A Batman #123 Micro-Review – An Easy Transition

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Batman 123, cover, 2022, Howard PorterTITLE: Batman #123
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Howard Porter, Trevor Hairsine, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Rain Beredo (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer), Willie Schubert (Letterer)

RELEASED: May 3, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I was able to follow this issue fairly easily, despite not having read the two “Shadow War” issues that came after Batman #122. That kind of thing is always appreciated.

Still, for my money the back-up story by Williamson and Trevor Hairsine stole the issue. Taking place in the past, it sees Batman mix it up with Deathstroke and the Joker, as a bounty looms over Robin’s head. Hairsine renders the classic Robin costume very well, albeit briefly.

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A Shadow War: Alpha #1 Micro-Review – Batman Said What?!?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Shadow War Alpha 1, cover, 2022, Jonboy MeyersTITLE: Shadow War: Alpha #1
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Viktor Bogdanovic, Daniel Henriques (Co-Inker), Mike Spicer (Colorist), Troy Peteri (Letterer). Cover by Jonboy Meyers.

RELEASED: March 30, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This issue was coming along just fine, until we came to a total clunker of a line that’s given to Batman.

Out of what feels like the clear blue sky, Batman tells Damian that he could have prevented Alfred’s murder had he been there. Damian, of course, was there, and was unable to stop it. Granted, father and son are in a heated exchange when this line comes out. But it still feels needlessly harsh, and shoehorned in as a cheap way to manufacture drama. Bad form.

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A Deathstroke Inc. #6 Micro-Review – Like Batman, But Deadlier…

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

TITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #6
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Paolo Pantalena, Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Howard Porter & Hi-Fi.

RELEASED: February 22, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

There’s a pretty cool silent page in this issue where Black Canary lets herself fall backward off a cliff. Really nice work by Paolo Pantalena.

There’s no throne of skulls in this issue. If you’re going to put a throne of skulls on the cover, you need to follow through on the interior. Isn’t that a rule? If it’s not, it should be.

Deathstroke Inc. is chugging along, as we’re starting to see how and why the series has its name. It looks like we’re about to get Batman Inc., only a whole lot deadlier…

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A Deathstroke Inc. #5 Micro-Review – The Big Bad(s) Revealed!

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Deathstroke Inc 5, cover, 2022, Howard PorterTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #5
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Paolo Pantalena, Hi-Fi (Colors), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Howard Porter & Hi-Fi.

RELEASED: January 25, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This issue sees Slade and Dinah take brief forays into idealized versions of their respective lives via a dreamworld. I’d have liked to see more time spent on that. But in this case I get it. This issue had more pressing matters to attend to…

We get a look at our big bad(s) toward the end of this issue. The revelation opens up some potentially interesting storytelling doors. Slade also spends the final three pages doing something that’s very…Slade. So all in all, this was a good issue.

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A Deathstroke Inc. #4 Micro-Review – Excitement and Possibility

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Deathstroke Inc 4, cover, 2021, Howard PorterTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #4
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Howard Porter, Hi-Fi (Colors), Steve Wands (Letterer)

RELEASED: December 28, 2021

Deathstroke Inc. is essentially our title character and Black Canary facing off against a mixed bag of enemies from across the DC Universe. In this issue, for instance, we get the Legion of Doom.

I’ve talked in the past about how that approach creates a feeling that Williamson is simply throwing a bunch of off-the-wall ideas into one story. But the upside of that approach is that it feels like anything can happen in Deathstroke Inc. That makes for a lot of excitement. Not to mention possibility.

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A Deathstroke Inc. #3 Micro-Review – Deathstroke on a Unicorn?!?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Deathstroke Inc 3, cover, 2021, Howard PorterTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #3
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Howard Porter, Hi-Fi (Colors), Steve Wands

RELEASED: November 23, 2021

Last time we were in space. This month we’re in medieval times, with Deathstroke on the cover wearing knight type armor and riding a unicorn. My theory about Williamson using this book as an excuse to do batty, off the wall stuff definitely has validity…

Pro: Deathstroke fights Cheetah in this issue. That’s a fight we don’t get to see often, if ever.

Con: Deathstroke defeats 100 henchmen off-panel. Kinda lame.

Also lame: Black Canary now has a canary type symbol on her chest. Not unlike the Batman insignia.

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #2 Micro-Review – Off the Wall

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Deathstroke Inc. 2, cover, 2021, Howard PorterTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #2
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Howard Porter, Hi-Fi (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 26, 2021

I’m getting the impression this series is going to be Williamson’s excuse to do a bunch of wild, off-the-wall stuff. Which isn’t bad, necessarily. Case in point, this issue sees Slade and Dinah go into space with jazzed up suits and weaponry. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were trying to market toys.

I didn’t necessarily appreciate Howard Porter’s work when I was younger. Nowadays, I’m catching on to why he’s one of the greats.

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #1 Micro-Review – Simple and Easy

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #1
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Howard Porter, Hi-Fi (Colors), Steve Wands (Letterer)
RELEASED: September 28, 2021

I like this Deathstroke/Black Canary combination. The book’s premise is fairly simple, in a villain-who-wants-to-do-good sort of way. So Deathstroke Inc. is easy to dive into, which is always a plus.

Joshua Williamson has turned in some of the more compelling stuff DC has come out with over the last several years. So I’m inclined to stick with this one on good faith alone. Having the great Howard Porter attached certainly doesn’t hurt either.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Future State: Teen Titans #2

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Future State: Teen Titans #2
AUTHOR: Tim Sheridan
ARTISTS: Rafa Sandoval, Julio Ferreira (Inker), Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), Rob Leigh
RELEASED: February 9, 2021

The plot got lost for me on this one. We’ve got Nightwing running around in a Deathstroke mask for no real reason, a bunch of dead characters to mourn, and too many surviving characters to keep track of.

How about this: Leave Nightwing out entirely. He’s got his own book, and it doesn’t really mesh here too well. Do Cybeast (see last issue), Starfire, and a few of the surviving young heroes. Let them take on…whoever the big enemy is here?

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

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.