Tag Archives: comic book reviews

Panels of Awesomeness: Batman by Mark Bagley

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

THE ISSUE: Batman #688

CREATORS: Judd Winick (Author), Mark Bagley (Penciller), Rob Hunter (Inker), Ian Hannin (Colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (Letterer)

RELEASED: July 8, 2009. Collected in Batman: Long Shadows.

THE SCENE: Shortly after taking up the mantle of Batman, Dick Grayson trains with Damian Wayne, who has just become the new Robin.

WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: This scene has been hanging around in my subconscious for the near-decade since it was published.

On the surface, it’s not particularly remarkable. Just Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne training together. Sort of a Karate Kid scenario with Dick in the Mr. Miyagi role. But as Eric Bischoff might say, “context is king.” This issue came out shortly after Final Crisis, in which Bruce Wayne “died” at the hands of Darkseid. Thus, Dick Grayson has once again taken on the role of Batman, and Damian has become Robin.

Putting these two together was a perfect recipe for personality conflicts. Dick’s generally friendly and warm personality clashed with Damian’s defiant, abrasive, and often bratty disposition. Especially early on in their partnership.

But in Batman #688, Judd Winick took the time to balance the scales a little bit, and show us is indeed a qualified mentor for Damian. Not necessarily because of his fighting prowess, but the patience and wisdom years of experience have brought him. It’s a quality that can’t be taught, and one that makes for a damn good teacher.

I was working on a piece of fiction recently, with a scene that had a similar teacher/student premise. For whatever reason, I kept coming back to the line Dick has at the end of this scene: “Don’t anticipate.” I like that. Simple. Concise.

I know Judd Winick isn’t everybody’s favorite Batman writer. But more often than not, I really dug his stuff. Throw in the art by Mark Bagley, who’d just come off his legendary run on Ultimate Spider-Man, and these pages definitely have their fair share of awesomeness.

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Panels of Awesomeness: Obi-Wan Kenobi by Mike Mayhew

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Jason Aaron (Author), Mike Mayhew (Artist)

THE SCENES: Living as a hermit, Obi-Wan Kenobi watches over a young Luke Skywalker as he grows up on Tatooine.

WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: Lately I’ve been obsessed with the version of Obi-Wan Kenobi that Mike Mayhew drew for Marvel’s Star Wars title. Specifically, issues #15 and #20, which hit the stands in 2016.

Mayhew was by no means a stranger to the Star Wars universe at this point. Perhaps most notably, he was the artist for The Star Wars, which adapted an early draft of the original film. For Star Wars #15 and #20, however, he was tasked with depicting entries in what author Jason Aaron called “The Journals of Old Ben Kenobi.”

What I find so interesting about Mayhew’s version of Kenobi is that he didn’t take the obvious route, and draw him to look like Ewan McGregor. But he didn’t go the Alec Guiness route either. Mayhew opted for something more his own. A figure that captures the essence of the character, without being beholden to either one of the actors. That approach isn’t so far-fetched in the world of licensed comic books. Often it’s met with an eye-roll from yours truly.

This, on the other hand? This works. Something about it screams classic Star Wars. As if it’s transplanted from an era before the prequels, where we were still imagining what a young Obi-Wan Kenobi might look like. It achieves a warm and fuzzy nostalgic quality without feeling like it’s trying too hard for it.

Though Jason Aaron has been off Star Wars for awhile now, I’d love to see them revive this journal framework. If they can bring Mike Mayhew back for it, all the better!

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Epic Covers: “Vote For Me, Or I’ll Kill You!”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This was a lot funnier when it was first published back in 2005. Nowadays, “Vote For Me or I’ll Kill You” sounds like an actual political slogan…

Batman: Dark Detective was a miniseries that reunited author Steve Englehart with artists Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin. They’re synonymous with some classic Batman stories from the ’70s, including “The Laughing Fish” and “Sign of the Joker.” They’re collected in a trade called Strange Apparitions, which has a special place on my bookshelf.

Though oddly enough, I can’t seem to locate Dark Detective among my back issues. Not that it was a landmark series, but it was definitely fun to see this team tell a Batman story in a modern context. If nothing else, I want to make sure this cover is in my collection. It’s a great addition to the legacy these men have.

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Epic Covers: Nightwing #50

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So yeah, they shot Dick Grayson in the head. That’s one of the latest stunts over at DC. Hey, at least he wasn’t a Heroes in Crisis casualty. Don’t think they wouldn’t have done it.

The gunshot wound leaves Dick with amnesia, and no memory of his life as a superhero. It’s too early to tell if this story is going to be any good. But it does have a lot of potential to make a statement about what Dick means to the DC Universe, not to mention the Batman family as a whole.

This cover is low-key epic. Amidst all its colorful competition, it didn’t exactly jump off the rack. But once you get a closer look, you see that it’s all in the details. Specifically, the scar itself…

I’m hardly an expert on scar tissue. Specifically as it relates to bullet wounds to the head. But this was convincing enough to convey that impact and awe that the cover is shooting for. The texturing, the look of the fold in the skin, the colors. It’s striking.

The big drawback? For the cover, they made the scar look like the Nightwing insignia. Lame.

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Panels of Awesomeness: All New X-Men #1 by Stuart Immonen

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Brian Michael Bendis (Author), Stuart Immonen (Penciller), Wade von Grawbadger (Inker), Marte Gracia (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

THE SCENE: Beast cries out in agony as his body undergoes yet another physical mutation.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Lately, in making selections for “Panels of Awesomeness,” I’ve tried to think back on specific panels, pages, and images that have stuck with me. Things that, for whatever reason, I still remember after long periods. Great art does that, after all.

All-New X-Men #1 is more than five years old. And yet, this image of Beast breaking the fourth wall and reaching out at the reader is somehow burned into my cerebral cortex. It seems like a pretty simple trick, doesn’t it?. You just draw the hand going over the panel gutter. And yet it creates the most memorable moment in the issue.

Not that I should be the one to say whether a piece of art is “simple” or not. I’ve tried my hand at sketching before. But I’ve never been good at it. God only knows what I’d turn in if tasked with something like this.

I’m actually amazed that this whole “original X-Men come to the present” thing is still going on. Beyond the first several issues of Bendis and Immonen’s original All-New X-Men series, the concept never did much for me. Especially once the younger X-Men started branching out into different books, a la Champions, Jean Grey, etc. I always wondered if they left themselves an out for this whole thing when the story started. For everybody’s sake, I hope so…

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Panels of Awesomeness: Batman #51 by Lee Weeks

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Tom King (Author), Lee Weeks (Artist), Elizabeth Breitweiser (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)

THE SCENE: As he recovers from Selina Kyle leaving him before their wedding, Bruce Wayne’s emotions overcome him while he’s serving jury duty.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: I actually debated on whether to spotlight these pages for “Panels of Awesomeness.” But it’s been awhile since Batman #51 hit the stands, and I still find myself coming back to it. That moment where Bruce Wayne pulls the urinal off the wall and screams out at the reader is branded into my brain. Maybe it’s because of the sheer unusualness of a man ripping a urinal out of the wall.

But in talking about the awesomeness of that page, it’s important to factor in the previous one. Our hero is in full-on Bruce Wayne mode, when he feels this seemingly unprovoked emotional outburst coming on. More than versed in keeping secrets from the world at large, he maintains his calm, excuses himself, and lets loose.

For yours truly, this  “Cold Days” story has been one of the highlights of Tom King’s Batman run. It’s evocative of the Batman stories Greg Rucka or Ed Brubaker wrote in the early to mid 2000s. Think Gotham Central, Officer Down, etc. It’s got a police procedural/courtroom drama feel to it, along with that emotional undercurrent we see in Bruce. Furthermore, it’s got a heck of a finale. Even if you’re not into the whole Batman/Catwoman marriage thing, it’s worth checking out.

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MMPR: Shattered Grid: 25 Morphinominal Moments, Part Five

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As it turns out, these last five moments from Shattered Grid all happened in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #30. So a major tip of the hat to author Kyle Higgins, penciller Daniele Di Nicuolo, inker Simona Di Gianfelice, colorist Walter Baiamonte, and letterer Ed Dukeshire.

Furthermore, we need to send a major thank you to Ryan Parrott, Dan Mora, and everybody at Go Go Power Rangers. That series is great in its own right. But it’s provided some really nice supplemental material for our main story.

And thanks to everybody at BOOM! Studios for giving us better Power Rangers comics than we ever could have hoped for!

With that, it’s back to action!

(Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four.)

26. Zordon and Rita

We’re starting on a subtle note here. Zordon and Kruger come to ask for Rita’s help in stopping Lord Drakkon. Rita responds as you might expect. But in trying to convince her, Zordon says something I didn’t expect…

“We have known each other for millennia, Rita. I would not be here now if I believed there was another way.”

What gets me about those lines is the sentence about them having known each other for so long. I doubt Kyle Higgins meant for it to stand out. But hearing Zordon appeal to his long-standing familiarity with Rita was interesting. Remember, these are two enemies. He’s the one who trapped him in a time warp, and he’s partly responsible for her being locked away in a dumpster for 10,000 years. And yet, in this hour of dire need, Zordon essentially uses their rivalry to appeal to her better judgment. It almost makes you look at the franchise’s original mentor and villain in a new light…

27. Rallying the Troops

Before the climactic battle begins, Jason gives a big rah-rah speech to all the Rangers who’ve come to help. Admittedly, it didn’t do much for me. What did, however, was this shot of all the Rangers and Megazords. There’s a lot of history in this panel…

28. Kimberly and Tommy
While Tommy obviously has a crucial role in Shattered Grid, let’s not forget that the Tommy Oliver of the BOOMverse, the Tommy our heroes knew and fought alongside, was killed. Plus, Kimberly held him as he died. Pretty heavy stuff. So when Jason hands her the Draggon Dagger, and puts her in charge of the Dragonzord, it’s a nice moment. But this has appeal in a larger scope as well.

From a character standpoint, there’s an argument to be made that Tommy should have given his powers to Kimberly at the end of “The Green Candle.” Obviously, the show was limited by the Japanese footage it had to work with. So it ultimately had to be Jason that got them. But it would have made a lot of sense for Kimberly, Tommy’s love interest, to be the one he passed his powers on to. All these years later, this is a nice tribute to a character fans still love and remember.

29. Enter Serpentera
Serpentera was essentially the Death Star of the Power Rangers universe. It was Lord Zedd’s personal zord, and had enough power to annihilate a planet. And it was huge. One of the biggest zords in the show’s history. As you can see at left, it could literally hold a Megazord in its massive jaws.

As any PR nut knows, Serpentera went out like a chump in “Forever Red.” But it gets a nice chance to shine during the big battle in Shattered Grid. We don’t see much of the actual zord, but that’s half the beauty of it. It’s so big, it can’t even fit within the confines of the comic book!

30. Siphoning the Power
We end on yet another reminder of just how much history we’re mining for Shattered Grid.

Lord Drakkon’s big plan is to steal morphers from each Ranger team, and get inside the Morphin Grid itself. In the above panel, we can see he’s assembled some kind of power siphoning device and plugged it in to the various morphers he’s collected. Represented are in Space, Lost Galaxy, Dino Thunder, Megaforce, Dino Charge, among others. I absolutely adore the attention to detail. This is as much an indicator as any of what a labor of love Shattered Grid is.

So once again, thank you to everyone involved. I can’t wait to see how it ends!

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