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The Flash: Rebirth #1 [Review]

Lightning Strikes Twice

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Ethan Van Sciver, Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

We open with a mystery in this issue, as someone with a tie to or fixation on the Flashes attacks and kills people in the Central City crime lab. As other police storm the lab, the killer–who was gathering certain chemicals–seems to reenact the accident that gave Barry Allen his powers. We then move to a “welcome back!” parade being held in honor of the recently-returned Barry Allen; while those closest to him also revel in the hero’s return. Barry resists the attention and importance placed on his return. When an old foe returns, Barry is onhand to deal with the foe–though what he gets is far from what he expected.

The art for this issue is quite good…but somehow for me fails to hold up to my expectations for how much I enjoyed the art on the OTHER Rebirth mini. Very solid stuff here, and you’d be hard-pressed to find much better, though!

I’m quite underwhelmed with the story so far. With the exception of a handful of my grandfather’s old comics more than a decade ago, the only instances I’ve ever had reading Barry have been few and far between, with him making brief appearances in Wally’s life…so I don’t know how the characterization holds up (ore doesn’t) by comparison. At the moment, I’m really not interested in Barry, even after this issue, and while the issue’s end leaves me curious as to what’s caused what happened, I can’t help but wonder if it’ll come across more cliched than not.

It was Johns’ focus issue on Zoom a few years back that first really drew me into the world of the Flash, and it’s Johns’ Flash that developed any interest I really have in the character–so I’m holding out hope that my interest will develop a lot more as this series progresses.

Probably the main drawback of this issue as a whole is that it feels–more than a lot of comics–like it IS a story chopped into segments. If you ReallyHaveToKnowRightNowAsItUnfolds what’s going on, jump on this issue. If you’re just looking for what’s hopefully going to be one of THE Flash stories with great art, I suspect you’ll be better off waiting for the collected volume.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Justice Society of America #25 [Review]

Black Adam & Isis part three: Family Feuds

Story: Geoff Johns, Jerry Ordway
Pencil art: Jerry Ordway
Ink art: Bob Wiacek & Jerry Ordway
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Jerry Ordway)
Publisher: DC Comics

We resume the story with “Black Mary” asserting influence on Billy–creating “Black Billy” and illustrating an interesting point of the nature of the Marvel Family’s use of the power that flows through them. While the Marvels clash with the JSA, Jay Garrick accompanies Billy’s father as things race toward pivotal “Marvel family” events.

The art on this issue is fantastic, and for me works perfectly with this story. In addition to being high quality art, the fact that it is Ordway–who has more than just passing familiarity to the Marvel family–is icing on the cake.

The story itself is accessible to me as a reader who never paid much attention to any of the Marvel family characters until relatively recently, and yet it is so obvious that this draws on continuity put down over the past couple decades (Ordway’s involvement is testament to that!)

As part three of an only four or five-chapter story, this isn’t the best point to simply jump in exactly, but as a whole if you’ve any interest in the Marvel family, this is a story you ought to be reading. And if you’re looking for a crash course or playing some wikipedia-catchup and the cover intrigues you, give this a shot!

Highly recommended.

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9/10

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #4 [Review]

Words, Pics, Heart: Mike Kunkel
Letters: Steve Wands
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Jann Jones
Cover: Mike Kunkel
Publisher: Johnny DC (DC Comics)

This issue sees the culmination of elements from the first several issues come to a head as Billy and Mary confront Theo Adam with the help of the Wizard. Of course, it’s no easy task since the 7 Deadly Evils are along as part of Black Adam’s gang, and Captain Marvel is seemingly outnumbered.

The art is at once an annoyance and a delight. It’s annoying because I’m not a fan of the exaggerations it embraces visually. At the same time, it’s a delight–it’s far from my usual preference, but this issue (and those before it) make me feel like I’m parked in front of a tv watching a fun cartoon.

The story itself is fairly simplistic on the surface, but carries a lot of deeper stuff if one cares to look deeper. Like a well-crafted cartoon, there’s plenty to be enjoyed here even by adult readers, while holding what presumably would be attractive to the younger crowd. SUre, there’s violence, and sure, there’s fighting…but there’s no cussing, the violence is “cartoon violence” rather than “realistic,” and I daresay one would find much more enjoyment sharing this comic with them than a half hour on the couch with any of a number of contemporary cartoons.

Most comics that I really enjoy migrate to the top of the stack when I sit down with new books. This one makes its way to the bottom–it’s a great “happy book” or “palate-cleanser,” and with all the little panels and dialogue and such takes awhile to read–a great ending to a stack of new comics that otherwise flash by far too quickly. What gets this issue its rating is the overall enjoyment that transcends simply looking at the art or the story/writing.

Highly recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 9/10

Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon #1 [Review]

A Cold Day in Hell

Written by: Royal McGraw
Art by: Tom Mandrake
Colors by: Guy Major
Letters by: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Edited by: Harvey Richards
Edited by: Michael Siglain
Cover: Ladronn
Publisher: DC Comics

I came on way late with GOtham Central back in the day, though after reading the first hardcover realized it should have been tops on my list years earlier. Given the nature of that title, I had high hopes for this issue…hopes that weren’t entirely realized, but not really dashed, either.

We begin with Gordon prisoner of one of Batman’s foes, before flashing back a bit to show us how it is that he came to be in this position. It’s not long before Gordonrealizes that his confrontation with this foe comes down to just them–Batman’s “dead,” after all–and we see James Gordon the cop here, not just a figure calling in Batman with a spotlight on top of a building.

The story’s fairly straightforward here; nothing spectacular. But we do get a look at Gordon and how the GCPD is faring without Batman in town. This doesn’t strike me as a definitive Gordon story–but it’s nothing that seems to really counter anything that’s come before. In fact, it seems to affirm many of the elements of the Batman “universe” I enjoy.

The art’s pretty good, and fits the story. I particularly liked that it managed to in a few particular panels take my mind exactly where I think it was supposed to, invoking other comics and even the Batman animated series from the 1990s (a series that absolutely cannot be ignored in the staging of this issue).

All in all, this was a solid issue, but not really integral to anything. It’s a nice look at supporting elements, but it doesn’t seem likely to inform events of the core mini. Well worth it if you’re a fan of the character or want to see the wider scope of the Batman/Gotham “universe” but not something you’d need if you’re just along for the core Battle for the Cowl series.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Oracle: The Cure #1 [Review]

Home Again, Home Again

Writer: Kevin Vanhook
Pencillers: Julian Lopez & Fernando Pasarin
Inkers: Bit & Hi-Fi’s David Bryant
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Steve Wands
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Guillem March
Publisher: DC Comics

We open on a view from outside Barbara Gordon’s new apartment building, as residents all react to flickering availability of power. We then move into seeing Barbara interact with her father, some other allies, hacker contacts, and so on, showing us much of what makes up the life of Oracle as she adjusts to being back in Gotham City after being gone for quite awhile.

The story isn’t bad, though I’m not terribly enthused by it. Nothing really blows me away…in fact, a couple points actually strike me as extremely cliche. There’s a point that’s brought up several times throughout the issue that screams foreshadowing to me (and cliched foreshadowing at that). Additionally, what happens with one of Barbara’s hacker friends seems laughably unrealistic to me, like a plot point jammed in because there was no other way to have such a point occur otherwise.

The art’s not bad. It seems vaguely generic at points, but comes across smoothly for the most part. Aside from some…questionable angles…you could really find a lot of art in comics out there that is far less appealing. What we have in this issue works for the story, and fits.

The way the foreshadowing pays off in the next two issues will really inform how integral this series is to the Battle for the Cowl story as a whole. For now, this seems to be at least a nice tie-in that takes the context of the overall story and is telling a smaller aspect of that story with a particular focus that needn’t include the entire Bat-verse.

Could be much better, but not a bad read if you’re interested in the character or having all the tie-ins and such.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

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