within an ancient tree in the Kaziranga forest. Perkins’ tangled, twisted lines are used to great effect here and are made all the more unsettling by Spicer’s unusual colour choices. We’re very much transported to the setting before we even open up the book.

Reading ‘In my Infancy’ part 3, we open on a scene with Nightmare Nurse offering a warning to Peacemaker which serves as a strong reminder of the true nature of what Levi Kamei has become. Her words are punctuated as we turn to the spectacular title page, depicting a ‘rumble in the jungle’ between Swamp Thing and Chemo. It’s a double page spread straight out of an old monster flick or kaiju movie, and is yet further proof of the quality of this title.

In order to save Kaziranga Forest and himself, Levi/Swamp Thing must now face the remaining members of The Suicide Squad along with powerful memories, not all his own. As he is ambushed by a frenzied Parasite, we see Parasite’s grim origin (featuring further DC cameos). This segues into a sequence of Levi’s memories as the two combatants share an osmosis of recollection.

It’s an interesting and uniquely ‘Swamp Thing-esque’ way to resolve a showdown, and while the two brutish forms still go toe-to-toe, the real battle is fought in the mind. In what proves to be an issue jam packed full of action and revelation, Levi then goes on to face not only Peacemaker but his brother too, who bears a warning and hints of the larger tapestry at work.

In a run that has been unfailingly good in every way, this issue stands as perhaps one of the most ‘non-stop’ reads. Certainly, the Swamp Thing versus Suicide Squad element of the ‘In my Infancy’ story has been full of crowd pleasing moments (particularly in light of Peacemaker’s appearance in the recent DC film). But while Ram V writes to entertain, filling each page with cool stuff, he also gives us food for thought, each and every time. That’s one of the really great things about his work.

In a similar way, the work of his teammates, from the art of Perkins and Spicer to the ever-inventive lettering of Aditya Bidikar can be appreciated on a number of levels. There’s the initial read-through that gives the ‘wow’ factor, and then there’s the times when you look again and see the really clever things going on throughout.


Verdict

Swamp Thing #8 is a superb comic, being hugely worthy of the series’ reputation. It’s an ongoing testament to the remarkable talent of its creators that we get to read something exciting, cerebral and immediately relevant to our current world. I recommend you take a trip to The Green, maybe even stay a while. You’ll be glad you did.


Review by Andy Flood, 13/1/22


Amazing Fantasy #3 – Review

Amazing Fantasy is a title I’d strongly recommend for anyone either intrigued by the lovely cover art, curious about the displacement of some key Marvel heroes, or who wants something a little different.

Amazing Fantasy #3

Story: Kaare Andrews
Art: Kaare Andrews
Colours: Brian Reber
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Released October 2021

I keep coming back to the covers for Amazing Fantasy 1 and 2 over and over, just to enjoy them, to find new details, to appreciate the skill of their creator. This one’s no different.

Here we have Black Widow, framed by an unmistakably alien vista, the victor of a battle against strange foes. It’s a wonderful piece of art by Kaare Andrews, once again nodding to his influences while creating something suited to the modern age. There’s a strong retro-futurism feel here, recalling the work of greats such as Ed Emshwiller, Virgil Finlay and the fantastical cityscapes of Frank R. Paul. There’s more than a dash of Rodney Matthews here too and, as each of these fantasy and sci-fi greats brought us whole new worlds of incredible imagination, so too does Kaare Andrews with his cover art here. If there are any elements that draw you in, be it the gorgeous rendering of Black Widow and alien companion, the Soviet rocket ship, the strange structures on the horizon, then you would do well to not only check out this run but also investigate Andrews’ predecessors.

While each of the three primary covers for Amazing Fantasy so far have been worthy of the ‘amazing’ tag and very much stand on their own, they also serve to signal a comic story which places its characters in situations and settings which are several steps from the norm. While the atypical nature of Andrews’ title might be divisive when it comes to audience, there are enough familiar elements to ease readers into this new world and allow them to enjoy the adventure.

And what an adventure it is! The action moves at quite a pace now, and early in this issue Andrews’ establishes the drums of war as a central theme. Certainly tensions have been building as each of the three main characters find their feet in this strange new land.

Another familiar face from the Marvel universe makes her entrance proper while a young king, Black Widow at his side, makes a bid to avert the impending conflict. Meanwhile, Captain America (in full pulp hero mode) attempts to rally the tribe of the Cat People to act against instinct and tradition in order to defend themselves. Spider Man/Peter Parker remains with the people of Dragon Rock, who make their own preparations.

Add to all this, two other bestial tribes, both of whom chomp at the bit for conflict, and soon we hear the drums start; DOOM, DOOM, DOOM. Moments of court intrigue and quiet reflection are done. Now is the time for battle to be joined.

Andrews switches to epic wide panels to depict both the prelude to war and its main act, a technique which works to great effect, especially when paired with the repeated sound of drums, literally spelling doom. The action is enhanced further by Brian Reber’s colours, shifting here to a dark, hellish palette and so fully immersing us in the grim events facing our heroes. The writing is working well too, with tight dialogue and good characterisation. Kaare Andrews guides us through his ‘Island of Death’ with confidence and no small amount of mystery, supported throughout by some great lettering work from Joe Sabino, who presents the words clearly while respecting the artwork.

The story brings a good number of dramatic moments, reveals and twists; certainly enough to make for a compelling page turner. By the time we reach the cliffhanger ending, we are left ready to read on, to look forward to the next instalment. And, as the preview of issue four’s cover would indicate, yet more stunning art to appreciate.


Verdict

Amazing Fantasy is a title I’d strongly recommend for anyone either intrigued by the lovely cover art, curious about the displacement of some key Marvel heroes, or who wants something a little different. As an added plus, this is a limited run and as such should be easy to track down and collect in its entirety. There are some great variant covers around for each issue too, so seek them out if you can!


Review by Andy Flood, 11/1/22


Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1 – Throwback Review

Tales of the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1 is part of a 10-issue series that puts a new spin on some of the biggest events in DC comics history, by looking at them from alternative realities, where all the wrong choices were made.

Writers: Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins
Art: Javier Fernandez
Colors: Alex Guimaraes
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 16/10/19
Published by DC Comics

The first single issue comic book that ever I bought, as opposed to a collected edition graphic novel or movie adaptation, was issue 19 of Batman: Shadow of the Bat. It featured a man named Jean Paul Valley, wearing a brutal looking variation of the dark knight’s costume, traipsing around like he was Batman. I was so offended by this notion that I scratched a mark across the front cover of that very comic book. Little did I know at the time, that the long running story-line (Knightfall, Knightquest and Knight’s End) of which that issue was but a fraction, would go on to become one of my all-time favourite Batman stories.

Something else I didn’t know at that time was that the man parading himself around as Batman, Jean Paul Valley, would go on to become a huge part of my life as a comic book reader (I own all 100 issues of the original Azrael comic book run and have written a rejected screenplay for an animated movie featuring the character’s origin story). So it goes without saying that anything featuring links to Knightfall, in particular Jean Paul and Azrael, peaks my interest big time!

Tales of the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1 is part of a 10-issue series that puts a new spin on some of the biggest events in DC comics history, by looking at them from alternative realities, where all the wrong choices were made. In the case of this particular story, Bruce Wayne’s Batman did not defeat Jean Paul Valley at the climax of Knight’s End, leaving Jean Paul to wage a religious war against crime for thirty years in Gotham. The result is catastrophic. Without his defeat at Bruce’s hands, Jean Paul’s instability has brought ruin to the city, whose people are now divided into two camps: those who worship “Saint Batman” and those who secretly yearn for someone to save them from Jean Paul’s tyrannical rule. That possible salvation comes in the shape of a man claiming to be the son of the super villain, Bane, as well as the highly skilled martial artist, Lady Shiva. As they lead an assault on Valley’s forces it becomes clear that victory may depend on one man; Bruce Wayne, or what’s left of him. But can thirty years of brokenness be overcome by the former Dark Knight?

Writers Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins do a great job here of capturing the flavour of the Batman comics from the 90’s. If you look at where the character of Jean Paul was at the time in which this story kicks off (a slave to “the system” seeing visions of “Saint Dumas”) then it’s logical to assume that the path he might head down would be not too dissimilar to what we get here.

There is a tendency, for anyone who isn’t named Dennis O’Neil, to write Jean Paul as a religious nut-job with a psychopathic personality. Check out a recent iteration of the character depicted in the pages of Legends of the Dark Knight for a prime example. But to do so is to strip him of all the growth he achieved as a character during the years that O’Neil was writing him after the events of Knightfall. It takes him twenty steps backwards and fails to understand what O’Neil was doing with the character. But Snyder and Higgins set their story at the perfect moment in time to justify taking Jean Paul down the kind of rabbit hole that most other writers should be trying to avoid. For this reason I am able to go on the journey willingly as we see what might have been.

Snyder and Higgins focus on one of the key aspects of Jean Paul’s character that O’Neil was always trying to explore, which was the fact that, Jean Paul’s father not really having been there for him means that he has got some serious daddy issues. He looks for approval from the closest father figure he has had in his life, which is Bruce Wayne, without being emotionally equipped to function beyond what “the system” has programmed him for. And so he remains locked in an internal battle concerning his own identity. That was always the journey of the character that O’Neil played out. The question of, “who am I?” constantly hung on Jean Paul’s shoulders. We find Jean Paul here having decided who he is, and yet still seeking that approval from Bruce, which will never be forthcoming. It makes him a tragic figure rather than a mere nut-job playing at being Batman.

Another key influence for Snyder and Higgins appears to be Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”. It’s a cliché these days to name that particular work as an influence. But it’s almost inescapable. If you look at where we find Bruce’s Batman at the start of TDKR, we are given an almost plausible journey to show how he became that particular version of the Batman. It’s clearly not the same, but with a few tweaks here and there, it very well could be. Gotham City certainly looks ripe for a mutant takeover by the time we reach the end.

Javier Fernandez does a great job on the art work. I love his design of Jean Paul’s evolved Batman costume. It looks like a variation on his famous Knightquest costume, with a bit more medieval knight vibes added in for good measure. Another gripe I have, besides different writers tackling the character, is with different artists who’ve come to draw Jean Paul’s Azrael over the years and their purposeful attempts to simplify his costume. The original Azrael costume, designed by Joe Quesada, is quite simply one of the best costume designs in comic book history. The iconic Az-Bats costume of the “Knightquest” era is also a particular standout for me. So it’s great to see Fernandez putting as much care and attention into making something that looks just as iconic.

This book made me yearn for the days where Jean Paul was a part of my life each month. He’s never been a particularly popular character, no doubt due to the threat he posed to the mantle of the bat. But maybe it’s time for a reappraisal of the impact this character has had upon the legacy of Batman. And maybe it’s time writers like Snyder and Higgins were encouraged to bring Jean Paul back into regular continuity with a monthly title all of his own again. On the strength of this, I’d say he deserves it.


Verdict –
An absolute must-read for fans of 90’s era Batman comic books. Snyder and Higgins do a great job of re-imagining the ‘Knightfall’ legacy, without betraying the roots of the original story or it’s characters.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 08/01/21

Coming Soon: Pokemon Battle Academy 2022 Version

Currently set for release in March this year, Pokemon Battle Academy 2022 is a brand new version of last year’s enormously successful Battle Academy set…


If you’re new to the world of the Pokemon Trading Card Game and you’re looking for a fun and easy way to learn how to play, or you’re a collector who wants to get in on the fun and use your cards to put a deck together and have some exciting battles, then look no further!

Currently set for release in March this year, Pokemon Battle Academy 2022 is a brand new version of last year’s enormously successful Battle Academy set, which brought the Pokemon TCG into a board game setting, perfect for teaching players of all ages the basics of the game. While last year’s Battle Academy set gave players ready-built decks based around Pikachu, Charizard and Mewtwo, the 2022 version gives players the opportunity to learn to play the game with new decks based around the fiery Cinderace and the ever-popular Eevee (and of course Pikachu is still right at the centre of it all with his own deck also featuring in this updated set).

As well as three complete sixty card decks, Battle Academy also comes with tutorial guides/rule books for each deck, a good sturdy game board with all the gameplay areas clearly marked out and plenty of damage counters so you can make sure your opponent knows when an attack lands!

The Pikachu and Cinderace rulebooks contains the basic rules to the game whereas the Eevee rulebook contains more advanced rules and tips/tricks, so once you’ve learned the basics you can build upon your skills and start getting on board with more complex strategies, which makes the set a great choice for both adult and younger players. Once you’ve got the rules to the game down you’ll be able to start putting together a deck featuring your favourites from your own card collection, and with the TCG community being such an active and exciting part of the Pokemon fandom (both online and in-person), it’s definitely worth giving the game a shot and seeing if you’ve got what it takes to become a Pokemon Master!


Article from Emily Carney


The Amazing Spider-Man #81 – Review

As Ben and Marcus (Ben’s supervisor) discuss their plan to attack, Marcus brings up the fact that since its in Brooklyn, there’s a mighty high chance Miles will ‘swing’ by onto the scene…

The Amazing Spider-Man #81

Written by: Saladin Ahmed
Artwork by: Carlos Gómez
Published by Marvel Comics 15/12/21

One of the most anticipated chapters of BEYOND is finally upon us! The two rookie Spider-men collide in one action packed issue with a brand new creative team of Saladin Ahmed and Carlos Gómez.

This issue starts with (I believe an introduction of a new villain) Rhizome being spotted on the loose in Brooklyn. I’ve attempted to do some digging and it looks like this is the first appearance of Rhizome which is a welcome addition. Just to have ANY new marvel villains in this day and age is quite a feat, the last time Spider-man faced a new villain was Kindred back in 2018! Hopefully we get more new villains in Spidey’s future, fingers crossed.

As Ben and Marcus (Ben’s supervisor) discuss their plan to attack, Marcus brings up the fact that since its in Brooklyn, there’s a mighty high chance Miles will ‘swing’ by onto the scene, being the Borough’s resident web-slinger. Ahmed seems to really know how to give characters a personality, like most of the beyond issues, he manages to add in titbits of humor and depth to the character of Ben Reilly. Like in the introductory scene, we get some nice quips and when asked to enforce the Beyond trademark on Miles, Ben is weary but still accepts. Little pieces of characterization like this makes the characters feel more real and show readers Ben isn’t just blindly following Beyond’s orders. This is also been building up throughout the storyline which, by the end, I’m sure Beyond will be exposed and/or put out of commission by the friendly neighborhood you-know-who.

A character I really love in this Spider saga is Janine Godbe. She’s Ben’s girlfriend and she’s an interesting, 3-dimensional person. She first appeared back in the infamous clone saga in 1995’s Spider-man: the lost years, she’s had a complex story involving her having to take her own fathers life . After the clone saga ended however, Marvel figured that to tie up a loose end, they’d just throw her in prison for her justified crime (see why its justified in the said 90’s mini-series, its really good!) And practically shelved the best new character of the clone saga. But now, she’s back in the mainstream Spider-man series and it’s always fun when she shows up. Anyway, apologies for the tangent. Ben checks in with Janine and takes off to Brooklyn.

As Ben makes his way to the scene, he showcases his awesome Spider-wings that actually make him fly, which is totally awesome. Once he gets to the area of destruction, he discovers that Rhizome is nowhere to be seen and that’s when Miles shows up on the case. After Miles realises Ben isn’t the Usual Spider-man doing the rounds, they have a cool little sparring match which showcases each others abilities , since they’re both semi newcomers, they’re pretty evenly matched and the fight only ends once Ben blurts out Peter’s name, showing that he is connected to the OG Spider-man. Ben and Miles talk it out and find that they had actually met in Spider verse/Geddon. The both of them do some duties around the block that was damaged and save a few lives, deciding to team up and find the loose Rhizome which Ben manages to do with ease due to Beyond’s advanced tech.

The fight with Rhizome goes down pretty swiftly with the two Spider-men using a combination of Ben’s webs and Miles’ venom sting to take down the force of nature which, in actuality, was just a guy in a fancy suit supplied by an enemy Miles knows called “the Assessor”. This serves as Miles exit point as he goes to track down the Assessor and whatever other juiced up villains he has on hand with Ben and Miles making a friendship and the former doesn’t attempt to give Miles any kind of warning. The fight was beautifully drawn by the hugely underrated Carlos Gómez who has done some amount of work in almost every marvel book you can possibly imagine. The guys art leaps of the page and has so much energy in it, it makes the issue go so much faster and has you missing it once its over, brilliant stuff.

Thus issue concludes with Ben receiving a Scolding from Head of Beyond, Maxine Danger which results yet another Beyond lecture on how the company has poured so much resources into him and Janine, (the Beyond lecture may actually become a villain of its own so make sure to buy five copies of the first time Ben Reilly’s most dangerous foe appears!!!) These things never seem to get through to Ben however and I’m sure he’ll continue in his rebellious, good hearted ways. As an epilogue, Maxine is revealed to be holding a jar of the material Rhizome was made out of, this might mean that Maxine danger planned the villain to break free and unite Ben and Miles? Or maybe it even means Danger herself is the Assessor, which would give Miles a far bigger part in the story. All interesting stuff!


This issue of the Amazing Spider-man lived up to its well deserving title. Exciting and mesmerizing art coupled with an edge of your seat script make a stellar issue of the webbed wonders adventures. Be here soon for an oddball tale of a problem in Peter Parker’s medical ward…


Review by Leo Brocklehurst


Batman #118 – Review

The team of writer Joshua Williamson and artists, Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin, kick off their 4-issue arc with ‘The Abyss Part I’.

‘The Abyss Part I: “Now it’s a Party!”’
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Art: Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin
Colours: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Clayton Cowles

Released: 07/12/21
Published by DC Comics

The team of writer Joshua Williamson and artists, Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin, kick off their 4-issue arc with ‘The Abyss Part I’. Coming off the back of Fear State, which was wrapped up last issue, the team are given the opportunity to tell a story of their own that isn’t bogged down by any crossover necessities. There isn’t even a backup story in this issue. For anyone who knows me, you can imagine how much that cheers me up! The end result is worth the cover price.

Williamson begins his story with a bit of playful fun, sending Batman off to deal with some gatecrashing robbers, at a billionaire’s fancy dress ball. It reminds us of just how sharp Batman is, always watching people, always taking note of the little things that most common people would never see. This skill comes into play at the back end of this issue too, as Batman surveys a crime scene in the aftermath of a supposed killing, involving a new villain called Abyss. We are not given much to go on with this character; just enough to create a sense of intrigue.

Williamson also does a good job of showing us what kind of man Bruce is throughout, which makes this particular issue a good place for new readers to begin their journey with the character. Seeing the interaction between him, Oracle and Nightwing, perfectly encapsulates what he is all about. Without a crisis to solve he seems lost. He has nothing to do but wait for something to kick off. You can almost sense the relief from him, as he avoids having to eat morning bagels with Dick and Barbara, while he runs off to Badhnisia to get stuck into a murder investigation.

The artwork here is simply gorgeous! Image after image, panel after panel, page after page: there’s nothing here that isn’t worthy of being cut out, framed, and hung on a wall. It’s just beautiful.

The theme of the aforementioned billionaire’s ball allows for some striking visuals. Tomeu Morey continues his work here on colouring duties, once again doing a marvelous job. A particular two page spread affords him the opportunity to go wild. I love the ways in which he lights a scene, almost like a movie’s director of photography. He is certainly one of the best in the business right now.

Batman #118 is an absolute delight! Of course, we will need to see where Williamson takes this story before a full judgment can be made, but if he continues to balance the playfulness with the intrigue, in the way that he does here, then we are in for a treat. If not, then you’ve always got some great pinup art for your wall!


Verdict –
Absolutely stunning artwork, from Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin, and a fun story that builds plenty of intrigue, from writer Joshua Williamson, really kicks off this new run in tremendous fashion!


Review by Bryan Lomax, 05/01/22

Detective Comics #1045 – Review

In the final part of writer Mariko Tamaki’s story, ‘Nakano’s Nightmare’, Mayor Nakano must put aside his differences with Batman so that the two men might destroy the parasitic virus

Detective Comics #1045

Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Stephanie Phillips (“Foundations Part Two”)

Art: Dan Mora (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and David Lapham (“Foundations Part Two”)

Colors: Jordie Bellaire (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Trish Mulvhill (“Foundations Part Two”)

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Rob Leigh (“Foundations Part Two”)
Released: 23/11/21
Published by DC Comics

In the final part of writer Mariko Tamaki’s story, ‘Nakano’s Nightmare’, Mayor Nakano must put aside his differences with Batman so that the two men might destroy the parasitic virus, originally unleashed by Hue Vile, which has been terrorizing Gotham. Then Stephanie Phillips delivers part two of ‘Foundations’, which sees Batman chasing down a deranged man intent on destroying any chance of rebuilding Arkham Asylum, only to be confronted with a surprise visit from a former member of his rogue’s gallery.

I’m glad to see Tamaki’s story finally being brought to its conclusion. Truth be told, this particular run feels like it has gone on a lot longer than it needed to, with a somewhat muddled direction. It started out with an interesting new villain in the shape of Vile, who was then sidelined to make way for Mr Worth, only to fizzle out here with a giant monster that is ultimately destroyed in such a way that ties it directly to a particular moment in time during the whole Fear State climax. This would all be fine, except it really does become very confusing to work out what has happened when, and why the events that have happened elsewhere in DC’s Batman comics haven’t had more of a direct impact on each other.

It’s next to impossible to see how everything that has been happening with Scarecrow, Simon Saint, Peace Keeper-01 and Miracle Molly, over in Batman, could possibly be weaved into all the story threads that have supposedly been happening at the same time over here in Detective Comics. It seems to me that Tamaki’s hands have been tied by the whole Fear State thing, and so we get a story that is fighting for its own identity, whilst being hampered by the need to tie in to the bigger picture.

Ultimately, having Nightwing show up at one particular point in the story is a big mistake, as this was Batman and Nakano’s story. It should have stayed that way. As it happens, I do like the character of Nakano, and the direction they seem to be heading with regard to his and Batman’s relationship is something that has been sorely lacking without the presence of Jim Gordon. This should begin to fill that void quite nicely. Although, yet again, I am reminded that certain information that Batman gives to Nakano surely should have been the very thing that got Bruce Wayne released from prison a considerable number of issues back. How does Nakano NOT know this already!

Despite my mixed feelings across this whole story-line, I would love to see Tamaki continue on Detective Comics now that she is free from the shackles of ‘Fear State’. Let’s see what she can do when she is allowed to remain self-contained. Also, Dan Mora’s artwork has certainly been a highlight throughout this run, so I would be more than happy to see him stick around.

With ‘Foundations’, writer Stephanie Phillips poses the question, “Is Arkham Asylum truly worth rebuilding?” After all, it can hardly be noted for it’s stellar track record in releasing flocks of cured patients back out into the world, ready to contribute to society. It’s a nice little page-turner, which has the feel of something that might have appeared within the pages of ‘Legends of the Dark Knight’, back in the nineties. As I read it though, I am struck by the thought, “what if Bruce Wayne put all the funding into a place like Arkham, making sure to hire the best mental health practitioners in the world?” Instead of dumping people like Scarecrow and Joker into Arkham, only to wait for their inevitable breakout, Bruce could use his resources to take a more active role in their recovery.


Verdict –

The end to Mariko Tamaki’s contribution to the ‘Fear State’ saga really does feel like a long time coming, perhaps ending with more of a, “meh”, than a, “hurrah”. But it sets up some enticing prospects for the future, whilst the second part of Stephanie Phillips’ ‘Foundations’ poses an interesting question, which only leads to more questions (in the best possible way).


Review by Bryan Lomax, 04/01/22