Weekly Comic 100s: Batman: The Adventures Continue #1, and Much 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

This pandemic is really throwing a monkey wrench into my reading habits.

My local comic shop is still working on getting me issues from March 25. I’ve stayed away from digital editions, as I want to support local shops as much as possible. Ergo, I’ve been waiting two weeks for certain issues. But sooner than later, the most recent editions of Action Comics, Batman/Superman, TMNT, and others will be reviewed here.

The only new issue I purchased this week was a digital exclusive. And how could I resist? It’s the return of the DC Animated Universe!

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #1
AUTHORS:
Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS:
Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer). Cover by Dave Johnson.
RELEASED:
April 1, 2020

This is exactly what it was supposed to be: A return to the old form, i.e. the comics of yesteryear that were based on the Bruce Timm animated shows. Heck, they even threw in a title card, a la Batman: The Animated Series.

A lot is thrown at us here. Bane. A giant robot attacking S.T.A.R. Labs. Lex Luthor and a mystery regarding Superman’s whereabouts. But what I took away from issue #1 is that they’re going that route. A route paved by Judd Winick about 15 years ago…

TITLE: Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #2
AUTHOR: Ethan Sacks
ARTISTS:
Paolo Villanelli, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Lee Bermejo
RELEASED:
March 25, 2020

I got a little lost on this one.

I came away from last issue thinking about our main character, or at least one of them, Valance. Obviously I remembered Boba Fett and Bossk were there. But I struggled to remember the significance of T’onga, why different characters were going certain places, and when certain events took place. A quick re-read of issue #1 set me straight. But obviously that’s not something you want readers to have to do. Then again, maybe it’s just me.

TITLE: I Can Sell You A Body #3 (of 4)
AUTHOR: Ryan Ferrier
ARTISTS:
George Kambadais. Ferrier (Letterer).
RELEASED:
March 25, 2020

This issue unexpectedly hit me in the feels. I talked a bit about the Henrietta character last time. She’s very likable, but as a love interest, she’s all in with Denny very quickly. Not in the creepy way, either. It’s more like they just click.

It made me reminisce about the people I’ve clicked with like that. And not just in a romantic way. There’s a magic in that feeling that’s really great. So I Can Sell You A Body gained some surprising sentimental points from me with this one.

TITLE: Ghostbusters: Year One #3 (of 4)
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
ARTISTS: Dan Shoening, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Neil Uyetake (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 25, 2020

If you’ve seen the trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife (as you should have), you know it’s probably not an accident they saved Egon for last.

The absolutely brilliant part of this issue? Part of it is plotted based on a line Casey Kasem had in the original film. When it comes to writing Ghostbusters, Erik Burnham is a damn genius.

Along those same lines, I love the way Burnham has the other characters describe Peter Venkman’s personality. Mostly because he then proceeds to prove them right.

TITLE: X-Men/Fantastic Four #3 (of 4)
AUTHOR: Chip Zdarsky
ARTISTS:
Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson & Ransom Getty (Inkers), Andrew Crossley & Peter Pantazis (Colorists), Joe Caramagna (Letterer).
RELEASED:
March 25, 2020

Superheroes fighting. The older I get, the less I enjoy it. Maybe it’s all the division we see in the world today. But I didn’t get a huge kick out of seeing the X-Men and the Fantastic Four fighting.

On the upside, the art is gorgeous and the colors vibrant and fun. I remain somewhat surprised at how political this book is, i.e. relations between Latveria and Krakoa. But at it’s core, it’s really the relationship between Reed Richards and his son Franklin, and how the latter’s choices will ultimately effect the world.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #4
AUTHOR:
Tom Taylor
ARTISTS:
Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Cover by Bruno Redondo and Lucas.
RELEASED:
March 25, 2020

Captain Boomerang returns in this issue. One way or another, the band always gets back together.

Taylor still has me entertained with this more espionage-centered direction. We also learn much more about our new characters, and what exactly their agenda is.

Deadshot also has a great character moment in this issue. Or rather, Floyd Lawton does. He becomes very sympathetic, and you’re that much more invested.

TITLE: Alienated #2 (of 6)
AUTHOR:
Simon Spurrier
ARTISTS:
Chris Wildgoose, Andre May (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Letterer)
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

This’ll definitely fill your teen angst quota for the week.

Despite being about three high schoolers finding an alien that gives them telepathic powers, what these characters are feeling is very real. In this issue, there’s lot of longing to be seen, noticed, or at least acknowledged. I think every teenager can relate to that at some point in their lives.

Chris Wildgoose has a hell of an issue. There’s a two-page spread that’s just gorgeous. He also gets to flex some otherworldly character design muscles. They come out looking pretty awesome.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Power Rangers Double Feature, Spider-Woman #1, 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

No comic shop for me this week. These were strictly digital purchases. Thank God for Comixology.The irony in all of this is that it feels like the prologue for a story you’d read in a comic book…

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 (of 5)
AUTHOR:
Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS:
Simone di Meo, Alessio Zonno, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Igor Monti (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Dan Mora.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

You knew it was inevitable. You can’t have this story without somehow getting the Turtles into Ranger costumes. That being said those outfits are pretty goofy. Granted, the premise itself is goofy. And they look about as good as they were ever going to. But even by Power Ranger/Ninja Turtle standards…goofy as hell.

As I’ve said previously, pretty paint-by-numbers team-up stuff here. The TMNT characters do Power Rangers stuff, and vice versa. Shredder and Rita are still the best part. I’m guessing they’re already planning on a sequel, as we get a pretty obvious hint.

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #30
AUTHOR:
Ryan Parrott, Sina Grace
ARTISTS:
Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Eleonora Carlini.
RELEASED:
March 11, 2020

A solid issue. But why is Finster creating monsters for Zedd? On the show he was pretty much on the shelf until Rita came back. Why isn’t Zedd just doing it himself?

I’m liking these Goldar, Squatt, and Baboo scenes we’ve been getting in both the main book and in Go Go. It brings back fond memories from season one.

As we move closer to the end (*sniff*), I can only assume Rocky, Adam, and Aisha will pop up soon. If for nothing else than a cameo in the final issue.

TITLE: Spider-Woman #1
AUTHOR:
Karla Pacheco
ARTISTS:
Pere Perez, Paulo Siqueira, Oren Junior (Inker), Frank D’Armata (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Junggeun Yoon.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

I’ve never read Karla Pacheco before. But in this book I’m getting a Bendis type vibe from her. That’s not a bad thing. As I recall, Bendis did alright in the Spider-Verse…

Our main story is about Jessica fighting a mysterious illness as she’s trying to protect a rich socialite from being kidnapped. It’s a lot of fun, though I’m partial to the back-up, which goes into how she got the job, and why she’s wearing a different costume for it. Why? Because she goes to a store called “Big Ronnie’s Custom Battle Spandex.”

That. Is. Brilliant.

TITLE: BANG! #2
AUTHOR:
Matt Kindt
ARTISTS:
Wilfredo Torres, Nayoung Kim (Colorist), Nate Piekos (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 18, 2020

BANG! was definitely the most fun book in my stack this week. What we have here is a series that isn’t afraid to revel in action movie tropes and cliches. But beneath the surface there’s something more serious with a lot of intrigue. I’ve officially got high hopes.

This month we meet a new hero, John Shaw, who’s looks like he’s based off John McClane. He gets in the middle of a massacre on a speeding train masterminded by a would-be Bond villain with a disfigured face and a speech impediment shamelessly played for laughs. Yup. I’m all in.

TITLE: Batman #91
AUTHOR:
James Tynion IV
ARTISTS:
Rafael Albuquerque, Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

Amidst all the chaos in this issue, the most interesting exchange is between Batman and Deathstroke. Our hero talks about the stakes in his war on crime constantly being raised. He’s almost pleading with Slade, saying that “you people,” i.e. supervillains, need to step aside so he can save Gotham.

Deathstroke gives the correct response, which is ,”You escalated first.”

This is an interesting scene to juxtapose with everything happening with the Designer, the Joker, Catwoman, etc.

We’re six issues into Tynion’s run, and Batman is still firing on all cylinders. Lord knows, I’m still along for the ride…

TITLE: Something is Killing the Children #6
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Werther Dell’Edera, Miquel Muerto (Colorist), Andworld Design (Letters)
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

As we close this issue we get another glimpse of “the Order,” a bunch of folks in suits who all wear bandanas like Erica. I nice, cryptic little scene with a little glimpse into Erica’s past.

They did a nice job of spreading the layouts over two pages this month. The panels go left to right, then down, then left and right, almost like words in a paragraph. It’s not necessarily a rare thing. But I really dug the execution here.

TITLE: Marvels X #3
AUTHORS: Alex Ross, Jim Krueger
ARTISTS: Well-Bee, Cory Petit (Letterer). Cover by Ross.
RELEASED: March 18, 2020

There’s a line in here about Reed Richards being blamed for a global pandemic. That one hits home right about now…

They apparently felt the need to re-emphasize David’s importance. They hammer the whole “He could save us all!” thing home so much in this issue it becomes grating. I would also argue David’s plucky fanboy shtick is getting old.

Still, a fairly enjoyable outing. Well-Bee draws a hell of a Spider-Man. I also noticed the touch of gray he added to Peter Parker’s hair. Ironically, it makes him look like Reed Richards.

TITLE: Hotell #1 (of 4)
AUTHOR:
John Lees
ARTISTS:
Dalibor Talajic, Lee Loughridge (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer). Cover by Kaare Andrews
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

Hotell feels like a horror book with self-contained stories, a la Tales From the Crypt or The Twilight Zone. I’m not quite sure if that’s what it’ll end up being, especially with only four issues. But that’s what it feels like.

While it tends to suffer from the kind of awkward dialogue you often get in newer indie comics, Hotell surprised me with its ability to create a genuine sense of fear and dread that few comics do. If this is your cup of tea, I highly recommend it.

But be warned. It earns its Mature rating in spades.

TITLE: Star Wars #4
AUTHOR:
Charles Soule
ARTISTS:
Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto & Rachelle Rosenburg (Colorists), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva and Guru-eFX.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

In regard to Luke, Leia, and Lando returning to Bespin, the solicitation for this issue tells us, “Things did not go well for the trio the last time they visited this place.”

You mean a few days ago? Hell, Luke is basically wearing the same clothes. Because for some reason the heroes in this book are complete idiots.

Luke digs through mountains of garbage to find his lightsaber. Leia has gotten herself frozen. But don’t worry! If you’ve only been frozen for a little while, you can be thawed out and be completely alert with no side effects!

Friggin’ stupid.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman #90, Marvel #1, 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

A few leftovers from last week mixed in here. That’s what happens when you get struck by the flu. Not the Corona virus, I assure you. Just the flu…

TITLE: Batman #90
AUTHOR:
James Tynion IV
ARTISTS:
Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED:
March 4, 2020

This issue has stirred up a decent amount of buzz because of a plot point involving the Joker. While I’m very much into what Tynion is doing, Batman #90 has been drastically over-hyped.

Via a flashback from Catwoman, we’re led to believe that the Designer, a mysterious villain we’ve just now learned about, inspired the Joker to evolve from clown-themed criminal to murdering psychopath. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s too early to herald it as this amazing development in the Batman mythos. Ask me after a few more issues have come out. Then we’ll talk.

TITLE: Marvel #1 (of 6)
AUTHORS: Alex Ross, Steve Darnall, Frank Espinosa, Sajan Saini, Kurt Busiek, 
ARTISTS:
Ross, Josh Johnson (Letterer), Espinosa, Clayton Cowles (Letterer), Steve Rude, Steven Legge (Colorist)
RELEASED:
March 4, 2020

Here we have the first installment in what was Alex Ross’ original vision for Marvels: An anthology of stories done by creators picked by Ross. Many of whom are working in the Marvel Universe for the first time.

Frank Espinosa turns in a lovely Spider-Man story. Given his style, he’s perfect for a project like this. But I was partial to Marvels author Kurt Busiek’s old school Avengers tale, drawn by the one and only Steve Rude. “Hulk-vengers.” Is that only now a thing? Either way, I love it.

TITLE: King of Nowhere #1 (of 5)
AUTHOR: W. Maxwell Prince
ARTISTS: Tyler Jenkins, Hilary Jenkins (Colorist), Andworld Design (Letters)
RELEASED: March 4, 2020

Every once in awhile, you find yourself holding what’s essentially a giant smorgasbord of bizarre, freakish, and random. Have I seen freakier than this? Yes. But not lately…

Our main character Denis wakes up near the small town of Nowhere, essentially a living acid trip filled with the creatures you see on the cover. Adventures ensue, and then we get a little hook at the end to bring us back. It’s not a particularly strong hook. But frankly, she simple question of “What the actual #$%Q is going on?” might just be the only hook King of Nowhere needs.

TITLE: Ghostbusters: Year One #2
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
ARTISTS: Dan Schoening, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Neil Uyetake (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 4, 2020

This issue sees the Ghostbusters follow up on their very first spectral encounter: Eleanor Twitty, the librarian ghost. Thus, I’m forced to ask the heart-wrenching question of whether Ghostbusters: The Video Game is still canon in the IDWverse.

We also get a cute, and surprisingly heartwarming college flashback where Venkman introduces Ray and Egon. And of course, Schoening draws Egon with the late ’70s/early ’80s Harold Ramis afro. Because how could you not?

TITLE: Batman/Superman #7
AUTHOR:
Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Nick Derington, Dave McCaig (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED:
February 26, 2020

“The Bottled City of the Dead.” That’s fun. I like it. Even if the cliffhanger we get does border on unintentionally funny.

Nick Dergington’s art is the star here, supported wonderfully by Dave McCaig’s colors. To call it “simplistic” looking sounds like a dig. It isn’t. It’s easily digestible. And again, it’s fun.

Williamson’s writing of the rapport between our titular characters is the strongest its been yet in this issue. I’ll admit it’s a bit awkward, though appropriate, that they call each other by their hero names. It feels like they should call each other by their first names. But of course, they’re in the field…

TITLE: TMNT: Jennika #1
AUTHORS: Braham Revel, Ronda Pattison
ARTISTS:
Revel, Jodi Nishijima, Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer).
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

I like how Revel draws Jennika with a slimmer, dare I say more feminine figure. In theory it sets her apart from the other Turtles that much more. Revel’s style is also mildly reminiscent of the 2012 animated series. It makes for an interesting style shift from the main series.

There’s a decent amount of meat to this story. The best of which involves the awkward romantic tension between Jennika and Casey Jones. It’s an impossible conflict that I’m dying to see how they resolve. Or at least if they can resolve it without making Casey look like a heel.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #3
AUTHOR:
Tom Taylor
ARTISTS:
Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
RELEASED:
February 26, 2020

What has surprised me more than anything about Tom Taylor’s Suicide Squad run thus far is how much he’s actually delivered on the whole suicide mission premise. By only having two heavy hitters (Deadshot and Harley), and having the cast consist mostly of original characters, he can raise the stakes seamlessly by making the missions more costly.

As far as those new characters are concerned, I remain partial to Fin. Especially after seeing him exact some deliciously gruesome revenge this issue.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Kylo Ren, Doomsday Clock, Batman Finale

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Yeesh. Talk about a loaded week. Big finales, big debuts, and some Star Wars backstory we’ve been waiting years for. And of course, with big issues, come big upticks in pricing. Mostly at DC. They actually had the gall to charge $4.99 for the Tom King Batman finale. Oye.

But next week is largely a throwaway week. (Unless you’re Marvel. Kudos to them.) So I’ll be able to play a little catch up. So next week’s batch will include Family Tree #2, Shazam #9, Star Wars: Empire Ascendant, Batman/Superman #5.

But for now, we’ve got a lot to get to…

TITLE: Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 (of 4)
AUTHOR:
Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Will Sliney. GuruFX (Colors). Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Clayton Crain.
RELEASED:
December 18, 2019

I was ready to be mad at this issue for giving us stuff we should have gotten in one of the movies. As it turns out, this was benign.

In The Last Jedi, Luke says that after burning down the temple, Ben Solo left with some of his other students. Here, we learn that doesn’t quite mean what it sounds like. We also learn who the Knights of Ren are, which is welcome information.

Not the strongest first issue I’ve ever seen. But the intrigue around what happened to Ben Solo is enough to bring us back for more.

TITLE: Doomsday Clock #12
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
ARTIST: Gary Frank, Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer).
RELEASED: December 18, 2019

From the beginning, we’ve known this book has been building toward Superman vs. Doctor Manhattan. A symbol of hope against a symbol of cynicism. The implication being that Superman would ultimately get through to Doc, and bring about a change of heart.

We do get a scene like that in this issue. But it’s so brief, and frankly a little contrived, that it was hardly worth the two years of build-up.

That’s right, folks. Doomsday Clock #1 came out in November 2017. It’s taken us more than two years to get here. Really takes the edge off, doesn’t it?

TITLE: Batman #85
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Tony Daniel.
RELEASED: December 19, 2019

Here we have yet another big finale that ends not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Tom King is a good writer. I believe that. But for whatever reason, this “City of Bane” story went on way too long, and he ended up overstaying his welcome on Batman. The truly sad part? There’s a good story in here if you rifle through it, and maybe rearrange some pieces.

On the upside? Mikel Janin’s work on Batman has been consistently great. As far as I’m concerned, he’s welcome back in Gotham any time.

TITLE: American Jesus #1
AUTHOR: Mark Millar
ARTISTS: Peter Gross, Jeanne McGee (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer). Cover by McGee and Frank Quitely.
RELEASED:
December 18, 2019

A 14-year-old Hispanic girl becomes the modern-day Virgin Mary in a story written by the guy who did books like Kick-Ass and Nemesis? Sure. Sounds harmless enough…

Maybe it’s me, but the art in this book seems a little weird. Like the proportions are just a touch off. It’s minor, just just prominent enough to be noticeable.

There’s a lot of intrigue here, given the sensitive topic and Millar’s penchant for the outlandish. While there’s nothing blasphemous in this issue (at least as far as I can see), I figure it’s just a matter of time.

TITLE: Spider-Man #3 (of 5)
AUTHORS: J.J. Abrams, Henry Abrams
ARTISTS: Sara Pichelli, Elisabetta D’Amico (Inking Assistant), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Olivier Coipel.
RELEASED: December 18, 2019

Tony Stark pops up in this book, and now our story has an Avengers angle to it. That’s disappointing. This is a story about the legacy of Spider-Man, and the strained relationship between a father and son. So why not keep the lens focused on Spidey’s world, and not open things up to the larger Marvel Universe until later? We need to be focusing on Ben right now. Not some wacky take on Tony Stark as an old man.

On the upside, we get further into who Cadaverous is. Good stuff, with Pichelli’s art on point.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #1
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS:
Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Cover by Ivan Reis.
RELEASED:
December 18, 2019

While it lacks the impact and sizzle of a Jim-Lee-drawn debut, this issue has some intrigue to it. We’ve got three mainstays in Deadshot, Harley, and King Shark. But we’ve also got a big group of new characters. They kind of look like what Marv Wolfman and George Perez would produce if asked to produce a modern team of superheroes.

Mind you, some of them are dead when we close the issue. But if even one of them sticks for a decent amount of time, that’s an accomplishment.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #46
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Daniele Di Nicuolo, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED: December 18, 2019

A few little things I noticed that aren’t out of character per se, but perhaps show how these characters are different in this time period…

– Tommy’s more relaxed demeanor now that they’re seemingly no longer Earth’s last line of defense.

– Kimberly stepping up into more of a leadership role with the three new Rangers.

– Trini’s more sarcastic personality. It’s not how I would write the character, as she’s normally more reserved. But we can chalk it up to her gaining confidence through her experiences as a Power Ranger.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Toy Chest Theater: Raph, Leo, and a Hell of a Crowd!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The TMNT are back in this second edition of “Toy Chest Theater.” I didn’t necessarily want to do a double dose of Turtle Power. But after seeing this beauty from Jax Navarro at Plastic Action, how could I resist?

I’m a sucker for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. Almost 30 years later, it’s still my favorite take on the concept. So any toy photographer that can find something creative to do with those NECA figures gets points with me automatically.

But what puts this one over the top is that it’s so beautifully random. The Ninja Turtles playing street ball? Pretty damn cool. But the Ninja Turtles playing street ball in front of such a…wide assortment of characters? Awesomeness, personified in plastic!

What’s more, the way some of the background figures are posed is not only very natural, but very in-character. The best example? Han Solo leaning against the wall with his forearm on C-3PO’s shoulder. Even the way Threepio’s body is leaned looks perfect. Harley looks great too. The combination of her behind Thor is odd, but somehow pleasing.

Also, the detail on the background is incredible. It actually looks like a real place. There’s something about that red lighting. It actually serves as a camouflage of sorts for Spider-Man, Red Skull, Superman, and the other characters Navarro has up on that ledge. I actually missed most of them at first look.

For plenty more from Plastic Action, check Jax Navarro out on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com!

A Suicide Squad: Going Sane Review – The Harley Quinn Show

TITLE: Suicide Squad, Vol. 2: Going Sane
AUTHOR: Rob Williams
PENCILLER:
Jim Lee, Riley Rossmo, Sean Galloway, Stephen Byrne, Carlos D’Anda, Giuseppe Gamuncoli
COLLECTS: Suicide Squad #58Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fool’s Day Special #1
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED:
June 7, 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Suicide Squad, Vol. 2 should really be called The Harley Quinn Show. The story doesn’t revolve around her, but she’s clearly the star. We even learn that one of the characters is a Harley fangirl. DC obviously knows what side its bread gets buttered on…

Our main story picks up from where The Black Vault left off, with General Zod and the vault being held in Belle Reeve Penitentiary. But the vault, a gateway into the Phantom Zone, is effecting everyone in the prison. It’s pushing them to the brink of insanity, enticing them to kill. But it’s having the opposite effect on Harley Quinn. Her sanity is restored. Thus she may be the only one capable of saving the world from Zod.

Oddly enough, several years ago there was a Batman story called “Going Sane” that shares a similar concept with this book. The Joker thinks Batman is dead, so his sanity recedes and he tries to live a normal life. It’s not a great story. But the whole sanity reversal thing has a little more depth to it than what we get here, which is essentially the flick of a light switch.

I actually don’t have a problem with how they handle the whole sanity/insanity turn. But whenever Suicide Squad gets too Harley heavy, I have the same reaction to when a Justice League story lays it on too thick with Batman. “Over-Baturation,” if you will. That’s how Going Sane left me feeling. A team story where a specific character has an arc is one thing. Laying it on too thick is another.

What puts it over the top is that the one-shot Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fool’s Special is collected in this volume. I imagine they put it here, as opposed to Vol. 1, because the story goes with the whole going sane theme. It sees Harley trying to use her skills as a psychotherapist to redeem other supervillains, Most notably Man-Bat. It’s mostly fine on its own. But when paired with our main story, it’s too much Harley. To some, I’m sure that notion is blasphemous. I don’t care. Too much of anything is a drawback.

Going Sane is more or less a superpowered prison riot popcorn flick. I can get behind that. In a lot of ways, that’s what Suicide Squad should be. Aiding in the proceedings is that it’s all pencilled by Jim Lee. Thus, it’s got an added sense of epicness and gravitas. Lee, inkers Richard Friend and Sandra Hope, and colorist Jeremiah Skipper obviously make everybody look good. Harley in particular (see above). Skipper gets to have some fun with the lighting at various points. Most of this takes place in Belle Reeve. But they shake the scenery up with red and yellow sunlight generators, the purple glow that surrounds the Black Vault, the power going out, etc.

I can’t recall seeing Lee draw Man-Bat prior to the April Fool’s one-shot. But he makes him every bit as detail-rich and monstrous as you’d expect. We also see Batman, Joker, and the Justice League in that issue, bringing back plenty of memories from Hush and Justice League: Origin. Lee’s frequent collaborator Alex Sinclair colors that story, which ups the nostalgia factor in that regard.

One thing I still don’t understand: Why did Zod have to be so damn huge? They explained it by saying it had to do with how he came out of the Black Vaullt. At one point they have him clamped down on this giant contraption like he’s Doomsday or Bane. Later, he nearly crushes Captain Boomerang by simply falling on him. Was this an artistic choice so he’d look more imposing? I suppose it fits with the tone of the book. But you know what’s really imposing? A guy who can bend steel with his fists and melt flesh with heat vision. Take that into account, and it doesn’t really matter how tall you are, does it?

Also, Killer Croc and June Moon (Enchantress) apparently have sex in this book (shown above). So, there’s that. Their romance is actually a nice little addition to the book. In issue #5, Croc has what I would guess is his most romantic line ever: “I…want to eat everyone. I don’t want to eat you.” But much like with Hulk and Viv Vision, I can’t help getting caught up in the physical “mechanics” of it all. How does it even work? Do I even want to know? Probably not.

As was the case in Vol. 1, we get a bunch of character-centric back-up stories. This time we focus on a new character called Hack, as well as Killer Croc, and Enchantress. We also get a look at Killer Frost in preparation for Justice League vs. Suicide Squad.

The best of the bunch is the Killer Croc story, pencilled by Carlos D’Anda (shown below). We see Waylon Jones as a vulnerable young boy with a tragic skin condition. Rob Williams plays the sympathy card with Croc, as we often see with other Batman villains. But it’s as effective as always, especially with the big expressive eyes D’Anda gives Waylon.

Hack, a young woman who can transform herself into digital data, found herself inspired by Harley Quinn as she grew up impoverished in Africa. Like Harley with the Joker, Hack’s choice of role model was to her own detriment. The backup, illustrated by Stephen Byrne, is fine. Hack is intriguing, and as this book illustrates, her powers open up some interesting doors. But if you’ve read ahead, you know Suicide Squad doesn’t necessarily use her to her fullest potential.

The series loses a little bit of its momentum here. But Harley Quinn fans and comic art buffs will find something in Suicide Squad, Vol. 2: Going Sane. It’s not a creative highlight, but it’s at least worth a glance.

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A Suicide Squad: The Black Vault Review – Squad vs. Zod

suicide-squad_-the-black-vaut-jim-lee-coverTITLE: Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: The Black Vault
AUTHOR: Rob Williams
PENCILLERS: Jim Lee, Philip Tan, Jason Fabok, Gary Frank, Ivan Reis
COLLECTS: Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1Suicide Squad #1-6
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED: February 28, 2017

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

If The Black Vault isn’t the most important and most notable Suicide Squad book DC has ever published, then it’s absolutely in the top two. This is the biggest that Suicide Squad has ever felt, and may be the best its ever looked.

Thanks to the movie, the Suicide Squad “brand” has never had more eyes on it. The Black Vault features almost all of the characters from the movie, including a few pages of the Joker. So it’s bursting with crossover appeal for casual moviegoers. With this in mind, DC loaded the book up with A-list artists, most notably Jim Lee. Indeed, the master of the modern superhero epic is drawing characters like Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang, and the Enchantress. Talk about something you don’t see every day…

Task Force X, a.k.a. the Suicide Squad, is a black ops group assembled by government agent Amanda Waller. Comprised primarily of imprisoned supervillains, the team is sent on covert missions. They serve as both soldiers, and built-in patsies. Should they refuse an order or become compromised, Waller detonates a nanite bomb in their skulls. Like the movie, in The Black Vault our team consists of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, and the Enchantress. They’re accompanied by Colonel Rick Flagg and Katana.

suicide-squad_-the-black-vault-harley-quinn-jim-leeTheir latest mission sees our heroes sent to a secret Russian prison to neutralize a secret doorway to the Phantom Zone. In the process, the team meets none other than General Zod.

People can say what they want about Jim Lee’s influence, for better or worse, on DC’s “house style” right now. But when he’s in his element, he’s one of the all-time greats. Lee is at home with the dynamic and the awe-inspiring. As such, it seems like Lee’s work on the book starts out rather slow. He starts on issue #1 and has to re-tread some of the ground covered in the Rebirth issue, specifically Waller’s motivations. He takes us from the team’s home base at Belle Reve Penitentiary to the Russian facility, giving us a few cool shots in the process. He and Rob Williams also have a really fun take on Belle Reve, where the prison cells are plucked and moved by a giant claw arm.

But once Zod enters the story at the end of issue #2, Lee gets to flex his muscles. He makes Zod surprisingly large, literally twice the size of the other characters (save for Croc). But the ultra powerful Kryptonian against these mostly street-level characters makes for a fun fight, particularly when the big guy goes against Katana. At the end of issue #3, we bring in a few other characters to oppose the Squad. But the good stuff is with the general himself. Issue #4 gives us a cool interaction between Zod and Croc, and a nice climactic moment involving Rick Flagg. It’s not Lee’s best work. But it’s still pretty damn awesome.

suicide-squad, Joker, Harley Quinn, Gary FrankThe notoriously deadline-challenged Lee was massaged into Suicide Squad‘s a bi-weekly format with a reduced workload. He only had to produce 12 pages per issue, with the rest going to an oversized back-up story spotlighting a particular team member. I suspect most fans will find Gary Frank’s look at Harley Quinn the most enjoyable. While on a mission with Flag, she struggles with some of her more villainous impulses. These are personified, of course, by the Joker. I’m not in love with Frank’s rendering of Mr. J. But his Harley is delightfully expressive in a way that’s exaggerated, but not quite cartoony. Naturally, this compliments both her character and Williams’ script.

But artistically, Philip Tan gets “Best in Show” as far as these back-ups are concerned. In addition to the Rebirth issue, he does the Katana story for issue #3. Tan shows off his versatility with an anime-inspired look at her origin. The script isn’t the strongest, but Tan and colorist Elmer Santos provide visuals that range from haunting to downright heart-breaking.

Rick Flag gets a lot of quality page time here. The Rebirth issue is essentially about him. Williams writes him as unwaveringly loyal, even to his own detriment. He’s the conscience of the team. A good guy tasked with leading all these bad guys. Flag is easy to root for and empathize with. Considering he’s the least flamboyant and colorful character in this book, that’s a good thing.

General Zod, Suicide Squad #2, Jim LeeOn the other end of the spectrum, Zod is an oversized caricature of himself, spouting lines like…

– “Prostrate yourself before your general, sub-creatures!”
– “I will boil and eat your magic!”
– “I have incinerated your human flesh and reveled in it’s pungent stench!”

I understand humor is a valuable component here. But c’mon, really? You’ve got Harley for that. You’ve got Boomerang for that. We don’t need Zod for that.

On the subject of weird comedy, this book has a recurring bit about Killer Croc throwing up. Oddly enough, it works. Can’t say I ever imagined Jim Lee drawing that.

The Black Vault represents the first time Suicide Squad has been elevated to a top-tier title with A-list talent. That alone makes it one of the most noteworthy stories in the team’s history. And while this isn’t the best scripting I’ve ever seen, Rob Williams knows how to put together a good Suicide Squad story. One can argue the book has never been in better hands.

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