Weekly Comic 100s: Kylo Ren, Gwen Stacy, Superman, 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

TITLE: Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #3 (of 4)
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Will Sliney, Guru-eFX (Colors), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Clayton Crain.
RELEASED:
February 12, 2020

Once again, the most interesting part of this Kylo Ren origin story proves not to be Ben Solo’s fall to the dark side. Rather, it’s Luke attempt to revive the Jedi Order.

What we see doesn’t even have that much meat to it. It’s just Luke working with his students as children, and then a bunch of short scenes to give us a glimpse of what their lives were like as they grew up. But as we’ve been waiting to see this part of the story for so long, any morsel of information feels mountainous.

TITLE: Gwen Stacy #1 (of 5)
AUTHOR: Christos Gage
ARTISTS: Todd Nauck, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Adam Hughes.
RELEASED: February 12, 2020

The part of “spunky teen girl detective” will now be played by Gwen Stacy.

In a post-script message to fans, editor Nick Lowe tells readers the idea for this mini-series is to add to some of the classic Spidey stories with Gwen, and fill in some details along the way. But it works quite nicely on its own merits. Todd Nauck’s art has a modern feel, but with a retro twinge. It feels like a natural successor to those Spider-Man stories from the ’60s and ’70s.

Though frankly, that Adam Hughes cover alone is worth the price.

TITLE: Superman: Heroes #1
AUTHORS: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka
ARTISTS: Kevin Maguire, Mike Perkins, Steve Lieber, Mike Norton, Scott Godlewski. Cover by Bryan Hitch.
COLORISTS:
Paul Mounts, Gabe Eltaeb, Andy Troy, Nathan Fairbairn. Alex Sinclair (Cover).
LETTERERS:
Troy Peteri, Clayton Cowles, Simon Bowland
RELEASED:
February 12, 2020

This issue is supposed to be about all the superheroes and supporting characters reacting to the big Superman/Clark Kent revelation. But there’s an absolutely beautiful scene between Superman and someone we’ve never seen before: Clark Kent’s high school chemistry teacher.

Clark thanks him for helping to show him the value of hard work, and assures him that despite his powers, he never cheated. Despite being tempted to, of course. It casts this strict, Mr. Feeny type character as a hero in his own right. That’s exactly how (most) teachers should be seen.

TITLE: Superman #20
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Jeremiah Skipper (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
RELEASED: February 12, 2020

I think I’ve made it pretty clear by now that my favorite thing about Bendis’ influence on the Superman books has been the emphasis on journalism. In this issue we spend a good amount of time in the newsroom of The Daily Star (The Daily Planet‘s competitor) as they process the whole Superman/Clark Kent reveal. We happen to get a very intriguing return as well.

This United Planets story is finally starting to get interesting. As a representative of Earth, Superman is about to take on something of a political role. Things are about to get complicated. Very complicated…

TITLE: Alienated #1 (of 6)
AUTHOR: Simon Spurrier
ARTISTS: Chris Wildgoose, Andre May (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Letterer). Variant cover by Bengal.
RELEASED: February 12, 2020

Slow. Down.

I like this idea a lot. Three outcast high schoolers whose minds become telepathically connected by an alien thing in the woods. Great! Lot of fun to be had there.

But Alienated #1 is so fast-paced that it’s hard to really sink your teeth into anything. I get the sense these characters have been developed and thought out. But perhaps Spurrier figured he only had six issues to work with, and wanted to cram a lot of stuff in early. Why else would he come out of the gate so fast?

TITLE: Marvels X #1
AUTHORS: Alex Ross, Jim Krueger
ARTISTS:
Well-Bee. Cory Petit (Letterer). Cover by Ross.
RELEASED:
February 12, 2020

I think David, our young protagonist, is the only character I’ve ever seen pray to a superhero. Outside of Homer Simpson, that is. (“Please save me, Superman!”) But that was obviously for comedic effect. David seems serious as a heart attack as he prays to Captain America in this issue. Weird, huh?

This series takes place in an interesting time frame. As David makes his way through New York City, it’s clear the age of heroes is over. But we obviously haven’t made it to the dystopian future of Earth X yet. We’re in that in-between period. That’s…intriguing.

TITLE: Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P.
AUTHORS: James Tynion IV, Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Chris Burnham, Marco Takara, Diogenes Neves, David Lafuente, Sumit Kumar. Cover by Lee Weeks.
COLORISTS: Adriano Lucas, Rex Lokus, Nathan Fairbairn
LETTERERS:
Travis Lanham, Tom Napolitano
RELEASED: February 12, 2020

Not much to see here. Yes, it’s cool to see the whole Batman “family” come together out of costume. But by and large, this one’s pretty missable. Unless you want to see Barbara Gordon act like a complete asshole. Then you’ll love it.

The issue even contorts the timeline in a weird way. At one point it’s said that the tenth anniversary of the Wayne murders came not long after Damian died in the pages of Batman Incorporated. Wait…what? Yes, I know Damian was created using comic book science. But that timeline still doesn’t add up.

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Weekly Comic 100s: TMNT, Star Wars, Batman Annual

*”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

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #99
AUTHORS:
Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
ARTISTS:
Dave Wachter, Ronda Pattison (Colorist),
RELEASED:
 October 30, 2019

This damn thing cost $7.99. I’ve been following this main TMNT series since the beginning. But damn. That hurts.

But devil’s advocate: They jam a lot in here. Dozens of heroes and villains battle, with the fate of New York City at stake. Not to mention the lives of various mutants, and even children.

It all culminates in…well, I can’t say I knew for sure they were going in this direction. But after issue #50, I had a pretty good feeling a certain character would be on his way back by now.

TITLE: Star Wars: Allegiance #4
AUTHOR: Ethan Sacks
ARTISTS: Luke Ross, Lee Loughrige (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Marco Checchetto.
RELEASED: October 30, 2019

Again, no Kylo Ren in this issue. Not even a closing shot of him in the last few pages. Lame. Sauce.

On the way to The Rise of Skywalker, Allegiance basically tells us two things: What the Resistance has been doing since the Battle of Crait, and how they obtained some of the resources they’ll undoubtedly have in the movie. It’s not the most fun Star Wars book you’ll ever read, and I doubt it’ll hold up to repeat readings. But as a little appetizer for the release of Episode IX, it works fine.

TITLE: Batman Annual #4
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Jorge Fornes, Mike Norton, Dave Stewart (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 30, 2019

This issue quick-fires a bunch of mini-stories at us, narrated via Alfred’s journal. “Everyday” moves day by day from April 7 to April 24.

I’d like to think these are a bunch of cooky ideas Tom King had while brainstorming for his Batman run, but couldn’t squeeze in. Based on what we’ve seen, some of these ideas really feel like his. Batman fights a dragon, takes on an MMA fighter for charity, solves a whodunnit, etc.

Mike Norton tags in for Jorge Fornes for several pages. So we got from a David Mazzuchelli, Year One-ish look to something more akin to Michael Lark.

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A Green Arrow/Black Canary: Five Stages Review – The End of an Era

Green Arrow/Black Canary, Vol. 6: Five StagesTITLE: Green Arrow/Black Canary, Vol. 6: Five Stages
AUTHORS: Andrew Kreisberg, J.T. Krul
ARTISTS: Mike Norton, Bill Sienkiewicz, Renato Guedes, Diogenes Nieves. Cover by Jose O. Ladronn.
COLLECTS: Green Arrow/Black Canary #27-30
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I miss the Green Arrow/Black Canary monthly title. Or at least Andrew Kreisberg’s version of it. It was usually somewhere in the bottom half of my stack. But in retrospect, it should have been higher.

Sadly, this is the sixth and last volume of the series, collecting the final four of the 30-issue series (technically there were 32, but the last two only had Green Arrow’s name on them) starring the newlywed emerald archer and sexy siren. It picks up where Big Game left off, wrapping up the story line with Cupid, Green Arrow’s sadistic stalker. With the help of the shape-shifting villain Everyman, who now bears Arrow’s likeness, she’s wreaking havoc in Star City. Along the way, we learn her origin story, and what exactly caused her mind to snap.

Green Arrow/Black Canary, Vol. 6: Five Stages, interiorIssue #30 takes us into the events of Blackest Night, as Ollie has become a Black Lantern. Now Black Canary, Speedy and Conner Hawke must find a way to stop the zombified archer before he rips their hearts out…literally!

The book moves back and forth between the present day, and Cupid’s origin story, the latter beautifully pencilled by Renato Guedes. It’s a refreshing shift from shifting between Ollie and Dinah’s perspective for no apparent reason, as we saw in Big Game. It looks like Kreisberg was trying to add to Green Arrow’s rather dismal rogues gallery, even throwing in a tragic and disturbing twist for the Lieutenant Hilton character. Sadly, what with everything that’s happened in the aftermath of Justice League: Cry For Justice, it may be a long time before we see some of these characters again, if at all. That especially sucks in the case of Lieutenant Hilton, or “Hilt” as he comes to be called. I’d have enjoyed seeing where they were going with that character. His scenes toward the end of the book were really ominous.

The Blackest Night story is told from Ollie’s point of view, as his consciousness struggles to gain control of his body, which has been taken over by Nekron. He agonizes as he’s forced to reveal secrets to Dinah, and his son Conner, that he hoped would remain buried forever. It’s the best Blackest Night story they could have told for Green Arrow, and unlike most of the other Blackest Night one-shots I read, it has long-term ramifications.

Green Arrow/Black Canary #30, Blackest NightFive Stages does manage to include a bit of foreshadowing. The final Kreisberg-written scene takes place just before Ollie and Dinah are beamed up to the Watchtower for the first scene in Cry For Justice. One might even argue that the evil Everyman wearing Ollie’s likeness is a bit of a prelude. Sadly though, Five Stages serves as the end of an era for Ollie and Dinah. And although J.T. Krul’s work on the new Green Arrow is compelling, I can’t help but feel like this era ended much too soon. This book is good, but the series itself could have been so much better.

RATING: 7/10

Image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from comicattack.net.

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A Green Arrow/Black Canary, Vol. 5: Big Game Review

Green Arrow/Black Canary, Vol. 5: Big GameTITLE: Green Arrow/Black Canary, Vol. 5: Big Game
AUTHOR: Andrew Kreisberg
ARTISTS: Mike Norton, Bill Sienkiewicz, Renato Guedes. Cover by Jose O. Ladronn.
COLLECTS: Green Arrow/Black Canary #21-26
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE DATE: June 9, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s no accident that the Green Arrow/Black Canary monthly title jumped in quality once Andrew Kreisberg took over.

Many fanboys would likely recognize Kreisberg’s TV work before his comic work. He’s written episodes of Justice League, The Simpsons, Fringe, and recently Star Wars: The Clone Wars. So for DC to put him in Star City was a big cue.

This book is the second volume of his work on this title. Picking up where Green Arrow/Black Canary: Enemies List left off, we find the city in a state of chaos, as a new villain has caused everyone in the city (including our heroes) to temporarily go deaf. This story is inter-cut with scenes from Dinah Lance’s youth, as she finds out about her mother’s life as the original Black Canary, and the dangers of her supersonic “Canary Cry.”

Green Arrow/Black Canary #24, Cupid, Black CanaryLater, an old enemy of Green Arrow’s called Big Game, returns to wreak havoc in the city. This forces Black Canary to form an extremely reluctant partnership with Cupid, a villainness romantically obsessed with Green Arrow. Meanwhile, Oliver Queen’s tactics are slowly but surely growing darker and more vengeful, conveniently leading him down a path that will take him directly into the events of Justice League: Cry For Justice.

What was supposed to have made Green Arrow/Black Canary different from any other title DC puts out was the fact that Ollie and Dinah are married superheroes. That’s a twist you rarely see in the DC Universe. When Judd Winick wrote the book, that idea tended to fall flat. But Kreisberg seems to do his best to thrust it to the forefront, while reminding us that Ollie and Dinah can be two very different people.

He accomplished this by introducing the Cupid character, a delusional, deranged stalker character, who he portrays brilliantly. There’s a scene in the book where she ponders raping a man she’s dressed as Green Arrow, but then simply shoots him in the head. It’s fantastic character work, and a bit of a refreshing take on the classic stalker angle.

Green Arrow/Black Canary, flashbackThe looks back at Dinah’s youth are also a nice little character insight. Plus, in the previous volume Kreisberg took a page out of Batman’s book, and created Lucas Hilton, a detective character for Arrow and Canary to bounce dialogue off of. They have a nice little dynamic going.

The slightly awkward thing about Big Game is that the story framework is a bit awkward. As these issues were being published, DC was beginning to experiment with adding co-features to some of their titles, Green Arrow/Black Canary being one of them. This allowed them to bump issue prices up a dollar, in exchange for several more pages of content. Thus, Blue Beetle was added to Booster Gold, Captain Atom to Action Comics, etc.

In Ollie and Dinah’s case, about 60 percent of an issue’s story would be told from one character’s point of view, and the rest from another’s. For example, Green Arrow might take the lead for the majority of an issue, and Dinah would end it. For my money, this sometimes creates a needless shift in perspective that can distract or confuse readers. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but it can be off-putting.

Green Arrow/Black Canary, SpeedyIn terms of art, Bill Sienkiewicz’s pencils get the job done, but after inking and coloring, some of his panels come back looking a little sloppy for my taste. Mike Norton’s look a lot more crisp and clean. Renato Guedes stops by mid-book to tell a story involving Speedy (who debuts a brand new costume in this book) for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, his art looks good.

In the long run, I think Green Arrow fans will look at Big Game as one of the stepping stones on the path that Ollie took heading into Justice League: Cry For Justice. It’s a bit awkward at times. But it’s a fun book to read, and Kreisburg’s characterizations of Ollie and Dinah are pretty spot-on. I hope to see him back in the DCU someday soon.

RATING: 7/10

Images 1 and 2 from comicobsessed.blogspot.com. Image 3 from dreamwidth.org.

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