A Deathstroke Inc. #14 Micro-Review – A Bad Man

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

Deathstroke Inc 14, cover, 2022, Mikel JaninTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #14
AUTHOR: Ed Brisson
ARTISTS:
Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Mikel Janin.

RELEASED: October 25, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

At the risk of using an extremely tired term, this issue is pretty badass. Once again, Brisson does a fine job of balancing between Slade the villain and Slade the anti-hero. Make no mistake, this is a bad man right here.

We get a decent amount of carnage in this issue. Soy and Gandini had a good amount of blood to draw…

I’m curious to see where things go in a couple months, after this “Year One” story has wrapped up. It’s been so good that it may be hard to come back to the present day.

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #13 Micro-Review – A Villain and a Hero

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

Deathstroke Inc 13, cover, 2022, Mikel JaninTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #13
AUTHOR: Ed Brisson
ARTISTS:
Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini, Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Mikel Janin.

RELEASED: September 27, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Ed Brisson has done a great job keeping Slade a villain, despite him being the hero of this story.

Certain portions of the “Deathstroke: Year One” arc are tough for me to read as a dad. Case in point, the scene in this issue where Slade learns he’s going to be a father a second time. In that sense, Deathstroke’s origin story is a tragic one.

On the flip side, this issue really endeared the character of Wintergreen to me. Strictly speaking, he’s a criminal. But he’s also a damn good friend to Slade. Better than Slade deserves, actually.

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #12 Micro-Review – Missing Green Arrow

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

Deathstroke Inc 12, cover, 2022, Mikel JaninTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #12
AUTHOR: Ed Brisson
ARTISTS:
Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Mikel Janin.
RELEASED:
August 23, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This issue made me realize just how much I miss Green Arrow in an ongoing series…

It’s not necessarily easy to make the Emerald Archer look tough, especially when he’s sporting the Robin Hood hat. But Brisson, Soy, and this team manage to pull it off, giving us a pretty cool fight between Ollie and Slade. If this issue is any indicator, I wouldn’t mind giving them said Green Arrow ongoing series.

I buy this issue as the start of Ollie and Slade’s rivalry. In that sense, it very much accomplishes its goal.

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

A Deathstroke Inc #11 Micro-Review – Less Fantasy, More Tears

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

Deathstroke Inc 11, cover, 2022, Mikel JaninTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #11
AUTHOR: Ed Brisson
ARTISTS:
Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Mikel Janin.
RELEASED:
July 26, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This series is a hell of a lot more grounded than when I last left it. Much more personal too. Gone are the more fantastical elements that defined this series at the start. In their place are often heavier scenes, a la Slade looking into the eyes of his crying child.

This “Year One” story is a bit more palatable for yours truly. Less to take in all at once when you open the issue. Plus, these Mikel Janin covers are epic.

There’s a pretty cool showdown teased for next issue. For now, Deathstroke Inc. has me hooked back in.

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #6 Micro-Review – Like Batman, But Deadlier…

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

TITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #6
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Paolo Pantalena, Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Howard Porter & Hi-Fi.

RELEASED: February 22, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

There’s a pretty cool silent page in this issue where Black Canary lets herself fall backward off a cliff. Really nice work by Paolo Pantalena.

There’s no throne of skulls in this issue. If you’re going to put a throne of skulls on the cover, you need to follow through on the interior. Isn’t that a rule? If it’s not, it should be.

Deathstroke Inc. is chugging along, as we’re starting to see how and why the series has its name. It looks like we’re about to get Batman Inc., only a whole lot deadlier…

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #5 Micro-Review – The Big Bad(s) Revealed!

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

Deathstroke Inc 5, cover, 2022, Howard PorterTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #5
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Paolo Pantalena, Hi-Fi (Colors), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Howard Porter & Hi-Fi.

RELEASED: January 25, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This issue sees Slade and Dinah take brief forays into idealized versions of their respective lives via a dreamworld. I’d have liked to see more time spent on that. But in this case I get it. This issue had more pressing matters to attend to…

We get a look at our big bad(s) toward the end of this issue. The revelation opens up some potentially interesting storytelling doors. Slade also spends the final three pages doing something that’s very…Slade. So all in all, this was a good issue.

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #4 Micro-Review – Excitement and Possibility

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

Deathstroke Inc 4, cover, 2021, Howard PorterTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #4
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS:
Howard Porter, Hi-Fi (Colors), Steve Wands (Letterer)

RELEASED: December 28, 2021

Deathstroke Inc. is essentially our title character and Black Canary facing off against a mixed bag of enemies from across the DC Universe. In this issue, for instance, we get the Legion of Doom.

I’ve talked in the past about how that approach creates a feeling that Williamson is simply throwing a bunch of off-the-wall ideas into one story. But the upside of that approach is that it feels like anything can happen in Deathstroke Inc. That makes for a lot of excitement. Not to mention possibility.

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #3 Micro-Review – Deathstroke on a Unicorn?!?

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

Deathstroke Inc 3, cover, 2021, Howard PorterTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #3
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Howard Porter, Hi-Fi (Colors), Steve Wands

RELEASED: November 23, 2021

Last time we were in space. This month we’re in medieval times, with Deathstroke on the cover wearing knight type armor and riding a unicorn. My theory about Williamson using this book as an excuse to do batty, off the wall stuff definitely has validity…

Pro: Deathstroke fights Cheetah in this issue. That’s a fight we don’t get to see often, if ever.

Con: Deathstroke defeats 100 henchmen off-panel. Kinda lame.

Also lame: Black Canary now has a canary type symbol on her chest. Not unlike the Batman insignia.

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

A Deathstroke Inc. #2 Micro-Review – Off the Wall

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Deathstroke Inc. 2, cover, 2021, Howard PorterTITLE: Deathstroke Inc. #2
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Howard Porter, Hi-Fi (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 26, 2021

I’m getting the impression this series is going to be Williamson’s excuse to do a bunch of wild, off-the-wall stuff. Which isn’t bad, necessarily. Case in point, this issue sees Slade and Dinah go into space with jazzed up suits and weaponry. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were trying to market toys.

I didn’t necessarily appreciate Howard Porter’s work when I was younger. Nowadays, I’m catching on to why he’s one of the greats.

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

Who is Nightwing? – The Villains Chapter

***As Nightwing’s public profile grows higher via the Titans TV series and the upcoming Gotham Knights game, “Who is Nightwing?” looks at Dick Grayson’s early solo adventures after stepping out of Batman’s shadow.***

TITLES: Nightwing #918, Nightwing Annual #1
AUTHOR: Chuck Dixon
ARTISTS: Scott McDaniel, Greg Land, Karl Story (Inker), Bob McLeod (Inker), Roberta Tewes (Colorist), John Costanza (Letterer)
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
ORIGINAL SELLING PRICE:
$1.95 per issue (Annual: $3.95)
ORIGINALLY RELEASED:
1997-1998
CURRENTLY COLLECTED IN:
Nightwing, Vol. 2: Rough Justice

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This first volume of Nightwing has historically been collected in chunks of roughly 8-10 issues. Issues #1-8 are usually the first chapter, and this collection of issues #9-18 and the first annual can be seen as a second chapter. To that mindset, I’d call this the “Villains Chapter.” Dixon, McDaniel, and the team have set up Dick Grayson’s new status quo. Now it’s time to create some new villains for him to fight, as well as bring in some familiar faces from Gotham.

In issue #7, we learned the identity of Bludhaven’s new crime lord: Roland Desmond, a.k.a. Blockbuster. For my money, Blockbuster’s effectiveness as a lead villain largely depends on how much perspective you have as a comic book reader. If you’re simply reading these issues at face value, as I was when they first came out, then he’s fine. A big bad crime boss who, unlike a Carmine Falcone or a Rupert Thorne, can actually be a physical threat to our hero. But with the benefit of hindsight more than two decades later? He feels like an attempt to imitate Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin over at Marvel. But I’ll say this much: He’s a good imitation. And Scott McDaniel is great at juxtaposing this giant monster in a suit with the ultra fast and flexible Nightwing.

As the book continues to develop a mini-rogues-gallery for Nightwing, the book brings in a few icons to help hold down the fort. We see Man-Bat, Deathstroke, and the Scarecrow. The latter is particularly effective, as it doubles as an opportunity for readers to dive into Dick’s psyche and get to know him that much better. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but our former Boy Wonder is living with a hell of an inferiority complex. To that end, I love how Chuck Dixon incorporates Bruce Wayne choosing Jean Paul Valley to take his place as Batman during the Knightfall storyline. It’s a nice way to illustrate that despite wanting to be his own man, Dick still cares deeply about what Batman thinks of him.

We spend about an issue’s worth of pages experiencing these Scarecrow-induced hallucinations with Dick. Some of it’s played for surreal humor, which wouldn’t have necessarily been my first choice. But it gets the point across. Less effective is Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, and Roberta Tewes’ visual take on the scenes. I said it last time, and I’ll reiterate here: This team is so much better suited for action scenes than the quiet, existential stuff. Our opening issue, which sees Nightwing evading gunfire in a shopping mall? A delightful read that has a great visual flow to it. Dick Grayson confronting his worst nightmares? Meh.

Another strike against McDaniel, along with other artists of this era, is what I’ll call “shoulder horns Batman” (shown below). For whatever reason, in the ’90s and early ’00s it was acceptable to put pointy horn-looking gimmicks on Batman’s shoulders. I think the idea was to make him look more menacing, and even a little demonic. But I’ve always hated it. Thankfully it gradually went away, and never made its way into any of the on-screen versions of the character.

On the subject of ’90s costumes, I didn’t even recognize Deathstroke at first. I’d completely forgotten about his black and blue suit…

Though it might be blasphemous to some, I prefer what Greg Land turns in on Nightwing Annual #1. The final product is cleaner, and makes for an enjoyable read.

These issues are also where we start to pick up the pace on the slow-burn romance between Dick and Barbara Gordon/Oracle. Chuck Dixon was one of, if not the master of writing the chemistry between these two. It’s not particularly subtle. Dick and Barbara are fairly flirtatious whenever he comes to her for help on a case. At one point, Dick practically talks openly about a potential romance with her. It’s more a case of Will they?/Won’t they? To his credit, Dixon is able to strike a really nice balance in these issues. He makes us want to see Dick and Barbara get together. But at the same time, he’s able to write in some chemistry between Dick and his building superintendent without making either character look like a heel. On paper it’s a very precarious love triangle. But Dixon pulls it off beautifully.

What’s more, it wouldn’t be long before Dick had yet another love interest. Sparks were about to fly as Nightwing crossed paths with none other than Helena Bertinelli…the Huntress!

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