Who is Nightwing? – The Villains Chapter

***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 #918, Nightwing Annual #1
AUTHOR: Chuck Dixon
ARTISTS: Scott McDaniel, Greg Land, Karl Story (Inker), Bob McLeod (Inker), Roberta Tewes (Colorist), John Costanza (Letterer)
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
ORIGINAL SELLING PRICE:
$1.95 per issue (Annual: $3.95)
ORIGINALLY RELEASED:
1997-1998
CURRENTLY COLLECTED IN:
Nightwing, Vol. 2: Rough Justice

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This first volume of Nightwing has historically been collected in chunks of roughly 8-10 issues. Issues #1-8 are usually the first chapter, and this collection of issues #9-18 and the first annual can be seen as a second chapter. To that mindset, I’d call this the “Villains Chapter.” Dixon, McDaniel, and the team have set up Dick Grayson’s new status quo. Now it’s time to create some new villains for him to fight, as well as bring in some familiar faces from Gotham.

In issue #7, we learned the identity of Bludhaven’s new crime lord: Roland Desmond, a.k.a. Blockbuster. For my money, Blockbuster’s effectiveness as a lead villain largely depends on how much perspective you have as a comic book reader. If you’re simply reading these issues at face value, as I was when they first came out, then he’s fine. A big bad crime boss who, unlike a Carmine Falcone or a Rupert Thorne, can actually be a physical threat to our hero. But with the benefit of hindsight more than two decades later? He feels like an attempt to imitate Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin over at Marvel. But I’ll say this much: He’s a good imitation. And Scott McDaniel is great at juxtaposing this giant monster in a suit with the ultra fast and flexible Nightwing.

As the book continues to develop a mini-rogues-gallery for Nightwing, the book brings in a few icons to help hold down the fort. We see Man-Bat, Deathstroke, and the Scarecrow. The latter is particularly effective, as it doubles as an opportunity for readers to dive into Dick’s psyche and get to know him that much better. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but our former Boy Wonder is living with a hell of an inferiority complex. To that end, I love how Chuck Dixon incorporates Bruce Wayne choosing Jean Paul Valley to take his place as Batman during the Knightfall storyline. It’s a nice way to illustrate that despite wanting to be his own man, Dick still cares deeply about what Batman thinks of him.

We spend about an issue’s worth of pages experiencing these Scarecrow-induced hallucinations with Dick. Some of it’s played for surreal humor, which wouldn’t have necessarily been my first choice. But it gets the point across. Less effective is Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, and Roberta Tewes’ visual take on the scenes. I said it last time, and I’ll reiterate here: This team is so much better suited for action scenes than the quiet, existential stuff. Our opening issue, which sees Nightwing evading gunfire in a shopping mall? A delightful read that has a great visual flow to it. Dick Grayson confronting his worst nightmares? Meh.

Another strike against McDaniel, along with other artists of this era, is what I’ll call “shoulder horns Batman” (shown below). For whatever reason, in the ’90s and early ’00s it was acceptable to put pointy horn-looking gimmicks on Batman’s shoulders. I think the idea was to make him look more menacing, and even a little demonic. But I’ve always hated it. Thankfully it gradually went away, and never made its way into any of the on-screen versions of the character.

On the subject of ’90s costumes, I didn’t even recognize Deathstroke at first. I’d completely forgotten about his black and blue suit…

Though it might be blasphemous to some, I prefer what Greg Land turns in on Nightwing Annual #1. The final product is cleaner, and makes for an enjoyable read.

These issues are also where we start to pick up the pace on the slow-burn romance between Dick and Barbara Gordon/Oracle. Chuck Dixon was one of, if not the master of writing the chemistry between these two. It’s not particularly subtle. Dick and Barbara are fairly flirtatious whenever he comes to her for help on a case. At one point, Dick practically talks openly about a potential romance with her. It’s more a case of Will they?/Won’t they? To his credit, Dixon is able to strike a really nice balance in these issues. He makes us want to see Dick and Barbara get together. But at the same time, he’s able to write in some chemistry between Dick and his building superintendent without making either character look like a heel. On paper it’s a very precarious love triangle. But Dixon pulls it off beautifully.

What’s more, it wouldn’t be long before Dick had yet another love interest. Sparks were about to fly as Nightwing crossed paths with none other than Helena Bertinelli…the Huntress!

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

 

Who is Nightwing? – Bludhaven Begins

***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 #18
AUTHOR: Chuck Dixon
ARTISTS: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story (Inkers), Roberta Tewes (Colorist), John Costanza (Letterer)
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
ORIGINAL SELLING PRICE:
$1.95 per issue
ORIGINALLY RELEASED:
1996-1997
CURRENTLY COLLECTED IN:
Nightwing, Vol. 1: Bludhaven

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This is it. I’d argue these are the issues that would define Dick Grayson for the next two decades and beyond. And they’re good!

Pretty good, that is.

When a whopping 21 dead bodies float up river into Gotham Harbor, Batman and Nightwing trace them to Gotham’s sister city, Bludhaven. When the Dark Knight sends him to investigate, Dick Grayson quickly learns that in many ways, Bludhaven is worse than Gotham. What’s more, a mysterious new crime lord has seized control of the city. Thus, Nightwing must discover their identity and take on a city corrupt to its core. And he’ll have to do it on his own…

I credit Chuck Dixon as one of the more underappreciated architects of Batman’s world as we know it. So Dick was in great hands for his first ongoing series. As one would expect, Dixon spends a good portion of these issues laying groundwork. We establish where Dick is in his life, Bludhaven as a character in itself, his supporting cast, and by the end we have our main villain.

Long before the term “quarter-life crisis” was a thing, Nightwing was essentially a quarter-life crisis book. Not simply about a superhero in a new city, this book is about an early-20s Dick Grayson creating a life for himself without his mentor’s help. And we get to see him doing a lot of those “fresh start” things. He gets an apartment without Bruce Wayne footing the bill. He gets a day job as a bartender. He meets a cute girl. He explores his new city and learns to care about it. These are all things young, particularly college-age adults can identify with. Nightwing reached for a key demographic in ways that few superhero books do.

For the first 40 issues of Nightwing, our art team consisted of Scott McDaniel, Karl Story on inks, and Roberta Tewes on colors.  That’s a heck of a run. A downright historic one when you consider all it did for Dick Grayson.

Personally? I have no choice but to acknowledge this team got the job done, as the work still holds up more than 20 years later. But to be blunt: It’s never really been my cup of tea.

To me, Scott McDaniel’s art has always screamed, “Action!” If you want him to draw, say, a sequence where a helicopter takes off carrying a small building that has Nightwing and a bad guy inside, McDaniel is your man. He’s less suited, however, for quiet moments. A recurring nightmare sequence, for instance. Or a scene at Dick’s bartending job. Sometimes they work, case in point the scene in issue #1 where Dick gives a young would-be mugging victim some money to get the hell out of Bludhaven. But just as often they don’t.

What’s more, the coloring choices make the art hard to follow at certain points. For instance, look at the page below. I understand the effect they’re going for with the lighting. But the final product looks, quite frankly, like someone spilled lemonade all over the page.

On a random side note, it’s amazing to think the Black Mask character has lasted 35 years. Especially when you consider his original design looks like a Blue Man Group guy in a pinstripe suit. He makes a quick appearance in issue #1.

Robin/Tim Drake stops by for issue #6. It’s a fun exploration of the brotherly dynamic Dick and Tim have. It does more for Tim, which is a little bit backwards considering it’s Dick’s book. But putting Dick with the current Robin will always be interesting.

We’ll dive into who Bludhaven’s mysterious new crimelord is next time. It has its ups and downs, but the decision lasts almost 100 issues. So suffice to say it worked out for them. That’s emblematic of these first eight issues overall. They’re hardly perfect. But in the long run, they were exactly what the Dick Grayson character needed as he moved into the next phase of its life.

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

Who is Nightwing? – Prelude to Solo Stardom

***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 #14
AUTHOR: Denny O’Neil
ARTISTS: Greg Land, Mike Sellers & Nick Napolitano (Inkers), Cathi Bertrand (Colorist), John Costanza
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
ORIGINAL SELLING PRICE:
$2.25 per issue
ORIGINALLY RELEASED:
1995
CURRENTLY COLLECTED IN:
Nightwing, Vol. 1: Bludhaven

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Dick Grayson officially adopted the mantle of Nightwing in mid-1984 in the pages of Tales of the Teen Titans #44. The move was meant to remove Dick from Batman’s shadow and make him more of his own man. That’s why it’s so surprising in retrospect that the character didn’t get his own solo series until 1996, 12 years later.

Granted, there were one-off issues where Dick would get the spotlight. For a short time in the mid-’90s, he even stood in for Bruce Wayne as Batman. But it wasn’t until 1996 that Nightwing got his own book, and even his own city to protect. After more than 40 years as Robin, and over a decade as Nightwing, Dick was finally spinning off into his own adventures.

DC Comics would test the waters, and ultimately set the stage for a Nightwing ongoing series with a four issue mini published in 1995. Written by legendary Batman scribe Denny O’Neil, the story sees Dick revisit his past while preparing for his future. He also gets a new costume in the process.

Dick starts the story by doing something you probably don’t want to do before you start your own solo series – He quits. Handing his costume over to Batman, saying he’s realized “I’m not you. I was never you. I don’t want to be you.”

And what does Dick want Batman to do with the costume? He has some ideas…

“Put it in a trophy case. Give it to the Salvation Army. Burn it.”

Indeed, Dick Grayson is giving up on superheroics, opting to live a more normal life. A little abrupt? Sure. But I like this idea for Dick. He was and is the most outgoing among Batman’s surrogate family, which makes him the most naturally likable. So as readers, we want to see him happy and fulfilled.

Of course, it can’t last. The poor guy barely makes it to the next morning before he finds an old letter to his parents, threatening them for something they apparently saw in the despotic nation of Kravia. Naturally, he has to investigate.

Our penciller is Greg Land, who’s faced a lot of criticism over the course of his career for his use, and perhaps abuse, of photo reference. He’s been accused of lifting, and even flat-out tracing, images from sources as lewd as hardcore pornography. As far as I know, this Nightwing story pre-dates those allegations. I don’t see anything that stands out as blatantly lifted from somewhere else. Though there are a few images that are a little suspect. Case in point, an image in issue #1 of a briefs-clad Dick Grayson on a bed. I can’t bring myself to complain about that from a sexualization standpoint, given how female characters are often drawn to this day. But it makes you wonder.

There’s also the image above, where Dick, posed like a catalog model, is standing in what has the distinction of being the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen in a comic book. He unfortunately wears that for much of the second issue.

While he’s unquestionably one of the all-time greats, this is hardly Denny O’Neil’s best work. He has to inject a decent amount of narrative convenience into things to get the story going and to fit it into four issues. The despot in Kravia just happens to remember who Dick is. The assassin he then sends to kill Dick is able to find him very quickly, which provides our hero with a trail of breadcrumbs to follow back to the villain. Makes me wonder why they didn’t keep things a little more simple than a story about whether a dictator was involved in the plot to kill Dick’s parents…

On the upside, this mini is where we see Nightwing’s black and blue costume (shown below) for the first time. His original suit, affectionately called the “disco suit,” worked for a colorful superhero team book in the ’80s. It was later changed to the sleeker, darker-yet-somehow-also-brighter outfit shown above. It was changed again here, presumably because tonally Nightwing was moving into territory closer to Batman. Dark, avenging hero of the night, and all that.

This is the look that practically all subsequent takes on the Nightwing outfit were based on. With Dick’s previous two outfits, especially the first, it feels like there might have been pressure to give the character something with a grandeur befitting his legacy. As it turned out, they were better off keeping it simple. Black with a touch of blue. It’s almost a minimalist’s superhero costume. The black costume also gave Nightwing a certain cool factor he maintains to this day.

At face value, this Nightwing mini isn’t much to write home about. The story is overdone, the villain is generic and forgettable, and by the end the whole thing seems all for naught. But it nevertheless holds an important place in the character’s history as the tale that gave him his new costume, and set him down a path to solo stardom. For that alone, it’s worth a look.

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

A Three Jokers #1 Review – Too Many Smiles?

TITLE: Three Jokers #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
ARTISTS:
Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
PUBLISHER: DC Black Label
PRICE:
$6.99
RELEASED:
August 25, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Alright, DC. You can have your “Joker War,” and you can have Three Jokers. But after these are both said and done, we put the ol’ Clown Prince back on the shelf for a little while. There is such a thing as too many smiles…

At last, more than four years after it was first teased in Johns and Fabok’s Justice League run, Three Jokers has arrived. Why’d it take so long? No clue. But I’ve gotta say, the end product was almost worth the wait. While he’s obviously used Batman in his larger DC stories, Geoff Johns hasn’t spent a lot of time on a proper Bat-book. But in terms of the overall “feel” of things, i.e. characterization, tone, the sense of sacrifice, and that lingering dread that comes with a great Joker story, Johns and the Three Jokers team absolutely nail it.

Three Jokers presents us with the notion that there are…well, three Jokers. When the Harlequin of Hate seemingly strikes three points in Gotham at the exact same time, Batman, Batgirl, and the Red Hood must figure out where the genuine article is. But certain evidence points them toward something more elusive: That three different men have played the role of the Joker over the years. And unbeknownst to our heroes, a fourth Joker may be on his way…

In a broad sense, I don’t really like the idea of there having been three Jokers. Rather, I like the notion that he evolved over time just as Batman did. But I’ve been around long enough to know these kinds of things often aren’t as they initially seem. So I’ll reserve judgment on the premise and simply judge the content on its own merits.

One thing I give this issue a lot of credit for is quickly and effectively establishing the Joker’s relationship to Batman, and also providing the character with dramatic weight he deserves. It’s all done within the first few pages, using very little dialogue. We see Batman’s scarred and mangled flesh juxtaposed with single images of his enemies corresponding to specific wounds. Characters like Bane, the Riddler, Scarecrow, etc. Then we get one for the Joker. Then the Joker again. Then the Joker again. Then the Joker yet again. Thus the reader, whether a Batman buff or someone picking up a comic for the first time, understands the Joker isn’t simply another villain. He’s the one who’s given Batman more scars, both physically and emotionally, than anyone else.

Also adding dramatic weight is the presence of Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and the Red Hood/Jason Todd. Ask a casual comic book reader to name three Joker stories, and chances are two of them will be (for better or worse) The Killing Joke – Where the Joker shoots and paralyzes Barbara, and A Death in the Family – The infamous story where the Joker kills Jason. So having them around is a nice reminder of what the stakes are when dealing with the Joker. You’d think, with both breathing and walking, the opposite would be true. But both carry a heavy existential burden.

Jason Fabok gets to put his own little tweaks on all the iconic costumes for Three Jokers. The only changes of real significance are to Red Hood’s costume (shown above). Most of what we see is an improvement. The Bat emblem on his chest is thankfully gone. He’s now in a leather jacket with a red tunic that has, you guessed it, a hood. The tunic is supposed to look like the Robin costume. It even has an R on the belt buckle. Initially I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. But it’s grown on me. In fact, it’s probably my favorite take on the costume since Under the Hood in the mid 2000s.

I credit Three Jokers #1 with having one of the best, most cinematic chase scenes I’ve read in quite awhile. There’s not even that much to it. Just Batman and Batgirl trying to stop an ambulance, with Batman coming aboard and fighting inside. But Johns and Fabok made a more exciting sequence out of this than some creators can with four times as much.

This book is also beautifully colored. The palette Brad Anderson is working with feels like it can explode into a bright, beautiful blaze at any moment. But instead we get colors that are very full and that pop, but also feel like they’ve been dipped in darkness. The way Fabok and Anderson capture Gotham City feels definitive. Like this is what it’s supposed to look like.

Jason Todd is really the star of this first issue. That’s mostly because of the climax and a deliciously emotional, character-defining moment between a killer and his victim…

Three Jokers #1 straddles an interesting line. I totally disagree with its premise, yet I can’t deny this is a great comic book. Normally I can’t stand it when even oversized comics are priced above $5. But I can say with full confidence that this one is worth the price of admission.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Drakkon New Dawn, Star Wars, 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: Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn
AUTHOR:
Anthony Burch
ARTISTS:
Simone Ragazzoni, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jung-Geun Yoon.
RELEASED:
August 19, 2020

I’m starting to get a little weary of all this Drakkon-verse stuff. It works as part of a story where the Power Rangers go to a dark alternate universe. But as an island unto itself? Meh. As time progresses, it feels like all we’re doing is answering where this person or that person are in the Drakkon-verse. That’s not enough to justify a miniseries like this, in my view.

Then again, it must be selling. So what do I know?

TITLE: Batman #97
AUTHOR:
James Tynion IV
ARTISTS:
Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Guillem March & Morey.
RELEASED:
August 18, 2020

The central story of “Joker War” has lots of intrigue. But there are little things that throw if off-balance. For instance, there’s a really cool moment where Batman has to fight a bunch of “Joker zombies” blind-folded. I love that. It’s a wonderful use of all Bruce’s training. But much like Joker’s facial expression at the end of last issue, a small detail taints it…

Batman says, “A good bat knows how to fight blind.”

Ugh. Why? Whatever happened to Batman being the strong silent type?

Also, why does Joker have abs?

TITLE: Justice League #51
AUTHOR: Jeff Loveness
ARTISTS: Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques (Inker), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Tom Napolitano (Letterer). Cover by Philip Tan, Jay David Ramos, & Nick Derington.
RELEASED: August 18, 2020

Robson Rocha really gets to flex here with an beautiful two-page montage of some of the League’s most iconic moments. Beautiful work.

The narration in this issue is a little confusing. It takes some time to catch on to not necessarily who it is, but who they’re talking to. Still, you should catch on by the end. I love me a good Black Mercy story. So it’ll be interesting to see what they turn in here.

TITLE: Dead Day #2
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Evgeniy Bornyakov, Juancho! (Colorist), Charles Pritchett (Letterer). Cover by Andy Clarke & Jose Villarrubia.
RELEASED: August 19, 2020

“Nice to see you two lovebirds back together, though. I’m sure rigor mortis has it’s advantages.”

Ew.

These fashionable guys on the cover are “Lifers,” a group of religious extremists somewhat ironically opposed to the whole resurrection thing. They make for a nice bit of world-building. I like ’em.

TITLE: Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #4
AUTHOR: Ethan Sacks
ARTISTS: Paolo Villanneli, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Lee Bermejo.
RELEASED: August 19, 2020

Story-wise, this isn’t the most engaging book you’ll find. I’ve almost completely lost the plot. But Paolo Villanneli and Arif Prianto are killing it on the art. The opening page is beautiful. It’s got a gritty texture, yet is still as colorful as you want Star Wars to be. And of course, Lee Bermejo’s covers are awesome.

TITLE: Darth Vader #4
AUTHOR:
Greg Pak
ARTISTS:
Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by InHyuk Lee.
RELEASED:
August 12, 2020

Vader basically gets swallowed by a whale in this issue. I mean, c’mon. You’ve gotta love that. A friggin’ whale!

In contrast, this story is trying to get a lot of mileage out of trotting out characters from prequels. As if we care that much what happened to Ric Olie. Don’t know who Ric Olie is? You’re not alone. There was a way to do this without scraping the bottom of the barrel. It might have only been a one or two-issue story where Vader simply visits Padme’s tomb. But sometimes, less is more.

TITLE: Something is Killing the Children #9
AUTHOR:
James Tynion IV
ARTISTS:
Werter Dell-Edera, Miquel Muerto (Colorist), Andworld Design (Letters)
RELEASED:
August 12, 2020

There’s a fantastic image in here that takes us into our first ever flashback scene with Erica Slaughter. She’s curled up in a cupboard, and one eye is staring straight out at the reader. That and all the deep blacks make it a really spooky shot.

Should this book count as a guilty pleasure? Because of all the…y’know…child death? Either way, I’m enjoying the hell out of it. It’s one of the best indie comics on the market right now.

TITLE: Wonder Woman #760
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki
ARTISTS: Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Pat Brosseau (Letterer). Cover by David Marquez.
RELEASED: August 18, 2020

I find it so amusing that Maxwell Lord, the character created for Justice League International, has evolved into such a formidable villain for Wonder Woman. And low and behold, he’s once again  casting her in an unfavorable public light.

Last issue, we were introduced to Diana’s new neighbor Emma, who I get the sense will be a civilian-level friend for her. Almost a Jimmy Olsen equivalent. I’m very curious to see how that evolves, as it’s not often we get to see Wondie have that kind of relationship.

 

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars, Bad Mother, Disaster Inc., 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: Star Wars #5
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto & Dan Brown (Colorists), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva & Guru-eFX.
RELEASED:
August 5, 2020

This new Star Wars series hasn’t been doing it for me thus far. It had Luke and Lando go back to Cloud City for a really stupid reason. It’s about to give Luke a yellow lightsaber right after he lost his father’s. Now in this issue he meets yet another Force user, who I assume is going to serve as a mentor. Even though adding another person in that role dilutes the impact of Obi-Wan and Yoda.

In exploring the year between Empire and Jedi, I’m starting to think we should have kept Shadows of the Empire as canon.

TITLE: Bad Mother #1 (of 5)
AUTHOR: Christa Faust
ARTISTS: Mike Deodato Jr., Lee Loughridge (Colorist), Dezi Sienty (Letterer)
RELEASED:
August 5, 2020

Bad Mother feels a little bit like Taken if the lead role were gender-swapped. Granted, April Walters doesn’t have that “particular set of skills.” But the cover certainly suggests a big attitude change is coming. I’m expecting something cathartic and suitably gory out of this one.

I’m definitely excited to see what Mike Deodato Jr does with this material, as he fares quite well here. There’s one exception, though: Based on the cover and the first page, I thought April might be pregnant. Whoops.

TITLE: Disaster Inc #2
AUTHOR: Joe Harris
ARTISTS: Sebastian Piriz, Carlos M. Mangual (Letterer). Cover by Andy Clarke & Jose Villarrubia.
RELEASED:
August 5, 2020

The industry hiatus caused by COVID-19 did no favors for Disaster Inc. It took me a decent amount of time to re-familiarize myself with the real-life disaster it’s based on. But once you start to pick up momentum in that respect, you fall back into it.

We get to explore our setting a little bit in this issue, which is nice. We also dive into some samurai folklore, which obviously lends itself to our monster/killer. All in all, a solid sophomore issue with some great art and colors by Sebastian Piriz.

TITLE: Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler
AUTHORS: Jonathan Hickman, Alan Davis
ARTISTS: Davis, Carlos Lopez (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Davis & Edgar Delgado.
RELEASED:
August 5, 2020

These Giant-Size X-Men titles are a little misleading. I come into them hoping for something tightly focused on the title character. But with the Magneto one, and now this Nightcrawler issue, that’s proving not to be the case. This is less about Kurt and more about the three other mutants that are with him.

This issue takes us back to the mansion in Westchester, which has apparently been abandoned for so long it’s being overrun by friggin’ vegetation. (Not to mention some aliens.) You’re telling me that thing wouldn’t sell? It’s the X-Mansion, for cryin’ out loud!

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

Weekly Comic 100s: TMNT Double-Feature, Wonder Woman #759, 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: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #107
AUTHOR: Sophie Campbell (Story), Ronda Pattison (Script), Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story Consultants)
ARTISTS: Nelson Daniel, Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer). Variant cover by Eastman.
RELEASED:
July 29, 2020

The Turtles have an “old days” moment here where they head down to the sewers and fight a bunch of Mousers. It’s just a couple of cutesy lines. But it does serve as a reminder of just how different this series is from the standard TMNT status quo. Instead of four Turtles striking from the shadows, we’ve got five Turtles living openly in a town full of mutants.

As they roam the sewers, the Turtles mix it up with what basically amounts to an undersea monster. It’s played like a horror movie. Kinda fun.

TITLE: TMNT Annual 2020
AUTHOR: Tom Waltz
ARTISTS: Adam Gorham, John Rauch & Michael Garland (Colorists), Shawn Lee (Letterer). Variant cover by Kevin Eastman and Fahriza Kamputra (Colorist).
RELEASED:
July 29, 2020

This annual mainly serves as a check-in with our villains. Most notably Shredder, who we haven’t heard much from since issue #100. They color his costume purple and silver, like the old cartoon. I won’t complain about that…

As the cover indicates, they’re doing a symbiosis story with Krang and Leatherhead. Yet another example of how this series continues to bring these characters into uncharted waters. Given how much has been done with the Ninja Turtles universe, it’s pretty amazing to see how much hasn’t been done.

TITLE: Wonder Woman #759
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki
ARTISTS: Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Pat Brosseau (Letterer). Cover by David Marquez.
RELEASED:
July 28, 2020

So we’ve got Mariko Tamaki, who wrote Supergirl: Being Super, and Mikel Janin, one of the stars of Tom King’s Batman run. On paper, this new team should be great.

Their first issue is pretty ground level. Lots of flowery narration about what a hero is, what heroes do, etc. My only big problem is that Tamaki gives in to the temptation of putting Wondie in an everyday situation, shopping for furniture, and making it seem foreign to her. She’s been in “man’s world” for so long, yet she has no idea how to shop for furniture? Yeah, right.

TITLE: Darth Vader #3
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Inhyuk Lee.
RELEASED:
July 29, 2020

How many times have we seen Darth Vader cross paths with characters from the prequels and then get all feelingsy? Enough that I rolled my eyes when Captain Typho showed up in this issue.

However, as someone who read Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston, I appreciated the inclusion of Sabe and another character from that book. It’s a nice little tie-in that doesn’t take anything away from the story being told here.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #9
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer). Cover by Paolo Rivera & Joe Rivera.
RELEASED:
July 30, 2020

In this issue we finally get into Jason Todd’s origin story, his connection to Batman, etc. It’s not drastically altered from the comics. But it’s altered just enough to distinguish it. I liked what I saw.

Frankly, I hope they portray Jason Todd as having been with Batman for only a short time. In the DCAU I’d like to see him portrayed more as a tragically failed experiment than a lost son. Again, it would be different. But not so much that it’s unrecognizable. That’s the formula that seems to work best.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #52
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrot
ARTISTS: Moises Hidalgo, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED:
July 29, 2020

We’re still following Jason, Zack, and Trini, despite the events of this issue occurring after “The Power Transfer.” Not a bad thing, but not what I expected either. Especially since they’re getting their own book in a few months.

I’m not sure how I feel about the way Jamal Campbell posed Aisha on the cover. It’s like she’s showing off her butt or something…

We introduce a civilian character in this issue who worries about the holding the Rangers accountable for their actions. Sort of a “don’t trust the Power Rangers” mindset. Very curious to see where that goes.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #9
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Clayton Henry, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 28, 2020

In almost 20 years, I can count the number of Ultra-Humanite stories I’ve read on one hand. So this story is cool for me in that sense.

This issue, and this team, have a really nice energy. Joshua Williamson is often hit-or-miss. But he, Clayton Henry, and Alejandro Sanchez make for a winning combination with these characters. Not a perfect combination per se, but a winning one.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #7
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS: Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Variant cover by Jeremy Roberts.
RELEASED:
July 28, 2020

Our Tom Taylor original characters get a new team name in this issue: The Revolutionaries. Not bad. I don’t know how much of a life they’ll have out from under the Suicide Squad name. But still, not bad.

For at least one issue, Taylor brings Floyd Lawton’s young daughter into the sandbox and gives her a a bow and arrow and a hero name: Liveshot. She almost reminds me of a kid version of the Kate Bishop Hawkeye. Interesting…

TITLE: Billionaire Island #2
AUTHOR: Mark Russell
ARTISTS: Steve Pugh, Chris Chuckry (Colorist), Rob Steen (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 2, 2020

It seems that in addition to the absurdly rich, Billionaire Island is home certain rich, famous, and disgraced. We get an actual Kevin Spacey cameo in this issue. Yes, I wretched. But it’s also a funny little moment.

We haven’t gotten into the bloodshed yet. But the book does crank up the action a little bit with this issue. Something tells me it’s going to be worth the wait.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Negan Lives, Ghostbusters, 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

So can we all just stop with this “The Walking Dead comics are over” thing?

Negan Lives!, Robert Kirkman’s commendable attempt to drive readers back into comic shops came out this week. The Walking Dead #173, the “final” issue of the series, came out almost a year ago to the day. So they barely made it through another 12 months before coming back to the well. Mind you, no one could have predicted COVID-19. But my point still stands: The Walking Dead is not done. There’s too much money on the table, there’s still fan interest, and most importantly, the creators clearly still love doing it.

It might not come back as a monthly series. There might be years at a time where we don’t see it. But mark my words, The Walking Dead will rise again.

For the record, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a very, very good thing.

TITLE: Negan Lives!
AUTHOR: Robert Kirkman
ARTISTS: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn (Gray Tones), Rus Wooton (Letterer).
RELEASED: July 1, 2020

Negan Lives! is pretty much what you want it to be: A return to the Negan character, with the door left open for more stories. It’s a fun time, but nothing shocking enough to wake the dead.

For better or worse, this return to form did make me realize how much I miss The Walking Dead. All the more reason to cut the BS and bring it back, already.

TITLE: Ghostbusters: Year One #4
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
ARTIST:
Dan Shoening, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Neil Uyetake (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

This issue gave me the warm fuzzies for Harold Ramis. I suspect that sentimental factor is partially why they saved Egon for last.

Ghostbusters: Year One ends on an open-ended note related to Egon. As this book is meant to be a prelude of sorts to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I’m wondering if this leads into something in the movie. On the other hand, it could be another Burnham/Schoening comic. Either way, the fans win.

TITLE: Devil’s Highway #1
AUTHOR: Benjamin Percy
ARTISTS:
Brent Schoonover, Nick Filardi (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

Like Dead Body Road last week, the success of Devil’s Highway largely hinges on the likability of its female protagonist. In that sense, it’s successful. But thus far the book doesn’t have much else going for it in terms of uniqueness. It’s a standard horror story, with art that’s not particularly memorable.

I’ve been a fan of much of what AWA Studios – Upshot has been putting out lately. But I can’t say Devil’s Highway will be a high priority for me going forward.

TITLE: I Can Sell You A Body #4
AUTHOR: Ryan Ferrier
ARTISTS:
George Kambadais, Ferrier (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

I’m not sure how I expected this book to end. But I enjoyed what they did. Denny and Henrietta don’t get a textbook happy ending. But they don’t get a tragic one either. They wind up in a fun middle-ground.

All in all, I’d call this book an overachiever. It managed to be both intriguing and funny. Moreover, it’s memorable. It stays with you after you close an issue. I’ll be keeping an eye out for both Ferrier and Kambadais going forward.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #7
AUTHOR: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS:
Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer). Cover by James Harren.
RELEASED:
July 2, 2020

This one is a mixed bag. I appreciated the different sort of way Azrael was introduced, the way Catwoman was involved, and that they let him have his original costume before putting him in the Knightfall Batman suit. But I’m not so much a fan of how the suit is created in the DCAU. It’s almost done as an afterthought. Or worse, something they did just to sell toys.

And in all fairness, maybe that’s why they did do it.

TITLE: That Texas Blood #1
AUTHOR: Chris Condon
ARTIST:
Jacob Phillips
RELEASED:
June 24, 2020

Think Criminal meets early Southern Bastards. Then you’ve got a decent idea of what That Texas Blood is all about. At least at this juncture.

Solicited as a “neo-Western crime series,” the issue has a certain southern-fried charm to it. Case in point, our main character, 70-year-old Sheriff Joe Coates, is trying to retrieve his wife’s casserole dish when he stumbles into trouble. Coates has a simple likability that should balance well with the violence that’s sure to ensue in the coming pages.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman, Dead Body Road, TMNT, 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

Last week I said I missed Star Wars and TMNT comics. This week we got the return of Bounty Hunters, and a double-dose of TMNT. Where are you gonna find a more fair friggin’ deal than that?

This week’s new releases are pretty light. So I’m holding a few back from last week’s pull list. That Texas Blood is one of them. We might also see Marvels Snapshot: Captain America and/or Harley Quin: Black + White + Red.

TITLE: Batman #93
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Guillem March, Javier Fernandez, Tomeu Morey & David Baron (Colorists), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Tony Daniel.
RELEASED: June 23, 2020

The Designer’s role in this story more or less wraps up in this issue. That’s a little sad, as I liked that character concept. Even if the costume was a little bit much.

Punchline, the Joker’s new answer to Harley Quinn, gets put over pretty strong here. They obviously want her to be a big deal. She’s got an interesting worldview, and it’s not as crazy as you might think. Her costume is definitely cosplay-friendly. Not quite as much as Harley, but expect to see her around the convention scene.

TITLE: Dead Body Road: Bad Blood #1
AUTHOR: Justin Jordan
ARTISTS: Benjamin Tiesma, Mat Lopes (Colorist), Pat Brosseau (Letterer). Cover by Matteo Scalera & Morena Dinisio.
RELEASED: June 24, 2020

This issue has a strong hook. For yours truly, most of that has to do with our heroine, Bree Hale. We establish her as a small town girl-next-door type. But obviously she has a history that allows her to kick all kinds of ass and escape perilous situations. She’s particularly strong in the climactic sequence as she fights off a sadistic interrogator.

My understanding is this isn’t connected with the previous Dead Body Road mini at all, and that it’s an anthology book like Criminal. So you should be okay coming in cold.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #105
AUTHORS: Sophie Campbell (Script), Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story Consultants)
ARTISTS: Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer).
RELEASED: June 24, 2020

There’s a big moment between Raph and Alopex in this issue that leads me to believe we’re headed toward fairly uncharted waters: Romantic interests for the Turtles.

And no, don’t talk about Mitsu in TMNT III. Please.

I’m game for really putting the Teenage in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Especially now that they’re doing this Mutant Town story. Between the Raph/Alopex scene and the concert setting, this issue really does that well. They’ve got a chance to break some new ground here. Let’s hope they take it.

TITLE:TMNT: Jennika #3
AUTHOR:
Braham Revel, Ronda Pattison
ARTISTS:
Revel, Jodi Nishijima, Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letters).
RELEASED:
June 24, 2020

I can’t get over how much Braham Revel’s style reminds me of the 2012 Nickelodeon show.

It’s amazing to think how virtually everything The Next Mutation did wrong with Venus di Milo, IDW has done right with Jennika. Although based on how the IDWverse has been put together, we might actually see Venus in the comics at some point.

Bebop and Rocksteady show up here. Why does Rocksteady carry an average-sized sledgehammer? It feels like it should be bigger. Mutant-sized. That, or a giant blaster like on the old cartoon.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #50
AUTHOR:
Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS:
Daniele Di Nicuolo, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED:
June 24, 2020

Ryan Parrott does Rocky, Adam, and Aisha a lot of justice in these books. That’s one of those things that’s expected, but still really nice when you actually see it. Rocky is also sans mullet, which I appreciate.

“Necessary Evil” might have gone a little long. But it was still a story very much worth telling. Well executed too, in terms of both the writing and the visuals.

Definitely a worthy issue #50. And if the cliffhanger at the end is any indication, PR fans are going to want to come back for issue #51.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #6
AUTHOR:
Tom Taylor
ARTISTS:
Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Cover by Redondo & Marcelo Maiolo.
RELEASED:
June 24, 2020

The humor in this issue is on-point. Especially with Batman doing a guest shot. That’s a high compliment coming from me, as I don’t usually get into Harley-Quinn-style comedy.

We’re teased with a separation of Harley and Deadshot from all the various new characters in the group. That would be interesting, though I expect ultimately a bad move for sales. I’d stick around, though. Again, a pretty high compliment from yours truly.

TITLE: Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #3
AUTHOR: Ethan Sacks
ARTISTS: Paolo Villanelli, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Lee Bermejo.
RELEASED: June 24, 2020

Boba Fett is teased for this issue, but doesn’t show. I’m curious as to how much of him we’ll need to see to keep this series afloat as the months go by. That’s not to say characters like Bossk and Valance aren’t appealing. But Boba’s drawing power is obvious at this point. You could easily make the argument for doing a Boba Fett series, much like the Darth Vader one.

I grow a little weary of the story they’re telling about all these hunters having a common target. The target in question simply isn’t that interesting. Not yet, at least.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Dark Nights: Death Metal, Wynd, 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

You know what I miss? Star Wars comics. C’mon Marvel. DC is cranking out its silly heavy metal event comic. The least you can do is get back in the full swing of things!

I also miss TMNT comics. But at least we get half of one this week…

TITLE: Dark Nights: Death Metal #1
AUTHOR: Scott Snyder
ARTISTS: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion (Inker), FCO Plascencia (Colorist), Tom Napolitano (Letterer)
RELEASED: June 16, 2020

If this Metal stuff is your cup of tea, then by all means I encourage you to drink. The comic book industry could use your bucks right about now. But boy is it not mine…

While Dark Nights: Metal did have some nice moments, to me this stuff has always come off overly indulgent and stupid. Need proof? Batman not only wears a duster in this book, but one with spikes on the shoulders. I’m a Greg Capullo fan, but *barf*.

TITLE: Wynd #1
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Michael Dialnyas, Aditya Bidikar (Letterer)
RELEASED:
June 17, 2020

As much of a Tynion fan as I am, Wynd isn’t really my cup of tea. Just like The Woods, also by Tynion and Dialnyas, wasn’t really my thing. But obviously there’s an audience for this sort of thing, and I think Wynd will do well among them.

The most interesting thing about this issue is we have a kid, Wynd, who’s clearly been touched  by magic, as he’s living in this renaissance type world where magic is outlawed. We steer away from that a little too soon for my tastes. I’d have devoted the entire issue to Wynd himself.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #6
AUTHORS:
Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS:
Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer)
RELEASED:
June 18, 2020

“Mentors” wraps up in more or less the way you’d expect. As a bonus, this issue also establishes that Tim Drake has been with Batman for about a year.

At the end, we’re left with more questions about our mystery observer, who we know is actually Jason Todd. Most notably, the question of what he wants. Thus far, Jason has occupied that gray area between hero and villain. In the main DCU, it was crystal clear that Jason was back as a villain. So I’m thrilled to see they’re taking things in at least a slightly different direction.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS:
Simone Di Meo, Alessio Zono (Pencil Assist), Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Igor Monti (Color Assist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer)
RELEASED:
June 17, 2020

This finale pulls a hell of a rabbit out of the hat for the big zord battle. I won’t spoil it, except to say it’s pretty damn cool.

My only critique of said battle is Di Meo’s Dragonzord is a little awkward in its body language. It looks very rigid.

I maintain that MMPR/TMNT was pretty paint-by-numbers. But in the end, that’s exactly what we wanted from it. We wanted these characters to meet and interact. That’s precisely what the story gives us. No harm, no foul.

TITLE: Superman #22
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS:
Kevin Maguire, Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, & Sinclair.
RELEASED:
June 16, 2020

I love me a good Kevin Maguire interlude. When you haven’t seen him in awhile and then he pops up for an issue, you really get to see just how good he is.

It certainly helps that he’s got some great subject matter. As an FBI agent questions Lois Lane, we have Superman in an intergalactic space battle with Mongul. Obviously, Maguire’s exaggerated faces tend to skew him more toward the comedic side of things. But if he’s fairly selective about the “acting” choices he makes, he’s every bit as capable as anyone else of delivering that epic battle sequence.

TITLE: Young Justice #15
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker
ARTISTS:
John Timms, Scott Godlewski, Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Cover by Ben Caldwell & Eltaeb.
RELEASED:
June 16, 2020

I didn’t realize just how much I missed this book. It’s definitely one of my favorites at DC right now. Especially now that they seem to be taking a Justice League Unlimited sort of approach, with lots of different members as opposed to a single core team. Any kind of JLU approach is rarely a bad thing…

We finally get some answers about Superboy in this issue. If you’ve read a fair amount of DC multiverse stories, the answers we get shouldn’t be too surprising. Not bad. Just not particularly surprising.

TITLE: X-Men #5
AUTHOR: Jonathan Hickman
ARTISTS:
R.B. Silva, Marte Gracia (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Leinil Yu & Sunny Gho.
RELEASED:
January 9, 2020

This is a good issue if you aren’t as familiar with who some of the newer X-Men are. Hickman uses Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, and Xavier to lead into a re-introduction to X-23, Darwin, and Synch.

It also introduces is to “the Vault.” Its inhabitants, according to Xavier, are “the single greatest existential threat to mutantdom.” What it is and how time works inside are a little complex. But the Vault does have a Sentinel head on top of it. So it’s got that going for it.

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