Weekly Comic 100s: Leviathan Dawn, Star Wars, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Raising a glass to Dan DiDio, who’s gone from DC as of last week.

The way some people are talking about this, you’d think he’d died or something. That’s obviously not the case. But it does feel like the end of an era. DiDio had been with DC for 18 years, starting as a vice president in 2002, then moving up to executive editor in 2004, before becoming co-publisher in 2010.

Coincidentally, 2002 was also the year I started buying comics on a weekly basis. So for yours truly, DiDio is particularly synonymous with DC. I remember reading his old “DC Nation” columns as far back as my college years, God help me.

So here’s to you, good sir. Thank you for the memories.

TITLE: Leviathan Dawn #1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Alex Maleev, Joshua Reed (Letterer)
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

Despite the reveal of Leviathan’s identity being a letdown, Event Leviathan was a fun read. So I’m happy to see Bendis and Maleev back at it.

This issue sees the reformation of a group longtime DC readers will be familiar with. (The cover makes it pretty obvious.) The lineup is an odd assortment. Not characters you’d expect to see working together. But strange teams often make for compelling books.

The only person I might remove from the group is the Question. He’s better as a lone wolf.

TITLE: Star Wars #3
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva and Guru-eFX.
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

This whole “going back to Cloud City” thing is still really stupid. Not quite as stupid as Luke getting a between-movies lightsaber. But close.

But we do get pretty great scene in this issue. One of our villains, Commander Zahra, reveals that the crew of her Star Destroyer consists of those who lost someone close to them on the Death Star. She frames the destruction of the space station as a massive tragedy caused by an act of cruelty from the other side. It’s much like Leia frames the destruction of Alderaan. It’s a really nice switch in perspective.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1020
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Lee Bermejo.
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

The other night a co-worker of mine, about 22-year-old, sees this cover. She then asks me: “Why does Batman look so fancy?” Oye. Kids…

For yours truly, Brad Walker’s stock is rising. Particularly as a Batman artist. He’s not a favorite of mine, per se. But he’s on his way.

Tomasi is doing a religion-themed story with Two-Face. We don’t get into the meat of it. Just a little scene as the issue ends. But I’m a sucker for that kinda stuff. So I’m anxious to see what the “Church of the Two” is about.

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:
February 26, 2020

In an issue that features the return of the Ranger Slayer (the cover pretty much gave it away) and the Gravezord, a very tense “sparring session” between Tommy and Jason, and a fight in an asteroid field, Zack and Adam steal the show with a single page of heart-to-heart conversation.

Sadly, via his Twitter Daniele Di Nicuolo has announced he’s ending his Power Rangers run soon. That’s a big loss, as he’s arguably the best artists BOOM! has had on this line. Not sure what issue is his last, but #50 seems as opportune a time as any.

TITLE: Action Comics #1020
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Lucio Parillo.

Ugh. They dragged Young Justice into this?

Yeah, Action Comics is a little bit of a mess right now. Primarily because Romita is on a cold streak with these last several issues. But also, look at all the heavy hitters we’ve got in this story. The Justice League, the Legion of Doom, Leviathan, and now Young Justice. Metropolis is being decimated. Yet the high stakes aren’t coming across. It almost feels like business as usual. We also have Batman in another big dumb robot suit, which doesn’t help.

But next issue, the fight drags on. And I do mean drags.

TITLE: X-Men/Fantastic Four #2
AUTHOR: Chip Zdarsky
ARTISTS: Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson with Karl Story and Ransom Getty (Inkers), Laura Martin (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer).
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

What’s surprising me is how political this book is. Not in a real-world sense. But we’ve got the X-Men on their little island nation of Krakoa, and the fallout that comes from the Fantastic Four “invading.” Then we’ve got Doctor Doom on Latveria, and the risk of starting a war with Krakoa. The scope seems so much bigger than you’d think it would be.

Valera Richards refers to Doctor Doom as Uncle Doom? Well, it’s not like she was ever going to have a normal childhood…

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars, Frankenstein, Action Comics, 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

I was recently crushed to hear Go Go Power Rangers is ending in April. As I’ve said before, there’ve been plenty of months that book has outperformed the regular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers title. For awhile there, we were talking months at a time…

Thankfully, Ryan Parrott is staying with the Rangers for the foreseeable future. He’s been churning out amazing work since Go Go began, and he’s become BOOM’s go-to guy for Power Rangers content. Not only has he got the main book, but he’s writing the team up with the Ninja Turtles as well.

We’ll tip our hat to Go Go Power Rangers by leading off with it this week.

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #28
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Eduardo Francisco, Raul Angulo (Colors), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Eleonora Carlini.
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

Here we have a spotlight issue for Rita, where we see what was happening to her while she was imprisoned in that “space dumpster” for 10,000 years. Hint: If you’re an avid comic book fan, and the term “Black Mercy” means anything to you…

What I don’t like about this issue is how it portrays the inside of this prison. In theory it’s a dumpster, a place you put garbage. But inside it’s fairly high tech, with an A.I. overseeing everything. I always pictured the innards to be very dark and cave-like. Maybe that’s just me.

TITLE: Star Wars #2
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS:
Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva.
RELEASED:
January 29, 2020

Just when I get excited about getting to see Luke do things without a lightsaber, the damn thing becomes a mcguffin in “The Destiny Path.”

God damn it.

On the plus side, they’ve put a nice focus on Lando thus far. It’s seemingly always been assumed that he instantly became a full-time good guy after seeing what happened to Han in Empire. But leopards rarely change their spots so quickly. And of course, Leia and the others would be rightfully wary of him afterward. For now, I’m willing to take the good with the bad on this book.

TITLE: Frankenstein Undone #1 (of 5)
AUTHORS: Mike Mignola, Scott Allie
ARTISTS: Ben Stenbeck, Brennan Wagner (Colorist), Clem Robins (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

I’m not nearly as versed in “the world of Hellboy” as I want to be. But apparently Frankenstein is part of that world. Having just read the book for the first time, this caught my interest.

The monster we meet is despondent over his actions during the events of the book. He opts to seclude himself in the far north. But solitude is not what he’ll find among the snow.

While we get some intriguing and well written pathos from our titular monster, I’m inclined to catch up with Mignola’s earlier works before diving back into this one.

TITLE: Action Comics #1019
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Gabrielle Dell’otto.
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

I don’t get it. Generally speaking, I’m a John Romita Jr. fan. I’ve enjoyed his work on Kick-Ass, and his stuff at Marvel with Spider-Man, the Avengers, Hulk, etc. But for some reason, Romita and Superman mix like oil and water.

I truly hate to say this, but his art absolutely ruins this issue. What’s supposed to be this epic fight between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom looks downright sloppy. Brad Anderson’s work is especially wasted on this mess. It’s officially time to invoke a restraining order between Romita and the Man of Steel.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #2
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS: Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
RELEASED:
January 29, 2020

I’ll give this book credit: I’m not hatin’ these new characters. This issue has an interaction between the Fin and the Shark that I really enjoyed.

I’m sure there are several Squad stories in existence where our anti-heroes want to kill one another, yet have to proceed with a mission. But this is the first one I can remember where the rivalries between the various members are so intensely personal. Combine that with Tom Taylor’s evident flair for black ops stories, along with some pretty awesome art, and we’ve got an exciting book on our hands.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #102
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman (Consultant), Tom Waltz (Consultant), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS: Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer).
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

Even with everything going on with Raph and Jennika in New York, I came away from this issue thinking about the other three Turtles. Once again, they’re secluded up at in Northampton.

I’m not sure we’ve ever seen the Ninja Turtles more collectively grief-stricken, and as such depressed. Most notably Michelangelo. The faces Sophie Campbell draws for him are almost devoid of life. Rarely has such amazing penciling prompted such a sad response.

But given what’s happened, it makes sense. It’s so relatable, it’s heart-breaking. Not bad for a book about mutant turtles…

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars #1, I Can Sell You A Body #1

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

You know what sucks? When your favorite comic shop closes down.

Here’s to Rockhead’s Comics and Games in Kenosha, WI, for feeding my weekly comic fix for the last two years or so. You guys were awesome. I’m truly sad to see you go…

TITLE: Star Wars #1
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto (Co-Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva and GURU-eFX.
RELEASED:
January 1, 2020

This debut of Marvel’s post-Empire Strikes Back title is pretty much what you’d expect, with the characters reeling from what happened on Bespin.

But interestingly, this issue actually takes places during the events of Empire. A certain amount of time passes between the Star Destroyer escape and the closing scene. But how much time? When we open this book the Rebels don’t trust Lando, and Luke isn’t even sure he wants to be a Jedi any longer.

I’m hoping Luke doesn’t get a lightsaber in this series. The green one doesn’t come along until the next film, after all.

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

What we have here is a mini about “reverse exorcisms,” i.e. spirits of the dead being found new bodies by our main character, Denny Little.  But things go awry when he gets mixed up with the mob. Y’know, the way you always do when you gain the power to communicate with the dead…

Ferrier and Kambadais don’t waste an inch of space here, putting out a really dense issue. But the story has promise, and the art has a nice charm to it. I can see myself following Denny for four issues.

TITLE: Action Comics #1018
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 1, 2020

I was actually dreading this issue. Simply because of John Romita Jr’s art.

Romita can be hit-or-miss as it is. But Action Comics #1018 has a rushed quality, as if the deadline was breathing down his neck. As such, the end product often looks awkward. Or worse, bush league.

Case in point, the way Superman is posed on the cover. What is that stance, exactly?

As this issue is partially about the Justice League fighting the Legion of Doom in the middle of Metropolis, this was a particularly bad time for a performance like this. Bad form, JRJR.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1018
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Scott Godlewski, David Baron (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by Rafael Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, and John Kalisz.
RELEASED: January 1, 2020

This dialogue in this issue is really awkward at times, which is not a problem Tomasi usually (if ever) has. For some reason, Batman is uncharacteristically chatty.

Case in point, he leaves a crime scene and says to the cops, “Got what I needed. Scene is immaculate. Left behind only my boot prints. Merry Christmas.”

Um…thanks?

On the plus side, Tomasi tugs at our heartstrings in his own special way by showing us Bruce spending his first holiday season without Alfred. Very reminiscent of the stuff he did on Batman and Robin all those years ago.

TITLE: Lois Lane #7 (of 12)
AUTHOR: Greg Rucka
ARTISTS: Mike Perkins, Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 1, 2019

While I continue to love simply having that Greg Rucka, street-level aesthetic back at DC, I’m losing interest in the mystery of who’s trying to kill Lois Lane and why. Frankly, the subplot about the public believing she’s having an affair with Superman is far more interesting. I’m curious to see how Clark revealing his identity to the world will effect this story, if in fact they cross over.

The back and forth between Lois and Renee Montoya is fun. It’s obvious Rucka is happy to be working on his version of the Question once again.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Shazam!, Killadelphia, MMPR

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

***Author’s Note: If I display a variant cover, it’s because I purchased the issue in question with that cover.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Shazam! #8
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
ARTISTS: Scott Kolins, Michael Atiyeh (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Michael Cho.
RELEASED: November 27, 2019

I’ve always admired the firm grasp Geoff Johns has on the less renowned DC characters like Green Lantern, the Teen Titans, and now Shazam. He can do anything…except get these books to come out on time.

This issue misses Dale Eaglesham, whose pencils have provided the sense of fun, adventure, and fantasy elements that define this book’s identity. Still, Scott Kolins is more than serviceable, especially during the scenes in the undead “Darklands” realm. Michael Atiyeh makes them very interesting from a color contrast standpoint. It’s like this bright red superhero has stepped into an old Universal monster movie.

TITLE: Killadelphia #1
AUTHOR: Rodney Barnes
ARTISTS:
Jason Shawn Alexander, LuisNCT (Colorist), Marshall Dillon (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 27, 2019

I mean, c’mon. The title alone makes this worth a look.

If you’re into the stuff Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do, you’ll like Killadelphia. Or at least this first issue. It’s got a great pulp-noir-meets-horror feel. A second generation cop investigates the most bizarre case his famous father ever worked. What he uncovers is, as the book itself puts it, “There are vampires in Philadelphia.”

Best page in the book? When our main character opens a door, sees a bunch of vampires hanging from the ceiling, and runs away in terror when they give chase…

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #45
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Daniele Di Nicuolo, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli & Igor Monti (Color Assistants), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED: November 27, 2019

“Necessary Evil” progresses nicely with a great “heel turn” this month. Parrott and Di Nicuolo are usually my guys as far as PR comics go. But one particular moment felt wrong…

There’s a scene where Zordon, talking to the Red Omega Ranger (Does he know it’s Jason?), says that Lord Zedd is formidable, yet “an adversary I was confident that they could handle.” While I’m sure this isn’t how Parrott meant this, that makes it sound like Zordon considers Zedd more of a nuisance than a threat. Didn’t he originally describe Zedd’s arrival as “the thing I have feared most”?

TITLE: Action Comics #1017
AUTHOR:
Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS:
John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 27, 2019

On page one, panel one, we get a big dumb Batman robot suit. For me, that’s about the worst way to start an issue of anything.

This issue does a nice job forwarding the “Invisible Mafia” story as it crosses over with the “Year of the Villain” stuff. It looks like we’ve got a big Justice League vs. Legion of Doom fight coming at us next time.

Justice League hasn’t been on my pull list since “YOTV” started. *sigh* I suppose I should probably catch up if I’m going to fully grasp what’s happening with Lex  and the gang.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1016
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS:
Doug Mahnke, Tyler Kirkham (Co-Penciller and Co-Inker), Christian Alamy (Co-Inker), Keith Champagne (Co-Inker), Mark Irwin (Co-Inker), David Baron, (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 27, 2019

Ugh. There’s another stupid modified Batsuit in this issue. What happened to the Hellbat armor Tomasi used in Batman & Robin and Superman? Wouldn’t a modified version have worked here?

Bad costume notwithstanding, I love the way this Victor/Nora story ends. “A vicious circle,” as Batman calls it. Tomasi also works in an amazing callback to a New 52 event. Continuity, ladies and gentlemen. Use it well, and it’ll do wonders for you.

This story leaves Mr. Freeze’s status quo dramatically altered. Now it’s just a question of how long DC keeps it that way.

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

An All-Star Batman #2 Review – The Jerk Store Called…

All-Star Batman #2, 2016, John Romita Jr.TITLE: All-Star Batman #2
AUTHOR: Scott Snyder
PENCILLERS: John Romita Jr., Declan Shalvey
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: September 14, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I haven’t been as in love with All-Star Batman as some reviewers are. But credit where credit is due: This is good stuff.

 Harvey Dent says he can get rid of his alter-ego Two-Face if Batman can get him to a mysterious house 500 miles away from Gotham. Two-Face counters by putting a price on the Dark Knight’s head. Ergo, Batman’s enemies are coming out of the woodwork to kill and collect. But fittingly, Two-Face’s plan is double-headed. Jim Gordon and the GCPD are literally about to walk into the Batcave!

One of Snyder and Romita’s priorities with this book is to prominently feature Batman’s rogues gallery. Not just the A-listers, either. In this issue alone we get appearances from King Shark, Amygdala, Cheshire, Great White, and KGBeast (referred to as “the Beast”). As a Batman geek, one of the thrilling elements about All-Star is never knowing who will pop out from around the next corner. It could be anyone from Mr. Freeze to Kite-Man.

Snyder also does a lot of justice to Two-Face, diving deeper into the concept of duality than I expected. Not just the traditional Harvey Dent vs. Two-Face stuff, but the notion that everyone has a dark side. Everyone is secretly as twisted as he is, and by holding secrets over people’s heads, he’s going to show you how. We also get a nice scene between Alfred and Duke Thomas that spells out some of the rules for how Two-Face’s brain works. The two sides can keep secrets from one another, but also influence each other. That’s good information to have as we go forward.

All-Star Batman #2, John Romita Jr., the jerk store calledWhat I continue to dislike about Snyder’s writing in this book is the sarcastic dialogue he gives Batman during battle sequences. This book kicks off with an awesome fight against Killer Croc, King Shark, and Amygdala on top of a moving train, with Two-Face looking on for good measure. But it’s promptly spoiled with the line: “Hey Waylon. Appaloosa called…they want their fool back.”

Hey Batman. The jerk store called…

What makes that sequence all the more frustrating is that John Romita Jr., Danny Miki, and Dean White absolutely nail it. It’s got a great energy, accentuated beautifully by the motion work and the gorgeous colors in the background. This is also the best Killer Croc has looked in awhile. For my money that’s a high compliment, as this book came out the same week as one of Jim Lee’s Suicide Squad issues. Romita’s take on the Penguin is also very reminiscent of Danny DeVito’s look in Batman Returns, which isn’t something we see very often.

I also adore the panels of Batman and Two-Face fighting in the water (shown below), if for nothing else because of the water itself. The way it’s colored, the way it moves, the way it drips off the characters. It’s almost cloud-like.

We’re also introduced to the notion that many suspect Bruce Wayne is Batman, but no one can prove it. This would be interesting as a throwaway line. But they’re obviously following up on it, what with Jim Gordon and the GCPD breaking into the Batcave…

All-Star Batman #2, John Romita Jr., Batman, Two-FaceKGBeast gets put over like a million bucks in this issue. He’s put on arguably the same level as a Deathstroke or Deadshot, and even has a decapitated Talon from the Court of Owls as a trophy. He’s treated with a reverence he’s rarely, if ever, gotten.

I’m still sour this “color wheel” idea Snyder is using in the back-up feature, though in all fairness there’s still much we don’t know about it. For now, we’ve got a mostly quiet scene between Batman and Duke as they track down Zsasz. Declan Shalvey’s work remains delightfully clean. His opening page is a striking mosaic of Duke’s family memories, which transitions into a scene between he and his mother. We’re not given any further insight into what exactly Batman has in mind for Duke. But things are unfolding nicely. We have yet to see a sarcastic quip from the Dark Knight in this story, so it almost has the advantage over what Snyder is doing with Romita.

There’s also a delightfully subtle detail to the one of Zsasz’s word balloons. It gets little gray scratches behind the letters to signify the various marks he puts in his own skin.

All-Star Batman is mostly quality work thus far, which is consistent with what Snyder has done with Batman previously. But as I see it, Snyder has a tendency to get in his own way, and take his own stories down a notch. Whether it’s with dialogue that’s out of character, big awful Batman robots, or something else entirely. It’s like he just can’t resist.

Boy, I wish he could resist…

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

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An All-Star Batman #1 In-Depth Review – Sh*t Batman Says

All-Star Batman #1, John Romita Jr., 2016TITLE: All-Star Batman #1
AUTHOR: Scott Snyder
PENCILLER: John Romita Jr.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: August 10, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

What exactly is “out of character” for Batman? He’s one of the most multi-faceted figures in all of popular culture. In comic books alone, we’ve seen him do virtually everything. He’s spit in Superman’s face (long story) and beat people to a bloody pulp. But he’s also worn zebra stripes and fought on the keys of a giant typewriter. Much depends on the angle you’re looking at him from. Are you going for the more mature, moody and broody Batman? Or is this a more colorful Caped Crusader for all ages?

This being said, a few things happen in All-Star Batman #1 that struck me as out of character. Both of them deal not with something Batman does, but something he says. More specifically, how he says it.

All-Star Batman takes our hero out of Gotham City, and on to the open road. Harvey Dent believes he can dispose of his alter-ego Two-Face if he can somehow get to a mysterious house nearly 500 miles away. Two-Face counters Dent’s offer by putting a price on the Dark Knight’s head. What’s more, if Batman reaches his destination, Two-Face threatens to spill every dirty secret he has about the Gotham underworld. This makes our protagonists the target of supervillains, civilians, and shockingly, one of Batman’s most trusted allies.

All-Star Batman #1, John Romita Jr., faceThis book comes from our old friend Scott Snyder, who writes really good Batman stories, despite at times annoying the crap out of yours truly. Most of what we get here falls into the really good category. Heck, our premise involves Batman hauling Two-Face across the country in a semi-truck. As a Batman geek, I’m immediately interested.

But Snyder makes some grating choices in this issue. The most notable is in the above image. Our opening scene sees Firefly and Killer Moth crash through the window of a diner, Batman in tow. They threaten to kill everyone inside if he doesn’t tell them where Harvey is. Batman responds with: “Hey. All of you in this diner. Look at me. Not them. Look at my face. No one is dying today.” He follows up with a wink and a smile.

These two panels feel completely out of character. They seem like something we might get from Superman or Captain America. Particularly the “look at my face” bit. I understand that saving those lives is Batman’s primary motivation that scene. But this isn’t his first rodeo. Why would Bruce Wayne, a public figure, want to intentionally draw attention to his masked face?

All-Star Batman #1, 2016, John Romita Jr., shut up and dieThen you have the wink and smile. I’m not sure if he’s looking at the villains or the diner patrons. Either way, it’s completely out of left field for this version of Batman. It’s one thing to make bold choices. For instance, Snyder later has Batman stab Killer Moth through the arm, and hack off Black Spider’s cybernetic limbs with a chainsaw. Edgy? Yes. But fair enough. However, if you push the boundaries too far the character itself begins to change. For this Dark Knight version of Batman, Snyder pushed the boundaries too far, and too early in the issue. Readers are just getting settled in, and he’s already throwing them awkward curve balls.

The whole “shut up and die” line (shown above) wasn’t great, either. I’m also prepared to get another big awful Batman robot at some point in this book. You know it’s coming.

All of this in a series called All-Star Batman, which obviously prompts memories of the controversial and much-maligned All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder. Why would they choose that title? Because the All-Star name evokes a reaction? Because Snyder will be working with “all-star” talents on this book?

But to repeat: Most of what’s in this issue is good. Snyder’s characterization of Two-Face is spot-on. We establish he’s colorblind in his left eye. Meaning his dual personality sees the world in (you guessed it) black and white. Two-Face knowing people’s secrets, their hidden dark sides, is very strong writing and fits him like a glove. There’s also a point to be made for money bringing out the dark side in everyday people.

All Star-Batman #1, John Romita Jr., chainsawAnd admittedly, I like the image of Batman using a chainsaw. As a one-off, it’s a lot of fun.

Though his art has an undoubtedly epic feel to it, John Romita Jr. has good issues and bad issues. One in awhile, you’ll seen one of his panels and just cringe. Thankfully, this is a good issue. Also, Dean White’s colors allow you to really feel the heat of the Indian summer they mention early on. The intense red that White puts into Two-Face’s scarred half is very striking, specifically that big eye. It’s like he has the all seeing, all knowing eye.

Snyder also gives us a back-up story drawn by Declan Shalvey, whose sleek and clean work I prefer to Romita’s. We get a lovely appearance from the Batman: The Animated Series Batmobile. The story features Duke Thomas, who is also in the main story. But between his appearances in this book and Tom King’s Batman, we still have no idea what the end goal of him being there is. It’s been emphasized that Duke is not going to be Robin. Batman, in his own words, is “trying something new.” My interest is piqued.

All-Star Batman #1, 2016, DeclanHowever, this story also introduces us to something that, if it’s what I think it is, infuriates me. The Cursed Wheel is supposed to be a condensed version of all Batman’s training, sharpened and applied to tenets taught by Alfred. Each color on the wheel apparently represents different psychological traits. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this concept, until you get to this dialogue…

“Look at the colors. You see hints of them in the colors of your allies. Dick leans blue. Damian, green. Barbara, purple. It’s a secret history that unites them, connects them, differentiates them.”

No, it really doesn’t.

We don’t need to overthink the colors that Dick, Damian, Barbara, and everybody that’s trained with Batman wears. If Duke needs to have a model for his training, so be it. But let’s not overdo it. This concept has just been introduced, so it deserves a chance to grow. But at this point it’s an eye-roller.

Just before we’re introduced to the wheel of contrivance, Duke is telling Batman that he’s fine on his own, and that today “Robin doesn’t need a Batman.” The Dark Knight replies with “Good. Batman doesn’t need a Robin either.” That line feels very wrong coming from Bruce, considering just how many Robins he’s trained. What’s he getting at?

There’s definitely some nitpicking to be done with All-Star Batman. I’ve credited Scott Snyder with not being afraid to have big ideas. Some of them pay off, some of them don’t. But it’s the little things that chip away at this issue, and cumulatively bring it down a notch. Still, Snyder has earned the right to say what he wants to say with Batman. It’s obviously too early to call this story a success or failure. But because Snyder is attached to it, All-Star Batman will at the very least be noteworthy.

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A Batman/Superman #31 Review – The Search For Supergirl

Batman/Superman #31, cover, Yanick PaquetteTITLE: Batman/Superman #31
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
PENCILLER: Doug Mahnke. Cover by Yanick Paquette.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 13, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Damn. Just when you thought Big Blue was gettin’ things back in order…BAM. He gets a death sentence. And you thought Batman had bad luck.

Due to the after-effects of multiple intense battles, Superman is apparently dying. With the end in sight, the Man of Steel has begun getting his affairs in order. With help from Batman, he starts searching for Supergirl so that she might continue his work. But Kara isn’t easy to find, and Superman is running out of time…

Readers should be grateful Peter Tomasi has the pen on all the Superman titles for this big “Final Days of Superman” crossover. Not only does that bode well in terms of consistency between issues, but Tomasi is so good at injecting heart into his stories. That’s one of the main reasons his run on Batman & Robin was so good. In the recently rebooted DC Universe, Tomasi made sure the characters still felt familiar. Deep down, this was still the Batman we knew. He’s the perfect pick for a story like this. Though one can argue a story about Superman’s dying days has been done to perfection in All Star Superman.

Batman/Superman #51, Tusk, Doug MahnkeTomasi was a little vague in Superman #51 on what exactly is killing our hero. We knew it was a result of his exposure to the fire pits of Apokalips in Darkseid War, his fight with Rao in Justice League of America, and the A.R.G.U.S. Kryptonite chamber in Truth. In this issue he says something about “Kryptonite malignancy eating away at me.” Anything with the word malignancy in it must be pretty bad. But I’d still like a little more info on what exactly is killing the most powerful man on Earth.

Tomasi understands these characters better than most of the current crop of writers at DC. As such, the dialogue scenes in this issue feel the way they’re supposed to: Like a meeting between two old friends. They sound very much in character. There’s a panel where Batman asks Superman: “Do you know your irises are green?” Coming from another character, this would have sounded asinine. But from Batman it works. We also get the unlikely meeting of Superman and Bat-Cow, which plays to Clark Kent’s upbringing on the farm.

We also get an appearance from Tusk (shown above), who we met when these two worked together in Batman & Robin Annual #1. So we’ve got some fun continuity between that book and this one.

National City, the home of Supergirl on the CBS show of the same name, is mentioned late in the issue. I imagine this is an clue as to what we’ll be getting when Supergirl once again gets her own series this fall. Not a moment too soon, by the way…

Batman/Superman #31 (2016), flying, Doug Mahnke

We’ve also got a character in this book who has mysteriously gained Superman-like powers and is glowing orange. I imagine that’s our villain. Though what exactly is going on with him remains to be seen

Doug Mahnke has drawn so many big DC stories that his art inevitably brings a certain weight, or an “epic” feel, to whatever he’s drawing. This is true with both the action and dialogue sequences. Considering what’s happened over the last year with Superman losing his powers, and Jim Gordon tagging in as Batman, this issue feels like a homecoming.

I trust Peter Tomasi with Superman. Considering how protective I’ve become of the character in recent years, and what’s been done to him recently, that’s saying something. For the time being, Superman and “The Final Days of Superman” are in good hands.

Image 1 from adventuresinpoortaste.com. Image 2 from weird sciencedccomics.blogspot.com. 

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