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.

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

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…

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

A Batman/The Flash: “The Button” Deep-Dive Review – Take the Good with the Bad

TITLE: “The Button”
AUTHORS: Joshua Williamson, Tom King
PENCILLERS: Jason Fabok, Howard Porter
COLLECTS: Batman #2122The Flash #2122
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
TENTATIVE COLLECTION PRICE: $19.99
COLLECTION RELEASE: October 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I want to like what I’m seeing here. And I guess I do, for the most part. I just have to turn a certain part of my brain off. Namely, the part that registers guilt about a company cashing in on imagery and characters from a landmark story without their creator’s blessing.

After months without any leads relating to the mysterious button Batman discovered during the events of DC Universe: Rebirth #1, the Dark Knight gets a surprise visitor: The Reverse-Flash. But what’s his connection to the Button? Where does it come from? How does it connect to the apparent changes made to the timeline? And how does all of this somehow involve the world of Flashpoint?

“The Button” doesn’t give us any answers. But it does wet your appetite for the just-announced Doomsday Clock event in November. It also manages to tug at your heartstrings with some pre-New 52 imagery and characters. So it does what it’s supposed to do. We even catch a little glimpse of Dr. Manhattan at the end…sort of (shown below).

While we’ve known about the DC Universe/Watchmen stuff for about a year now, I still feel dirty when I see the Watchmen imagery. It doesn’t do much good to complain about it, as what’s done is done. But considering what an achievement Watchmen was, and how revered it is to this day, without Alan Moore’s blessing there’s a certain lack of purity here.

Our inciting incident occurs when the button comes into contact with the Psycho-Pirate’s mask, causing the Reverse-Flash to materialize in the Batcave. After a fight, Batman and the Flash attempt to trace the button’s unique radiation to locate it’s source using Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill (Yup, that’s a thing.) After the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot came and went in the mid-’80s, the Psycho-Pirate was the one character who retained his pre-Crisis memories. I assume Reverse-Flash’s reemergence has something to do with that memory retention. There’s no other explanation…is there?

“The Button” definitely gives us the vibe that this New 52 continuity we’ve been in for the past several years is an injustice perpetrated by Dr. Manhattan. Several years have been from the timeline, forcefully robbing our characters of their memories and in some cases their very existence. We check back in with Johnny Thunder, who at one point cries, “We lost the Justice Society! It’s all my fault!” We also see Saturn Girl of the Legion of Superheroes, who’s screaming about a future only she knows about. As Batman and Flash make their way through the timestream, we see glimpses of events from Crisis on Infinite Earths, Identity Crisis, and other stories that have seemingly been out of bounds for the New 52.

Then there’s the big surprise in the final issue: Jay Garrick’s brief return. Jay comes back much the way Wally West did in Rebirth, but is unable to find a tether to reality the way he did. He’s seemingly jerked back into non-existence via some familiar blue energy.

There’s a surreal and almost meta element to seeing characters like Jay and Wally pine to come back. Jay has a line, “They took everything from me, Barry. I don’t know how. I don’t know why.” Odd as it may sound, it feels like he’s talking about DC itself, doesn’t it? I’ve enjoyed the DC Rebirth initiative as much as anybody. But it does entail the company eating some crow. Yes, we’re happy to see so many familiar elements back in our books. But who took them away to begin with? Would they have gone through with the reboot if they knew they’d be backtracking it just four years later?

Oddly enough, the emotional meat of the story isn’t so much the return of Jay, or the drama of what’s been lost. It comes in when our heroes accidentally find themselves in the Flashpoint universe, and they come across that reality’s Batman, Thomas Wayne. Thus, we get a reunion of sorts between father and son, each Batman in their own world.

We’ve seen stories where Bruce somehow gets to talk to his parents again. Whether they’re ghosts, visions, or what not. But Batman #22 gives us two unique moments that manage to really hit home. The first is when Bruce tells Thomas, “You’re a grandfather. I have a son.” For older fans, that’s a really strong, relatable moment. The second comes as the Flashpoint sequence is ending. In their final moments together, Thomas asks Bruce not to be Batman anymore, and to instead find happiness. That’s a really compelling use of the Flashpoint Batman. I wasn’t expecting it here, but it creates a hell of a potential conflict for down the road. Can Bruce continue his crusade now?

Jason Fabok handles the Batman side of things, and handles them quite well. You can’t deny quality when you see it. His work has a definite epic quality to it, and is very much worthy of what we see here. The Flash issues are pencilled by Howard Porter, who I have a lot of respect for. That being said, his style has never really been my cup of tea. As cool as the time stream sequence in The Flash #21 is, Porter’s work gives it a certain awkwardness. For instance, there’s a panel where we can almost see up Batman’s nose. Not necessarily what we’re supposed to be looking at, is it?

“The Button” is a fine bridge between DC Universe Rebirth #1 and Doomsday Clock. For some of us, there’s going to be a lot of Watchmen-related discomfort on the horizon. But it looks like we’ll be getting our share of feel-good moments too. Take the good with the bad, I guess…

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A Superman #45 Review – Fight Club and Finances

Superman #45, 2015TITLE: Superman #45
AUTHOR: Gene Luen Yang
PENCILLERS: Howard Porter. Cover by John Romita Jr.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: October 28, 2015

***Need to catch up? Check out our reviews of issues #43 and #44.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ugh. I so want this to get better, but it’s just not happening. As we’ve seen in previous installments of the Truth storyline, there are flashes of quality in Superman #45. But the direction the story takes is all flash and little substance.

With his identity exposed, and Clark Kent’s life destroyed, Superman follows the trail of the cyber criminal group Hordr to California. Once there, he finds himself broke. So when he stumbles on to a meta-human fight club of sorts, Clark is faced with a moral dilemma. Does he go against his moral code, or duke it out for some cash?

Let’s cover the good before we descend into the negative. Clark briefly runs into Lois Lane in this issue, and wants nothing to do with her. Seeing Clark this angry at Lois, and justifiably so, is a really interesting dynamic. Obviously there’s romantic tension lingering under the surface here. How long is Clark going to stay mad at Lois for this? And what can Lois do to regain his trust? This is one of the few areas of intrigue in this series right now.

Superman #45, Howard PorterGene Luen Yang’s spin on the meta-human fight club angle is that the fighters are “gods and goddesses from mythologies on the brink of extinction.” That take is a little overblown for my taste. The issue actually reminded of the “Grudge Match” episode of Justice League Unlimited, where Roulette lures Black Canary, Huntress, and Wonder Woman into her Meta-Brawl arena. Has Roulette even surfaced in the New 52verse? If you’re going to do a story like this, why not use a villain like her? The whole thing about gods and goddesses is convoluted, and actually slows the issue down because Yang has to explain the whole thing.

I have a hard time buying the idea that Superman, exposed identity or not, has trouble coming across money. If he were the only hero in this universe, then maybe I’d believe it. But he’s a Justice League member, he’s still got a lot of friends in Metropolis, and he’s friendly with the President of the United States. Chances are if Clark needs a loan, he can get one from somebody.

But for the sake of a story, let’s say Clark is indeed broke. Yang lets us know that Clark will not steal, as he was taught better by his adoptive father (who he refers to as “Pop” instead of “Pa” for some reason). So the prospect of earning money via a fight club is tempting. But I don’t buy the notion that he’d seriously consider participating. He’s Superman. His mission is to inspire people. It’s beneath him. If you want to put him in that scenario, have him take down the fight club.

Superman #45, 2015, Howard PorterPerhaps I simply hold Superman to a higher standard than some. Too high, maybe…

The whole Truth story is so far gone at this point that it’s barely even worth it to mention ways it might be improved. But you want to do a story about Superman and money? How about you have Clark break up the fight club. Then as the sun begins to set he faces the grim reality that he has no money, no food, and no place to stay. He is now homeless, and largely de-powered. Superman has never been in such a vulnerable position. Then, he comes across a kind and compassionate civilian who owns a small motel. Recognizing him as Superman, this person gives Clark a free room, and a bit of food. As we close the issue, Clark realizes the irony of his situation. He was sent to Earth to inspire humans to to good, to “save” them. Now, one of those very humans has saved him in his darkest hour. This would provide intriguing insight into Clark’s relationship with his adopted home world.

I wasn’t aware last issue was John Romita Jr’s final go-around as the interior artist for Superman. In his place is the more than capable Howard Porter, along with colorist Hi-Fi. Hi-Fi’s colors are much richer and more vibrant than what we’ve seen in recent issues. Porter’s Superman is also much more expressive than Romita’s was. It actually borders on comical at times. But Porter is a nice change of pace. Sadly, solicitations indicate he’s only going to be around for another issue.

Solicits also indicate we’re heading into a big crossover called The Savage Dawn, featuring Vandal Savage. I wish I could say I’ve got high hopes. If you want a mildly optimistic spin on this, I’ll say it’d be fairly hard for me to be more underwhelmed with Superman than I am now.

Images courtesy of dangermart.blogspot.com.

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