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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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The ’80s Revisited: Crisis on Infinite Earths #12

crisis_on_infinite_earths_0012Final Crisis

Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman
Co-Plotter/Penciller: George Perez
Embellisher: Jerry Ordway
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: March, 1986
Cover Price: $1.25

This is a large, convoluted issue with way too much going on to really summarize and address in any great detail in the general length I allow myself, and to do so without having to go into a lot of detail. Essentially, an infinite multiverse has been condensed down to one universe, though a bunch of heroes from parallel universes remain, having been outside time when that consolidation occurred. They’re split up to address issues on multiple fronts…namely the Anti-Monitor. Said villain just refuses to go down and STAY DOWN, rising multiple times from seeming defeat. In the course of this, a number of elements get loosely addressed, we have some characters killed off, others get a sendoff, and others simply get brief appearances with loose/quick details "setting stuff up" for moving forward (such as Wally learning of Barry’s death and becoming Flash instead of Kid Flash).

While I tend to like and appreciate Wolfman‘s art, and certainly enjoy Perez and Ordway both, reading this issue was a chore. I first read it about a decade ago–sometime around Infinite Crisis, if I recall correctly–having "finally" sought out the collected volume to actually read the "original Crisis" for myself given its 20-year anniversary had cropped up with a "sequel" of sorts (yet, amazing to consider yet another 10 years have passed and we’ve had a 30-year anniversary edition!).

Given what it is, and dealing with an entire universe and wrapping up stuff from a year’s worth of issues and all that, I have no real problem with the story…it’s just dense and seems like it has a huge amount of ground to cover in its limited pages despite being an extra-sized issue.

The art, of course, is fantastic–Perez and Ordway teamed up? Doesn’t get much better than that!

The creative team as a whole packs a heckuva lot into this, which I do like; but I can only imagine what I’d feel about it if it were a brand-new issue in 2016.

While we do have the "ultimate defeat" of the Anti-Monitor in this issue and a bit of an epilogue explaining a few things, overall this issue itself caps off the series, and I feel like I missed a lot by not reading the previous couple issues, and lost the scope or "epic-ness" of the story jumping in on this alone. As the story has been a "complete, full story" for three decades, I don’t think I’d recommend this as something to just sit down and read as an isolated issue. It’s sort of neat to flip through and see just the isolated chapter rather than the final segment of pages in a collected volume…but I think Crisis works much better read as a whole than just grabbing an issue.

For a 25-cent issue, it’s not a horrible read…but there’s certainly a lot of nuance that I am not picking up on given the decade’s space between this and when I last read the earlier issues.

Crisis 30th Anniversary Edition: Acquired

When I first got into comics, it was via Grandpa’s old Silver Age stuff. When Mom bought me my first few brand-new comics, I knew there was a LOT of stuff between Grandpa’s comics and what I had in-hand (if only the 3-400-some difference in issue numbers!). It would be several years before I learned of the existence of the major story that “split” the continuities…for much of my time as a comics person, DC could be referenced as “Pre” and “Post” Crisis.

coie_older_edition

It was at least another decade before I ever actually READ the story myself, getting it first-hand…and that came sometime after reading Wolfman‘s novelization of the thing.

I think it was another couple years before I finally acquired a copy of my own…of course, I was happy at the time with the edition I got–with the Perez/Ross cover.

coie_30th_deluxe_20151207b

Then, just last week I happened across a 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. I recal seeing something about it, so its existence was not a surprise…but seeing it for myself, it was just this beautiful volume, and though I’d intended to hold off at least a couple weeks, I opted not to put off ordering it (justifying it as a birthday present to myself).

coie_30th_deluxe_20151207a

This new edition is an oversized hardcover, and dwarfs its earlier paperback edition…length, width, thickness.

coie_30th_deluxe_20151207c

The physical size is accounted for with the price…this weighs in at a hefty $49.99 cover price (to the paperback’s $29.99 most of a decade ago).  This certainly makes the paperback the better value solely for the story…but I am quite happy with my purchase (I was able to order the volume for 45%-off that cover price).

This is a volume that definitely illustrates where I feel DC is by FAR Marvel‘s superior when it comes to pricing stuff. Where DC‘s far physically-smaller paperback is a whopping $20 (60%) cheaper than its massive, oversized hardcover counterpart…I can’t help but remember my shock at seeing the similarly-paired editions of the Planet Hulk volumes. The hardcover was $39.99…while the paperback was a mere $5 cheaper at $34.99. If $5–barely more than a SINGLE-ISSUE COMIC–is all the difference, then for me it’s a no-brainer: I’ll pay that slight bit more for the superior edition. (While generally speaking, such a $20 difference would certainly prompt me to stick with paperback).

I suppose the next thing is for DC to publish several oversized hardcovers collecting the Crisis on Multiple Earths series…which would certainly have my interest!

Uncanny X-Men #600 [Review]

uncannyxmen600Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immonen, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez, Frazer Irving
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin
Colors: Marte Gracia, Jason Keith, Chris Bachalo, Frazer Irving
Cover: Chris Bachalo
Lettering & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editors: Christina Harrington, Xander Jarowey
Editors: Mike Marts and Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel
Cover Date: January 2016
Cover Price: $5.99

Winter Carnival

Writer: Mary Jo Duffy
Penciler: George Perez
Inker: Alfredo Alcala
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Cover Art: Paul Gulacy
Associate Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

The first X-Men comic I clearly, consciously remember getting is Uncanny X-Men #300. The costumes, the characters, the cover–it fit the then-current animated series on tv that I was getting familiar with, and had a nice shiny cover to draw extra attention (to say nothing of being a thicker cover physically, making for a durable, high-quality issue to hold).

Several years later I picked up #400, and then years after that 500–though I hadn’t kept up with every issue of the title.

So again now, I bought #600 despite not being entirely current on the title (and overlooking the multiple reboots between the last legitimately-numbered issue and this) because of having bought the last several 100-issue round-number issues when they came up. Some 22 years after getting #300, here I am with #600.

My understanding is that this is Bendis‘ final X-Men issue, as far as being the driving force behind the main X-books. Despite catching up a fair bit on Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men recently via Marvel‘s Digital Unlimited, I’m still a bit out of the loop on whatever’s transpired between where I left off there and stuff immediately prior to Secret Wars and the Last Days stuff. But I do know the characters and the bulk of recent stuff in the most general of terms.

This issue finds Beast (Hank McCoy) experiencing an “intervention” by his teammates, forcing him to confront what he’s done of late–with emphasis on having time-traveled to bring the original X-Men into the present where they’re now stuck. Amidst the intervention/confrontation, we get some flashes to a number of smaller interactions–“original” Jean wants to leave the group for awhile; “original” Bobby confronts current Bobby on repressed feelings; Kitty, Colossus, and Illyana catch up with each other, and so on. Meanwhile, we also see Scott Summers’ recent dream to fruition…and it proves to be just a bit different than we’ve been led to believe.

We also get a lengthy “backup story” by Perez, a solo Iceman thing, that while it looks good does not feel particularly relevant nor current. It seems set in the early 1970s, though it feels like a more recent piece. The art is very good–I usually do enjoy Perez‘ art–though I don’t entirely appreciate the black-and-white instead of color. Perhaps it was intended this way, maybe it was a stylistic choice, but that contributes to it not feeling like it belongs in this issue.

The main feature’s story is solid enough, and though it doesn’t feel like an ongoing issue but more like a one-shot, it works decently enough as itself, as what it is. At the same time, I’m not thrilled at what appears to be Bendis trying to cement several key points just before taking off, like he has to solidify or shoehorn in some stuff to force subsequent writers to address things or leave Bendis‘ work to be an absolute character element. I do definitely approve of the supposed conclusion of the Cyclops arc, and hope to see stuff picked up on, that it’d “redeem” the villanous element applied to the character over the last several years.

Visually…while I appreciate the CONCEPT of letting a bunch of artists work on the issue as “the” big anniversary issue…I can really do without it. The shifting visual styles is distracting and draws attention to stuff in a way that takes away from the otherwise-natural shifting nature of the story, giving us some smaller character moments while addressing the larger overall confrontation with Beast.

I definitely enjoyed Perez‘ work on the Iceman story…but it’s such an unrelated thing that I’m honestly resentful at its inclusion, at this issue being over-priced at $6 over the “standard” $4 just for the story’s inclusion. Better a $3.99 issue without it than $5.99 WITH. That said, the story would work as some bonus/extra cheap attraction, as it really has nothing to do with current continuity, and has no likely/obvious ongoing elements to contribute to stuff, other than being a ’70s-looking/’70s-sounding story.

The main story’s art was distracting…and I was reminded how recognizable and unwelcome (to me) Bachalo‘s art is amidst it all…especially for the cover. It’s also very disappointing that the cover looks like it’s half of or one of several “panels” of a larger image, without even a wraparound…only a bunch of variants.

I bought this issue personally for being the anniversary issue, being the actual high-number or “legacy-numbered” issue. That’s for the personal element of having got #300 off the shelf, and each subsequent 100-numbered issue. In and of itself, if you have followed Bendis‘ X-work, you’ll want to pick this up. Otherwise, this is quite skippable for whatever will be ‘current” moving forward. Outside of whatever closure you’d get having followed this series, and/or All-New X-Men, I’d suggest skipping this and waiting for whatever nearest #1 most directly follows and grabs your attention.

The ’90s Revisited: The New Titans #65

newtitans065Dejavu

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Al Vey
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Associate Editor: Jon Peterson
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Tom Grummett, George Perez
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $1.75
Cover Date: April 1990

Few bargain-bin issues really grab my attention by the cover alone the way this one did. I probably knew this existed, knew OF the issue, but I’d never read it before, and despite all my early-’90s bargain-bin buying, I don’t know that I’ve ever even owned this issue before a few days ago.

While this is a New Titans issue, the cover shows Batman with Nightwing and Tim Drake (and a Robin costume on a table), with the caption “It Began With Batman…” I first looked for the Lonely Place of Dying indicator despite the cover not being one I recognized from that story…but nothing relating to that story other than my knowledge of the characters. Still, I recognized this as being extremely early Tim Drake, and for that alone my interest was piqued.

What we get is Tim seeking out Dick per Batman for some insight/training into being “Batman’s Partner.” Not necessarily ROBIN, but Partner. Despite this being a New Titans issue, I was rather disappointed when the rest of the Titans appeared…apparently they’ve been dealing with Trigon and some sort of Plague, that Raven is still facing. This leads them to facing their teammate who–infected–turns again on the team and is ready to kill them all while they don’t even want to hurt her. Of course, Dick is eventually drawn back into things, showing his leadership and necessity to them as further emphasis that he has grown out from under the Batman.

This was quite a treat visually. Grummett‘s art stood out very well…the only characters that really looked “off” to me were Raven herself and Donna Troy, and yet the former I’m aware of having multiple “looks” through the years and same for the latter…I even recognized another character as who I believe to be her husband of the time, or at least someone I’ve seen and “known” to have been involved with this character group in the early 1990s.

Story-wise, I really, really enjoyed seeing Dick and Tim interact. This issue came out during my first real foray into comics, while Tim Drake was still a new character…not yet Robin, but the obvious successor to the role. I would have perfectly enjoyed this issue if it was nothing but Tim and Dick; but as it was, I was able to “get” what was going on with the rest of the team. If not in full, then enough to not feel like half the issue was truly wasted on them; I just wanted to see Dick training Tim.

All in all, this is easily one of the most enjoyable bargain-bin issues I’ve pulled in ages, in and of itself; and a definite rare treat as something from this era that is truly an entirely NEW read for me, rather than simply re-reading something I read 20 or so years ago! Though I paid 25 cents, and the original cover price was “only” $1.75, this would have been a rare case of an issue being well worth my paying the modern $3.99, given my enjoyment of the issue as a whole.

Superman #6 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 2/5

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5 [Review]

Quick Rating: Fantastic
Story Title: Book Five

The Legions come together as their foes are dealt with and the story winds down.

finalcrisislegionof3worlds005Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: George Perez
Inker: Scott Koblish
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letters: Nick Napolitano
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Art: George Perez & Nei Ruffino
Publisher: DC Comics

In some ways, I hardly remember the last issue. It hasn’t been as long as it could have been…but long enough as we’re something like a half-year out from the ending of Final Crisis itself. Despite that…the wait seems to be worth it: this was a fantastic issue. I imagine I must’ve used phrasing like that before, but it fits here. There’s so much action and the pages are just filled with visual details on top of what we’re given overtly in words from the story.

The previous issue saw the return of OUR Superboy–Connor Kent. This series has also seen the return of Bart Allen (Kid Flash). Together with Superman and three different versions of the Legion, the characters work together to (would there be expectation otherwise?) overcome their foes.

We see a bit of personality from each version of the Legions (if not on an individual level in all cases). We have a satisfying conclusion to the story that makes sense. And we get set-up for a new ongoing series featuring these characters.

Johns’ writing is on a high level here, making use of story elements from the past few years–and going back through the history of these characters–and crafting what for now is THE Legion of Super-Heroes story to me. The story draws from elements seeded across numerous other books, and though this is a Legion-centric story, it borrows elements from throughout the DC universe as a whole.

Perez‘ art is top-notch as well with a level of detail that continues to impress me. His rendition of most of these characters comes off as iconic–and in many ways, this is the best I’ve seen many of the characters look.

I got a real kick out of seeing Superboy-Prime’s ultimate fate as the character comes full circle (though one should be careful what one wishes for), and there’s some interesting subtext to be taken from it as the character speaks right to the reader–or at least the comic-reading audience as a whole. Whether this is to drive home a purpose for the character and his unique position for executing this dynamic or is a way of Johns speaking to the audience…or both…it makes for a very satisfying conclusion.

I don’t feel like this story really justified its having the Final Crisis tag, as any tie it may have had to that story seemed to be covered in the actual Final Crisis series. This story ends without sending characters into Final Crisis (late or otherwise) but rather sends them toward adventure taking place after that event.

Despite severe lateness and showing no real justification for the Final Crisis tag, this concluding issue is not to be missed if you’ve at all enjoyed the story so far. If you’ve not read it at all…whether you’re a long-time Legion of Super-Heroes fan or have never touched an issue of any version of the Legion, I’d recommend considering the collected volume.

Ratings:

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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