Tag Archives: Batman: Knightfall

A Detective Comics #934 Review – Rebirth and Redemption

Detective Comics #934, 2016, Eddy BarrowsTITLE: Detective Comics #934
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
PENCILLER: Eddy Barrows
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 8, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I dig this issue for no other reason than it rights a wrong that’s been present since 2011. It fixes the Red Robin costume. That thing had been far too ugly for far too long. It was a damn embarassment.

But there’s plenty more to like here. A mysterious force is targeting Gotham’s heroes, some of whom are not prepared for this new threat. Batman comes to Kate Kane, a.k.a. Batwoman, to help train the next generation of heroes. Red Robin, The Spoiler, Orphan, and (of all people) Clayface are chosen to train under The Dark Knight and his new partner. A partner who knows more about Batman than he suspected, and is hungry for more knowledge. Such as what Batman isn’t saying about this new threat to costumed heroes.

This “reborn” Detective Comics has a feel-good vibe to it by virtue of its cast, which consists largely of characters who were screwed over creatively during the New 52. Tim Drake lost so much of his depth and backstory in the reboot, and given that silly costume. I’ve got high hopes that James Tynion IV, an accomplished Batman writer himself, can do some justice for him. And of course, Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain were wiped from continuity and didn’t return until later. With their respective backstories altered, of course. Fans may remember the shakeup in 2013 over DC not allowing Kate Kane to marry. The road to this title has been frustrating. But there’s a nice opportunity for redemption here.

Detective Comics #934, Eddy Barrows, ClayfaceOn the subject of redemption, the addition of Clayface to this team is surprising. He obviously doesn’t qualify as a costumed hero. But it plays to the idea that on some level, Batman really is trying to rehabilitate the villains he fights. The smart bet is this goes bad at some point. But in the meantime, the dynamic Basil Karlo will have with his more virtuous teammates is intriguing.

This issue is also particularly noteworthy for the return of Jean-Paul Valley, the original Azrael, and the man who replaced Bruce Wayne as Batman in the early ’90s Nightfall storyline. How he connects to the Michael Lane version of Azrael (if at all) remains to be seen, and I can only assume Knightfall is no longer canon. But longtime fans may get a kick out of seeing him again, and hopefully not for the last time. As we open the issue, Batman seems to be trying to recruit him. I’d love to see him return as either a part-time ally, or even an enemy.

It’s not often you see Batman playing the good cop. But that’s exactly what we get here, with Batwoman in the bad cop role. She comes off as a hardened drill sergeant, while Batman plays the supportive mentor. It’s a side to him that don’t see quite as regularly. At least not since Batman & Robin ended. What’s more, Batwoman gets put over really well. Especially when she surprises Bruce with the knowledge of his secret.

Eddy Barrows has earned this run on Detective Comics. He’s had memorable runs on both Nightwing and Superman and recently spent some time on Martian Manhunter. He’s good with acting, and emotion, which shows here. From the fear in Azrael’s eyes as Batman closes in, to the intensity and anger from Kate when a mysterious figure appears in her apartment. He’s able to inject sympathy into the otherwordly Clayface as well as any artist I’ve ever seen (shown above). He connects you to the characters well in that sense.  Barrows’ rendering of Batman’s cowl evokes memories of Michael Keaton’s costume from the Tim Burton movies. Inker Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas also deserve credit for making the presentation so clean, and beautifully shadowy.

Detective Comics #934, Eddy Barrows, BatmanIt’s Barrows’ body proportioning I’m not certain about. There’s a panel in which The Spoiler is looking down on a crime in progress, and it looks like her legs are separated from her torso. There’s an otherwise beautiful shot of Batwoman swinging through the city in which our heroine looks just a bit too lanky. Barrows also has a weird thing about leg positioning, as we see in a shot of Batman swooping into a building (shown right). It’s a similar bizarre position to the one we saw on his Nightwing #1 cover.

Part of what made DC Universe: Rebirth #1 such a feel-good issue was the combination of story intrigue, and justice finally being done to characters that had gotten a raw deal in recent years (Wally West, Ted Kord, etc.) Detective Comics #934 is similar in that respect. The two issues also weren’t afraid to show us some emotion and humanity. Between Kate’s often volatile nature, the villainous tendencies of Clayface, and the presence of the younger heroes, I suspect there’ll be no shortage of those things going forward. That’s a good thing.

Image 1 from insidepulse.com. Image 2 from comicbookmovie.com.

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A Superman: The Men of Tomorrow Review – So Much to Do, So Little Time

Superman: Men of Tomorrow coverTITLE: Superman: The Men of Tomorrow

AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: John Romita, Jr.
COLLECTS: Superman #32-39
FORMAT: Hardcover

PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99

RELEASED: August 19, 2015

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

This is a Superman story that I had fairly high hopes for. Considering how the Superman title has been doing for the entirety of the New 52, almost anything could have made it better. Geoff Johns did a fantastic job on Superman: Secret Origin, so this collection virtually guaranteed to kick the Man of Steel back into gear.

Sadly, that didn’t happen.

Superman: The Men of Tomorrow takes a rather interesting premise and plays it well for a little bit  before the whole thing crashes and burns halfway through. It starts with Superman encountering a blond-haired, super-powered ubermensch named Ulysses, a.k.a. Neil. He helps Supes take out a robot baddie, and soon they’re fast friends.

Superman #36, John Romita Jr. Neil was sent to an alternate universe by his Earth-bound scientist parents who believed that the world was about to be destroyed. Neil has now returned to Earth, apparently having sojourned in “Dimension 4” as a superhero in his own right. But all is not as it seems…

I honestly was psyched when we first got to know Neil. He looks all the world like a recreation of Jean Paul Valley, a.k.a. Azrael. I love that guy! He acts like him, has similar speech patterns, and even has the same long blond hair! Add the fish-out-of-water gags that he gets into briefly, and you could potentially have a funny, entertaining story.

Unfortunately for Neil, Johns takes more pages from Knightfall‘s book that I would have liked. In addition to casting a similar character in a Superman-doppleganger role, Johns tries to spin Neil as a maniacal killer. I don’t buy it at all. There’s no foreshadowing whatsoever that Neil was plotting and planning to stab Superman, and plenty to suggest the exact opposite. Neil’s character development was going one specific direction the whole time, and then it turned around in a way that makes absolutely no sense given the established context.

Superman: The Men of Tomorrow, John Romita Jr. Superman himself is portrayed decently, in that he generally isn’t a total douchebag like he’s been depicted in the New 52. He actually treats Neil like a human being, unlike a certain billionaire playboy in a Batsuit treated a certain other mentally ill protege. He even goes so far as to visit him in jail! They have an interesting dynamic, in that Superman is (temporarily) partnered with someone who is very much his equal in terms of powers and skills.

One thing Johns gets right is how he manages to reset the Superman status quo. Clark had quit The Daily Planet to become a blogger alongside Cat Grant. In roughly six pages, Johns gets everything back to business-as-usual. There’s even the added bonus of Clark revealing a certain secretto Jimmy Olsen in the final issue. I would have loved to see Johns’ take on New 52 Lex Luthor, but I guess you can’t have it all.

The core problem with Men of Tomorrow is that it’s too big for its own good. We’re talking alternate dimensions, a Superman doppleganger with a messiah complex, an alien race bent on wholesale slaughter, and Alfred attempting to iron Superman’s cape. This is the sort of story that ought to be part of a crisis crossover, or at least a 12-issue miniseries. Plus, the story is just plain confusing.

Superman: The Men of Tomorrow, Superman vs. UlyssesTo the regret of everyone involved, Johns does not succeed in writing a story that is fitting for his allowed run. It could have been great, but Johns failed to capitalize on Neil’s strong potential as a character, all exacerbated by an overstuffed plot. Superman stories are usually big in scale. But Johns has proven on Green Lantern, Aquaman, and even Superman: Secret Origin that he’s perfectly capable of making small feel big.

RATING: 6/10

Image 1 from comicbookresources.com. Image 2 from dangermart.blogspot.com. Image 3 from comicvine.com.