Tag Archives: DC

Action Comics #1032 Review

Action Comics #1032 Review By Andrew 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)


Storm swept seas are the stage for a titanic battle on this issue’s cover.  Mikel Janin has produced another excellent cover here, with both Superman and Aquaman really popping against the backdrop of their gargantuan foes.

Once inside, we rejoin the story inside the Fortress of Solitude, where Supergirl and Lois continue to unravel the mystery of the refugees.  Along with Superman, they try to talk to one of the survivors and reassure her.  These scenes show some of the strong empathy and kindness which make these characters both endearing and relatable.  Meanwhile, events take a more sinister turn in Atlantis as the mystery shard is investigated, leading to a huge crisis and hinting at more terrible things to come.


While Superman is paying a visit to another member of the Justice League requesting help, they hear of a new threat (resulting from the events in Atlantis).  A spectacular and truly epic battle ensues, during which Superman uncovers more pieces of the puzzle.  An unexpected arrival in the wake of this battle leads to hints of even further strife in the future.

The pacing of this issue is once again superb and keeps us turning the page, eager to find out what happens next.  Phillip Kennedy Johnson shows great command of dialogue throughout, particularly during the scenes involving the refugee.  As his story reveals answers to some of our questions, we also encounter new enigmas and are left wondering what our heroes will face next.

Dave Sharpe provides lettering for both stories and his work is on point once again, ensuring that our reading experience is effortless and clear.

The interior art from Daniel Sampere and colours from Adriano Lucas are just as striking as the cover and deliver page after page of spectacle.  There are some huge moments in this issue, and they are executed with style.

Meanwhile, the backup story centred on The Midnighter conveys its own sense of style, with impressive art from Michael Avon Oeming and bold colours from Taki Soma.  There’s some really inventive panel layouts, with visual elements recalling some of the weird machinery dreamt up by Jack Kirby in his art.  All of this serves an intricate plot and scenes of stark contrast as Midnighter struggles to escape an infinite time travel loop and the machinations of Trojan. The writers (Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad) guide us from a thoughtfully written discussion of relationships between Midnighter and Trojan through to scenes of cold disconnect as we witness some of the horrors wrought by our bad guy. Once again, this creative team really deliver.

Verdict

This issue of Action Comics is full of the great things that make superhero comics so much fun to read.  There are incredible scenes and exchanges which fuel the imagination and keep us coming back for more.  This title is proving to be a great ‘gateway’ comic which offers a lot for those wanting to read more about some of the DC heroes they know from cinema and TV. That we get two excellent stories each time makes this one really easy to recommend. 


(Suggested ages 13+ by DC)

Review by Andy Flood, 29/6/21

The Swamp Thing #3 Review

The Swamp Thing #3

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

This issue, we’re first greeted by an eye-catching cover which feels almost as if it could be a distant relative of the old absinthe green fairy posters.  Although it reveals the appearance of both Ivy and Poison Ivy before the story does, it does a great job of making you want to pick up and read on.

As we do so, there is some really inventive sequential art depicting Levi’s CT scan and initial transformation as he and Jennifer try to understand what he is going through when he becomes The Swamp Thing.  As Jennifer is pulled along for the ride into ‘The Green’, some of the secrets and mysteries of this elemental place are revealed to us, along with some of its well known denizens.  It’s a thrilling experience as we travel along with them, encountering incredible things and facing new questions.

Again, the creative team have given us a wonderful title page and this time out, there is a very clever title to boot.  ‘My Green Amaranthine’ refers very neatly to the nature of The Swamp Thing while also describing his appearance (amaranth being an immortal flower or a herb/weed with colourful leaves and spikes of flowers – I had to look it up).

This careful and clever use of words is one of the things that sets Ram V apart as a writer; others being chiefly his command of dialogue and pacing.  Here, he encapsulates a very alien experience, full of strangeness and awe, and somehow makes it relatable for us as readers.

As Levi and Jennifer journey through The Green (an important realm in Swamp Thing lore), the creators of this comic do a wonderful job of ensuring each and every step is compelling, mystifying, unsettling, exciting; sometimes all at once.  The art is phenomenal throughout, never failing to give us a true sense of what lies in this strange place.  There’s a lot to take in during this issue and the skilled lettering of Aditya Bidikar ensures that we enjoy the process, marking each character with their own unique style.

By the time we reach the end, we’re left breathless and yet wanting more, as larger events are hinted at…

Verdict

My Green Amaranthine is yet another excellent issue in this new run for Swamp Thing.  It has something for old and new readers alike and the quality imbued by its creators fills every page and makes for a hugely enjoyable read.  Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson (co-creators of Swamp Thing) would be proud.

Review by Andy Flood, 24/6/21

The Swamp Thing #2 Review

The Swamp Thing #2

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



‘Becoming, Part 2’ arrives with a cover showing us Levi Kamei, mid-transformation, full of cosmic horror and faced with his dark desert counterpart. It’s a dramatic image which sets the tone for what awaits us within.

We rejoin Levi in the aftermath of his first jarring encounter with the Pale Wanderer.
Counter to the oft-used secret identity, he shares his seemingly insane experiences with his friend, Jennifer. He is then drawn into a horrifying sequence of ‘lessons’ back out in the Sonoran Desert; the Pale Wanderer his unlikely and unwelcome mentor. This
happens over the course of yet another spectacular title spread, the first issue having
treated us to a similarly impressive title page.

Through the course of this issue, we learn more of Levi’s past, see that he is being
surveilled, and revisit the Arizona sheriff as he tries to process his unbelievable encounter. All of this precedes an epic showdown between Swamp Thing and the Wanderer, who might well prove to be two sides of an ancient coin. We’re given further mysteries to unravel and even a brief cameo from a very well known DC hero.

If it’s not already clear, the creative team have done a wonderful job on this issue. Ram V’s writing is again, superb. Supported ably by the quality lettering of Aditya Bidikar, Ram V’s grasp of plotting and character development shine through, giving us countless memorable moments drenched in atmosphere and enigma.

The visual identity of this title is already so strong, with the team of Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer ensuring that every page is a treat. While each scene has its own distinct feel, there is no doubt that they exist as part of a cohesive whole.

Verdict

The Swamp Thing #2 shows us a creative team in synch and using their talents to great effect. It’s the sort of comic that rewards return visits; revealing fine details or hints that the reader might have missed the first time. It’s clear that the pebble cast into the pond by events in these early issues will generate some pretty big ripples. Bring on issue 3!
(Recommended for ages 13+)


Review by Andy Flood, 24/6/21

The Swamp Thing #1 Review

The Swamp Thing #1

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

From out of the beyond, a new run of ‘The Swamp Thing’ looms!  Our first cover is a striking one, depicting some of the terrible torment that Levi Kamei experiences during his transformation into the titular being.  This is a great first cover and hints at some of the fever dream yet to come.

‘Becoming, Part 1’: the story opens on a gruesome crime scene in the Sonoran Desert, shrouded in dark folklore.  We then hop aboard a flight from India to join our protagonist, who is clearly not having a good time.  Levi Kamei is significant not only for being the new ‘Guardian of the Green’/Swamp Thing but also as DC Comics’ first Indian lead.  He is instantly relatable and promises to be an interesting character to follow.

As we cut from Levi’s return to New York back to the grisly scene in the desert, we meet a twisted, horrific figure of legend: The Pale Wanderer.  As the sheriff faces this nightmare unfolding, Levi wrestles both with his past and the uncertainty of what he is becoming.  The closing scenes show a pivotal encounter and give exciting hints of what is yet to come.

Ram V has written something very special here, with dialogue that informs character and propels the story forwards.  Each story beat is expertly handled, from the deputy recounting the myth of the Pale Wanderer through to the dramatic exchanges of the closing pages.  He conveys the emotion and atmosphere of each moment perfectly, drawing us into the dusty world of the desert just as easily as the fragmented recollections of Levi.  The effect of Ram V’s words is amplified by some excellent lettering by Aditya Bidikar, who gives us subtle reading cues along with easily identifiable ‘voices’ through the use of clear type and varied bubbles.  The speech of the Pale Wanderer, for example, is as black as the crude he drinks.

We are immersed even further by the wonderful art from Mike Perkins who, along with exemplary colour work from Mike Spicer, uses a broad range of comic techniques to engage our imaginations.  Soon we are transported beyond the page and into a dark and mystifying world.  Although the images are at times gruesome, they are never gratuitous and always serve the scene.  Shifts in tone, palette and style help guide us through a jam-packed first issue through to its thrilling conclusion.

Verdict

This premier issue of ‘The Swamp Thing’ is outstanding.  It instantly hooks the reader and doesn’t let go.  The combination of masterful writing and art feel a lot like the early days of Vertigo comics (a line DC used to tell darker, ‘mature’ themed stories) while also being entirely fresh and modern.  The cast of characters is great and the plot threads entangling them are intriguing.  Read Swamp Thing today.  It’s going to be a seriously good ride.

(Recommended for ages 13+)

Review by Andy Flood, 23/6/21

Batman #109 Review

Batman #109

Writer: James Tynion IV

Art: Jorge Jimenez and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz

Released: 01/06/21

Published by DC Comics

It’s been quite a few years since I picked up a Batman comic from my local comic book store. In many respects issue 109, from writer James Tynion, was probably not the best place to begin my re-entry into the world of the Dark Knight. It doesn’t help that this is the fourth part of a larger story, but I am introduced to at least three fairly major characters and, quite frankly, I’ve no clue who they are. A quick internet search filled me in on what I needed to know however, so even without the rest of the story that precedes this issue, there is no need to be kept in the dark.

The events that take place within Batman #109 created more than enough intrigue for this thirty-year Batman fan that it is a testament to Tynion’s writing that I was interested enough to even do said internet search. The Ghost-Maker character, created as a twisted mirror image to Batman himself it seems, certainly has a lot of potential to go either way as hero or villain.

The artwork in the primary story, part four of “The Cowardly Lot”, is fantastic. At one point, on page 16, artist Jorge Jimenez invokes the spirit of the late, great, Norm Breyfogle, which is always a plus in my book.

The artwork for the secondary story, chapter three of “Ghost-Maker”, while perfectly fine, didn’t really excite me in the same way and I felt it was a bit too cartoony for a Batman comic. It would be much more suited to something like Scott Pilgrim in my personal opinion. Even so, the writing by Tynion rises above it enough to make me want to go a little deeper into his work.

Verdict –

Fantastic artwork from Jorge Jimenez really compliments the intriguing character development, from writer James Tynion, igniting a desire to seek out more of both men’s previous work.

Review by Bryan Lomax, 13/06/21

Detective Comics #1037 – Review

Detective Comics #1037 – Review by Bryan Lomax


Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“The Neigborhood Part 4” & “Exclusive”)
with John Ridley (“3 Minutes”).
Art: Viktor Bogdanovic (“The Neighborhood Part 4”), with Karl Mostert (“Exclusive”) & Dustin Nuguyen (“3 Minutes”)

Released: 08/06/21
Published by DC Comics


Things are really heating up in “The Neighborhood Part 4”. The Huntress, having found the murderer of her friend, Mary Knox, is thrust into an investigation of the parasite that has now killed him. The parasitic antagonist that has been claiming lives throughout these last four issues is the perfect metaphor for writer, Mariko Tamaki, to explore the theme of corruption in Gotham City.

Tamaki brings the character of Mr Worth to the forefront as he goes all out in his pursuit of revenge against the man he believes is responsible for his daughter’s murder: Bruce Wayne. Worth represents much of what is wrong with Gotham. He is the flip-side of the same coin to Bruce; a man with money and power, who uses it to signal virtue on the one hand, whilst infecting the city with corruption on the other. He demands results from the mayor whilst paying off the police to look the other way.

This is a theme that Tamaki explores further in the four-page short story, “Exclusive”, which sees reporter, Deb Donovan, reluctantly cruising in and out of a high society charity ball. Donovan is a character that is fast growing on me. She is one of those rare female characters in comic books who is defined by her personality rather than sex appeal.

“3 Minutes”, by Dustin Nuguyen, takes the themes set up by Tamaki, the almost viral spread of immorality throughout Gotham, and redirects the focus of it upon Batman himself. The story is essentially a short conversation between Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, during the early days of Batman’s career, which calls into question Bruce’s decision to take on a child partner. Is Bruce, in effect, just as contagious as men like Mr Worth? It’s an effective little story, revealing that not all of Batman’s allies are by his side for the same reasons.

Viktor Bogdanovic takes over pencil duties from Dan Mora, who covered Parts 1-3 of “The Neighborhood”, which is a shame as I was really rather enjoying Mora’s haunting depiction of Gotham. I am also a sucker for continuity. Even so, there’s some very nice artwork on display here, with Bogdanovic not veering too far away from the tone that has already been established.


Verdict –

Writers Mariko Tamaki and Dustin Nuguyen explore the theme of corruption, in three powerful stories, that compliment each other very effectively. Great stuff!

Review by Bryan Lomax, 20/06/21


Action Comics #1031 – Review

Action Comics #1031

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)

This issue greets us with a fantastic cover by Mikel Janin, showing Superman fairly bursting from the page.  It’s a promise of what’s to come inside, and this dynamic scene encapsulates all the excitement from the opening moments of ‘Warworld Rising, Part Two’.

We join Superman and Superboy as they battle to save a refugee ship, beleaguered by a swarm of Warzoon ships intent on bringing it down.  The whole scene is full of classic Superman moments and sets up a good deal of intrigue among the action.  From there, we travel first to The Fortress of Solitude, then on to Atlantis, meeting other iconic DC characters along the way.  Here Superman is almost in detective mode, as he tries to unravel the riddle of the ship’s occupants and their pursuers.

It’s gripping stuff, revealing our nemesis first via brief mentions of his name, then later through displays of fanatical devotion from his followers.  The closing moments of this chapter foreshadow some dark days for Superman and his companions.

Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s writing is superb throughout this issue.  Through skilful use of dialogue and pacing, he entices us with enigmas and builds emotional tension throughout, rewarding us with a genuinely enjoyable read.  We are left wanting to know what happens next, in that way that only a good comic can.  His writing is presented through some great lettering from Dave Sharpe, with clear cues for emphasis and unusual speech patterns.

Meanwhile, Daniel Sampere has taken Johnson’s words and created incredibly cinematic pages with them, using everything from full page splashes to smaller, intimate panels which at times give us a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ feel.  Indeed, we are privy to the musing of god-like beings, and Sampere’s art conveys their stature perfectly.  To flow from a massive action set piece to a more cerebral sequence so effortlessly is no mean feat.  On each page, the art is enhanced by awesome colours from Adriano Lucas.  He uses clever palette changes to ease us into set changes and draw us further into the world on the page.

As if all that weren’t enough, we are then treated to a continuation of a Midnighter story in ‘The Passenger, Part Three’.  The theme of mystery continues here, even giving us some curious references to Warworld.  Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad manage to work a whole lot of story into their comparatively short page count, with bone-crunching action, intrigue and even an emotional exchange between lovers working their way into the mix.  It’s immediately engaging, even without knowledge of prior events and this is a huge testament to the writers’ skill.  The Midnighter is a character shrouded in mystery and is presented here in a dynamic way.

The writing is supported by bold and exciting art from Michael Avon Oeming.  He uses some great layouts here, always appropriate to the moment (and there are a great variety).  Once Taki Soma has applied her wonderful colours to the page, we have a very atmospheric experience to enjoy.  And again, we are left wanting more.

Verdict

This issue of Action Comics is full of things to show people what comics can do.  The creators really play to the strengths of the medium and seem to enjoy their characters and settings.  They have also created something which is inclusive and (aside from moments of violence) is suitable for all ages. If you want big, cinematic action paired with intimacy, intrigue and suspense, then this is the issue to jump in on.  I for one can’t wait to see what the next issue brings!

Review by Andy Flood, 16/6/21