Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Micro-Reviews

A Justice League #62 Micro-Review – Flash and…No Subtance?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Justice League 62, cover, 2021, David MarquezTITLE: Justice League #62
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis, Ram V
ARTISTS: David Marquez, Xermanico, Ivan Plascencia (Colorist), Romulo Fajardo Jr., Josh Reed (Letterer), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by Marquez & Alejandro Sanchez.
RELEASED: June 1, 2021

I’m liking how Naomi-centric Bendis’ Justice League run is, thus far. That said, much of this issue consists of a big fight between the League and Brutus, Bendis’ banter-spouting villain. So there’s not much of substance in this particular issue.

On the upside, we get a nice little character moment for Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mother, as she confides in the Flash.

The Justice League Dark back-up still does nothing for me. *sigh* Is it me? Did I do something wrong?

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Justice League #59

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Justice League #59
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis, Ram V
ARTISTS: David Marquez, Tamra Bonvillain (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer) Xermanico, Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 16, 2021

If you thought Brian Michael Bendis was going to fill Justice League with quippy “Bendis banter,” I’ve got news for you…you were right.

The best selling point I’ve heard thus far for this early portion of Bendis’ Justice League run is made in-issue by Green Arrow: New voices in the League. In this case, Black Adam (not Shazadam…yet!) and the title character from Bendis’ Naomi miniseries. There’s enough intrigue there to bring me back for more.

I really wish I cared about Justice League Dark. But I don’t. I just don’t. Sorry.

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Future State: Justice League #2

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Future State: Justice League #2
AUTHORS: Joshua Williamson, Ram V
ARTISTS: Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques (Inker), Marcio Takara
COLORISTS: Romulo Fajardo Jr., Marcelo Maiolo
LETTERERS:
Tom Napolitano, Rob Leigh
RELEASED: February 9, 2021

I was happy to see that we’ll be hearing more from this Justice League. The story about the League not having any personal connections with one another makes for a nice first chapter. While brief, it feels satisfying and complete.

I must confess: The Justice League Dark back-up didn’t do anything for me. But that’s been the case with pretty much every JLD story. Something about the concept just doesn’t click with me. What am I missing?

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Future State Continued…

***”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: Future State: The Next Batman #2
AUTHOR: John Ridley, Vita Ayala, Paula Sevenbergen
ARTISTS: Laura Braga, Nick Derington (Breakdowns), Aneke, Emanuela Lupacchino, Rob Haynes (Breakdowns), Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker). Cover by Ladronn.
COLORISTS: Arif Prianto, Trisha Mulvihill, John Kalisz
LETTERERS:
Clayton Cowles, Becca Carey
RELEASED: January 19, 2021

Our Batgirls and Gotham City Sirens back-up stories are underwhelming. It’s also a little disappointing to see Nick Derington strictly on breakdowns this time around (though Laura Braga is more than capable). But I’d still call The Next Batman among the best, if not the best, of Future State.

John Ridley is giving us a slightly more realistic, tech-conscious look at the Batman mythos. There’s a heavy emphasis on facial recognition technology, which we don’t necessarily see in the regular books. This is a smarter, more socially conscious Batman.

TITLE: Future State: Justice League #1
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson, Ram V
ARTISTS: Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques (Inker), Marcio Takara. Cover by Dan Mora.
COLORISTS:
Romulo Fajaro Jr, Marcelo Maiolo
LETTERERS:
Tom Napolitano, Rob Leigh
RELEASED: January 12, 2021

The main story here is among the best released under the Future State banner, and one of the more fun Justice League stories I’ve read in awhile. We don’t focus on the heroes as individuals, but rather the League as an organization and what it’s become. There’s an intriguing idea here about keeping the group small and impersonal.

The Justice League Dark back-up story didn’t do much for me. But there is an interesting, somewhat funny character bit between Detective Chimp and Etrigan. It doesn’t make or break the story. But it’s fun.

TITLE: Future State: Dark Detective #1
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki, Matthew Rosenberg
ARTISTS: Dan Mora, Carmine Di Giandomenico
COLORISTS: Jordie Bellaire, Antonio Fabela
LETTERERS:
Aditya Bidikar, Andworld Design
RELEASED: January 19, 2021

Really happy to see former Power Rangers artist Dan Mora get a big shot on a Batman book. Hopefully this is just the next step in what will be big things for him.

The Batman portion of this issue has a lot of intrigue to it, with a sort of gritty, Commando-type approach to the Dark Knight. There’s not a lot of substance to it, but they’ve got the luxury of four issues to expand on things.

Oddly enough, the Grifter back-up story is the superior of the two. It’s not every day Grifter outdoes Batman…

TITLE: Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1
AUTHORS: Sean Lewis, Brandon Easton
ARTISTS: John Timms, Valentine de Landro, Cully Hamner, Michael Avon Oeming
COLORISTS:Gabe Eltaeb, Marissa Louise, Laura Martin
LETTERERS: Dave Sharpe, Andworld Design
RELEASED: January 5, 2021

I miss the cape. It’s just not Superman without it.

In this issue, Jonathan Kent has supposedly been in the Superman role for about a decade. And yet, there’s some doubt as to whether he truly deserves it or is ready for it. There’s a weird disconnect there. Seems like if he’s had the job for 10 years, he must be pretty good at it…

Still, I like the notion of the Superman legacy casting a long shadow, while also trying to be his own man. It feels natural.

TITLE: Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1
AUTHOR: Dan Watters
ARTISTS: Leila Del Duca, Nick Filardi (Colorist), Tom Napolitano (Letterer). Cover by Lee Weeks and Brad Anderson.
RELEASED: January 12, 2021

So in this one he does have the cape? What the hell?

This one was disappointing, as there wasn’t much of substance between our two title heroes. I gather there’s supposed to be some kind of intriguing dynamic between Jonathan Kent and our Future State Wonder Woman, but I don’t see it.

One thing I will say: This issue’s introductory Superman scene is pretty awesome, showing us that a “mundane” morning for the Man of Steel is anything but mundane. Plenty of charm to go around.

TITLE: Future State: Green Lantern #1
AUTHOR: Geoffry Thorne, Ryan Cady, Ernie Altbacker
ARTISTS: Tom Raney, Sami Basri, Clayton Henry. Cover by Henry & Marcelo Maiolo.
COLORISTS: Mike Atiyeh, Hi-Fi, Maiolo
LETTERERS: Andworld Design, Dave Sharpe, Steve Wands.
RELEASED: January 12, 2021

Our main story here is about John Stewart and a group of now powerless Green Lanterns. We’ve also got a back-up about Guy Gardner. But the back-up about Jessica Cruz is what steals the issue.

Jessica Cruz has a special place in my heart because of her battle with an anxiety disorder. This story sees her trapped on a space station with three Yellow Lanterns, who are literally powered by fear. But as she stays hidden, she’s got the element of surprise, and thus has the ability to turn the tables on them.

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

Posted in Uncategorized

A Catwoman 100-Page Super Spectacular Deep Dive – Aliens and Feminism

TITLE: Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular
AUTHORS: Paul Dini, Ann Nocenti, Tom King, Mindy Newell, Jeff Parker, Liam Sharpe, Mindy Newell, Chuck Dixon, Will Pfiefer, Ram V, Ed Brubaker.
ARTISTS: Emanuela Lupaccino, Robson Rocha, Mikel Janin, Jonathan Case, Sharpe, Lee Garbett, Kelley Jones, Pia Guerra, Fernando Blanco, Cameron Stewart. 1940s variant cover by Adam Hughes.
INKERS: Mick Gray, Daniel Henriques, Danny Miki
COLORISTS:
Laura Allred, Alejandro Sanchez, Jordie Bellaire, Alex Sinclair, Steve Oliff, FCD Plascencia
LETTERERS:
Wes Abbott, Saida Temofonte, Clayton Cowles, Tom Napolitano, Tom Orzechowski, Gabriela Downe
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $9.99
RELEASED: June 3, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

She’s undoubtedly the hottest 80-year-old woman you’ll ever see.

That’s right, folks. Like several other pillar characters in the DC Universe, Catwoman turns 80 this year. So like those characters, she got her own 100-page celebration. I can’t say she doesn’t deserve it. In terms of feminist icons, there are some who would place her in Wonder Woman’s orbit. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but one simply can’t dispute how iconic she is. Thus, DC assembled a brilliant assortment of talent for her big birthday celebration.

We kick things off with Paul Dini, who is always welcome in the Batman universe. Though I can’t say this is one of his most memorable outings. He uses his eight pages to introduce is to a villain called the Taxidermist. That, as Selina herself says in the story, is very “Gotham.” The Taxidermist seems like the kind of idea that was good on paper, but in actual execution…meh. I wouldn’t expect to see him on a best villains list anytime soon.

On the plus side, what little the Taxidermist offers looks absolutely gorgeous. Emanuela Lupaccino, Mick Gray, and Laura Allred give us something truly worthy of Catwoman’s 80th. It’s funny, I wondered why I was so reminded of Mike Allred, despite him not being credited. Once Laura Allred’s name popped up, it was all quite clear.

We dive into Batman Returns territory for “Now You See Me,” as Robson Rocha quite obviously draws Selina in her stitched black leather costume. We even get a brief appearance from the Penguin. Thankfully it all looks pretty. Though the story itself, about Catwoman duking it out with a dirty security guard, is pretty forgettable.

Much less forgettable is Tom King’s follow-up to his “Some of These Days” story from Batman Annual #2. It presents a scenario where a (presumably) married Selina and Bruce Wayne get pregnant and have a baby. Ironically, Selina once had a canonical daughter, though not with Bruce. Poor kid got retconned out of existence by the New 52.

It’s a pretty story that puts King back with Mikel Janin. That chemistry between Bruce and Selina was always his greatest strength during his Batman run. That two-issue “Rooftops” story from issues #13 and #14 will go down as one of the best Batman/Catwoman stories ever published.

My only complaint? We get at least one night of a pregnant Catwoman fighting crime with Batman, costume and all. Ladies? If you happen to be expecting, please don’t try this at home. (As if you needed me to tell you that…)

Our old Batman ’66 friends Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case return for a story about Catwoman and…aliens? I’m sure it’s happened before. But it’s still such an odd match-up. Which, of course, is the point.

Parker and Case take full advantage of the absurd premise, giving us absurd aliens with absurd names and looks that could easily have come from the original Star Trek series. Not to mention the absurdity that the world gets saved by a villainess. Because wouldn’t ya know it, aliens just happened to land when Batman was out of town. Don’t cha hate when that happens?

Things get surprisingly bloody for “A Cat of Nine Tales,” written and drawn by Liam Sharpe. Once again, we have Catwoman and a security guard. When confronted, Selina proceeds to tell the poor guy about nine ways this scenario can end. Most of which involve somebody dying.

I’m not sure the Selina Kyle of 2020 would be this chatty. But I can’t find it in my heart to sling too much mud at this. Aside from Wes Abbott on the lettering, what we see here is all Sharpe. And he manages to tell a coherent story in only three pages. So while by no means perfect, this story is still an achievement.

“Little Bird” is written by Mindy Newell and drawn by…LEE GARBETT!!!! When was the last time he was in Gotham? I’ve still got such fond memories of his work on the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series from…what was it, a decade ago?!? And the man hasn’t lost a step since, as he turns in some fine work here. He and colorist Alex Sinclair do a fine job channeling Batman: Year One. We get a scene where Selina is in similar…er, we’ll call “escort gear” as we see in that story. They also do a hell of a job on the gray David Mazzucchelli Catwoman costume, tail and all.

I was, however, initially confused. The story involves Selina stealing an old mezuzah that belonged to a woman who cared for her as a child. It took me a moment or two to figure out what a mezuzah is, and the identity of this elderly woman in a nursing home. I initially thought we might have jumped into another alternate future for Selina…

Still, they stick the landing. The story speaks to the idea that underneath all the theft and crime, Catwoman has a heart of gold. A great destination, even if the road to get there was a little rocky.

Chuck Dixon, one of the unsung heroes of modern Batman lore, returns alongside Kelley Jones for a Clayface story. Though I hate to say it, this isn’t one of his better outings. Not much to this one. I assume they went with Clayface to suit Jones’ horror strengths. Catwoman finds him, a confrontation ensues, rinse and repeat. I get the sense the only real purpose for this story was to have Selina be in the purple costume from the ’90s.

I know Kelley Jones has his crowd. I’ve just never really been one of them. I will say, though, that his Catwoman is very expressive here. I was pleasantly surprised to see that from him.

Things get downright meta for author Will Pfiefer’s return to the book, as he takes Selina to a comic book convention. He creates a world where the characters themselves are the autograph-signing, question-answering celebrities.

As someone who’s been to a number of these conventions, I found this story charming. Once I got the hang of it, that is. I initially found it difficult to get my bearings. But its a nice little anniversary story, and Pia Guerra’s art is very accessible.

I confess budget constraints caused me to fall off the monthly Catwoman series, so I’m not sure if her sister Maggie has been a regular or not. I have to assume she is, as “Addicted to Trouble” is about the sisters road tripping back to Gotham from Villa Hermosa. Naturally, it’s got a cool car in it. Hijinks ensue.

Thanks to the actions of Black Mask in an early 2000s story by Ed Brubaker and Cameron Stewart (who oddly enough are on the next story), Maggie is unable to speak. But she still makes a nice road-trip buddy for Selina, and we even focus a little bit on that inability. I wish they would have at least mentioned Black Mask in passing, as he wound up being one of Catwoman’s most-hated rivals.

Brubaker and Stewart evoke memories of 2000s Catwoman the same way Kelley Jones does 90s Batman. So their closing story, “The Art of Picking a Lock,” is an automatic sentimental favorite for yours truly. This book wasn’t cheap, but seeing Stewart draw Selina, Holly, and Slam Bradley again is almost worth the price of admission by itself. And as you’d expect, Brubaker’s pulpy writing style is right at home in Gotham City. God damn I miss him being on a Bat-book.

I wouldn’t call this collection memorable. But it’s a nice little tribute to Catwoman with some A-listers contributing, and a couple of nice nostalgia trips to boot. If nothing else, it should make Selina’s fans smile. I certainly did.

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Batman, Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing Deep-Dive – Penguin Steals the Show

TITLE: Batman, Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing
AUTHORS: Tom King, Ram V, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Jordie Bellaire, Tom Taylor,
ARTISTS: Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, Elena Casagrande, Jill Thompson, Otto Schmidt
COLORISTS: Bellaire, Matt Wilson, Trish Mulvhill,
LETTERERS: Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands, Deron Bennett, Troy Peteri
COLLECTS: Batman #58-60, Batman Secret Files #1, Batman Annual #3
FORMAT:
Softcover
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED: March 20, 2019

***WARNING: There’s a minor spoiler ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Tyrant Wing is more or less a transitionary book. Bruce and Selina’s wedding has happened. Or rather, not happened. We dealt with a lot of the fall-out from it in Cold Days. In The Tyrant Wing we start setting the stage for Tom King’s big finale. A new opponent for Batman emerges. One that even the world’s greatest detective couldn’t possibly have anticipated.

But along the way King, Mikel Janin, and the Batman team unexpectedly do some justice for a character that doesn’t always get the love he deserves: The Penguin.

1. Penny In Your Thoughts
If you’re a guy who happens to be down on his luck romantically, I offer you this bit of consolation: If the Penguin can find a bride, so can you.

Then again, she’s dead now. So maybe that’s not the hopeful example we wanna go with.

Yes, apparently ol’ Pengers had a wife we never saw or heard about. Her name? Penny Cobblepot. Though almost 30 years younger than him, it’s quickly obvious Penguin loved her dearly. Suddenly, he’s a man with nothing left to lose. So he starts spilling secrets. Secrets about Bane…

To Tom King’s credit, this might be the most multi-dimensional take on the Penguin I’ve ever seen. We see pieces of virtually every version of the character. We get the squawking supervillain with the trick umbrellas. We get the freakish, portly gentleman with the soul of a poet. We get the unspeakably cruel crime boss. We even get a small trace of the fish-slurping monster we saw in Batman Returns. Like many Batman villains, we’re against him but we also manage to find some sympathy for him.

Like a lot of fans, I’ve given King my share of grief over some of the choices he’s made on this series. I’ll continue to do so, in fact. But he knocked ol’ Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot right out of the park.

This is most evident in issue #60. A blindfolded Penguin is locked up in the Batcave talking to Alfred. This is instantly compelling, as we don’t often see Alfred interacting with the villains, much less one he might have something in common with. They bond over, of all things, poetry. At one point, Penguin even calls his anonymous keeper, “my friend.” Alfred then feeds him raw fish by hand. It’s one of those scenes that, considering both characters have been around for decades, it’s shocking it hasn’t been done.

As the Penguin endures heartbreak, Batman punches his way across Gotham searching for the truth about what Bane is plotting. Naturally, this causes a hell of a lot of friction with Gordon and the GCPD. None of this really grabbed me, as we’ve seen this kind of story many times before. Things get a little more engaging in issue #60 when Jorge Fornes tags in for the Batman sequences.

Unfortunately, I do need to make note of one the clunkier lines in this entire run. When Batman barges into Arkham to confront Bane, he’s met by a SWAT team. As he’s dismantling them, while generally being a raging prick about the whole thing, he says among other things…

“Right now, each of you has a choice to make. Do I pull that trigger and get a Bat-boot shoved through my face? Or do I let the man go about his business?”

Yup. Bat-boot. Our legendary hero, everybody.

2. The Butler Does It All
We shift gears here. Venturing away from the main plot, we move to author Tom Taylor and artist Otto Schmidt and one of the best Alfred Pennyworth stories of the modern era. If not all time.

Given the stunt DC recently pulled with Alfred, they put out an issue dedicated to him. Various members of the Batman family shared memories of him. But frankly, something like Batman Annual #3 is a much better tribute issue. It touches on the various things Alfred does to make the whole Batman operation work. But more importantly, it dives  into why he does it and what he gets from it.

Think of it this way: Gotham needs Batman. Batman needs Alfred. So at the end of the day, what does that make Alfred?

3. Batman in Quarantine (Kind of…)
The trade closes out with a Secret Files issue that’s very much a mixed bag. We open up with a three-page Tom King/Mikel Janin story. Or rather, part of a story. As Batman is feeling the wear and tear on his body, Superman just happens to offer him access to a new kind of Kryptonite. Platinum Kryptonite, of which a single touch will grant him the same powers as Superman. The story ends with Bruce asking Alfred, “Am I enough?”

I call BS on this for two reasons.

Firstly, to just end the story on that note, even if it’s only meant to serve as an introduction, is a crime. Batman is literally offered all the same powers as Superman. And you don’t give his answer? What kinda lazy garbage is that? Over a decade ago, DC put out a story called Super/Bat that more or less had this same premise, and Batman does get Superman’s powers. It was amazing. If you want to give your own take on that story, but all means go for it. But to leave it open-ended like that? Screw you.

Secondly, while it’s not a direct line of dialogue, it’s indicated that Superman tells Batman if he touches this new Kryptonite, “Then you can fight as I fight. As you should fight. With true strength.”

No. Wrong. I understand the implication they’re making about where true strength comes from. But Superman’s “true strength” does not come from his powers. It comes from his character. From his ideals. The way he views the world. I don’t have an issue with him offering Batman super powers. But for him to suggest that’s where “true strength” comes from is out of character. Bad form.

After a story about a cop feeling long-term effects from Scarecrow gas, we get one about Waynetech drones winding up in the wrong hands and what Bruce does about it. I actually got more of an Iron Man vibe from that one. The book closes with a team-up between Batman and Detective Chimp, which is fun.

But the only other story in the issue that really sticks out is a tale written by colorist extraordinaire Jordie Bellaire. On Man-Bat’s trail, Batman secludes himself in a cabin amidst Gotham’s snow-covered mountains. As it turns out, this notorious loner doesn’t do so well when he’s forced to be on his own.

The operative line of the story is, “Truth is, I’m not such a fan of myself.”

The central idea here is really compelling. What does Bruce Wayne’s self image look like? What does a man who goes out every night dressed like a bat to beat up criminals think of himself? You could do a whole story on that.

While this was written some time ago, it’s timely to discuss it now. As I type this we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. People around the world are quarantined in their homes. Naturally, that’s not always an easy thing to do. Even if you’re Batman.

4. A Bridge Worth Crossing
Is The Tyrant Wing an essential read? No. But is it a good read? Yes. I enjoyed this book more than many of the earlier books in this series. Mostly because of the Penguin. I’ll go ahead and say it: Too many people sleep on him as a character. He’s more than just a portly dude with an umbrella. He’s a scoundrel. He’s a gentleman. He’s an iconic villain.

For more of Tom King’s run on Batman, check out I Am Gotham, I Am Suicide, I Am Bane, Batman/The Flash: The Button, The War of Jokes and Riddles, The Rules of Engagement, Bride or Burglar?, The Wedding, and Cold Days.

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