Weekly Comic 100s: The Scumbag, MMPR Finale, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: The Scumbag #1
AUTHOR: Rick Remender
ARTISTS: Lewis Larosa, Moreno Dinisio (Colorist), Rus Wooton (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 21, 2020

This issue has, perhaps fittingly, the only blatant female pereneum shots I’ve ever seen. Clothed, obviously. But still.

I do love this premise, though. Essentially, giving Captain America’s super-serum to the worst person possible. And The Scumbag most certainly sells us on that point. There’s a gross-out quality to this book that doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. But there may be enough intrigue for me to give it another look…

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #55
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Moises Hidalgo, Igor Monti & Sabrina Del Grosso (Colorists), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED: October 21, 2020

As our gorgeous Jamal Campbell cover indicates, we get a new Green Ranger in this series finale. (Two new ones start next month.) It’s not exactly an exciting choice. But the character sells comic books.

I’m assuming this is the last we’ll see of these new Dark Rangers. That’s a shame, as I feel like this story could have gone another issue or two. I wasn’t sure about them initially. But they grew on me.

TITLE: Batman #101
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Guillem March, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 20, 2020

I’m not normally a big Guillem March fan. But in this issue he does a two-page rendering of Batman in the classic blue and gray costume that’s pretty awesome.

This issue tries to sell us on the idea that things are going to be very different for Batman and Gotham City going forward, with Bruce even getting a new base of operations. Of course, this kind of thing has been done before with varying degrees of success. Despite my mixed feelings on “Joker War,” I still have confidence in Tynion IV to deliver.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #110
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS: Jodi Nishijima, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 21, 2020

A strictly okay issue. Transitional, if nothing else. The first half is a mildly amusing story about Raphael getting a motorcycle. Then we go into a brief tale about Leo and some of the Mutant Town kids breaking into Old Hob’s lair. The latter is the more intriguing of the two, as the angle with the kids has never been done in a TMNT story. But all in all, this one is pretty skippable.

TITLE: Marvels X #6
AUTHORS: Alex Ross (Story), Jim Krueger (Story & Script)
ARTISTS: Well-Bee, Cory Petit (Letterer). Cover by Ross.
RELEASED: October 21, 2020

This mini goes out on something of a whimper. But if you enjoyed Earth X, I suspect you’ll like it regardless.

The star of the book, besides Ross of course, is Well-Bee. His grounded, slightly gritty take on the Marvel Universe is fitting given we have a civilian as our point-of-view character. As the series expands, its fun to see him get to draw all the classic Marvel characters.

TITLE: Juggernaut #2
AUTHOR: Fabian Nicieza
ARTISTS: Ron Garney, Matt Milla (Colorist), Joe Sabino (Inker). Cover by Geoff Shaw & Milla.
RELEASED: October 21, 2020

Ron Garney draws a hell of a Hulk. Tremendous line work. My only complaint is we don’t really get to see the body of the fight between Juggernaut and Hulk. That’s what’s drawing readers in, yes? So at least a portion of your readership is going to come away disappointed…

Still, I’m liking the whole “Juggernaut teams with a YouTuber” premise. It’s enough to bring me back for at least one more issue.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: A Broken Triad

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S3.E9. “The Tholian Web”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols
WRITERS: Judy Burns, Chet Richards
DIRECTOR: Herb Wallerstein
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: November 15, 1968
SYNOPSIS:
Kirk is presumed dead as an alien race builds a destructive web around the Enterprise.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

“It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”

Those are the exact words that came out of my mouth when I saw Kirk, Spock, and the others wearing those space suits in “The Tholian Web” (shown above). And in my head, they came out in Dan Aykroyd’s voice.

I couldn’t help it. It just popped in there.

I jest, but “The Tholian Web” is actually a really good episode. It tells a story that, in hindsight, it’s surprising we didn’t get much sooner. Kirk is presumed dead after slipping through a dimensional rift. Thus, the Enterprise crew must now accept that their captain is gone, while at the same time adjusting to Spock being in command. All the while, the random crew members, including Chekov, are going insane thanks to a condition spread to them from a doomed starship. As if that weren’t enough, the ship is facing hostility from the Tholians, an alien race that lays claim to this region of the galaxy. They are constructing a destructive energy web around the Enterprise. Oh, and by the way, Kirk might just be alive. The stakes are high and the pressure is on. This is good storytelling.

The core of Star Trek lays in the dynamic between Kirk, Spock, and Bones. Kirk is the centerpiece, with the other two essentially acting as conflicting voices in his ear. Spock offers cold, hard logic and facts. While Bones, in many ways, embodies the human emotion that Spock claims to reject. He’s the everyman (despite his impossible ability to reattach a human brain). With Kirk gone, those two voices are left to argue unchecked, and must learn to coexist peacefully.

The episode manages to serve all three characters well. None more so than Kirk, who is absent for most of the episode. Look no further than the scene where Spock and Bones view the recording Kirk left for them in the event of his death. He knows the two will be butt heads in his absence. But he urges them to lean on each other, listen to one another, and seek guidance from one another. 

While “Balance of Terror” showed us the the burden Jim Kirk bears as a starship captain, “The Tholian Web” illustrates the importance of Jim Kirk the human being. Why he is the best person to command the Enterprise.

One character this episode does not serve well? Chekov. Granted, it doesn’t help that I viewed this episode after “Day of the Dove,” another episode where he loses his mind temporarily. But every time I see him on screen, his face seems to get more and more smackable.

Chekov falls into that dreaded category of characters that were added so a show could appeal to a younger audience. Usually kids. Though in this case, teenagers. Legend has it Walter Koenig, who played Chekov, was cast because he looked like Davy Jones of the Monkees. (The resemblance is quite uncanny.) At one point, Gene Roddenberry apparently wrote in a memo that Kirk, Spock, and the others seemed “middle aged” compared to Chekov.

The reason that’s hilarious? Koenig is only about five years younger than William Shatner. As of this writing, Shatner is 89. Koenig is 84, and would have been in his early 30s when this show aired in 1968. Davy Jones, meanwhile, was about 10 years younger than Koenig.

Hey, wait…I’m in my 30s. Does that mean I can still appeal to teen audiences?!?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: A Poor Man’s Trek

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S3.E7. “Day of the Dove”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig
GUEST-STARRING: Michael Ansara
WRITER: Jerome Bixby
DIRECTOR: Marvin J. Chomsky
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: November 1, 1968
SYNOPSIS: An alien entity pits the Enterprise and the Klingons against each other.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m starting to understand the general consensus about season three of Star Trek. Which is to say, it’s a pretty big step down from seasons one and two. That’s not to say these episodes don’t have their positive points, as we’ll see here. But in a way it’s fitting the first episode of this season was about Spock’s brain being removed. Because three episodes into season three, it feels like a piece of Star Trek‘s brain is missing. As if we now have a poor man’s Star Trek. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that happened at the same time Gene Roddenberry had stepped back to strictly an executive producer role at this point…

Thankfully, its heart is still there. “Day of the Dove” culminates with the Enterprise crew and the Klingons temporarily putting aside their differences to stop a special effects blob that feeds off their aggression and violence. Said entity is even capable of implanting false memories into its victims to trigger anger and hostility. To finally fend off their common enemy, Kirk and Klingon Commander Kang prompt their respective sides to laugh and act jovial together (shown below).

Look at Spock’s face in that photo compared to Kang and Kirk. God damn, Leonard Nimoy was so great. I’d put money on that acting choice being a Nimoy decision, as opposed to one provided by the script or director. Obviously, Spock wouldn’t be inclined to show the kind of boisterous emotion the others are. So instead, Nimoy keeps it subtle and smiles with his eyes. Brilliant.

The major problem with this episode, for my money, is that there’s no punch to the moment when Kirk and Kang finally decide to work together against the entity. It’s not, say, a dramatic life-or-death situation where in order to survive the two sides have to trust one another. Thus, for a brief moment, proving that peace between them is possible and something that can be worked toward. Instead, it’s this awkward (and in Spock’s case, funny) moment of forced laughter. There’s no gravity or tension there.

Granted, in its third season Star Trek underwent major budget cuts. So a large-scale battle between this coalition and some strange new alien force wasn’t in the cards. Even an established group like the Romulans would likely have been too much. But instead of bringing in all those extras in to be Klingons, could they not have dressed a few of them up in a different kind of costume to establish a third, more dangerous and hostile group? Take Susan Howard, who plays the Klingon woman in this episode, and make her the leader. Granted, hindsight is always 20/20. But that seems easy enough, right?

Heck, we’ve got a bunch of swords in this episode for whatever reason. How about a big sword battle between the two sides in some wide open space aboard the Enterprise?

On the subject of physicality, I did take a certain amount of guilty pleasure in the wanton violence on display in this episode. Specifically, Kang walking into a room and punching Kirk in the face without provocation. Then, of course, Kirk giving him his receipt later. There was also Kirk knocking Chekov around a little bit. Granted, Chekov was being influenced by the entity at the time…

But still, it was fun. Can’t deny that.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Rorschach #1, Commanders in Crisis, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Rorschach #1
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Jorge Fornes, Dave Stewart (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 13, 2020

This is one of those first issues that doesn’t really try to hook you until the last page. As such, we spend most of Rorschach #1 setting up our characters and their world. Which, considering this book takes place 35 years after Watchmen, is hardly the worst idea in the world.

Thus far, Rorschach is every bit the noir exhibition we expected it to be, with Jorge Fornes turning in some excellent pencil work. I’m just hoping when it’s all said and done we get Vision Tom King on this book, and not “City of Bane” Tom King.

TITLE: Commanders in Crisis #1
AUTHOR: Steve Orlando
ARTISTS: Davide Tinto, Francesca Carotenuto (Colorist), Fabio Amelia (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 14, 2020

This book was obviously written with a Crisis on Infinite Earths type event comic in mind. As if we didn’t get the hint, Dan friggin’ Didio writes an introduction to Commanders in Crisis.

I’m still a little bit confused about how the CiC universe works from a comic book science perspective. But hopefully it’ll be easier to grasp on to as the story, about a bunch of multiverse survivors trying to save the last surviving Earth, continues to expand.

I’m on the fence on Commanders in Crisis, but there’s enough potential to bring me back for issue #2.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #14
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Ty Templeton, Monica Kubina (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer). Cover by Justin Erickson.
RELEASED: October 15, 2020

This issue, which wraps up the “Red Son Rising” arc, is much like this Batman: The Adventures Continue series at large. Which is to say, it doesn’t blow you away. But it’s still pretty much what you want it to be. We get our climactic sequence with Batman, Jason Todd, the Joker, and Robin. And as one might expect, it leaves the door open for more of Jason in the future.

I’m always happy to see a new B:TAC issue pop up. I’m hoping our adventures continue for at least the foreseeable future.

TITLE: Superman #26
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Ivan Reis, Danny Miki (Inker), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Reis, Joe Prado, & Sinclair.
RELEASED: October 13, 2020

Reis, Miki, and Sinclair really nail a couple of iconic Superman shots here. Though I confess, I’m a sucker for that kinda stuff.

What I’m not necessarily a sucker for is a Superman vs. Alien of the Week story. That feels like what we’ve gotten these last two issues. As far as Bendis’ Superman run is concerned, we’re about to wrap up. If we end like this, it’ll be a disappointing end to an otherwise positive stretch of time with the character.

Still, Bendis’ handling of Clark Kent and his supporting cast is strong as always.

TITLE: Darth Vader #6
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by InHyuk Lee.
RELEASED: October 15, 2020

New story. Same trick. We’re once again using a location from the prequels. Though at least this time we’ve got an interesting story to tell. The Empreror tests Vader by breaking him and seemingly leaving him to die on Mustafar. Now Vader must crawl back from the abyss without the use of the Force…

Alright. I’m interested.

Like the main Star Wars title, Darth Vader started off with something of an eye-rolling tale. But now both books seem to be upping the intrigue. Here’s hoping they both find success in that regard.

TITLE: Wonder Woman #764
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki
ARTISTS: Steve Pugh, Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Pat Brosseau (Letterer). Variant cover by Joshua Middleton.
RELEASED: October 13, 2020

Tamaki makes Wondie and Maxwell Lord into a bantering good cop/bad cop duo here. I’m not sure how I feel about that, as Max is supposed to be one of her worst enemies…

And yet, I can appreciate what they bring to the table as a duo. The Wonder Woman character doesn’t necessarily lend itself to partnerships like this. So even with an unlikely partner, there’s an intrigue to it.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Teen Titans: Beast Boy Deep Dive – Putting the “Teen” Back in Teen Titans

TITLE: Teen Titans: Beast Boy
AUTHOR: Kami Garcia
ARTISTS: Gabriel Picolo w/Rob Haynes, David Calderon (Colorist), Gabriela Downie (Letterer)
PUBLISHER: DC Graphic Novels For Young Adults
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED: September 1, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Teen Titans: Beast Boy brushes up against something I desperately wish it had explored further, as it’s something we rarely if ever see examined in superhero comics: Male body image issues.

That’s certainly not to say men have it worse than women in that department. Particularly as far as depictions in superhero books go. But it would have been a great route to take with a changeling superhero, and one that many a male reader could have identified with.

While not great, Beast Boy still turns out to be pretty good. Nothing Earth-shaking as far as YA books are concerned. But if you’re a Teen Titans fan, and especially if you enjoyed Teen Titans: Raven by this same team, it’s worth your time.

At it’s core, Beast Boy is about a kid who wants to fit in and be accepted. You’d be hard pressed to find a theme that’ll resonate with high schoolers more than that. It why our main character Gar Logan wants to change his image, change his body, etc. And of course, there’s a girl he wants to impress. Those two motivations cast a pretty wide net, making Gar a particularly sympathetic lead. Even when he starts developing animal shape-shifting powers.

Still, the book is able to find a nice balance between Gar’s teen angst, and portraying him as the light-hearted jokey character people know from the comics and cartoon show. This is true in terms of both Garcia’s writing and Picolo’s pencils, which more than once feel very reminiscent of how Beast Boy was drawn on the cartoon (see above). That comedy/drama balance can be very tough to strike, and I give the book a lot of credit for pulling it off.

Strangely, there’s a subplot in Beast Boy about a character with a learning disability that amounts to absolutely nothing. I’m all for representation and talking about these kinds of things. But shouldn’t it amount to something a little more than someone saying they have dyslexia?

Beast Boy is a sequel/spin-off to last year’s Teen Titans: Raven. As such, comparisons between the two are inevitable. Upon flipping through Raven, what immediately jumps out at me is the difference in the colors. David Calderon, our colorist for both books, used a largely muted palette of violets on Raven. There are similar muted tones in Beast Boy, but Calderon is also more inclined to make the colors pop more often. Gar’s skin tone, along with the green accent in his hair, are the most consistent example. There’s also a supporting character with really bright blue hair, making her particularly distinct.

The book takes a risk when Gar’s animagus powers start manifesting: His human body starts to mimic the animal he’s either channeling or about to change into. We see it with a mountain lion (right) and to a lesser extent with a bear. Whether it works or not is subjective. But I’m happy they didn’t overplay their hand with this trick. It could have ventured into silly territory very quickly.

For a long time now, I’ve argued that DC’s main Teen Titans series has lacked a sufficient amount of that “teen” element that’s supposed to distinguish it from books like Justice League. What these books by Garcia and Picolo do better than anything is put that “teen” back in Teen Titans. It’s a crucial, yet somehow often overlooked ingredient in their recipe for success.

For more DC Graphic Novels For Young Adults, check out Shadow of the Batgirl and The Lost Carnival.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek Archive

The following represents the full archives of “Rob Watches <i>Star Trek</i>,” thus far, presented in the order the episodes originally aired….

Star Trek, Season One

Series Pilot: “The Cage”

“The Man Trap”

“Where No Man Has Gone Before”

“The Naked Time”

“Dagger of the Mind”

“The Menagerie”

“Balance of Terror”

“Arena”

“Return of the Archons”

“Space Seed”

“Errand of Mercy”

“The Alternative Factor”

“The City on the Edge of Forever”

Star Trek, Season Two

“Amok Time”

“Mirror, Mirror”

“Journey to Babel”

“Friday’s Child”

“The Trouble With Tribbles”

“Private Little War”

“Bread and Circuses”

“Assignment: Earth”

Star Trek, Season Three

“Spock’s Brain”

“The Enterprise Incident”

“Day of the Dove”

“The Tholian Web”

“Plato’s Stepchildren” (Coming Soon)

“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”

Star Trek: Lower Decks

“Second Contact”

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Continue reading “Rob Watches Star Trek Archive”

Rob Watches Star Trek: The Devotion of Leonard Nimoy

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S3.E2. “The Enterprise Incident”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
GUEST-STARRING: Joanne Linville
WRITER: D.C. Fontana
DIRECTOR: John Meredyth Lucas
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: September 20, 1968
SYNOPSIS: Kirk and Spock embark on a secret mission to steal a Romulan cloaking device.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

One of the plotlines in “The Enterprise Incident” involves a female Romulan commander trying to seduce Spock. Both over to the side of the Romulans, and on a more…personal basis. It seems to nearly work, as passions erupt between the two.

Supposedly, Gene Roddenberry had added a moment to D.C. Fontana’s original script where Spock takes the commander in his arms and is “raining kisses on every square inch above the shoulder.” At the insistence of Leonard Nimoy and his guest co-star Joanne Linville, this was changed to something more befitting of the Spock character. At the presumed moment where the “raining” would have began, the two instead touch hands, with Spock’s fingers caressing hers. Subsequently, their fingers gently trace each other. His index and middle finger hover near her lips, as her left hand ventures around his right shoulder. Their dialogue, meanwhile, maintains they are indeed in some form of intimate embrace.

The more I see Nimoy perform as Spock, and the more I hear of how much he respected the Spock character, the more I come to respect him as an actor. Realistically, he didn’t have to put that kind of care into his performance. He could have simply followed the script. It was a Roddenberry addition after all. Instead, he pushed back, and even wrote Roddenberry a long letter of complaint.

I was soon delighted to find this was hardly Leonard Nimoy’s only creative contribution to the character, and by extension the Star Trek Universe at large. I went on something of a Nimoy kick after seeing this episode. I even sought out For The Love of Spock, the documentary produced by his son Adam Nimoy, which is available on Netflix.

A similar character-related assertion by Nimoy resulted in the creation of the Vulcan nerve pinch. In the early season one episode, “The Enemy Within,” Spock was to have punched out a evil version of Captain Kirk. Feeling that would be too violent for a Vulcan, Nimoy instead suggested the nerve pinch, attributing it to a combination of telepathic powers and the Vulcans’ knowledge of human physiology. He would credit William Shatner for “selling” the maneuver exactly as he wanted.

Nimoy is also responsible for the iconic Vulcan hand salute, which first appeared in “Amok Time.” Nimoy, who was Jewish, was inspired by a gesture he’d seen performed during priestly blessing in a Synagogue. In 1968, Nimoy told the New York Times the Vulcans were a “hand-oriented people.” A notion that certainly lines up with what we see in “The Enterprise Incident.”

As icing on this very Nimoy-flavored episode, we get to see Kirk made up with Spock-like features (shown above) to infiltrate the Romulans. Hilariously, they actually have Bones perform plastic surgery on Kirk to give him the pointy ears. That ship doctor position is pretty all-encompassing, isn’t it? Last week, the man literally had to reattach Spock’s brain. This week? The captain needs cosmetic surgery. No wonder DeForest Kelley was added to the opening title sequence…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman #100, Champions, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Batman #100
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki (Inker), Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Variant cover by Francesco Mattina.
RELEASED: October 6, 2020

In the end, “Joker War” was pretty unremarkable. Though at least not flat-out offensive the way “City of Bane” was. It wound up being, in my opinion, as much about Harley Quinn as it was about Batman. That’s exactly what I was afraid it would be.

To his credit, though, Tynion gives Barbara Gordon a pretty awesome moment in this issue.

And hey, we got a “Jokerized” Batsuit out of the deal that’s just dying to be made into an action figure or a Funko Pop. So there’s that I guess.

TITLE: Champions #1
AUTHOR: Al Ewing
ARTISTS: Simone Di Meo, Federico Blee, Clayton Cowles. Cover by Toni Ifante.
RELEASED: October 7, 2020

I like this angle on the Champions. Superheroes under 21 are outlawed, which gives them something to rebel against. Teenage defiance and all that. This series isn’t starting off with the same sort of real-world intrigue the 2016 Mark Waid book did. But it’s making up for it with superhero drama.

So wait, Kamala Khan is the face of the law banning teen heroes, but Ms. Marvel is the leader of the Champions? How does that work? Superhero logic, I guess…

TITLE: Star Wars #7
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Ramon Rosanas, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Carlo Pagulayan.
RELEASED: October 7, 2020

Charles Soule starts to get this book on track here, as we get a pretty darn good origin story for our new villain, Commander Zahra. The Zahra character was mentored by Grand Moff Tarkin, who Soule has historically been very strong with.

This is our second time seeing Carlo Pagulayan this week. He impressed me with this cover. It reminded me quite a bit of Olivier Coipel’s work. For my money, that’s a compliment.

Ramon Rosanas turns in a strong performance as well. A suitable replacement for Jesus Saiz on this series.

TITLE: We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #2
AUTHOR: Al Ewing
ARTISTS: Simone Di Meo, Mariasara Miotti (Color Assistant), Andworld Design (Letters)
RELEASED: October 7, 2020

We Only Find Them When We’re Dead is a gorgeous blaze of vibrant colors. Truly wondrous from an artistic standpoint.

The trouble is, and perhaps this is just my ADD talking, I’ve been having some trouble following along. We’re learning about some intriguing characters. But there’s a lot of spaceship tech jargon in here, much of which feels like fat to be trimmed. My hope is the book starts to take off (pun intended) as we get into the real meat of the story.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #13
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Ty Templeton, Monica Kubina (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer). Cover by Becky Cloonan.
RELEASED: October 1, 2020

One of the things Batman: The Adventures Continue does is answer certain questions left unanswered from the show. Including one I didn’t think to ask: Why isn’t Leslie Thompkins in The New Batman Adventures? Hint: It involves Jason Todd.

Oddly enough, in this issue Red Hood throws a grenade that’s read and has white “eyes” like his helmet. It looks like he’s throwing a Spider-Man grenade.

That’s right, folk. A Spider-Man grenade. That’s the kind of keen insight you’ll find here at PrimaryIgnition.com.

TITLE: The Department of Truth #1
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Martin Simmonds, Aditya Bidikar (Letterer)
RELEASED: September 30, 2020

This first issue is packed with intrigue and possibility. Not to mention a sense of dread. As if we’re about to learn some horrible secret about how the world works. And we do…kinda…

Simply put, I don’t buy the big twist in The Department of Truth #1. The book is written and drawn like a government espionage type drama. But the revelation is a piece of comic book science so far-fetched that even I don’t buy it. Such a shame, as I’d been looking forward to this for months.

TITLE: Batman/Superman Annual #1
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Gleb Melnikov, Dale Eaglesham, Clayton Henry, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer). Cover by Gabriel Rodriguez & Sanchez.
RELEASED: September 29, 2020

Wanna have some fun? Read Mr. Mxyzptlk’s dialogue in Gilbert Gottfried’s voice, and Bat-Mite’s in Paul Reubens’ voice. Just like on those old cartoons.

This annual is about our two fifth-dimensional imps arguing about whether Batman or Superman would win in a fight. It’s played for laughs, and it’s a lot of fun. But most important of all? The story has the right ending.

Remember, kids: Superman and Batman are both heroes. They shouldn’t be fighting. They’d find another way to work things out.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Joker’s Animated History by Noah Sterling

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Our friend Noah Sterling is at it yet again! Having previously given his animated take on Green Lantern, Robin, and numerous other comic book icons, the Joker is the latest to get the Sterling treatment!

One thing’s for sure, there’s no shortage of ground to cover…

For more, check out Noah Sterling’s official site or his YouTube page.

Email Rob at at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Who is Nightwing? – The End of an Artistic Era

***As Nightwing’s public profile grows higher via the Titans TV series and the upcoming Gotham Knights game, “Who is Nightwing?” looks at Dick Grayson’s early solo adventures after stepping out of Batman’s shadow.***

TITLES: Nightwing #3040, Nightwing: Secret Files & Origins #1
AUTHOR: Chuck Dixon
ARTISTS: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story (Inker), Roberta Tewes (Colorist), John Costanza (Letterer)
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
ORIGINALLY RELEASED:
1999-2000
CURRENTLY COLLECTED IN:
Nightwing Vol. 4, Nightwing Vol. 5

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

These issues represents the finale of a 40-issue consecutive run for penciller Scott McDaniel, inker Karl Story, and colorist Roberta Tewes on Nightwing. McDaniel will be back later in the series. But collectively, this team that ultimately set the standard for Nightwing as a series is playing its last inning here.

Fittingly, author Chuck Dixon gives them compelling and exciting stories to tell, starting with a visit from none other than Superman.

Issue #30 is one of my favorites in the entire series, as Superman pays a quick visit to Bludhaven. Admittedly, it probably does more for Superman than Nightwing. But that’s because Dixon is one of the few writers out there that really gets the Man of Steel. As such, it’s that much more interesting to see him in Bludhaven, which is so different from Metropolis.

Furthermore, the dynamic between Superman and Dick Grayson has always been interesting to me. Remember, Superman knew Dick when he was a child, or at least younger, as Robin. So they’re both old friends and respected colleagues in that sense. That mutual respect is very much evident here. To that end, we get a nice flashback sequence later on where we spotlight Superman’s role in the formation of the Nightwing identity.

Scott McDaniel is as good at drawing Superman as he is Nightwing or Batman. One thing that jumped out at me in this collection is what a sense of motion this art has. Though the lighter colors of Superman’s costume do bring to light the hyper-musculature of his heroes, for better or worse. Occasionally, McDaniel will also draw Nightwing in awkward positions while he’s airborne. Case in point, the page at right. That’s a trap many an artist has fallen into with Dick. I suspect it has something to do with his gymnast background, and attempting to make him look flexible.

This Nightwing series sees Dick take on a few different day jobs. But issue #31 starts him on the path to my personal favorite: Police officer. It doesn’t really bear any fruit this time around, as he’s just in the academy for a few issues. But I’ve always loved the idea of one of the Bat-family members being a cop by day, given Batman’s often hot-and-cold relationship with the criminal justice system. Dixon has to put an abrupt halt to it in issue #35 due to a tie-in with the No Man’s Land crossover. But thankfully he gets to come back to it down the line.

The crossover in question sees Batman send Nightwing to Blackgate prison, which has been ravaged along with all of Gotham by the events of No Man’s Land, to wrest it from the incarceration-obsessed supervillain Lock-Up. Sadly, Dixon only has a few issues to tell the portion of the story that takes place in Blackgate. Thus, it doesn’t even remotely live up to its potential as a tale of Nightwing infiltrating Lock-Up’s prison system and taking it down from the inside. It actually winds up becoming more of a head-on attack. But thanks to the events of No Man’s Land, Dixon and McDaniel get to play with some Arkham regulars. Most notably Scarecrow, the Ventriloquist, and Firefly. Nightwing also dukes it out with KGBeast, roughly two decades before the character gives Dick amnesia via a bullet in the head (long story).

Published alongside the main series during this time was Nightwing: Secret Files & Origins #1, which features a sort of interlude to the Blackgate story. As Dick is unconscious and hallucinating, the then-deceased Jason Todd becomes a Dickens-esque guide through his life as hero. We breeze through Dick’s time as Robin, his time with the Teen Titans, the formation of the Nightwing identity, and his arrival in Bludhaven. It’s not at all necessary from a narrative standpoint. But it’s a cool little sub-story. Note that this is how Jason’s death was framed for the 15+ years between the character’s death and resurrection. As the ultimate cautionary tale for Batman and his surrogate family, his memory and all associated flashbacks and supposedly spectral appearances were there to be provoke lamentation.

Dick’s Will They?/Won’t They? romance with Barbara Gordon finally comes to a head in issue #38, as Nightwing retreats to Oracle’s clock tower home base after the events at Blackgate. In nursing Dick back to health, the two finally start speaking plainly and at length about their feelings for one another. But of course, it can’t be simple. Huntress, alongside a faction of No Man’s Land era Gotham cops with (to say the least) questionable motives, storm the clock tower in an attempt to capture Barbara.

Issues #38 and #39 finally bear the fruit of seeds planted near the beginning of the series. They talk openly about their feelings, and Barbara comes out and explains the role her paralysis played in why their relationship never fully blossomed. Having Dick’s old flame Huntress in the picture obviously makes for an awkward triangle at certain points. But it doesn’t spoil anything between Dick and Barbara. These issues are pivotal in the saga of their romance, as it begins to transcend flirtation. These two are serious about each other. Or at least they could be…

It’s also worth noting that McDaniel sufficiently carries his load during those quiet, romantic scenes. Which, as I’ve said before, aren’t necessarily his strong suit.

Issue #40 sees team up with a World War II era superhero to take on a Nazi. Sort of. The issue involves a bit character Dixon introduced earlier in the series. An elderly novelist. Draw your own conclusions there.

Portions of the issue are supplemented with prose paragraphs. Some readers don’t like that sort of thing. Personally, I’m fine with it as long as it’s written and formatted well. What happens here is harmless.

Nightwing #40 is a bit of a strange issue for our artistic team to go out on. But it nonetheless marks the end of an era for the Dick Grayson. One that continues to impact the character to this very day.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.