Batman #118 – Review

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

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

Released: 07/12/21
Published by DC Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Review by Bryan Lomax, 05/01/22

Detective Comics #1040 Review

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…


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

Detective Comics #1039 Review

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…

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