Tag Archives: DC

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

Detective Comics #1040 Review


Detective Comics #1040

Reviewed By Bryan Lomax


Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“The Weekender”) and Dan Watters (“The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom”).
Art: Dan Mora (“The Weekender”) and Max Raynor (“The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom”).
Colours: Jordie Bellaire (“The Weekender”) and Arif Prianto (“The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom”).
Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“The Weekender”) and Rob Leigh (“The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom”).
Released: 27/07/21
Published by DC Comics

As I suspected, at the end of issue #1039, the “finale” to Mariko Tamaki’s story, “The Neighborhood”, was anything but. Hugh Vile, we are told, is still alive, leaving Penguin and Mr Worth to continue whatever scheme it was that Vile had concocted. Huntress and Deb Donovan wake up in hospital, seemingly recovered from the effects of Vile’s attacks. Meanwhile, Bruce sits in a prison cell talking to a drunken man, allowing Oracle to put the evidence together that would get him out.

All of this amounts to a mildly amusing dose of pop psychology, as Bruce’s drunken cellmate, having learned that he is Batman (something he conveniently forgets once sober), tells him that he essentially brings all the darkness and misery upon himself; that he is attracted to it. Bruce looks rather non-plussed by this revelation. Dan Mora’s art work, particularly his gift for facial expressions, body language and framing, really help in selling these exchanges. The splash page of Batman and Joker crashing through a skylight, during a flashback, is stunning and I get a kick out of seeing the 1980’s colours on their costumes.

We are told by Penguin that Vile is still alive but we don’t see him. We can only assume at this point he lies in a hospital bed under armed guard. And with Deb Donovan now fully awake and able to testify as to what happened to her, it’s unclear as to just what evidence Oracle needed to gather in order to free Bruce from custody.
The tactics that Penguin employs here also make little sense to me. He’s killed many people over the years without the perceived need to remove Batman from the equation first. And, given the level of destruction he manages to pull off at one point, it feels like a somewhat flimsy excuse for Penguin and Worth to not use all their resources to make a co-ordinated attack directly on Bruce.

‘The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom’ makes a concerted effort to paint some heroic light onto the tragic character of Man-Bat. Unfortunately, it relies quite heavily on some past events from stories that I’ve never read, which means I felt a bit distant from it all. Not to mention the fact that, by now, we all know that when people die in comic books they rarely stay dead. This made it hard for me to connect in any real emotional way with Langstrom, especially given how few pages that writer, Dan Watters, had to tell his story. In that respect he did a good job given he was so restrained.


Verdict:

Mariko Tamaki’s ongoing story, that began with so much intrigue, now seems to hang in limbo with too much uncertainty, while Man-Bat is given a “final” send-off that struggles to resonate emotionally. The highlight is Dan Mora’s artwork.


Reviewed By Bryan Lomax 6/8/21

Action Comics #1033 Review


Review by Andy Flood

Written by:
Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Superman),
Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad (Midnighter)
Art: Daniel Sampere (Superman), Michael Avon Oeming (Midnighter)
Colours: Adriano Lucas (Superman), Taki Soma (Midnighter)
Letters: Dave Sharpe (Superman & Midnighter)
Published 27/7/21Published by DC Comics

The first notable thing when picking up this issue is the new logo.  It’s been overhauled by Darran Robinson, who has done a great job of encapsulating (in his words) 82 years of history.  It’s a logo with a modern feel which still manages to echo ages past.  The cover title ‘Under Siege’ refers to some of the story to follow and pairs well with further clues reflected in the excellent cover art.

The cover is handled on this occasion by the team of Daniel Sampere (also interior artist) and Alejandro Sanchez (colours).  We have Superman in a determined pose, framed by Thao-La and a great depiction of Lois channeling strong ‘Ripley from Aliens’ vibes (foreshadowing a great scene she has later in the book).  All this is set against the backdrop of Atlantean preparations for war.  Anyone who has been reading thus far will know by now that tensions are mounting.  It’s another great cover for this run, promising a good read.

And it’s no empty promise; there’s a lot to take in during this issue, with events moving pretty quickly.  ‘Warworld Rising Part 4’ opens with scenes of espionage, as we witness two high-tech camouflaged figures infiltrate the crashed alien ship held by the Atlanteans.  It’s a really atmospheric sequence, which leads us headlong into a face-off now made considerably worse.  As the Justice League debate events and the best course of action (in itself making for some very cool pages), Jon and Lois are meanwhile trying their best to accommodate the refugee Thao-la as she struggles to adjust to her new situation.  Tensions soon escalate even further, as the surface forces of Earth and the Atlanteans teeter on the brink of war and the Warzoon attack Thao-La at the behest of Mongul and his cronies.

If this sounds like too much to take in, fear not; Phillip Kennedy Johnson has done a fine job of making sure we are never lost, instead providing us with a truly enjoyable thrill ride.  He delivers on the promises of both the cover and events of preceding issues while keeping multiple plates spinning in truly entertaining fashion.  The dialogue is superb throughout, often being highly emotive, and we are with both him and the characters every step of the way until the closing panel.

Daniel Sampere’s art is, once again, just what the book needs.  He gives us dynamic action, imposing superheroes and dark, mysterious bad guys.  He etches lines of tension into the character’s faces, and draws us further into the drama unfolding.  There are numerous occasions throughout this issue where a feeling of Sampere’s original pencils shine through, something I personally love to see, as the shading lines and contours are further enhanced by subsequent inks and colours.

And what colours they are!  Once again, Adriano Lucas treats us to hugely atmospheric palettes, always giving us a firm sense of place and expanding our levels of excitement.  The colours are bright and dynamic and support the story perfectly.

We have more excellent colours from Taki Soma as we move on to the Midnighter story in this issue.  Her choices are always fresh, and support Michael Avon Oeming’s  striking art in a hugely complimentary fashion.  The writing duo of Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad have written a story which showcases the strengths of the medium.  It’s high concept and has a touch of the bizarre yet the creative team work together so well that it entertains and impresses each and every time.

The pairing of Midnighter and Mister Miracle works very well here and introduces a comedic element that plays well through their dialogue as the action unfolds.  It’s another jam packed instalment, and the creative team here ensure that every panel pops and every line engages.  This Midnighter run feels very new and fresh and serves as a great companion piece to the lead story.

Dave Sharpe letters both stories again and, as ever, his work is clean, clear and well considered.  It really makes a difference when a comic is as easy to read as it is to look at or scan over.  Thank you, Mr. Sharpe!


Verdict

Everything about issue #1033 of Action Comics impresses, from cover to closing page.  We have two excellent companion titles to enjoy and are spoilt by a wealth of great art and storytelling.  It’s one of those comics which has you reading along thinking, “what happens next?” while feeling no small dose of excitement.  If you haven’t done so already, give Action Comics a try.  There’s a lot to like here.


(Suggested ages 13+ by DC)

Review by Andy Flood, 02/08/21


Detective Comics #1039 Review

Writers:
Mariko Tamaki (“The Neighbourhood: Finale”) and T. Rex (“The Life & Times of Hugh Vile”).
Art:
Viktor Bogdanovic, Daniel Henriques and Norm Rapmund (“The Neighbourhood: Finale”), with T. Rex (“The Life & Times of Hugh Vile”).

Colours: Jordie Bellaire (“The Neighborhood: Finale”) and Simon Gough (“The Life & Times of Hugh Vile”)

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“The Neighbourhood: Finale”) and Rob Leigh (“The Life & Times of Hugh Vile”)
Released: 13/07/21Published by DC Comics 

Huntress confronts Hugh Vile while Batman continues his struggle with Worth. But when Vile infects Huntress he sends her after the dark knight and the two vigilantes become locked in a deadly battle with one another.

For a story with “Finale” as its subtitle I have to say that I found it very disappointing. It just doesn’t feel like anything has been fully resolved at all. We are left with too many questions that leave you feeling frustrated. Is Vile defeated? If so, where does that leave Penguin and Worth, given they seemed to be in league with him? Where’s the logic in Bruce turning himself in, especially since Worth is still out there? After all, he’s already destroyed one police station to get at Bruce, so what would stop him from doing it again? 

Then you have the infections of both Huntress and Deb Donovan, which are unsatisfyingly wrapped up with a line of dialogue from Oracle. 

Not only do all of these elements suggest that this issue is not, in fact, the “finale” of the story, but also, the cover presents the tagline, “From the depths… Enter: Vile”. This suggests that things are just about to get going with regard to our main villain. But he “entered” our story a few issues ago. Perhaps such a tagline might have been more appropriate during one of those issues rather than on the “finale” of the story.

Thankfully, the artwork by Viktor Bogdanovic, and the coloring, by Jordie Bellaire, are still on excellent form.

T. Rex’s short origin story for Vile, “The Life & Times of Hugh Vile”, is a much more rewarding affair. At only ten pages, Rex doesn’t have much to work with, but manages suitably enough to convey the story of a man who has embraced his dark side thanks to the Venom-esque parasite that now lives inside him.

However, I’d rather the thirty pages of a comic book were devoted to the main story at hand. I often find that, as the main story starts to hit a stride, we are then forced to dovetail into another story altogether. I don’t think I’m a fan of this particular evolution in the medium.


Verdict:
Again, we are left with more questions than answers, making for a highly unsatisfying “finale” (if that title is to be believed) to Mariko Tamaki’s story. 


Review by Bryan Lomax, 30/07/21


Sale on Funko Pop Pre-Orders!

Watch our Funko section on wowcomix.com over the next couple of weeks as we are adding a load of recent, ‘vintage’, to use the term loosely, and pre-order Funko Pops!

This week, smack your eyes on these hot pre-orders on sale from only £8.99!
There’s a sweet Deadpool Pride Edition up for grabs, a brand new Mandalorian holding Grogu (aww) and, well you can’t turn down a new Carnage Pop at that price… can you?

‘Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage sees the return of Tom Hardy as investigative reporter/symbiote host Eddie Brock and his violent alter-ego Venom, as they come face-to-face with the one and only Carnage! Here we have Venom’s arch nemesis Carnage, the symbiote hosted by the body of serial killer, Cletus Kasady. Add Carnage to your Funko collection today!’

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Throwback Review – Batman #445 – March 1990

Throwback Review – Batman #445 – March 1990
Review by Bryan Lomax

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Jim Aparo

Inks:
Mike DeCarlo
Published by DC Comics March 1990

Batman goes to Russia to help the Moscow police commissioner catch The NKVDemon, protégé of The KGBeast, who is out for revenge against those who betrayed his master. The Demon works his way through a hit list of 10 people, much the same way as the KGBeast attempted to do in Gotham, only this time the hunting ground is his home turf in Russia. Can Batman accomplish what he once did in a city he is unfamiliar with?

‘Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast’, written by Jim Starlin in the late 80’s, is one of the seminal works of that decade. Marv Wolfman, no slouch when it comes to writing Batman, is given the task, two years later, of writing a direct sequel to that story. ‘When the Earth Dies! Chapter One: Red Square, Bloody Square’ is a pretty good starting point for it.


Wolfman bookends his story with two sequences. The opener sees Batman catching a villain in Gotham, his home turf, precisely because he knows every street, every alleyway, every sewer tunnel. The closing scene plays out similarly, only this time the villain escapes, precisely because Batman doesn’t know the layout of the city he’s in. In Moscow, the streets, alleyways and sewers belong to The Demon.

Batman #445

I love when stories are bookended. It’s a great device that writers can use to show us a change has happened, whether it be in a character’s personal growth, or in their circumstances. Here we see that Batman is Gotham. Gotham is as much a part of him as the air in his lungs. Without it, he cannot breathe, he cannot function as well as he once did. It gives his nemesis the edge.

That nemesis in question is probably the weakest element of the story, as The Demon is essentially just The Beast, only with a slightly different costume. I would rather they had just brought back The Beast himself. It would be much more fun to see a rematch with the iconic villain, where Batman no longer has the upper hand, instead of giving us a carbon copy in his place.

I always have a sense of nostalgia for Jim Aparo’s artwork. He’s not my favourite, but seeing his work always takes me back to my childhood, when I started reading comic books. It’s very much a golden era for me personally. But it’s great that both Aparo and inker, Mike DeCarlo, both return here, as it was the two of them that brought the ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ storyline to life.


It must be said that this particular story is very dated as it assumes quite heavily on the audience’s knowledge of Russian politics of the time. And seeing Bruce just randomly bumping into Vicki Vale whilst dining out in Moscow is very quaint. Also, it seems to me that, if The Demon spent as much time doing stuff as he does gasbagging about a better Russia, he might actually stand a chance of achieving his goal. Some of his dialogue is stilted to say the least.

Batman #445


Verdict:

A great nostalgia trip for anyone who read comics as a child of the 80’s, but reading Jim Starlin’s ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ before this is strongly recommended.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 24/07/21