Tag Archives: DC

The Swamp Thing #7 – Review


The Swamp Thing #7

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

Published by DC Comics

Released – 8/9/2021

As we rejoin our friend in the swamp, we find him still entangled with Suicide Squad in the Kaziranga Forest. This is shown to great effect on yet another eye catching cover from Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer. Peacemaker and his ragtag band are the red taint here, surrounded by the imposing presence of The Swamp Thing who seeks to contain them, remove their blight from The Green and from Kaziranga. This thematic contrast used throughout the story so far is really effective and often adds an extra element to many of the scenes.

Following on from the cliff-hanger last issue, we find The Suicide Squad picking up the pieces, almost literally. Some darkly atmospheric and intense scenes which call to mind the finest moments of the Predator film lead us to the title page for ‘In My Infancy part 2’. It is at once fascinating, beautiful and perfectly executed. Striking and memorable title pages have been something of a signature for this series, and this is no exception.

As we read on and Swamp Thing tangles further with the remaining members of Suicide Squad, the action is interwoven with explorations of memory, previously used as a means of recovery and growth, now manipulated and exposed at the whim of Nightmare Nurse. As she peels back the layers, Levi is forced to revisit his relationship with father and brother, his alienation from his own people, his lingering torment… Through these sequences, it’s apparent that Levi’s inner battles rival any physical struggle he may encounter.

History, folklore and belief play strong roles here, with the impact of colonialism and industrialisation looming large. Part of the Guardian of The Green is tradition or memory but in Levi, it is also progress, a striving for something new and better. Between Nightmare Nurse and Chemo, we find both Levi and The Green attacked in more ways than one. Perhaps his unique perspective will enable Levi to face these threats as Swamp Thing in a way no other could.

Once again, from start to finish, this is superlative stuff. The writing, art and lettering all form a symbiosis wherein each inform the other, where words and art come together to create perfect comic book storytelling moments. It’s a book where we get to learn things, to investigate, if we are so inclined. There is an unusual geography here which is almost a character itself, especially when viewed through the lens of history and anthropology. This might sound like this is a dry, academic story but nothing could be further from the truth; every panel, every moment is exciting. It just so happens that there is substance supporting the action, the interactions.

Ram V’s dialogue and narration, brought to life through Aditya Bidikar’s always impressive lettering, bring us entirely convincing moments of human experience, enhanced ever further by pitch-perfect work from the art team. No matter if we are seeing Levi’s shared moments with his father or his struggle as Swamp Thing as he grapples physical horrors, we are always right there with him.
Through the work of this incredible creative team, we can experience something akin to synaesthesia as we read, take in images and turn pages. We get to smell, hear, feel, maybe even taste through drawings, colours and words of great quality and depth. This is a comic which takes us way beyond our world in the best of ways.


Verdict

There’s a bittersweet sense building as I read and review this series; this is already issue 7 of 10. It’s therefore soon to end, and I’d really prefer it didn’t. I have every confidence that this limited run will be resolved in a satisfying way and yet I’m just as sure I’ll be left wanting more. It’s a great time to be into comics; there are plenty of good titles around. This is not just a good comic. It’s a great one. Read it if you can.


Review by Andy Flood, 12/10/21

The Swamp Thing #6 – Review

The Swamp Thing #6

Reviewed by Andy Flood

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC Comics
Released: 4/8/2021

In the wake of ‘Survivor Bomb’, we come to issue 6 wondering ‘what’s next?’ and find Swamp Thing, looming from the dark of a forest, rain all around, a thermographic crosshair tracking his enraged form.  Every cover for this run has been a stand-out example of the form and this is no exception.  Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer’s cover work is exemplary and telegraphs some of the amazing visual storytelling to be found within.

Turning to the first page, we find a sinister aircraft, bristling with weaponry, framed against an infernal sky above a lush forest.  We are in Kaziranga Forest, India and, as the story unfolds against this striking backdrop, we see further aspects of the taint in The Green.

The double spread title page of ‘In My Infancy’ is astounding.  As a portrayal of Levi Kamei’s return to being through confused transformative process, it is note perfect.  As he writhes and wrestles with his strange rebirth over thirty-two immaculate panels, we then go on to see Levi is immediately under threat as the Suicide Squad touch down, tasked with his capture.  Believing the deployment of a bio-agent to have prepared the battlefield in their favour, Peacemaker, Nightmare Nurse, Heat Wave, Parasite and Chemo deploy with ill-placed confidence.

They are a task force in name only, and are clearly at odds with one another.  Even as they close in, Levi is faced with a Green that is diminishing.  He delves into memory, to tap into the depths of the Green’s power and so, as the action unfolds, we have momentary insights into Levi’s past and his struggles with family and identity.  It’s a phenomenal episode, which moves effortlessly from moments of brutality to glimpses of tender tranquility.

And I’ve no idea how they’re doing it.  Reading Swamp Thing is like witnessing comic book witchcraft; what strange, eldritch secrets do the creators employ to weave something this good?  Every page is surprising, be it mystifying, uplifting, thrilling or horrifying, each one, every panel, is of such high quality that it’s impossible not to be hugely impressed and entertained.

Ram V’s writing meshes perfectly with the deft and inventive lettering of Aditya Bidikar; with the always incredible lines of Mike Perkins’ art; with the vibrant, near tangible colours of Mike Spicer… It’s such a tour-de-force of complimentary talents that to break it down into analysis of each element as a separate entity seems like the wrong approach.  With every issue, we are transported as we read, our every sense somehow engaged and our imaginations fired up.

From quiet moments drinking tea through to loud, nasty displays of violence, we are fully immersed.  And always, the story moves forward, we come to know more of our hero and understand perhaps a little more of what is going on while glimpsing a hint of what lies ahead.  The final splash page is not only a superb piece of art but bears the words ‘to be continued…’ Rarely have I been so glad to have more to look forward to.


Verdict

Everything about this book is the absolute best of what comics have to offer.  I’m convinced that this 10 issue run will be considered a classic by a great many people.  I already count myself among them.  Swamp Thing comes with the highest possible praise and is unreservedly recommended.


Review by Andy Flood, 7/10/21


Batman #113 – Review

Batman #113

Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer: James Tynion IV (Fear State Part 2) and Brandon Thomas (Clownhunter Part 2)

Art: Jorge Jimenez (Fear State Part 2) and Jason Howard (Clownhunter Part 2)

Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 21/09/21

Published by DC Comics

Gotham City remains in the grip of fear as the false Oracle continues to disseminate misinformation, telling the world of Batman’s demise, and pushing its people further into a state of paranoia. Meanwhile, Batman, very much alive, goes in pursuit of the evidence that he needs for Commissioner Renee Montoya to make a move on Simon Saint and shut down the Magistrate program. He begins by letting Ghost-Maker into his mind in order to remember what really happened to him when the Scarecrow had him bound and drugged. But this leads to revelations, not from his own mind, but Ghost-Maker’s.

I love how confidently Batman tells Simon Saint that he’s going to tear down everything he’s doing. It’s Batman at his most bad-ass and it’s awesome! On the flip-side of that, seeing Barbara aka the real Oracle, seemingly able to do nothing but slam her fist against her keyboard, is somewhat frustrating, as she is usually the one able to take control of the cyberspace.  Check out Catwoman #35 to find out who is behind the fake Oracle.

Also frustrating, but not entirely unexpected, is seeing Commissioner Montoya sitting behind a desk almost drowning in her sorrows as she struggles to police the city. Once, just once, I’d love to see the Gotham City PD being a bit more instrumental in helping Batman to bring down the villains’ schemes, instead of relying on him to do everything, thereby justifying their existence. In fact, the Fear State story-line calls for that, given Saint’s Magistrate program was instigated as a way of tackling the crime that is “too big for the police to handle”. It would be a great big middle finger at Saint to have Montoya and her officers be the one to work him and bring him down, while Batman and his posse take on Scarecrow and Peacekeeper-01.

The real standout section of this issue is when Batman and Ghost-Maker get together. There are a couple of times I actually laughed out loud, whether it’s the homoerotic framing of a situation being undercut by flashes to all of Batman’s very hetero-dalliances, or Ghost-Maker’s bland description of Bruce’s life history peppered with comments that allude to Ghost-Maker’s own “greatness”, the two men make for an entertaining double-act.

Props once again to Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey whose art and coloring rank as my favorite in the current roster of Batman related titles on the market. 

I wasn’t particularly fond of the supporting story-line, “Clown-Hunter Part 2”, as it was pretty much over before it got going, which is unfortunately the case, more often than not, with these shorts that seem tacked on to the back these days. Bring back the letters page, that’s what I say!


Verdict

Some great interplay between Batman and Ghost-Maker makes for a highly entertaining chapter of the Fear State saga.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 03/10/21

This Month’s 10 Hottest Pre-Order Picks From WowComix.com!


Whether you’re looking to get a head start on your Christmas shopping a little early this year, or for some exciting new comics, graphic novels or action figures to add to your collection, here at Wow Comix we have a mountain of awesome new items currently available for pre-order! We’ve put a small list together of some of our personal favourites, featuring new products from well-known publishers and brands alongside a few things you may not have seen before. So if you’re in the mood to treat yourself or a loved one but you’re not too sure where to start, keep reading for some of this winter’s hottest (or should that be coolest?) new titles and collectables!


10. Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer #1

Due to be released this December, Buffy is back as we’ve never seen her before!

Can a lone Slayer save what’s left of humanity?

Buffy Summers is the last Slayer. Now in her 50s, she wages a one woman fight against the forces of darkness, who prey on humanity in the daylight unimpeded thanks to a magical catastrophe that has nearly blotted out the sun.

The same disaster robbed Buffy of her friends and ended the Slayer-line, forcing her into an endless guerilla war. That is, until she stumbles across something she hasn’t seen in a long time – hope, in the form of a prophecy and the young girl who carries it.

The Multiverse explodes as writer Casey Gilly (Femme Magnifique, You Died) and artist Joe Jaro (Firefly) bring you a dystopian tale of Buffy Summers as you’ve never seen her before for fans of Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, Batman: Last Knight On Earth, and Future State: Wonder Woman.

https://wowcomix.com/buffy-the-last-vampire-slayer-1-08-12-21-dynamite-comic/



9. Attack On Titan Omnibus Volume 2

The latest collected edition from the massively successful Attack On Titan manga series, this outing sees the Survey Corps trying dangerous new tactics to reclaim their land from the human-devouring Titans!

It’s never been easier to attack Attack on Titan than with these new, giant-sized 3-in-1 omnibus editions! The Survey Corps develop a risky gambit – have Eren in Titan form attempt to repair Wall Rose, reclaiming human territory from the monsters for the first time in a century. But Titan-Eren’s self-control is far from perfect, and when he goes on a rampage, not even Armin can stop him! With the survival of humanity on his massive shoulders, will Eren be able to return to his senses? This omnibus includes volumes 4-6.

https://wowcomix.com/attack-on-titan-omnibus-volume-2-08-12-21-kodansha-graphic-novel-tp/


8. Devil’s Reign #1

Kingpin (AKA Wilson Fisk) has gone from crime boss to mayor of New York and his new-found political power (coupled with his rather large evil streak) could lead to the downfall of our favourite Marvel superheroes!

The story that’s been building for years is here! Wilson Fisk went from Kingpin to mayor of the biggest city in America and is going to bring his full criminal and political power to bear on the super heroes who call NYC home. The man who once destroyed Daredevil has set his sights on The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and more. And since it’s Fisk, once he takes them all down, you know he’s going to sign it.

CROSSBONES! TASKMASTER! TYPHOID MARY! SHOCKER! WHIPLASH! RHINO! KRAVEN! Fisk has an ARMY of super villains at his command—and this is just his opening salvo. For years, Fisk has waited for his time to strike, and YOU WON’T BELIEVE the aces he’s got up his sleeves!

https://wowcomix.com/devils-reign-1-01-12-21-marvel-comic/



7. Star Wars: The Vintage Collection Clone Wars Aayla Secura Figure

A fan favourite from the Clone Wars animated series, here’s Jedi Knight Aayla Secura complete with robe and lightsaber!

Celebrate the legacy of Star Wars, the action-and-adventure-packed space saga from a galaxy far, far away, with premium 3.75-inch scale figures and vehicles from Star Wars The Vintage Collection. Figures feature premium detail and design across product and packaging inspired by the original line, as well as the entertainment-inspired collector grade deco that fans have come to know and love. (Additional products each sold separately.  Subject to availability.)

A cunning warrior and Jedi Knight during the rise of the Clone Wars, Aayla fought alongside Clone Commander Bly on many exotic battlefields

Featuring premium detail and design across multiple points of articulation inspired by Star Wars: Clone Wars, this collectible Star Wars The Vintage Collection 3.75-inch-scale figure makes a great gift for Star Wars fans and collectors.

https://wowcomix.com/star-wars-the-vintage-collection-clone-wars-aayla-secura-figure-01-04-22-hasbro/



6. Disney’s Stitch: Stitch & The Samurai Volume 1

Whilst on the run from galactic authorities, loveable alien Stitch finds himself mistaken for a tanuki and taken under the wing of a Samurai Warrior!

While fleeing the Galactic Federation, Stitch’s spaceship malfunctions and he makes an emergency landing… not in Hawaii, but in sengoku-era Japan! Discovered by the brutal warlord Lord Yamato and his clan, Stitch’s incomparable cuteness is no match for the battle-weary samurai, who decides to bring the “blue tanuki” home with him. Will Stitch’s love of chaos turn into a formidable advantage for the samurai’s influence? Or will his cute and fluffy form disarm the noble lord’s stern facade?

https://wowcomix.com/disneys-stitch-stitch-the-samurai-vol-1-10-11-21-tokyopop-graphic-novel-tp/




5. Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1

New from author Jeff Lemire and artist Doug Mahnke comes a DC Black Label gore-fest straight from the swamp!

The Earth is all but done. The last remnants of humanity cling to a mountaintop island lost in endless floodwater. The Parliaments of the Green, the Red, and the Rot all agree: it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start the cycle of life over again. And to do so, they’ve united their powers to summon an avatar—one of the most horrific monsters to ever stalk the surface of this forsaken planet. Against a creature like that, there can be no fighting back…unless you have a soldier who understands the enemy. Someone who has used its tactics before. Someone like Alec Holland.

Of course, it would help if Alec Holland hadn’t been dead for decades…

Jeff Lemire—the author of the smash hits Joker: Killer Smile and The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage, along with the graphic novel that inspired the television sensation Sweet Tooth—returns to Black Label with one of the greatest artists in modern DC history, Doug Mahnke, in tow! Together they’ll unleash a gory, gruesome monster mash, where the fate of humanity rests in the hands of someone who isn’t human at all!

https://wowcomix.com/swamp-thing-green-hell-1-28-12-21-dc-comic/




4. Loki: Glorious Purpose Poster

Here’s one for fans of the hugely successful Disney + show, add a little mischief to your wall with this awesome Loki poster!

It’s time to embrace the true powers of Loki as you add this awesome poster to your home. Featuring the God of Mischief himself, this is sure to be the perfect way to show off your love for the future Marvel classic. Official merch.

https://wowcomix.com/loki-glorious-purpose-poster-31-12-21-pyramid-international/


3. Star Wars: Life Day #1

Inspired by the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, get into the festive spirit with Han and Chewie!

THE GALAXY’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY!

Happy LIFE DAY! Celebrate the galaxy’s favorite holiday with a collection of festive tales from all across the STAR WARS SAGA! Life Day is the last thing on HAN SOLO’S mind when he and CHEWBACCA find themselves outgunned and under fire. But Chewie won’t give up hope, remembering the lessons of Life Days past and present. As for Life Days yet to come… Well, they’ll have to survive the night first!

https://wowcomix.com/star-wars-life-day-1-17-11-21-marvel-comic/


2. Pokemon: Articuno Articulated 6 Inch Figure

An ice type Pokemon perfectly suited to the coming winter season, this new addition to the Pokemon select range is a must-have!

With more detail, more points of articulation, and more ways to play and display than ever, this 15cm super articulated Articuno is the perfect addition to any Pokémon trainer’s team! Every Select super articulated figure comes with 15+ points of articulation, high levels of detail, and a posing arm accessory so you can pose Articuno any way you’d like!

With authentic details that make this Articuno figure look like it flew right out of the Pokémon animated series, you can pose Articuno to recreate all of your favourite moments! Gotta Catch ‘Em All! Each sold separately.

https://wowcomix.com/pokemon-articuno-articulated-6-inch-figure-release-date-tbc-jazwares/



1. Absolute Doomsday Clock

Coming in 2022, the DC Universe meets Watchmen in this colossal-sized edition of the Doomsday Clock mini-series!

NOTHING EVER REALLY ENDS. The world of Watchmen collides with the DC Universe in a story that rewrites the past, present, and future of comics!

Doomsday Clock finally gets the Absolute treatment! Dr. Manhattan, a near-omnipotent being from the Watchmen universe, has been using his powers to rewrite the DC Universe–reshaping some heroes’ histories, erasing other heroes altogether, and playing with the fates of the good and evil alike.

But why? What does a godlike being from another world stand to gain from the DC Universe? The mystery remains, but now that our heroes know they’re being toyed with,what can they do to stop it? The clock is ticking…

From Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson, the critically acclaimed team behind Shazam! and Batman: Earth One, this collection includes the full groundbreaking 12-issue miniseries.

https://wowcomix.com/absolute-doomsday-clock-14-06-22-dc-graphic-novel-hc/


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


Action Comics #1034 Review

Action Comics #1034
Review by Andy Flood

Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Superman), Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad (Midnighter)

Art: Christian Duce (Superman), Michael Avon Oeming (Midnighter)

Colours: Adriano Lucas (Superman), Taki Soma (Midnighter)

Letters: Dave Sharpe (Superman & Midnighter)
Published by DC Comics
Released: 24/8/21

‘Attack on the House of El!’ is the dramatic tagline emblazoned on the cover of Action Comics #1034 and it’s paired with some equally eye catching artwork from Daniel Sampere and Alejandro Sanchez. Our gaze is first drawn to a high angle shot of Superman as he makes a shocking discovery then to two figures looming large in the shadows above; Thao-La, seemingly thrall to Mongul.

For those following the story so far, this will act as a clarion call to open up and read on, as events leading to ‘Warworld Rising Part 5’ have been building up to something big. Maybe that something big is starting to happen? We pick up with Lois facing off against the Warzoon, fanatical followers of Mongul. She is joined in the fray by Thao-La, who is still trying to cast off the influence of her tormentors. Things quickly descend into chaos.

Meanwhile, Superman still seeks to resolve mounting tensions between the surface dwellers and Atlantis. His chosen actions here will no doubt have consequences in the future… What follows is a frantic return to the Fortress once Superboy, Supergirl and Superman share the joint realisation that all is not well. What unhappy fate awaits them?

This issue, while having cover art from Sampere, features a new interior artist, Christian Duce. Immediately, his work dazzles with dynamic figures depicted in hyper-kinetic scenes of battle. Paired with the always excellent eye-candy colours of Adriano Lucas, this issue is a visual feast. While Duce retains the feel of Sampere’s work on previous issues, he leaves his own mark here with panel after panel of action and excitement. At one point, we even get a double page splash which is hugely memorable and entirely ‘Superman’. Sound effects are writ large throughout and the emotional impact of Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s superb story is shown to great effect in the close shot panels. It must have been intimidating to take over from Daniel Sampere, but Duce has done so with style.

Johnson’s writing on this series has been impressive throughout, controlling pacing with an expert hand and guiding us through quick fire events with a clear sense of where he is leading us. He knows when to let the action speak for itself while also being a fine judge of just how much to build the tension and suspense. There’s always a feeling of even more things to come, which is one of the elements that can be most enjoyable when reading comics.

As we rejoin Midnighter and Miracle Man in the recursive time loop events of ‘The Passenger’, we see them busting their way through Trojan’s complex. They wise crack as they go and trade on one another’s strengths and abilities as they tackle obstacles and crazy cultists. Their dialogue is great fun to read as they move from one crazy panel to the next.

This action-packed chapter is a great showcase for the talents of the creative team to shine through. Seeing great writing come together with bold, inventive art and create a unique experience for us readers is something I always look forward to when opening a new issue of a comic. The Midnighter team really deliver some great entertainment here and the mutual respect the creators have for one another’s input is always readily apparent.


Verdict

Action Comics reliably delivers two immensely enjoyable stories, both with a different feel, both equally cool. There’s page after page showing what super hero comics can offer and it will no doubt please fans both old and new. It is, once again, highly recommended. Now to look forward to both issue #1035 and the Midnighter Special, where his story concludes!


(Suggested ages 13+ by DC)

Review by Andy Flood, 07/09/21

Detective Comics #1041 Review


Detective Comics #1041
Reviewed By Bryan Lomax

Writers:
Mariko Tamaki (“The Jury Part 1”) and Matthew Rosenberg (“What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”).
Art: Dan Mora (“The Jury Part 1”) and Darick Robertson (“What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”).
Colours: Jordie Bellaire (“The Jury Part 1”) and Diego Rodriguez (“What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”).
Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“The Jury Part 1”) and Rob Leigh (“What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”).
Released: 10/08/21
Published by DC Comics

Batman is called out by “The Jury”, a host of Gotham’s criminal underworld, led by Penguin, the Falcone’s and Mr Worth. But when he shows up to meet them, in order to answer for his “crimes”, he finds himself dealing with those who are unwilling to listen to reason. Batman is caught in a trap that might tether his very soul to that of another: Hugh Vile.

I would love to know just what information it was exactly that Oracle gave to the authorities in order to facilitate the release of Bruce Wayne. Mayor Nakano still appears to be clueless about Hugh Vile’s involvement in the whole affair, but surely that would have been the first piece of information that Barbara would have handed over! It only adds to my frustration over the sloppy handling of the story in the last two issues.

Aside from that though, writer Mariko Tamaki goes some way to winning me back on this issue. I like the motely crew of second string villains, led by Penguin, now referring to themselves as The Jury. Each one of these guys on their own probably doesn’t pose much of a threat to Batman. United, however, they may prove to be more than effective as a collective adversary. I think this is proven by the end of Tamaki’s story, in which Batman finds himself in quite the predicament, albeit one that reveals a rather interesting link to Huntress that has the potential to go to some exciting places.


One of the more interesting aspects of the current run of Batman comics is the fact that Bruce no longer has the endless wealth that he once had at his disposal. This means Batman has become more like a street rat, operating out of the sewers, without the security of his old bat-cave. This sometimes results in moments of humour, such as the one Tamaki gives us here, in which Bruce scares a woman carrying her groceries when he climbs out of a sewer grate.
These moments of Bruce struggling to live the life he once lived without the resources he once had also make me long for, perhaps a more valuable missing piece, Alfred Pennyworth, the father figure that Bruce is now lacking and yet sorely needs. Seeing him calling Oracle about business, inside a diner with public gawkers, is somehow one of the saddest reflections of just how far he has fallen from the ivory tower. Dare I say, he seems quite pathetic these days, when dressed in his civilian clothes!


Matthew Rosenberg’s B story, “What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”, is a really great start to a Deb Donovan adventure. It is filled with intrigue as the no nonsense reporter begins investigating the apparent disappearance of bodies from the Gotham City morgue. Rosenberg has a real knack for dialogue and the art from Darick Robertson is very easy on the eye. I’ve said before that I am really enjoying the Deb Donovan character. But, on the strength of Rosenberg and Robertson’s work here, I’d go so far as to say that, if these guys were assigned to a Deb Donovan monthly title, I’d be the first in line for a pre-order.


Verdict:


Mariko Tamaki shows us just how far Bruce has fallen and how, now more than ever, he is in need of allies. Backed up with excellent artwork from Dan Mora and Jordie Bellaire, she is able to give us a really great character study of Bruce Wayne/Batman, as he struggles to maintain the vigilante life-style without the resources he once had.

4/5


Reviewed By Bryan Lomax – 22/9/21

The Swamp Thing #5 Review


The Swamp Thing #5
Reviewed by Andy Flood
Written by: Ram V
Art: John McCrea
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

I’ve been looking forward to this issue of The Swamp Thing with genuine excitement, knowing that it would feature one of my favourite characters, John Constantine. Memories of his appearance in The Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing tales are still among my fondest when it comes to comics; seeing him lead Alec Holland through a dark, arcane and twisted learning journey was, and still is, a real treat. Fast forward to today and we have John joining Levi Kamei, latest Guardian of The Green to tackle a problem or two in ‘Survivor Bomb’.


I’ve been looking forward to this issue of The Swamp Thing with genuine excitement, knowing that it would feature one of my favourite characters, John Constantine. Memories of his appearance in The Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing tales are still among my fondest when it comes to comics; seeing him lead Alec Holland through a dark, arcane and twisted learning journey was, and still is, a real treat. Fast forward to today and we have John joining Levi Kamei, latest Guardian of The Green to tackle a problem or two in ‘Survivor Bomb’.

The original cover for this issue features yet more great art from Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer, depicting a bomb as part of the taint in The Green, red tendrils creeping forth and spreading their ills. It’s perhaps more directly emblematic of the interior story than the striking variant cover from Brian Bolland, who paints a more monstrous Swamp Thing, all shadows, claws dripping ichor and fierce glare. It is a dark and more symbolic cover, though both are excellent and leave the reader curious about what lies within.

The bulk of ‘Survivor Bomb’ takes place in London and opens in suitably dreary scenes of rain and dimly lit rooms. Just as Sierra Kirre calls on old magic and old ties to summon Constantine to help her find a friend, so too is Levi pulled into The Green and drawn to London. We learn of a darkness there centred around an unexploded bomb from World War II. Its insidious influence has been having serious repercussions, spreading and inciting hate, building on the tensions already present in the city.

Sierra’s friend Nigel is embroiled in this situation and, as the three main characters meet and work to save both him and the city beyond, we see the impact of human thought and action. Its ripples are evident both in the scenes of war and those in modern day London. They are seen further still as red taint in The Green. There is more here than bombs and hate…

Ram V continues to impress with his writing, handling a story that functions both as a standalone and as part of a larger arc. That he weaves in history, metaphysics and philosophy while still keeping us excited and engaged is quite a feat. As ever, we have the enticing sense of everything having meaning, of being interlinked. He presents Constantine in a very cool way and it’s clear that Ram V’s time spent with the character on Justice League dark has given him a great feel for how to work with him. Dialogue and narration are superb throughout and are supported and presented wonderfully by Aditya Bidikar’s lettering.

Artwork for this story is handled by John McCrea, who gives us hugely atmospheric scenes which retain the feel of the book so far while also giving tastes of his own distinct style. Every panel is one we are encouraged to return to after first reading so that we might see some detail we missed first time or indeed, just to enjoy the incredible visuals. When paired with Mike Spicer’s unique colours, we are transported through shifting landscapes of magic and tragedy. Atypical and very clever palette choices always serve to enhance our experience of the book. There is not a single lacklustre page to be found here.


Verdict

‘Survivor Bomb’ is another issue of Swamp Thing full of texture and nuance and is entertaining from start to finish. The appearance of John Constantine doesn’t disappoint and brings a deeper sense of the magical themes which have characterised and enhanced previous Swamp Thing stories. This series is nothing short of phenomenal and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


(Recommended by DC for readers age 13+)

Review by Andy Flood, 2/9/21


Batman #111 Review


Batman #111
Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Jorge Jimenez (“The Cowardly Lot Part Five”) and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (“Ghost-Maker Chapter 4”)
Colours: Tomeu Morey (“The Cowardly Lot Part Five”) and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (“Ghost-Maker Chapter 4”)
Released: 03/08/21
Published by DC Comics

James Tynion IV does a truly great job on villain duty this issue. He is helped immensely with long-time Batman villain, Scarecrow, thanks to the amazing artwork of Jorge Jiminez and Tomeu Morey in ‘The Cowardly Lot Part Five’, which turns the villain into a truly scary, Jigsaw-like mad man. He becomes a viable threat towards Batman whereas, in the past, he has often run the risk of appearing like a B-lister.

I love that Tynion doesn’t get too precious with his own creations here too. Having brought us Peacemaker 01, building the villain up over the previous four issues, there might be a temptation there to show just how formidable he is at Scarecrow’s expense. But Tynion has no problem showing us where he sits on the rogues gallery totem pole, as Scarecrow takes centre stage and puts Simon Saint’s puppet in his place.

Not that I doubted for a second that Miracle Molly would get out of the predicament she found herself in at the end of the last issue, but I still couldn’t help breathe a sigh of relief that the character will live to fight another day, having grown rather attached to her.

Ghost-Maker chapter 4 properly gives us an introduction to the new villain, Razorline, a horrific self-made monster who, once again, gives off some serious movie-inspired vibes. For anyone who has seen the French horror film, ‘Martyrs’, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. This is a sick and twisted mind that has sought to gain some form of transcendence through pain.

The artwork by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz hasn’t really grabbed me until now. But his style seems to fit with the character of Razorline for some reason.

The only thing that I am seriously unimpressed with are the final words of the issue, which tell us that the conclusion to the Ghost-Maker storyline can be found in the upcoming Batman Annual #1. Personally I am of the opinion that annuals should feature self-contained stories, but that also, unless a particular story is part of a major crossover series then it should end within the pages of the title where it began. Otherwise it just feels like an attempt by the publishers to get you to pick up more titles.

Still, this is a great issue that makes me excited to read the conclusions to both storylines that feature within. Bring on Batman #112 and Batman Annual #1!


Verdict –

Ghostmaker is given a truly compelling villain and Batman faces off against perhaps the best iteration of the Scarecrow that I’ve ever seen.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 15/08/21

The Case For… The Green Lantern Movie


Article By Andy Flood 11/8/21

The Case for… the Green Lantern Movie


No! Wait!  Don’t leave, just… hear me out.  Put down the weapon… there we go. Now…

Released in 2011 to a distinct lack of praise or indeed, audience appreciation, the Green Lantern movie has long been the superhero film that no-one talks about unless it’s in jest.  Certainly, I remember not being overly fond of it on my initial viewing around the time of its home release (I borrowed it, don’t worry).

Following a family visit to one of our local Wow Comix to meet the very cool and kind staff (while also browsing the long boxes), my wife and I decided to revisit the film and watch with our sons.  This decision came on the back of some in-store banter at the expense of the film alongside my being assigned the new run of Green Lantern for review.  It seemed like as bad a time as any to watch it again and give it another chance.

Now for some, this film is a nameless horror, its number lying between 5 and 7, and so on.  For my part, I remember it being quite flawed but also quite fun.  We had access to the blu-ray release (we were keeping it for a friend, honest) and so were able to watch the extended version of the film, which expands on the central relationships in the film.  This helps.  A little.

I have found that when watching films with my sons, I often end up viewing them through a different lens; one concerned less with artistic merit or cinematic truth and more with fun and spectacle.  Thought of another way, I’m more forgiving of a film’s flaws if my family are enjoying it.  They have fun, I have fun.

That said, I’ve always been predisposed to finding the good in almost anything and I nearly always find something cool about whichever book, comic, game or film I’m engaged with.  Sometimes even the smallest positive element can make a piece of entertainment worthy of my time and consideration.  I believe that once you engage with the creative process a little for yourself, you gain a much deeper appreciation for the work and creations of others.  So with that mindset, I settled in for my second viewing of the Green Lantern movie.

Even in the earliest frames of the film, it’s apparent that efforts were made to adopt some of the framing techniques used in comics in the making of this film.  While there is some cross-pollination (now more so than ever) between ‘cinema’ and comics in the way images are presented, there are certain angles and ‘shots’ which are identifiably comic-like and I was happy to see some of these used here.

The opening expositional speech (delivered by Geoffrey Rush as the alien Green Lantern Tomar-Re) is similarly reminiscent of the sort of ‘catch up’ narrative you might see in comics from time to time, particularly those from silver and bronze eras.  We’re introduced to the idea of the Lanterns as a sort of intergalactic police force (this being in line with the comics) and are soon introduced to a problem from their past.

Following scenes of galactic intrigue and peril, we’re brought back to Earth and are introduced to Hal Jordan as a child and witness the formative tragedy of his losing his test pilot father to an accident.  We then go on to see Hal as an adult and his antics as he follows in his father’s footsteps.

As events build towards Hal being chosen as the next Green Lantern, the film tries to tap in to one of the factors which make the Green Lantern comics so appealing.  Consider the idea that almost anyone could be chosen by this cosmic ring, powered by the force of will, to be a superhero.

You don’t have to be Kryptonian, obscenely wealthy/disturbed, super powered or even a particularly ‘together’ person.  You just have to be fearless, or able to face fear, or strong willed; however you choose to interpret the criteria.  The point is, ‘it could be you!’.

Ryan Reynolds (GL) and Blake Lively (Carol)

This is pretty powerful when it comes to the imagination of a child or indeed anyone with some imagination and perhaps a desire to be something else, something more.  Green Lantern comics appealed to this idea and made their hero relatable.  The movie actually goes some way to doing a good job with this idea too, particularly seeing as Hal is essentially quite reluctant to engage with his calling and even ‘quits’ the position at one point.

The look of the film is a lot better than all the comments berating the CG would have you believe, and the depiction of the Green Lanterns’ powers and their central world of Oa is good enough to have some fun with, particularly if you disengage your critical brain.  With any high concept CG, it’s always easy to point at the flaws and scoff.  But if you choose to buy into it a little more, you start to worry a little less about the way the ‘manifestations’ appear.  It was always going to be a tall order to film the Green Lanterns’ powers.  I feel like they did okay. 

Of special note was the scene where he manifests a Hot Wheels track to save a crowd from a crashing helicopter.  It’s totally bonkers and requires heavy suspension of disbelief, but when two little voices cry, “No way!  Look!  It’s Hot Wheels!” it’s all good.

Similarly, the space-bound, multitude of alien life, science fiction type scenes are all quite good visually and undeserving of the panning they received.  The weird and wonderful space scenes were always some of my favourite aspects of the comics back in the ‘80s, so it was nice to see them represented here.

The Green Lantern (Hal) does look pretty much like the comic book version, despite the much derided CG costume.  This was always a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ type decision for the makers; no matter how the costume is filmed, there’s always a chance that it doesn’t come off right.  And similarly, no matter who you cast, you can’t please all the folk all of the time.

Something that did come off right was the presentation of Sinestro (even if we don’t really get to see him become a villain per se).  Mark Strong does a great job with his performance and it’s a shame that the intended sequel never came to pass, as he would have made a really good comic book bad guy.  Instead, the decision was made to focus on Hal’s childhood friend who, tormented by a disapproving father and being on the loosing side of a love triangle of sorts, proves an easy convert for the power of fear when a fragment of Parallax (the Green Lanterns’ nemesis in this film) enters his body.  It makes for a weak antagonist and Earthbound action which left me wishing we could have been in outer space more.


This is one of those films that disappointed fans and is quite easy to poke fun at.  It has pacing issues, bears the indelible mark of ‘studio interference’, feels like it was written by committee, has a poor choice of bad guy, doesn’t do enough good things with its arguably strong cast… the list goes on.  In spite of all that, my eldest son (he’s 10) enjoyed it.  And, because of that, and independently from that, I enjoyed it.  I was entertained.  And isn’t that what we’re here for?


Article by Andy Flood 11/8/21