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Detective Comics #965 [Review]

detective_comics_0965A Lonely Place of Living Chapter 1

Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Eddy Barrows
Inks: Eber Ferreira
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Covr: Barrows, Ferreira, Lucas
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Editor: Chris Conroy
With Gratitude to: Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Jim Aparo
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

I’ve gotten woefully behind in actually reading Detective Comics, though it seems it should be one of my favorite titles. But I was a bit put off by the supposed ‘death’ of Tim Drake early in the new run last year, and wasn’t in a big hurry to follow anything "long-term" with that for a number of reasons. And time passed.

Recently, I was quite excited by a familiar-looking image, in an ad for the then-upcoming (now here) Detective Comics story A Lonely Place of Living. For the cover alone, standard or variant (in an extremely rare bit of sentiment) I was going to get the issue ASAP: it’s a callback to my own earliest days "in comics." My first-ever issue of Batman was #439–the closing chapter of Year Three; my second issue was #440…the opening chapter of A Lonely Place of Dying, which is where this story gets its title (sorta like the recent The Lazarus Contract‘s title playing off the classic The Judas Contract).

So for nostalgia alone I was gonna get this issue. But given continuity things of the last six years, I didn’t know exactly what the story itself would yield, outside of the story title and the cover playing off the classic.

We open on a flashback–Tim confronting Dick as he visits the circus he grew up with, showing him photos of Batman going off the deep end and explaining that he knows Batman is Bruce Wayne and that he–Dick–is Nightwing, formerly Robin. In the present, we find Tim being questioned by Mr. Oz–recently revealed to be (a?) Jor-El, father of Kal-El (Superman). We’re treated to brief flashbacks to the events of A Lonely Place of Dying, and then the beginning of the original Robin mini-series as Tim dons the duds and officially becomes Robin. Jor-El reveals his "truth" to Tim even as Tim exerts some control of the situation. He soon finds himself in contact with Batman…only it’s not the Batman he expects…rather, it’s a Batman he swore would never exist. Before much can come of that, the two find themselves facing possibly the most dangerous creature Oz had captured, which leaves us waiting for the next issue.

I would have to actually go back to the original issues or one of the collected editions on my shelves to confirm, but the dialogue in the flashbacks hit pretty darned CLOSE to my memory of the exchanges between the characters, and honestly gave me a slight chill at the way the flashbacked-scenes brought up memories for me.

As of reading this issue, I already knew the "big reveal" of Oz’s identity (though I’m still not sure if or how I’ll accept it–I’m still waiting for some other swerve and imagine it’ll be quite a long time before I’d accept it as the canon it’s being presented as and not just another plot point on the way to something else). I definitely dug Tim’s ingenuity, seeing that despite his time as a prisoner, he’s continued working on a way to escape (and after another earlier escape that we saw in Superman Reborn).

I was not prepared for/expecting the older Bat-Tim to show up or be any part of this at all…I honestly initially saw him as "just another character" of no significance; some swerve to this story or some trap for Tim or some such; it was seeing someone’s comment about the Titans of Tomorrow story that jogged my memory and contextualized the character…making this all the more cool as a story.

I’m not particularly familiar with Tim’s story or origins from 2011-onward; really since before 2009 as I’d lapsed as a reader early in the Red Robin run, and got right back out of the New 52 iteration of Teen Titans that I’d tried at the start. But at least for this opening chapter of A Lonely Place of Living, I feel like I’ve got "my" Robin back, "my" Tim Drake.

Which is a rather personal thing for me as the character debuted AS I got into comics…

Story, art…all in all, this is an excellent issue, certainly for playing on my nostalgia. The story is strongly rooted in continuity, in history…and the art just looks good, with nothing taking me out of the story. This issue just is.

If you’re a fan of Robin, or Tim Drake, or the current run of Detective Comics, I highly recommend this. Really, even if you aren’t a fan of them…this feels like something big, and all the moreso to me personally. Only this first chapter in and I already know I am absolutely looking forward to the inevitable double-dipping of getting the collected volume, and wondering what form that might take–as well as whether or not we’ll get any new version of a collected volume of the original A Lonely Place of Dying story!

tec965_batman441

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Batman and Robin Eternal #1 [Review]

batmanandrobineternal001Story: James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder
Script: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Tony Daniel
Inks: Sandu Florea
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tomeu Morey
Asst. Editor: Dave Wielgosz
Editor: Chris Conro
Group Editor: Mark Doyle
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Against otherwise better judgment, I decided to check this out. I’m sure it had plenty to do with being a #1–a chance to “check it out” from the start, before things get deep. Also that I got the impression the series is due to focus heavily on the previous Robins–Dick, Jason, and Tim–which is something I’m quite interested in (particularly Dick and Tim). I also have the hope of it being a lengthy but mostly contained story, and while I’m really not thrilled at the prospect of a WEEKLY $4 book, since it’s not like I’m really following anything else from DC and Marvel at the moment, I might be able to tolerate a weekly dose at the higher price.

We open with a flashback, then jump to the ‘present’ with Red Robin, Grayson, and Red Hood pursuing someone; a bit of an action sequence. Scene skips abound as we get a moment with the new Batman interacting with would-be Bat-protégé Harper Row, then more flashbacky stuff, and Grayson encounters a costumed figure that could have used lethal force but doesn’t; we’re introduced to this “Mother” as a concept, and “The Orphan,” and ultimately get a fairly disturbing “reveal” for the ending of the issue.

Aside from the concept, probably the first thing I noticed with the issue was the art. I tend to enjoy Daniel’s work, and even on a hit-or-miss basis, this one’s a hit for me. I really liked the look of the issue on the whole–including Dick and Jason looking rather similar (thanks to metatextual knowledge of Jason’s creation/introduction back in the ’80s). Really no complaints visually.

Story-wise I’m less-keen on stuff. Structurally, I definitely appreciate the issue. I liked that we’re dropped in on action right away (rather than some “talking heads” situation), and I like that we get a bit of an overview of the characters that seem poised to be focal points of this weekly series. It’s silly details that hung me up–stuff like “The Narrows” as a location I don’t ever remember in Gotham prior to the Nolan films or the Arkham games, as well as stuff from Dick’s flashback to his first “super-villain” tying to those films. I can’t quite put my finger on why that bugs me, but it’s there. Hardly a “dealbreaker,” though. I have more concern with Batman–Bruce’s–actions and potential motivation, perhaps just on a metatextual level.

Whatever the specifics…I enjoyed this on the whole. The issue also felt thick (and it is–I count 30 pages of story to the usual 20ish) and so the issue is much more worth its $3.99 cover price.

Seeing the third volume of the paperbacks for the previous Batman weekly–Batman Eternal–also out this week plants the seed in my mind all the more that I might prefer to just wait for collected volumes…particularly given how quickly I lost track of DC‘s weeklies last year. If I’m not going to get around to/keep up with weekly issues and binge-read anyway…might as well wait for my preferred format.

Still…a good first issue, working well as a “pilot” issue and getting me interested, confirming that yes, I am (myself, at least) interested in where this story goes, whatever the format. And as a first issue…this is well worth checking out if you’ve any particular interest in Batman’s sidekicks.

Superman Unchained #1 [Review]

Superman Unchained #1The Leap

Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Assoc. Editor: Chris Conroy
Group Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

So…$4.99 for this Superman Unchained #1. It’s functionally a 20-page story with a 2-page “epilogue” or “backup” or “extra feature.” 22 pages for $4.99. BUT there’s what was billed as a “tipped-in POSTER” included. This poster is just a double-sided foldout allowing for two single images roughly 4x the size of a normal-sized page, the most “poster-like” loaded with caption boxes. Maybe technically this counts as an extra 8 pages…but that STILL only brings the pagecount to 30…for $4.99. Removing this so-called “poster” involved peeling it off a bound-in piece of tagboard–something which I would assume complicated the printing/binding process in itself to put in, plus the folding, placement of the glue, and the placement of the “poster.” And the “poster” itself had a couple dots of this glue, keeping it from flapping open.

All this hassle, and it’s basically for one side of a “poster” being this huge image of Superman crashing through a satellite, and then an extra-large image of him narrating the situation on the other side. Hardly something that would really make sense on the wall as a poster, more just some comic page pulled out of an issue and stuck on the wall.

$4.99. Five dollars. And while I read the first arc of Superman when the New 52 began–so have a BIT of context of Lois, Perry, and Clark’s relationships…I’m not even that clear on what things are here. And the issue’s big “reveal,” the thing that’s such a big deal, isn’t. Not to me. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t interest me. It doesn’t change things.

So, objects are falling to Earth. Superman’s trying to stop them, letting one go since he sees it’ll fall “harmlessly” while he stops this huge “Lighthouse” satellite that’s gonna hit like a gigantic nuclear bomb. He confronts Lex Luthor, who has an alibi, and as he seethes over this, learns someone stopped that object he’d let go–but if it wasn’t him, Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern–then who, exactly, WAS it that stopped the thing? We learn of General Lane’s involvement, and of a secret weapon against Superman that goes back to the beginning of things.

Visually…the art’s good. It’s Jim Lee, whose art I’ve tended to almost always enjoy. Maybe I’m just irked about the “poster,” and/or the price and/or my own lack of context for not keeping up with Superman the last 15 months, but the art doesn’t blow me away. It’s good, but it’s not the “great” that I’d’ve hoped for. It’s not the Jim Lee art that a decade ago prompted me to NOT drop the Superman titles but rather keep up a few more months until Lee‘s run on an Azzarello story would begin.

Story-wise, I’m just not interested. I know a lot of people are loving Snyder‘s work, and will consider this to be great Superman…but unfortunately, this is NOT “my” Superman. Perhaps the collected volume(s) will end up being my thing, if I myself hear enough good about it to warrant checking them out. But for now…this issue just doesn’t do anything (positive) for me.

I have no intention of grabbing the next issue, and it’ll depend on others’ reviews whether or not I even bother returning to this title in any form, outside proper bargain bins. For your page count, you’d be better off grabbing the first Superman: Earth One graphic novel and reading that, especially if you’re looking for a specific tie-in to the Man of Steel film.

The Flash: Rebirth #6 [Review]

Fastest Man Alive

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ethan Van Sciver
Inkers: Ethan Van Sciver & Scott Hanna
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Colored by: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Cover by: Ethan Van Sciver
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Published by: DC Comics

This mini started out billed as a 5-issue series. Then it got expanded to 6 issues. This sixth/final issue comes basically 10 months after #1 shipped. Frankly, the issue–while something I’d like to…well, like…seems to be something that ought to have been wrapped up long before now.

Story-wise, we open on Barry and Wally chasing Zoom through time–the latter has vowed to kill Iris, the former are trying to stop him. Of course, the duo catch the villain and ensure he won’t threaten anyone ever again (well, for the rest of THIS issue, at least…it’s a comic. He’s gonna come back!). Then they return home where there’s a parade for Barry…I believe the one he was nervous about way back in issue #1. And what would a re-insertion of a classic character into contemporary continuity be without the “validation” of the Justice League affirming the return and his place with them?

The art for this issue–while good–lacks a certain sense of greatness, and isn’t nearly as appealing as I’d’ve hoped. Perhaps the lateness of the issue would suggest time was taken to really make it pop, or something. Even on a couple of the huge full-page/double-spread shots, I’m not entirely clear what’s being shown, though they make a little more sense when I take time to go back and “study” them, looking for what they COULD be, beyond what simply looking at them AS I read the story gives me. There’s one that I’m not sure if it’s being suggested that this chase through time IS the lightning that gave Barry his powers in the first place (which would seem to be a time paradox), or if they’re just viewing it, or if it’s just there to fill out the page and clue us in that they’ve reached the earliest time OF Barry’s time as The Flash.

The story itself mostly ties up the broadest of loose ends, but already sets the stage for not only the return of Zoom to active status, but also someone called “Doctor Alchemy,” who I presume is some largely un-used silver-age Flash villain that’s gonna be raised up to show us how awesome he can be, much as was done with Black Hand in Green Lantern (though I’m not expecting lightning to strike twice, in this case). Johns seems to have a definite love for the character, which I applaud…but this series in itself has done far too little to “sell” me on Barry as the primary Flash character (seems if anything, it’s been Johns using Barry to such good effect with Hal in Green Lantern and the core Blackest Night book that’s sold me at all on the merit of having Barry around.

Obviously, if you’ve already bought the first five issues, this issue’s one that you might as well consider picking up for the sake of completing the series. It’s in no way a selling point in itself though for the series, and based on this issue alone I’d suggest ignoring it. The collected volume will probably read much better, with the wait between issues stretching a mere turning of a page or two rather than months, and the whole of the story will be fresher in one’s head and thus probably feel more coherent.

As a whole, this issue’s quite a disappointment, a lukewarm ending to what should’ve been a hot series.

Story: 4/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 5.5/10

Red Circle: The Web #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

The Red Circle: The Hangman #1 (one-shot) [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Brave and the Bold #24 [Review]

Last Time I Saw Paris

Writer: Matt Wayne
Artist: Howard Porter
Colorist: Tom Chu
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Howard Porter
Publisher: DC Comics

Though I’ve “heard” that Static’s been appearing in the Teen Titans book, I’ve not been reading that corner of the DCU…so this is one of the first times I’ve seen the character interact directly with the other DCU characters. Offhand, the only other instance I’ve seen of Static in the mainline DCU was a reference somewhere by Black Lightning about being asked about his relation TO Static. So seeing the two teamed up for this issue was something that seemed interesting enough to check out.

Story-wise, some super-powered villain called Holocaust bursts onto the scene, and both Black Lightning and Static are present and leap into action to protect those around them and deal with the threat. The relationship between the two changes during the issue, winding up with a mutual respect.

The visuals aren’t bad–at some points, they seem a bit “off” to me ever so slightly–but on the whole make for a solid visual experience. The story itself is ok, if a bit cliched. However, given that this is essentially a one-off issue–we have a complete “story” told in this one issue that does not require one to have bought the previous issue nor a need to buy the next issue for continuation/conclusion. Your $2.99 cover price investment nets you the entirety of this particular Black Lightning/Static story.

On the whole given all that, this was a nice fun issue and well worth its cover price. I’d been under the impression that this title was still doing ongoing arcs, just with different pairings of characters taking the lead/spotlight. As a book that gives complete done-in-ones spotlighting such pairings, I’d totally be on-board. After the Booster Gold/Magaog issue last month and now this, I’ll be keeping my eye on the book.

Well worth picking up if you’re a fan of either/both characters.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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