Tag Archives: Ivan Reis

A Batman: I Am Gotham Review – What Did You Expect?

Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham, coverTITLE: Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: David Finch, Ivan Reis
COLLECTS: Batman #16
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASE DATE:
January 11, 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The announcement of Tom King taking over Batman was a big deal. At the time his phenomenal run on The Vision was still in progress, and the critics (myself included) were buzzing about him. In addition, he’d already worked on some of the Gotham City characters via his time on Grayson. So hopes were high for him. But coming off the commercially, and often critically acclaimed run that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo had just completed, expectations may have been even higher.

What King, David Finch, and this new Batman team give us is fine. At times it’s even good. But the waters are muddier than we’ve seen from previous Batman runs. We spend a little too much time hyping a future story and there’s a connection to the Suicide Squad that often feels forced. But if you’re patient, there’s some good character work in here, with both established characters and the ones we’re meeting for the first time.

I Am Gotham introduces us to the super-powered brother-sister duo of Gotham and Gotham Girl. Inspired by Batman, they make their debut saving the Dark Knight from a plane crash. Batman takes them under his wing, but soon learns they have demons that will result in blood being shed in Gotham City. All the while, sinister plans are in motion to spill even more blood…

Batman #2, Gotham, Gotham Girl, David FinchLike many of Batman’s supporting characters, allies and enemies alike, Gotham and Gotham Girl are almost skewed versions of Batman himself. After young Hank Clover and his parents are saved from a mugging in Crime Ally by Batman, he and his sister Claire become obsessed with bettering themselves so that they can help others. We later learn they’re connected to Amanda Waller, and she’s using the Hugo Strange and Psycho-Pirate to keep them under control. That connection works out fine, but it’s ultimately unnecessary. All we need is Psycho-Pirate, Hugo Strange, and Strange’s accomplice, who we learn about in the closing pages. So why have Waller in there at all? It’s obvious, isn’t it…?

Suicide Squad is a big priority at DC right now, and rightfully so. Case in point, the upcoming Justice League vs. Suicide Squad crossover. These issues started coming out in August, the same month the movie was released. So Waller was obviously dropped in here for that reason. It’s fine, but disappointing when you look at it from that angle. What’s more, DC is still pushing Suicide Squad via Batman, with the Dark Knight forming his own version of the team. The story is even called “I Am Suicide.” We get it, guys. We get it.

The story also starts hyping “Night of the Monster Men” far too early for my taste. That arc doesn’t start until issue #7. This book starts hyping it in issue #2. I’m all for long form storytelling. But not at the expense of your current story. It feels more like padding than anything else.

One of the themes I Am Gotham touches on is the nature of Gotham City, almost personifying it as a character in the story. What it is, what it does to people, etc. Snyder and Capullo also did that, with more success than King and Finch have here. But in all fairness, they had 50 issues. This team has six. So it pales in comparison. King also doesn’t say much of substance about the city. At least he hasn’t thus far in his Batman run. In the pages of I Am Gotham, the theme essentially goes no where.

Batman #1, 2016, David Finch, upside downI’ve been a critic of David Finch’s for awhile now, and I make no apologies for that. I think all his renderings of women look the same, and absolutely everything he does has that dark and gritty feel to it, even when dark and gritty isn’t what the story calls for. As such, he’s been put on a number of books in which his work often feels terribly mismatched. Wonder Woman and Justice League of America come to mind.

But that’s not to say Finch doesn’t have his place, and it’s on stories like this. The Gotham City he brings us, along with inkers Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, Scott Hanna, and colorist Jordie Bellaire is fittingly dark, illuminated by the glow of city lights and flames. Characters like Batman, Jim Gordon, and even Alfred, have a fittingly grizzled texture to them. He even pulls off a nice visual gag, as we get to see Alfred don the Batsuit.

I was justifiably concerned about how Finch would draw Gotham Girl. She’s basically a skinny blonde in a tennis skirt, after all. Thankfully, during the second half of the story when the masks comes off, Finch is much better at drawing Claire. Once we can see her eyes, Finch gives her a very nice vulnerability and we start to care about her.

Things get more expressive in issue #6 when Ivan Reis tags in on pencils. The issue largely focuses on Claire, and how she’s coping with the events of issue #5. It’s about how you’d expect, especially considering what she’s gone through with Psycho-Pirate. But facially, Reis conveys her emotional highs and lows very nicely. There’s a particularly great image of her toward the end of the issue, as she’s tucked into Batman’s chest. Guest colorist Marcelo Maiolo offers some nice consistency with Bellaire’s work, while still making the issue his own. As such, things are a little brighter. But we still see shades of Bellaire’s color palette. Most notably in the sky, and some of the city lights.

Batman #6, Ivan Reis, Gotham GirlOn its own, I Am Gotham is an okay read. But it’s clearly a first chapter. Based on subsequent issues of Batman, it’s tough to tell where the story is going. Considering the role she played in this book, one might think Gotham Girl would be center stage going forward. That’s not necessarily the case. She’s in “Night of the Monster Men.” But the story isn’t about her, per se. She serves as Batman’s motivation for the current “I Am Suicide” story, but that’s the only role she plays. Solicitations for upcoming issues have a lot of talk about Bane and Catwoman. Granted, the current issues with Mikel Janin are better than what we got here. But I get the sense that King is going for a natural progression, where the events of one story naturally flow into the next. Instead, this all feels somewhat disjointed. That’s disappointing. Thus far, King’s Batman run has been interesting. But coming off the hype and momentum that Snyder and Capullo’s run had, and especially when you consider what a masterpiece King’s run on The Vision was, this feels like a step down.

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A DC Universe: Rebirth #1 Review – “How Could I Ever Forget You?”

DC Universe: Rebirth #1TITLE: DC Universe: Rebirth #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLERS: Ethan Van Sciver, Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: May 25, 2016

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Part of the idea behind the 2011 “New 52” reboot at DC Comics was to modernize and simplify the characters and continuity for new readers. They largely succeeded. A lot of great comics were sold, and new readers were given a fresh jumping-on point for the DC Universe.

But lets be honest. If you were a longtime DC Comics fan, you lost a lot more than you gained. The timeline of the DCU was condensed down to five or six years. As such, the characters lost a lot of their depth. Certain characters, relationships, marriages and families were altered, if not erased altogether. As such, this new DC Universe suffered from a lack of heart and emotional connection.

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 is DC’s attempt to remedy this problem by restoring some of these lost characters, and injecting some much needed love into the proceedings.

A LOT of big things happen in this issue. So lets touch on most of them individually…

DC Universe: Rebirth #1, 2016, Wally West, Barry Allen hugWally West returns, reunites with Barry Allen, warns of a new enemy. Most of us can relate to being forgotten about on some level. It’s heartbreaking. That’s the feeling Geoff Johns taps into when he shows us the plight of Wally West. Lost to time, left as mere kinetic energy in the Speed Force, he’s so desperate to be remembered. Even his former wife replies to his presence with a heart-wrenching: “I don’t know you.” So it’s a genuine tear-jerker when Barry suddenly does remember him, then wraps him in a hug and says: “How could I ever forget you?” After almost five years without Wally, this was every bit the epic reunion it was designed to be.

The explanation we get for the other Wally West, who’s set to become Kid Flash in upcoming issues, is a little corny. Something about them being cousins and both named after their great-grandfather. I’ll grant them that there was no easy way to get out of that scenario. There was bound to be confusion. At least Johns connected them. Hopefully that’ll be a unique meeting eventually.

I’m not clear on what Barry and Wally remember at this point. In this issue, Wally remembers his wife Linda Park, the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, his time with the Teen Titans, and other odds and ends. At least some of that seems to have been transferred to Barry. But Wally also says it’s becoming harder to remember his old life. I imagine more will be revealed in the new Titans series.

Per events in Justice League, also written by Johns, we learn there have apparently been three Jokers. I balked when I first saw this. Having three Jokers seemingly takes away the character’s unique evolution and versatility. Now, instead of one multidimensional Joker, we’ll have three one-dimensional Jokers. That, at least, is my takeaway from the revelation.

DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Jokers, Ethan Van SciverI am happy, however, that they didn’t give us any names. We didn’t find out The Joker’s real name is Jack Napier or anything like that. My love for The Killing Joke notwithstanding, I like my Joker somewhat de-humanized, conveying the idea that absolutely anyone could be behind that twisted grin. “One bad day” and what not. They may still do that, but hopefully they don’t.

It’s easy to make snap judgments about dramatic reveals like this. (Captain America, anyone?) But ultimately, it’s all about the story they’re telling. The true merit of this twist lies with what they do with it.

Wally reaches out to an elderly Johnny Thunder, who has been searching for the Justice Society. Justice Society got a little out of hand before the reboot. The team was split between two titles. If they’re bringing back the JSA, my hope is the team will be smaller. My question is, if the Society comes back does that mean the timeline gets adjusted so Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, and all those characters were indeed active during World War II?

Ted Kord, DC Universe Rebirth #1Partnerships are established between Ted Kord & Jaime Reyes and Ray Palmer & Ryan Choi. Dr. Fate reveals that Jamie’s Scarab is actually magic. I hadn’t realized how much I missed Ted until this issue. Gary Frank perfectly captures that boyish enthusiasm, which is part of what’s so great about Ted. This new partnership with Jaime should make for good comics.

Ray Palmer has a line about Jean Loring in his scene with Ryan Choi, which seems to indicate that Identity Crisis is out of continuity. I’m a big Brad Meltzer fan (mostly). But if we have to abandon Identity Crisis in favor of a more hopeful DC Comics, with some of our favorites back in the picture, I’m okay with that.

Aquaman proposes to Mera. Jackson Hyde returns to the DCU.  Well heavens to Betsy. Marriage is okay again! With the reboot, Superman, The Flash (both of them), and Aquaman all had their marriages retconned. Batwoman was also not allowed to marry her love interest. Arthur at least got to keep his relationship with Mera. This seems to be a very positive step away from the “heroes can’t be happy” approach DC seemingly had in place a few years ago.

Why Jackson Hyde wasn’t a part of the New 52 reboot is a mystery to me. They had spent all that time building him up in Brightest Day, and then he was just gone. Hopefully they can now capitalize on what for years has been a wasted opportunity.

And now, for the biggest reveal of them all…

Batman, WatchmenWatchmen characters are incorporated into the DCU. Dr. Manhattan implicated as the mysterious force manipulating time. Ah, here’s the kicker. I mean, c’mon. We couldn’t have a villain manipulating the time stream somehow. We had to drudge up Watchmen again, as the book and the characters continue to be profitable 30 years after its original publication.

I won’t lie, there’s a certain excitement at the prospect of a post-Watchmen Dr. Manhattan interacting with the DC Universe. Seeing Batman find the iconic Comedian button with the bloodstain, hidden in the Batcave, of all places, was a legit shocker. Even watching Pandora perish the way Rorschach did was kinda cool.

But here’s my big question: Will it be worth it in the end?

The last time DC pulled this crew out of retirement was for Before Watchmen, a line of prequel miniseries’ featuring all the classic characters. It gave us some good stuff, particularly Darwyn Cooke’s Before Watchmen: Minutemen story. But even with all the A-list talent involved, when you look at Before Watchmen cumulatively, you aren’t left with a feeling of justification. The sense that this was worth doing without Alan Moore and arguably taking some of the luster off Watchmen.

I’m really hoping they thought about that before making this move. Is this going to be worth bringing Watchmen out of retirement Especially when we presumably won’t be seeing Dr. Manhattan, and whoever else pops up, in the context of their own world.

DC Universe Rebirth #1, montage, Gary FrankThis oversized issue is divided into four chapters, plus an epilogue. For these various sections, Geoff Johns is working with three of his longtime collaborators. The MVP by far is Gary Frank, who draws chapter 2, and also assists with chapters 1 and 3. His art drips with pure humanity. When Wally bursts in on Johnny Thunder, we can feel the old man’s desperation, heartbreak, and fear. In the scene with Ted and Jaime, Ted’s enthusiasm is contagious. On the other hand, Jaime’s apprehension is palpable, and comes off very natural. Frank also draws the big reveal with Batman and the pin (shown above), and even drew the cover. What an amazing issue for him.

It’s very fitting to have Ethan Van Sciver on the pencil for chapter 1. As the artist on Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth, it creates a nice consistency. What’s more, having worked on those books, and contributed to projects like The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, his work inevitably conveys a sense of importance. He very much lives up to that, as its Van Sciver that gives us our first look at the returning Wally West.

In chapter 3, Ivan Reis gives us a gorgeous scene with Aquaman and Mera. But the scene with Wally and Linda, where he’s so sure she’ll remember him and he gets rejected…it’s amazing. Their faces, their body language, it’s just perfect. You can make an argument that this is the most important scene in the issue. The impact of Wally’s failure with Linda makes the scene where Barry saves him that much more impactful.

There’s a certain artistic symmetry to Phil Jimenez drawing the reunion between Barry and Wally. In Infinite Crisis, Jimenez drew Wally and his family disappearing into the Speed Force, as well as Barry briefly emerging from it. Now, he gives us an emotional sequence where Barry pulls Wally from the Speed Force. He was the perfect choice for this moment.

Aquaman and Mera proposalFinally, let’s talk about Geoff Johns for a moment. The guy gets his share of flack these days. He’s got a reputation as Mr. Retcon. And I’ll admit those early Justice League issues where pretty flawed. But by and large, he tells gripping and often emotional stories. In the case of DC Universe Rebirth #1, he and the team give us a much-needed break from the grim and largely joyless DC Comics we’ve come to know since The New 52 began. There’s a place for hope, love, and wonder in this universe. Most readers always knew that. Let’s hope DC never forgets again…

Image 1 from newsarama.com. Image Image 3 from pastemagazine.com. Image 3 from observer.com. Image 4 and 6 from observer.com. Image 5 from terrazero.com. 

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A Convergence #3 Review – A Villain Who Shouldn’t Speak

Convergence #3TITLE: Convergence #3
AUTHOR: Jeff King
PENCILLER: Stephen Segovia. Cover by Ivan Reis.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 22, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Need to catch up on Convergence? Check out issues #0, #1, and #2.

My patience with the main Convergence title is wearing thin, and the nostalgia appeal is losing its luster. This book needs to up the intrigue, and fast.

The heroes of Earth-2 have met the ominous Deimos, who claims to hold the key to freeing them from Telos’ reign of terror. Meanwhile, the Kryptonian city of Kandor has refused to participate in Telos’ perverse tournament. It’s a decision that will cost them dearly. Another costly decision? The Batman of Earth-2’s decision to return to the group after travelling to the pre-New 52 version of Gotham City. He’s been followed by a number of familiar, villainous faces. In the end, blood will be spilled.

Convergence #3, Stephen SegoviaLike last issue, Convergence #3 pulls a Batman trick out of the hat by hauling a bunch of pre-New 52 Batman villains into the picture. All things considered, most of the pre-New 52 Batman villains aren’t that different from the old ones. I imagine that’s why Doctor Hurt, one of the primary foes from Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, is heavily spotlighted here. A certain clown prince also makes an appearance, in a nod to The Killing Joke that could have severe ramifications on the plot going forward.

This scene is interesting, but it falls under the category of “Gratuitous Bat-Appearances.” Much like the Batcave scene from issue #2, it feels like Jeff King is shoving a bunch of Batman stuff at us to keep us interested, because the primary storyline, despite it’s cosmic implications, isn’t as interesting as it should be. I’m curious to see how much Batman imagery pops up as Convergence continues, particularly as it relates to Earth-2 Dick Grayson and alternate versions of his wife Barbara Gordon.

Nightwing and Flamebird popped up in this issue, and showed us what happens to the cities that choose not to fight. This was a cool idea, which King played out using a pair of classic DC characters. Unfortunately, Telos’ generic, hokey villain dialogue waters down the proceedings a bit. At times he comes off more as a bratty kid than an intergalactic war monger.

Convergence #3, Telos, Nightwing and FlamebirdI picked a few gems to illustrate my point…

– “You will do as I command. You have no choice.”
– “Opposing me gets you nothing but death!”
– “Let this be a lesson…to those foolish enough to challenge me.”

Lame. Is Brainiac back yet?

Oh, and Deimos takes the rest of the Earth-2 heroes to Skartaris, which again, I had to Google to understand it’s relevance. I imagine many other readers (the ones who are still paying attention, that is), did the same thing.

Convergence #3, page 2Maybe Convergence is secretly a big ploy to get readers to miss the New 52 universe, which so many of us who loved the pre-2011 continuity have complained about so much. If that’s the case, I’ll give DC credit: Their plan worked. While this story has it’s share of intrigue, I’m ready to go back to my regularly scheduled programming. The New 52 universe is flawed as hell, but at least I’m invested in what’s going on. This story has a bunch of characters I only kinda/sorta know, and is based around a multiverse full of worlds I mostly don’t care about. Call me callous if you must, but I really don’t care if the Tangent Comics universe, or the DC One Million universe survives all this stuff.

Plus, the entire purpose of the New 52 reboot was to invite new readers into the fold. Now DC has halted most of those books entirely for two consecutive months to tell a big story about alternate universes that haven’t been around in over three years. From where I sit, that’s a baffling move. It would be different if they’d put at least one New 52 character in there for us to follow (Superman seems like the obvious choice). Instead we have these Earth-2 heroes and a lame duck villain.

You’d think an event that bends time, space, and reality to its will would be a little more interesting than this.

Image 1 from dccomics.com. Image 2 from insidepulse.com. Image 3 from uproxx.com.

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A Convergence #2 Review – The Disappearing Knight Light

Convergence #2, coverTITLE: Convergence #2
AUTHOR: Jeff King
PENCILLERS: Carlo Pagulayan. Cover by Ivan Reis.
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
PRICE:
$4.99
RELEASED:
April 15, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Convergence #2.***

Business started to pick up for Convergence in this issue. While certain problems remain, and this issue saw a pretty bad consistency error, Convergence does finally manage to give us a decent emotional tether via Earth-2 Dick Grayson.

As worlds continue to collide via Telos’ “perverse tournament,” our heroes from Earth-2 take a stand and fight back. But how does Dick Grayson fit into that plan? And by the end of the issue, our heroes have found a new ally…or have they?

DC Comics, Convergence, Dick Grayson, Earth-2The scene that kicks off Convergence #2 is probably the one we should have gotten when the story began. Via flashback, we see Dick Grayson and his son Tommy desperately trying to get off Earth-2 during Darkseid’s invasion. Dick loses everything, including his wife Barbara Gordon, before being plucked from his world and tossed into the events of Convergence #1. This scene set the stakes of Convergence really well. We see Dick’s desperation to survive, and to see that his son survives. Later in the issue, King and Pagulayan amp things up emotionally by having Dick see the pre-New 52 Gotham version of Barbara. Finally, Convergence gets injected with a sense of epic tragedy and impending doom, as opposed to different versions of characters simply being drawn next to each other.

Actually, had the scene with Dick on Earth-2 swapped places with the Injustice scene in issue #1, the latter scene would have been much more impactful. The story at large would have been much more impactful. What a missed opportunity…

This issue sees the return of pre-New 52 Batman, which was a big moment for yours truly, as that’s the Batman I grew up with. He’s got his Batman Incorporated costume on, complete with what I call the “Knight Light” on his chest. Unfortunately, as the issue progresses, Pagulayan seems to forget about the light. When we first see Bruce, he has it. Then the light disappears in favor of the more commonly used Bat-insignia. Then it returns for a splash page shot of Bruce standing alone. I can only assume this is a mistake, and a rather obvious one, at that.

Convergence #2, Batman/BatmanWe end up watching a conversation between Earth-2 Batman and Knight Light Batman, where the dialogue is kept from the reader. I can only assume the pay off for that is down the line, and will end up being about how Dick Grayson is some kind of savior. It’s frustrating. But hopefully they’ll go somewhere with it.

So at the end, the rest of the Earth-2 heroes rescue a character named Deimos from a bunch of Telos’ drones. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a big reveal or not. It certainly wasn’t for yours truly. Regrettably, this was one of the few times I had to Wikipedia a character’s name. As one might have gathered by his appearance, he’s a villain. I can’t say I’m overly intrigued by his appearance at this point, but obviously we’re only meeting him now.

Still conspicuous by his absence in Convergence is New 52 Superman, or anyone from the New 52 for that matter. Like the conversation between our Batmen, I can only assume there’s a payoff for that #0 issue coming, especially considering how much Superman imagery we’ve seen in this story. Regardless of what DC is doing behind the scenes (they’re moving their offices to California), seeing them take such a hard break from everything they’re been building since late 2011 is very surreal. The New 52 heroes will indeed join the main series at some point, and their continuity will indeed survive after Convergence. Thus, it’s all the more confusing that we haven’t heard word one from any of them yet, specifically Superman.

Still, Convergence #1 is indeed an improvement over its two predecessors. I now have a reason to care about something in this book. But thus far, Convergence proper is far from worth the cumulative $15 we’ve put down for it.

Images from insidepulse.com.

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A Justice League: Forever Heroes Review – What’s Old Is New

Justice League, Vol. 5: Forever HeroesTITLE: Justice League, Vol. 5: Forever Heroes
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLERS: Doug Mahnke, Ivan Reis
COLLECTS: Justice League #2429
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: September 10, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Books like Forever Heroes tend to frustrate me. They run alongside event comics like Blackest NightCivil War, or in this case, Forever Evil, providing us with valuable insight into certain characters and their actions. But without the main plotline to follow, books like this are essentially useless. It’s like only watching the even numbered episodes of a TV drama. You continuously have to catch up with each new issue. The solution, of course, is to publish all the issues together, which we typically get in some sort of big omnibus. But for now, books like Forever Heroes stand as islands unto themselves. That’s a shame in this book’s case, as there’s some cool stuff here.

Set during the events of Forever EvilForever Heroes gives us an abbreviated backstory of almost every member of the Crime Syndicate of America. The plot thread that ties the issues together deals with Grid (essentially an evil version of Cyborg) and his quest to feel emotions. But when Cyborg returns, he’s out for justice. And he’s bringing back up: The Metal Men!

Justice League #28 (2014) - Page 14Indeed, Forever Heroes is tasked with introducing the Metal Men into the New 52. These heroes made up of various types of metal (Platinum, Mercury, Gold, etc.) have been a part of the DCU since the ’60s, but one can argue they haven’t been relevant in decades. I’ve been a regular DC reader for decades, and I’ve yet to receive a valid reason as to why I should care about the Metal Men, or their scientist creator Will Magnus.

Still, Johns gives us a decent start here. He establishes who the Metal Men are, and how they came to be. He also gives them a certain underdog appeal, by casting them as a failed government experiment, who now must return as one of the world’s last lines of defense. That’s a great role for them. They’re also selfless, which is obviously endearing. Cyborg also makes for a fitting partner for them. And Johns does get you to care about the romantic tension between Magnus and Platinum.

On the down side, there’s a certain awkward, corny factor to the Metal Men’s dialogue. For instance, this is one of Gold’s first lines in issue #28…

“Name’s Gold, bro. I’m one of the most malleable and conductible metals in existence. And I’m also the most desired throughout the globe — worth over $15 million by myself. I’m the Metal Men’s brilliant leader, literally speaking. Aren’t they lucky?”

Justice League #28, GoldNot with dialogue like that, they aren’t. That’s certainly not the only line in the book that’s needlessly clunky and expository. Some of this sounds like fiction written for grade schoolers. We know they’re made of metal, and everybody more or less knows that gold is valuable. So why not just leave it alone and let the characters be in a room together?

Metal Men dialogue notwithstanding, it’s not a bad introduction, per se. The Metal Men are an endearing concept. The question is, where do you take them from here? How do you make them a commodity in the DCU? The first Metal Men story of the New 52 is done, but hopefully the second one will give us a clue as far as that question goes.

In contrast to the selfless Metal Men, you of course have the entirely selfish Grid, an addition to the Crime Syndicate created by Johns in Trinity War, who essentially acts as an evil version of Cyborg. While the Metal Men actually feel too many emotions (according to Magnus), Grid is a lifeless robot desperately searching for a chance to feel any emotion. That’s a great juxtaposition. Forever Heroes sees Grid search through the Syndicate’s backstories looking for something to incite feeling. Johns does a nice job of keeping him unsympathetic and ruthless, and Grid manages to give Cyborg a nice character moment at the end of the book.

Justice League Forever Heroes, Dick GraysonThe Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick characters aren’t new, but Johns mixed with bits and pieces of their pre-established history with his own work to give them some mostly cool backstories. Granted, they’re all essentially the classic DC mythos turned upside down. For instance, the New 52 Owlman is Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce Wayne’s older brother, who killed his parents and brother with the help of Alfred. Power Ring, the Crime Syndicate’s version of Green Lantern is a cowardly janitor at Ferris Air who is terrified of the ring entity, Volthoom. Johnny Quick and Atomica are a sort of supervillain Bonnie and Clyde. The only backstory I wasn’t a fan of was Ultraman’s, which unfortunately starts out the book. In that instance, Johns and Ivan Reis went so far on the opposite end of the moral spectrum that it almost became funny.

Forever Heroes also allows us to dive into Owlman’s longing to connect with the Dick Grayson of our Earth. We’re  not given a lot in terms of their interaction with one another, but I like the notion of Thomas Wayne Jr. wanting to make a connection with Dick, even though he’s not the same Dick he knew on Earth 3. And Johns tosses in a nice twist at the end of issue #25 that adds an extra dimension to their relationship.

Obviously Forever Heroes is supplemental material for Forever Evil. It’s not the best supplemental stuff I’ve ever seen. But Johns is definitely in his element here, working with frequent cohorts Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke. And the book is noteworthy for introducing the Metal Men into the New 52, flaws and all. So all things considered, it’s not the worst thing you could spend money on at the comic shop. Just make sure you also have Forever Evil next to it on your shelf.

RATING: 6.5/10

Image 1 from kingrexkidd.blogspot.com. Image 2 from tessatechaitea.blogspot.com.

A Green Lantern: Sinestro Review – You Gave a Power Ring to WHO???

Green Lantern, Vol. 1: SinesttroTITLE: Green Lantern, Vol. 1: Sinestro
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Doug Mahnke. Cover by Ivan Reis.
COLLECTS: Green Lantern #16
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $22.99
RELEASED: May 16, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

When Sinestro, the infamous arch nemesis of the Green Lantern Corps, was given a power ring at the end of War of the Green Lanterns, my initial instinct was that this move was made so that the comic book version of the character would correspond more with the one fans had recently seen in the Green Lantern movie.

Whether that’s actually the case or this was just a coincidence, I’m not sure. But either way, Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke manage to make the change into a pretty compelling story, despite having to put conventional logic has on the back burner for a bit to do it.

At the end of War of the Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan was stripped of his power ring by the Guardians of the universe. Moments later, the ring inexplicably chose the villainous Sinestro as Jordan’s successor. In their infinite wisdom, the Guardians allow Sinestro to serve as a Green Lantern, thinking it’s a chance at redemption for him. Thus, Hal Jordan is powerless while one of the galaxy’s worst mass murderers is wielding a green ring. But Hal’s got problems of an entirely different sort, as spending too much time patrolling the cosmos has caused his Earthly life to collapse. He’s been dismissed from the Air Force, he’s about to be kicked out of his apartment, he’s behind on all his bills, and he’s missing the life of a hero. But when Sinestro discovers his homeworld has been enslaved by the Sinestro Corps, the army he originally built to go against the Green Lantern Corps, he recruits Hal to help him free his people. Whether Hal likes it or not, he’s about to take part on the most unlikely superhero team up of all time.

Green Lantern 1, Sinestro, 2012, Doug MahnkeUpon first glance this premise, while intriguing, seems almost laughable. Having Sinestro, a being responsible for the death of countless innocents, become a Green Lantern again (remember, he was a Lantern before he became a bad guy) is like calling in the Joker to cover for Batman. It simply defies common sense. Johns uses the Guardians’ often questionable “big picture” judgment, as well as their apparently unstable mental states (which we learn more about in subsequent issues) to justify it. It works, especially when you consider the Guardians’ questionable history with big decisions like this. But you’ve still got to work a bit harder than usual to suspend your initial disbelief in the logic behind the whole thing.

Still, once the ball gets rolling the drama is very well done. This book’s greatest accomplishment is the way it turns Sinestro into a more three dimensional character. He’s still the bad guy, but we get some nice reinforcement that he’s a bad guy who started with good intentions. Unlike other villains, he’s actually capable of caring about people. It’s some great insight into one of the most infamous villains in all of comic books.

Sinestro, Doug MahnkeSinestro empowers the powerless Hal Jordan by using his power ring to create a specialized ring for him. As such, Sinestro can turn Hal’s ring on and off as he choses, and Hal’s ring can’t mount any offense against its creator. It’s a great scenario that forces two bitter enemies to work together and allows the bad guy to toy with the good guy.

I’m conflicted about how Hal Jordan is characterized in this book. Before the New 52 took effect, Hal to be a daredevil hero, whose caution-to-the-wind attitude tended to land him in trouble with his loved ones and authority figures. In this book he seems like a guy who has a heart of gold, but simply can’t get his act together, especially when he doesn’t have a power ring. He also seems a bit more impulsive, which is consistent with the Hal Jordan we saw in Justice League: Origin. Does it make Hal a more interesting character? Maybe. It certainly makes him a bit more relatable. If I had been a newbie trying to see what all the hype for a story like The Sinestro Corps War, I suppose Hal might have seemed like a more generic, handsome and muscle bound hero figure. This version gives new fans more to latch on to. But as a longtime reader, I can’t help feeling like Hal has been turned into a cliche slacker character. Perhaps I just need more time to get used to it…

Either way, Sinestro is yet another solid outing by Geoff Johns and Dough Mahnke. There’s some great character work here, as well as a nice helping of the space action and drama we’ve come to expect from Johns and his groundbreaking, constantly evolving take on the Green Lantern universe.

RATING: 7.5/10

Image 1 from goodreads.com. Image 2 from gamespot.com.

First Impressions: Superman, Aquaman, Ghostbusters, Teen Titans

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman #1 (2011)TITLE: Superman #1
AUTHOR: George Perez
PENCILLER: Jesus Merino
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was a FANTASTIC first issue, which carried over one of my favorite elements from Action Comics #1: Superman searching for truth and justice on the social level in a world that seems dominated by corporate interest.

In this issue we learn that The Daily Planet has been sold to a corporation called Galaxy Communications, which apparently uses illegal tactics and yellow journalism in its reporting. Furious, Clark Kent refuses to attend the big gala in honor of the sale. Galaxy proceeds to change it’s name to the Planet Global Network, and names Lois Lane as their nightly news producer and executive vice president of new media. Suddenly, the city is attacked by a giant fire monster (who apparently has ties to Krypton). Superman battles the creature, and at the end we get a glimpse into Clark and Lois’ personal lives in the new DCU (Remember, they’ve never been married in this continuity.).

Superman #1, 2011, Clark and Lois, Jesus MerinoAs a former reporter, I found the insight into the current state of the news industry to be an effective way to illustrate Superman’s views on white collar corruption. We also see the battle between Superman and the monster from PGN’s vantage point, which is very effective. During the fight, much of the narrative consists of text from a news story later written by Clark Kent, which is cheesy. Still, it’s forgivable.

Superman spends a portion of this issue brooding, which is something we’re not necessarily used to. When the old Superman got angry, often times he was like a parent who’d lost his temper. This character isn’t like that. He seems inclined to be much more emotional, which isn’t a bad thing. I just hope we get a balance between the grim and the optimistic. Superman has been a rather angry young man this month, and he has reason to be. But let’s not turn him into Batman, okay?

All in all, a complete 180 in quality from what we’ve been seeing in Superman recently. I’m very excited about this book.

***

Ghostbusters #1 (2011)TITLE: Ghostbusters #1
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLER: Dan Shoening, Tristan Jones
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

I once said that any writer of a Ghostbusters comic book would likely never recapture the magic Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis created in the movies. I maintain that to this day. However, the first issue of IDW’s new Ghostbusters series comes the closest out of any GB book I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a few).

We start the book with Ray having a nightmare, which features a delightful appearance by Ray’s brother, who looks exactly like John Belushi’s character from Blues Brothers. It’s a very endearing tribute. We then go into Winston and Peter tracking down a ghost at an apartment complex, who turns out to be someone that fans know VERY well. Then, in a back up story, we see that Walter Peck (William Atherton’s character from the first movie) will be butting into our heroes’ lives very soon.

Ghostbusters #1, 2011, Dan ShoeningThis book really has the total package for Ghostbusters fans. Burnham’s writing is solid. It’s not too corny, but not too serious either. To me, there’s a delicate balance that goes into creating a Ghostbusters story. You’ve got to make the threat believable and scary, but also be lighthearted and funny. That’s tough to do. But Burnham’s off to a great start.

Dan Shoening’s art is always a treat for me. I’ve loosely followed his Deviant Art page for a few years now, and it’s obvious he’s a Ghostbusters nut. He even co-manned a pitch for a new Ghostbusters comic a few years ago. His art fits the style and tone of the story, and it’s obvious he’s as passionate about the content as any diehard fan would be.

If the book keeps up with this kind of content, Ghostbusters #1 could very well become one of my favorite ongoing titles. I could gush about this book for awhile, but I’d prefer you go out and read it for yourself.

***

Aquaman #1, 2011TITLE: Aquaman #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

Well, how about this? An Aquaman who’s aware of his status as a pop culture punch line.

The most interesting moments in Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’ first issue of Aquaman are when ordinary citizens are either chuckling at the character, or saying weird things to him. At one point, Aquaman attempts to have lunch at a seafood restaurant, and someone says: “You can’t get the fish and chips…you talk to fish!” The character himself is getting a chance to respond to the public’s perception of him, which is interesting. Though, I find the idea of Aquaman sitting down in a seafood restaurant in full costume to be pretty stupid.

As a threat known as The Trench makes its way up from the Atlantic ocean, Aquaman and Mera decide that they’re going to live on the surface, and attempt to start a new life. One would assume their lives as superheroes won’t allow this transition to be easy.

Fans have wanted to see Geoff Johns tackle Aquaman for awhile now. They got that in Brightest Day, and they’ll get more of it here. I’ll stick with this series for the near future, simply out of interest for what Johns will do. Plus, Ivan Reis’ art is always lovely.

***

Teen Titans #1, 2011TITLE: Teen Titans #1
AUTHOR: Scott Lobdell
PENCILLER: Brett Booth
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

I don’t think I’m ever going to dig Red Robin’s new costume. It’s just…wrong. It just looks way too cumbersome and silly. In this issue, Tim Drake uses his new wings to block a storm of bullets coming at he and Wonder Girl courtesy of a helicopter. That’s great and all, but the old Red Robin would have simply EVADED THE GUNFIRE!!!!

My disgust with the costume aside, Teen Titans #1 isn’t so bad. We kick the issue off with Kid Flash (who is apparently still Bart Allen, not Wally West), rushing to help with a burning building, but ends up making the situation a LOT worse. This apparently adds fuel to the media’s claims that many teenage meta-humans are menaces. Meanwhile, Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (see Superboy #1) is hunting down teenage metas, and the poorly dressed Red Robin rushes to save Cassandra Sandsmark, who the press call Wonder Girl. In response to the resulting battle, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. decides to release their secret weapons (or at least one of them): Superboy.

Teen Titans #1, 2011, Brett BoothA few things that caught my attention in this issue:
– It seems to run side by side with the current Superboy story arc.
– Tim Drake will apparently be the one who to bring the Teen Titans together, much like Batman will be the one to form the Justice League (according to solicitations at least). Funny how these two loners are inclined to create superhero teams…
– Wonder Girl’s costume is slightly reminiscent of Donna Troy’s, from the standpoint of the stars in space design. Curious.

Will I come back for more Teen Titans? Probably. The concept of teenagers being reckless with their superpowers intrigues me, as that’s something real teenagers would likely do. But I’m telling you, Red Robin’s costume might ruin it for me. I’m THAT bothered by it.

Interior image 1 from insidepulse.com. Interior image 2 from bleedingcool.com.

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