Tag Archives: DC Comics

Detective Comics #1044 – Review


Detective Comics #1044

Writer: Mariko Tamaki (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Stephanie Phillips (Foundations Part One).

Art: Dan Mora (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and David Lapham (Foundations Part One).

Colours: Jordie Bellaire (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Trish Mulvihill (Foundations Part One).

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Rob Leigh (Foundations Part One).
Released: 26/10/21
Published by DC Comics

Mayor Nakano remains trapped in the sewers with a host of hatchling parasites belonging to Hugh Vile. The only thing that can save him: Batman, of course! But he’s kept out from a wall of fallen rubble that might bring the whole world down on their heads if he begins to move it. Clock’s ticking Batman! What are you going to do? Meanwhile, Bat-woman makes a play to end the reign of terror by Nero XIX, back at City Hall.

Mayor Nakano remains trapped in the sewers with a host of hatchling parasites belonging to Hugh Vile. The only thing that can save him: Batman, of course! But he’s kept out from a wall of fallen rubble that might bring the whole world down on their heads if he begins to move it. Clock’s ticking Batman! What are you going to do? Meanwhile, Bat-woman makes a play to end the reign of terror by Nero XIX, back at City Hall.

As I mentioned in my review for Detective Comics #1043 that the introduction of Nero XIX could be the lead into something bigger, imagine my frustration when that whole subplot is wrapped up by Bat-woman in a couple of pages, making the whole thing seem like an afterthought. So the real story here is the relationship between Batman and Nakano. Nakano has done everything he can to rid Gotham of vigilantes. But could the events of this particular issue be the turning point in getting Nakano on team Batman? Well, it might if Nakano actually survives the attack against him by Vile’s newborn parasites. And what a disgusting attack it is too! Seriously, it’s something right out of a horror movie, which is quite up my street really.

The real question is how much life does this Vile parasite storyline have left in it? We see that these same eggs, that burst forth these pesky critters to attack Nakano, are also present in the morgue, which means that even if Batman kills all of them down in the sewer, there’s more waiting for them up top. One can’t help but draw a correlation to real-world events. Is Vile’s parasite actually written by Mariko Tamaki as a way of addressing the fear of Covid? A virus that spreads, mutates, and seems unwilling to die. An obvious comparison, sure, but it definitely adds more relevance to the villain that has been plaguing Batman for months now.

The story is bookended with a piece that Deb Donavan is writing about the filth in Gotham’s water supply and a scene in which that filth makes its way to the surface in the final pages. Filth can only be kept hidden for so long. Water is a symbol of purity. But here in Gotham, it’s as dirty as the city itself!

I love the lore that surrounds Arkham Asylum. The asylum itself has always felt like a character in its own right, in much the same way The Overlook Hotel does in The Shining, or the Bates Motel from Psycho. So the back up story here, ‘Foundations’, is a welcome one that will hopefully offer something new to the pantheon of stories that have focused on this house of extreme darkness.


Verdict –
An issue filled with physical horror that explores the darkest depths of what makes Gotham such a lost soul. Corruption and darkness are the bedrock upon which it is built.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 05/11/21

Justice League #67 – Review

Justice League #67

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis (Justice League), Ram V (Justice League Dark)

Art: Phil Hester – Pencils, Eric Gapstur – Inks (Justice League), Sumit Kumar (J.L.D.)
Colours: Hi-Fi (Justice League),
Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Justice League Dark)

Letters: Josh Reed (Justice League), Rob Leigh (Justice League Dark)
Pubished by DC Comics
Released 14/9/21

Green Arrow and Black Canary facing overwhelming odds in the form of multiple (!?) Deathstrokes is exactly the sort of high-concept, action packed, crowd pleasing scene we might expect from Justice League. David Marquez and Alejandro Sanchez really deliver with this kinetically charged cover; it’s a crazy piece of choreography and the sort of thing that can only really work in comics.

‘United Order: Part Four’ opens on two contrasting scenes: a moody, Bourne-esque sequence as Leonardo Lane/The Daemon Rose nurses his wounds and gathers his thoughts following his near-deadly encounter with a Deathstroke imposter; meanwhile, the Justice League and The United Order are locked in a mighty battle with the nigh-incalculable might of Synmar Utopica (a Superman analog gone awry from the farthest reaches of the Galaxy).

Even with the recent addition of Black Adam and a new ‘mega power’ from another world, Naomi, the Justice League has been struggling to contain the mighty alien threat. Following his escape from the United Order, he raced to attack Earth and draw out Superman. In the process, the Hall of Justice has fallen. Incredibly, Synmar Utopica seems indomitable, even with the added might of various alien heroes from across the galaxy. His power grows ever stronger, feeding off the might of his opponents. This leads to Batman and Superman resorting to drastic measures…

This Justice League story has been quite high concept and high impact so far, and this chapter is no exception. Just as with the previous story written by Brian Michael Bendis, there are a large number of characters in play, and each gets their own ‘title card’ introduction. This is a great idea for those not familiar with all characters and certainly comes into its own when dealing with members of the United Order. There’s a fair amount to keep track of as more characters enter the fray and yet this remains a title which seems geared toward accessibility, inclusion and popcorn entertainment.

It’s occurred to me while reading previous issues that perhaps Bendis is writing for a younger, or at least newer audience, one accessing comics by way of the DC cinema and TV offerings. Certainly Justice League has been working on this level thus far and has even had tie-in covers with the recent ‘Zach Snyder’ cut of the Justice League film. With an approach that courts mass appeal, Bendis writes huge battles and set-pieces punctuated with classic, comic book style dialogue throughout this action packed issue.

His words are paired with some high intensity art from Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur, coloured here by ‘Hi-Fi’. There’s a bold, slightly angular style which calls to mind some of the DC animated series while also having a tone all its own. Hester’s distinctive renderings are emphasised with sure-handed inks and high-saturation colours. Each art team working on this title thus far has brought its own stamp, and these guys are no exception. It’s a busy story, with some crowded sequences, but they convey proceedings with confidence and skill.

Moving from the high octane, interstellar antics of the main Justice League story to this issue’s instalment of Justice League Dark, we find an entirely different proposition. This story has been phenomenal, so far; lurking in the shadows of the main title, waiting for the unsuspecting reader…

Any comic story that opens on a wide black panel, empty aside from a quote from Algernon Blackwood (a British writer of supernatural stories, admired by many, including H.P. Lovecraft, for those looking to delve further!), is looking to do things a little differently. The JLD are in pursuit of Merlin (yes, the Merlin of Arthurian legend) and hope to stop him from achieving his goal of tapping into some ancient dark power.

We join the action in Atlantis, a city under siege. While John Constantine plays for time with Merlin, Aquaman, Zatana, Etrigan and company fight to defend Atlantis’ borders from multiple sinister threats raised or summoned by Merlin. It’s an action packed episode for this run, almost atypically so, having been at times more cerebral and deeply atmospheric in the past. No matter the pace, however; Justice League Dark delivers on every page, every issue.

With Ram V, at the helm, this run has been immensely enjoyable. Often clever and surprising and unfailingly engaging, Ram V’s story has been a joy to follow. With a motley crew facing down one of the greatest magical beings in this or any other existence, there have been many memorable moments. I’m happy to report that this time out is no exception. Further, Ram V seems to collaborate with some outstanding teams, and the guys working on the art and lettering this issue (as with all previous ones) provide some truly excellent, jaw dropping panels.


Verdict:

Justice League is a title to be enjoyed either by jumping right in and embracing the feeling of not knowing entirely what’s going on, or you can choose to backpedal through a few back issues and play ‘catch-up’. It pretty much works either way, and chances are good you’ll find things to enjoy, as Bendis and the team bring some big-moment super hero story beats to the page. Justice League Dark, meanwhile, can similarly be enjoyed either way but almost certainly would reveal its best version when read in its entirety. It’s a really special title, and one I hope gets a collected edition in the future.


(Recommended by DC for readers 13+)

Review by Andy Flood, 09/11/21

Batman #112 Review


Batman #112
Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer:
James Tynion IV (Fear State Part 1)
Thomas Brandon (Clownhunter in DIY Part 1)

Art:
Jorge Jimenez (Fear State Part 1)
Howard Jason (Clownhunter in DIY Part 1)

Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 07/09/21
Published by DC Comics

Fear State finally gets under way in the latest issue of Batman. Although, truth be told, this really doesn’t feel like the starting point of the story given that the events that take place here are merely a continuation of everything that has already been happening for the last few months. I feel a more suitable title would be “Fear State: part seven” or whatever! Regardless, it’s a cracking issue, as everything in Gotham seems to be falling apart all thanks to the Scarecrow.

Seeing Batman crippled by fear, thanks to some new technology that Scarecrow is using, is really quite unnerving. At one point, he reaches out to his allies via radio communications, almost begging for help. Several times he uses the word, “please”, as he tries to reach his team. Seeing this from Batman just feels wrong. He’s not the kind of man who begs. Ever! And yet, it only adds to what writer James Tynion is trying to achieve here in making Scarecrow a truly A-list villain, the kind who poses a genuine threat to Batman as well as Gotham City.

Peacekeeper-01 descends further down the rabbit hole of insanity, again, thanks to Scarecrow’s new technology, paving the way for what is sure to be a much more formidable foe in Peacekeeper X.

So far, Simon Saint’s bodyguard, Ricardo, has been a pretty one-note character, so I’m hoping he’s going to get a bit more fleshed out over the course of the next few issues before we are asked to accept him as a bonafide, bad-ass super-villain. Either way, he seems to be heading for a showdown with former GCPD officer, Sean Mahoney which, if handled right, has the potential to flesh out both characters, as they compete for the “honor” of being Saint’s number one lapdog.

Tomeu Morey does the colours once more for Tynion’s story and it must be said that his work is absolutely beautiful! I particularly love what he does with Poison Ivy, who is given a very limited role here, but when she’s on the page with other colorful characters, like Miracle Molly and Harley Quinn, the images really pop. Ivy is a character that has recently been hovering on the peripheries of stories running throughout the pages of Batman and Detective Comics. It’s pretty clear that her power has grown exponentially beyond anything we’ve seen from her before. It’s also clear that, due to her constant background presence, she will at some point play a major part in Fear State. Whether that is in the form of a foe or an ally remains to be seen. But right now she seems to be the biggest threat to Scarecrow’s plans and probably the safest bet in Batman defeating Jonathan Crane’s alter ego.


Verdict –

Fear State kicks into high gear, promising a fantastic showdown between the heroes (and anti-heroes) of Gotham and the most threatening version of Scarecrow that we’ve ever seen, thanks to the wonderful team of James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey.



Review by Bryan Lomax, 23/09/21


Harley Quinn #1 Review

Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Art: Riley Rossmo
Colours: Ivan Plascencia
Letters: Deron Bennett
Released: 23/03/21

Published by DC Comics

Reviewed By Bryan Lomax


The first story, “Welcome Home”, in Harley Quinn’s new solo series, from writer Stephanie Phillips, offers a fresh take on the character. With the recent movie, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, a film which I actually really loved, having been helmed by a female director, it’s nice to see DC Comics following suit, allowing one of their most beloved female characters to be tackled from a female perspective.

Phillips does an incredible job of showing us a complicated, multi-faceted character, that has too often been played for laughs at the expense of some real depth. Here, she is angry, smart, compassionate, violent and, yes, funny.

There isn’t much story to speak of within these pages if I’m being honest. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing at this point. Phillips just takes the time to set the scene, show us where Harley is at in her life right now, and give us a sense of her place within Batman’s world going forward.

She is a character trying to make amends for her past sins and, as Harley herself points out during one specific moment, “Everyone does love a good transformation story”. And seeing such a flawed character striving to earn redemption is definitely the kind of story I am drawn to.

The artwork by Riley Rossmo will take some getting used to for me. It’s not the kind of work that I usually go for, with exaggerated features, which often feel as though you have entered somebody’s fever dream. However, it is entirely in keeping with the character of such an often unreliable narrator as Harley.

We are introduced to a character, named Kevin, who could very well go on to become Harley’s side-kick. I can certainly see the potential there and there is something endearing about Harley taking someone under her wing who may just be crazier than she is.


Verdict:

A suitably chaotic first issue in this solo series for fan favorite Harley Quinn.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 16/07/21


The Swamp Thing #4 Review


The Swamp Thing #4 Reviewer: Andy Flood

Written by: Ram V

Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar



Released 2/6/21Published by DC Comics

Grasping hands, plant cells and dark ambiguity fill the cover of ‘My Green Amaranthine Part 2’.  It’s a wonderfully atmospheric piece of art which mirrors the tone of the comic within.

We are led further through The Green by guides both fair and shady as the sense of mystery and revelation deepens.  There is a feeling of experiencing this strange journey of discovery alongside Levi and Jennifer as they come to understand more about this elemental realm and the peril within.  With characters appearing which will be familiar to both long time Swamp Thing fans and fans of DC as a whole, this is an interesting an exciting chapter.

It’s a story on a cosmic scale and I am astounded at the ease with which Ram V guides us through it.  Themes of collective consciousness, memory and the interconnectedness of living things are explored.  The dialogue and narration are convincing and enthralling throughout, and Ram V deftly uses these as tools to inform and entertain us.  It would be so easy to become lost in The Green along with the protagonists and yet we emerge thrilled and enlightened.

‘The line work is detailed and inventive while the colours are lush and immersive’

A big part of translating such epic concepts and events to the page falls to the artists, and once again, the team of Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer exceed expectations.  Each page gives us art which manages to not only recall echoes of Swamp Thing past but also surprise us with visuals which are new and fresh.  The line work is detailed and inventive while the colours are lush and immersive.  There are so many details and subtle colour cues here that it really invites the reader to linger and enjoy the spectacle.

Further immersion is provided by Aditya Bidikar’s lettering, which not only uses cleverly differentiated bubbles but also brings us a brilliant way to represent a fading voice.  His work on this series so far has really enhanced the story and our experience of it.

As this issue draws to a close, we have not only a teaser of things to come but are also left with a sense of having enjoyed something rather special.  It’s sometimes easy to overlook the elements comprising a comic and just take it all in.  And that’s great; but maybe, just maybe, stay a while… look a little closer… read between the lines… you’ll be happy you did.


Verdict

The Swamp Thing #4 continues to impress and amaze.  The creators are doing something incredible here and I hope people sit up and take notice.  It’s a comic to pore over; to show your friends so you can talk about it afterward; a comic to treasure.  Track it down, find a good place to read, and get ready for one memorable ride.


(Recommended by DC for readers 13+)

Reviewed by Andy Flood – 13/7/21