Weekly Comic 100s: Year Zero, Disaster Inc, DCeased, 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

It seems like this is more or less the last “COVID-19 comic book week” we’ll be having, as next week things start shipping from Diamond again. (DC is a notable exception. But that’s another story.) Planned comics on the docket next week include Justice League, Suicide Squad, Alienated, and Frankenstein Undone. And of course, more X-Men back issues.

But in the meantime…

TITLE: Year Zero #1
AUTHOR: Benjamin Percy
ARTISTS: Ramon Rosanas, Lee Loughridge (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer). Cover by Kaare Andrews.
RELEASED:
May 20, 2020

I’ve always wanted to see a story like The Walking Dead, or a similar zombie apocalypse story take this route. It’s even more relevant now that the COVID-19 pandemic has happened. How does a zombie apocalypse effect different parts of the world in different ways? This story is seemingly going to show us via characters in the U.S., Mexico, Japan, Afghanistan, and a polar research base.

I think we’ll get a sense if this book fulfills its potential in about six issues. Which is unusual, for me it usually takes only one or two.

TITLE: Disaster Inc. #1
AUTHOR: Joe Harris
ARTISTS: Sebastian Piriz, Carlos M. Mangual (Letterer).
RELEASED:
May 20, 2020

I’ll credit Disaster Inc. for being educational. I’d forgotten all about the Fukushima power plant disaster of 2011. Just goes to show you how screwed up things are nowadays. I certainly didn’t know about the “nuclear samurai.” (Google it. It’s worth the read.)

Disaster Inc. is a delicious horror/mystery/ghost story that, thus far, is packed with intrigue and just the right amount of truth. It’s also got a highly unsettling butterfly theme going for it.  I’ll definitely be back for more.

TITLE: DCeased: Hope at World’s End #1
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS: Dustin Nguyen, Rex Locus (Colorist), Saida Temofonte (Colorist). Cover by Ben Oliver.
RELEASED:
May 20, 2020

I’ve mostly stayed away from DCeased. Nothing personal. It’s just not my thing. This issue didn’t change that. But I appreciate a few little things about it. Perry White finally saying how proud he is of Jimmy Olsen. What appears to be a brief appearance by Stephanie Brown in her Robin costume. There’s also Dinah Lance as a Green Lantern. Didn’t realize that was a thing.

It’s always great to see Dustin Nguyen’s work. He’s great with content for young readers. But if this issue shows us anything, it’s that his style is versatile enough to handle more mature content.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #4
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer).

We continue with the Deathstroke story here. I’d previously thought he’d have some kind of previous connection with Dick Grayson, given he’s widely known for being the New Teen Titans’ arch nemesis. But as it turns out Tim Drake, the Robin from The New Batman Adventures, is an ill-advised admirer of Deathstroke’s. That’s a cool little twist.

Another cool twist? This issue also makes Firefly is an exotic bug collector, as well as a pyromaniac.

TITLE: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales #1
AUTHOR: Michael Moreci
ARTISTS: Derek Charm, Arianna Florean & Mario Del Pennino, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Valentina Taddeo (Colorist), Jake M. Wood (Letterer).
RELEASED:
May 20, 2020

Nothing super special here. But nothing bad either. A flashback from Captain Rex about Anakin being a hero.

Florean and Del Pennino handle the flashback, while Charm handles things in the present. I’m partial to Charm’s work as his style is a little closer to the cartoon. As well as, incidentally, Ty Templeton’s style. But Florean and Del Pennino do just fine.

TITLE: X-Men #4
AUTHOR: Jonathan Hickman
ARTISTS: Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan (Co-Inker), Sunny Gho (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 1, 2020

Magneto at the World Economic Forum. That’s really all you need to know about this issue.

Yes, Xavier, Apocalypse, Cyclops, and Gorgon are there too. But Magneto does most of the talking. And yes, there’s violence. But it’s not necessarily what you think it’ll be.

Credit to Yu, Alanguilan, and Gho for spending most of the issue drawing a dinner conversation. That’s not necessarily what people will ask for in their superhero comics. But they make it work. The novelty of Apocalypse is sitting there in a suit certainly helps.

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

A Shadow of the Batgirl Deep Dive – Opportunities and Errors

TITLE: Shadow of the Batgirl
AUTHOR: Sarah Kuhn
ARTISTS:
Nicole Goux, Cris Peter (Colorist), Janice Chiang w/Saida Temofonte (Letterers)
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Graphic Novels For Young Adults
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

There’s always been something special about the Cassandra Cain character. A certain X-factor that I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps it’s her unique origin story. Or the fact that she initially couldn’t communicate the same way everyone else did. Maybe it’s the diversity element. In the late ’90s, she was a young Asian girl among Batman’s other apprentices, who were primarily white males with dark hair. Perhaps it’s all that and more.

In any event, Cass may not be the most popular Batgirl there’s ever been. But she has a special connection with her fans. Thus, I was pleased to see her get the YA graphic novel treatment.

I enjoyed Shadow of the Batgirl. It’s a fresh and modern look at Cassandra Cain, and I’d argue the young-adult lens is perfect fit for her. But the book has some blaring flaws that I can’t seem to get past.

Cass’ origin is essentially unchanged. She’s the daughter of world-famous assassin David Cain, who trained her since birth to become a living weapon. Her regimen was so all-encompassing that she never learned to speak. Her language was combat. But when she runs away from that life to start anew in Gotham City, she must discover for herself who Cassandra Cain really is. But she won’t do it alone. She’ll have help from a few new friends. One of whom, a librarian named Barbara Gordon, knows quite a bit about the legendary Batgirl…

The Barbara Gordon stuff goes exactly where you think it’s going to go. Actually, Shadow of the Batgirl as a whole goes where you think it’s going to go. Which isn’t a bad thing. It hits all the right notes for a story about a young hero trying to find herself.

What’s more, Nicole Goux’s art is a tremendous fit for Cass. I don’t know if I’d call it “edgy,” as the promo copy on the back of the book does. But there’s an obvious Eastern influence to her work which fits the character like a glove. Personally, I found Goux’s art to be better suited to the dramatic and the dynamic. Her action sequences have a hard-hitting feel to them. Naturally, that’s an awesome quality to have if you’re working on Cass. Generally speaking, if Cass was fighting or moody, Goux was at home. Colorist Cris Peter also deserves a lot of credit for complimenting Goux’s work so well. His palette is a few shades darker than standard, and a little bit deeper. When Cass is in the dark, the result is delightfully moody.

While Cass’ supporting cast could easily have consisted of just Barbara, perhaps making for a more intimate feel between mentor and student, Sarah Kuhn fleshes out our supporting cast. Case in point, noodle shop owner and resident wise old sage Jackie Fujikawa Yoneyama. She’s got a nice Mr. Miyagi feel to her, offering wisdom, guidance, and even discipline to our young heroine. Like a surrogate parent, or the book’s answer to Alfred. Generally speaking, I enjoyed Jackie’s scenes a lot.

I was less fond of Erik, our love interest. There’s nothing wrong with him, per se. He just doesn’t do much to stand out. I’ll give Kuhn credit for making him sensitive and even a bit vulnerable, in contrast to Cass’ remarkable physical prowess. But other than that, he’s really only there to be pined over.

While very much enjoyable, for my money Shadow of the Batgirl has one major problem, one minor problem, and also misses a big opportunity

The minor problem involves Cass’ Batgirl costume. Not the thrown-together one we see her wear for a good portion of the book (shown at left). Rather, it’s the one she ends up with at the end. The one that’s supposed to be her officially-endorsed costume. Granted there’s a makeshift quality to that one as well, as Cass makes it herself. But the book lacks that all important awe-inspiring moment where she takes the legacy and the grandeur of Batgirl on her shoulders. Come to think of it, Cass’ original Batgirl costume wasn’t much to write home about either.

The major issue, at least in my mind, is almost funny. But it annoyed me and left me scratching my head for the first half of the book. When she first comes to Gotham, Cass creates a home for herself at the library. It’s there that Barbara is teaching a young writers class. The subject of which, at least while Cass happens to be watching, is Batgirl. We hear Babs say things like, “There’s nothing boring about Batgirl – she’s a hero!” and call her “Gotham City’s beloved daughter.”

In Shadow, Barbara is in her wheelchair but has yet to become the information broker to superheroes known as Oracle. The book doesn’t tell us what put her in the chair, but it seems like she’s still grieving. Thus, I could understand her using this writing class to work through some of her feelings about not being Batgirl anymore. The problem is the book never refers to it as such. So when we find out Babs’ secret, it feels very strange. Even egotistical. Certainly not behavior befitting either a hero or mentor.

Sadly, the book’s worst offense is that it doesn’t capitalize on what really made Cassandra Cain special in the first place. She wasn’t just unique amongst the Batman family. She was different than any other superhero you’d ever seen because she lacked conventional communication skills. Cass could barely speak, so she’d have to find other ways to express herself.

So many teens and young adults struggle to accept qualities that make them different, stand out, and in certain cases a little bit freakish. They see them as liabilities rather than potential strengths. While a dramatic example, Cassandra Cain certainly falls into that freakish category. I don’t think the book should have centered around her communication issues. But instead of giving her a standard YA love interest, why not use those pages to show her facing those challenges? It’s certainly not something you’d see in any other book. (At right is a small example from Cass’ original Batgirl run in 2000.)

Instead, Shadow opts for a more conventional route. Which is a shame, as Goux and colorist Cris Peteri certainly have the artistic chops to handle the increased emphasis on visuals rather than dialogue.

I definitely recommend Shadow of the Batgirl, especially for those who aren’t familiar with Cassandra Cain. It’s good book. In fact, I believe if it could have been a great book, had the raw materials been used a little bit differently…

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

Alex Ross Spotlight: Green Lantern in Isolation

By Rob Siebert
Doesn’t Have a Green Lantern Ring. Wants One.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, these days so many of us know so much more about isolation. Often times there’s nothing worse than simply having time to sit and stew in your own thoughts…

I got my Justice issues out recently. The 2005 maxi-series, written by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger, with pencils by Doug Brainwaite and paints by Ross, is essentially Ross’ giant love-letter to the classic Super Friends vs. Legion of Doom premise. All the various Justice League members face off against some of their greatest rivals who’ve all teamed up to take them down.

Part of Justice sees Sinestro trap Hal Jordan/Green Lantern in a black void that’s more or less outside the jurisdiction of the Guardians of the Universe. Jordan’s ring tells him he’s “outside the Guardians’ vast knowledge.” In other words Hal is alone, and no one’s coming to help. He may be on his own for eternity. Literally.

I’ve included some pages from Justice #3, #4, and #5. This is hardly the whole of Hal’s story. But it’s enough to give you a taste, and an idea of what happens to him.

This story is one of the elements of Justice that has always stayed with me, primarily because of that fifth page. Hal is so desperate for human connection of any kind that he asks his ring how he can create people with a will of their own. People, “who I don’t control? Or don’t disappear the moment I’m no longer looking at them.” The ring’s only and repeated response? “I do not understand the question.”

As long as we’re on the subject, here’s Alex Ross talking about the Silver Age version of the Green Lantern costume:

“There’s a unique aesthetic value to the Hal Jordan Green Lantern that sets him apart from all the other heroes – he wears green, and he has brown hair while everyone else has blonde or black hair and blue eyes. And the white gloves – a superhero withwhite gloves? But it works, and it translates beautifully to the aliens of the GL Corps. You can put any life form in that suit and it’s instantly recognizable. Gil Kane’s costume design is perfect.”

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

A Batman, Vol.10: Knightmares Deep Dive – Over His Head

TITLE: Batman, Vol. 10: Knightmares
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Travis Moore, Mitch Gerads, Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, Lee Weeks, Amanda Conner, Dan Panosian, John Timms, Yanick Paquette
COLORISTS:
Tamra Bonvillain, Jordie Bellaire, Dave Stewart, Lovern Kindzierski, Paul Mounts, Timms, Nathan Fairbairn
LETTERER:
Clayton Cowles
COLLECTS: Batman #6163, #6669
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: September 11, 2019

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead***

Need to catch up? Boy, have I got you covered. Check out Vol. 1: I Am Gotham, Vol. 2: I Am Suicide, Vol. 3: I Am Bane, Batman/The Flash: The Button, Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles, Vol. 5: The Rules of Engagement, Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar?, Vol. 7: The Wedding, Volume 8: Cold Days, and Volume 9: The Tyrant Wing.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

He did it again, didn’t he? That sly son of a…

You’ll recall back in Batman #24, Bruce Wayne proposed to Selina Kyle. Huge deal. Huge. A historic moment for both characters. One that could shake up Batman’s whole world depending on Selina’s answer. But of course, they left us with a cliffhanger.

But when Batman #25 came out, we didn’t get one. What we got was the beginning of The War of Jokes and Riddles, a tale from Batman’s past that he had to tell Selina about before she answered. Issue #24 came out on June 7, 2017. Batman #32, the issue where we finally get Selina’s response, didn’t come out until October 4. We had to wait until fall to get the answer because…um…because DC said so. (Although it was pretty obvious she was going to say yes.)

Fast-forward to December 5, 2018. Batman #60 is released, and another bombshell is dropped. The Batman of the Flashpoint universe, Thomas Wayne, not only survived the events of The Button, but has teamed up with Bane against his alt-universe son. Thomas Wayne vs. Bruce Wayne. Father vs. Son. Batman vs. Batman! The stage was set!

Then in the very next issue we got…no answers. Instead we got the issues collected in this book (with two exceptions that we’ll get to in a later date). We wouldn’t see Flashpoint Batman again until May 1, 2019.

Why DC and Tom King loved making us wait so long for cliffhanger payoffs is a mystery to me. But I’ll say this much: Knightmares is a better book than The War of Jokes and Riddles.

1. I Dreamed a Dream…
Toward the end of the book, we discover Batman is hooked up to a contraption that’s giving him very vivid nightmares. I say that not to spoil anything, but to provide context. Plus, between the Knightmares title and what happens once the book starts rolling, it’s pretty easy to see something’s up. Each collected issue contains one of our hero’s bad dreams.

This is the final volume before we get into the “City of Bane” story, which is an astounding 16 issues long. With that many pages to fill, it’s no wonder it felt immensely padded. Like they were just trying to fill space between plot points. While I consider Knightmares a good read, I’ll argue King starts to do that here. It’s a trend that ultimately forces him to limp into the home stretch. For the most part, these issues work. The “City of Bane” issues don’t.

We kick things off in issue #61, as Batman investigates the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The catch? We seem to be in the present day, and young Bruce Wayne is very much present and able to interact with his older self. Obviously it’s a “What if?” story. But it’s not what you might expect.

Travis Moore returns for this story. Once you reach the end, you’ll see how that’s fitting. Colorist Tamra Bonvillain really shines, especially early on. Her use of reds and oranges to depict the lights of Gotham City, contrasted with the deep blacks you’d expect from a Batman story are reminiscent of Francesco Francavilla’s more recent work on the character. That’s damn good company to be in.

2. “They call me MISTER PIG!!!”
Issue #61 is a good start. But here’s where business really picks up. Our sole artist is Mitch Gerads, who almost always does phenomenal work with King. With Batman #62, they create something truly unsettling. At times even horrifying. It opens with our hero hanging upside down in the back of a butcher’s shop, and he’s got some company: Professor Pyg.

And there’s blood. Lots and lots and lots of blood.

I think Professor Pyg, or at least this King/Gerads version of Professor Pyg, is what a lot of fans want the Joker to be like. A horror movie villain with a funny gimmick. Of course, the Joker is so much more than that. But Professor Pyg? As far as that horror villain territory is concerned, he’s got a solid cut of the market share.

This is a really beautiful issue in a twisted sort of way. It’s like a Saw movie with terrifying, horror flick lighting. Perhaps more importantly, when we start the story, Batman is scared. Not that fear gas-induced fear either. He’s genuinely afraid, as any of us would be. Thus, we’re pulled that much harder into the issue. There’s also a lot of confusion on Batman’s end. Why is he there? How did he get there? Why is he unable to hear what Pyg is saying? We follow Batman’s train of thought as he pushes through his fear to defeat his opponent.

And every bit as unsettling as the setting, the villain, and the frantic confusion, is the swerve turn on the final page.

3. Guest-starring…
A Batman/Constantine team-up sounds pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, that’s not what we get here. Not exactly, anyway.

In issue #63, Mikel Janin returns to give us the ending we all wanted for Bruce and Selina. They get married, go on a tropical honeymoon, share big romantic kisses on rainy Gotham City rooftops. All seems well. Then Constantine shows up to tell Batman not only is this a dream, but something awful is going to happen. Remember this is a Batman story, where everybody has dead parents, dead spouses, etc. So even if it weren’t a dream, there’s a 50/50 chance he’d be right anyway.

Why Constantine? I think the logic is “Why not?” Are there characters from Batman’s world that might fit this role better int theory? Sure. But no one so obvious that it ruins anything. I get the sense King just wanted the chance to write Constantine, so he wound up in this issue.

Ditto for the Question in issue #66, in which the framing device is Selina being interrogated about why she left Bruce at the altar. Jorge Fornes is on the pencil here, and he fits a Question story like a glove. Less fitting is Selina smoking a cigarette during the exchange, which I don’t think we’ve seen her do at all in King’s run up to this point. It feels very forced. Like they were looking for that one detail to hit that noir-ish nail on the head, and they just gave her a cigarette because they could.

Issue #66 is also where we start re-treading ground. All this stuff about how Selina sees Bruce? We’ve been reading about it for much of the last 60 issues. There’s no reason to go back there, with the Question no less, unless you’re trying to fill space. It’s a fun issue. But its intentions are clear in hindsight.

Issue #67 consists of one long chase scene, as Batman pursues another masked man across Gotham City. Telling you who the individual in question is would take the punch out of the issue. But it’s worth it for those last two pages. There’s some subtext that you have to read into. But it’s pretty easy to get. Fornes is back for this one, alongside the amazing Lee Weeks. Both those men do a hell of a job capturing that Batman: Year One vibe. Again, mostly stuff we’ve already seen. But there’s still greatness here, in one of the best single issue’s of King’s Batman run.

4. “Make a lane for Lane!”
Amanda Conner does a guest spot for issue #68. As such, it’s not surprisingly we focus mostly on female characters. Superman and Lois Lane are back, as we see what might have been a bachelor and bachelorette party respectively. While Bruce and Clark have a quiet night in, an intoxicated Selina Kyle and Lois most certainly do not. The Fortress of Solitude has never seen that kind of fun…

Yes, King backtracks again here. But if I had to choose one thing for him to go back to, there’s a hell of an argument to be made for the “Super Friends” dynamic. Specifically between Catwoman and Lois Lane. Their dynamic in this issue specifically is sheer joyful and colorful comic book fun. The kind of story that’s practically begging to be adapted into animation. Though if it’s for one of the kids shows they’ll have to cut out the liquor. (Not to mention all the stripping Superman robots.) By God, that almost defeats the whole damn purpose.

The downside? With just three pages left we lose Conner. As her style is so distinct, it’s an abrupt jolt to suddenly switch to fill-in artists. Pun intended: It’s a real buzzkill.

5. “Will You Dance With Me?”
The book closes with, of all things, a dance.

It’s only natural that we close with Bruce and Selina. Especially since almost this entire book takes place in Bruce’s head. While the issue does bounce back and forth between them and a Mikel Janin training scene with Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne, the meat of the issue is in an extended dance sequence. But it’s hardly the Batusi. Yanick Paquette puts out a career issue as the two characters literally slow dance through a dream, through Gotham, through their history.

It’s a positively outstanding, and truly unique usage of the visual nature of the comic book medium. In yet another backtrack, Selina goes through multiple costume changes as she did in issue #44. But in two-page spreads such as the one above, we literally track our characters’ dance steps across the page. The use of sheet music is an absolute stroke of genius, which instantly makes this comic distinct among the thousands upon thousands in Batman’s history.

What’s more, because this is a dream there’s a subtext to it that I really enjoy. The scene is written as Bruce asking Selina why she left him. Her response involves his vow as a child, and how he can never really love her because of his devotion to the Batman, etc. But of course, the question Bruce is really asking is, “Why did she leave me?” Via a dream, he’s venting his own doubts about whether he can ever really love another person. And it ends in pretty much the manner you’d expect such a dream from Batman to end.

But the creme de creme, the moment of moments, comes on the final page of the issue and the final page in Knightmares overall…

Batman friggin’ cries. He doesn’t openly weep. But he cries. It’s not even played up at all. It’s beautifully subtle. Just two little strokes of Paquette’s pencil.

Issues like this are part of what makes Tom King’s Batman run so frustrating. Because he is a good writer. He’s a good Batman writer! He knows what he’s doing. But it feels like he got in over his head. The larger story he was trying to tell got too large and in the end he lost focus. That’s such a damn shame, given how many little gems we find in this run.

Incidentally, the song from issue #69 is one King has used before in his series. Sophie Turner’s “Some of these Days.” It dates back to the ’20s. It’s not required listening. But it’s a great little supplement. I recommend it.

6. Waking Up
There are a few collections in this Batman series that you flat out don’t need to read. Technically, this is one of them. But like Cold Days, it gets a recommendation from me. It’s not an amazing character study altogether. But like Tom King’s Batman run as a whole, it surprises you with moments that are absolute classics.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Batman, X-Men, 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
Not A Doctor. Even in Space.

So it looks like, at least as far as the comic book industry is concerned, our long global nightmare is finally starting to wind down.

Between the launch of Lunar and UCS as new alternative distribution, and Diamond announcing a return to form on May 20, the comic book industry is a few steps closer to being back in business. In the meantime, last week Marvel published Doctor Aphra #1 in celebration of Star Wars day. Meanwhile, issues of Justice League, Lois Lane, among other issues from DC are set to hit the stands tomorrow. I knew I liked Rucka’s Lois Lane maxi, but I had no idea absence would make the heart grow this much fonder…

I also tacked X-Men #2 on. I don’t know that I’ll start picking up the book after it starts shipping again. But curiosity has been getting the better of me. Plus, there’s no better time than now, is there?

TITLE: The Flash: Fastest Man Alive #3
AUTHOR: Gail Simone
ARTISTS: Clayton Henry, Marcelo Maiolo (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by V Ken Marion, Sandu Florea, & Maiolo.
RELEASED: May 8, 2020

This issue is titled, “The Accelerated and the Infinitismal.” Heh. I dig it.

The Infinitismal in this case is the Atom, a.k.a. Ryan Choi, as opposed to Ray Palmer. Some dialogue between them suggests this story takes place early in Flash’s career. Which doesn’t necessarily jive with the timeline as I know it. But oh well.

As their target audience is the superstore crowd, most of these DC Digital-Firsts are drawn very accessibly with new readers in mind. As it’s a little more cartoony, Clayton Henry is able to separate himself from the pack.

TITLE: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1
AUTHOR:
Alyssa Wong
ARTISTS:
Marika Cresta, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Valentina Remengr.
RELEASED:
April 6, 2020

This series, at least at this early juncture, more or less casts Aphra as the Indiana Jones of the Star Wars Universe. She’s an archaeologist looking for priceless artifacts.

Despite enjoying her Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader series, I could never get into Aphra as a solo act. In all honesty, not much has changed now. I just don’t think she’s the flavor of Star Wars I’m looking for at the moment. But the book is written and drawn just fine. Also, good on Marvel for hiring a mostly-female team for this one.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #3
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS:
Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer). Cover by Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth.
RELEASED: May 6, 2020

Now this is more like it. A slightly different take on Deathstroke. Not changing him too much. But just enough.

Jason Todd continues to look on. Is it a coincidence that he looks a little bit like the DCAU Jason Blood? Or are they just giving him the white streak in his hair from the comics? I imagine it’s the latter.

My sole artistic critique? Some bad coloring on the steam rising from Bruce Wayne’s coffee. Or maybe it’s tea.

TITLE: Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #3
AUTHORS: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
ARTISTS:  (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Chad Hardin & Paul Mounts
RELEASED: May 6, 2020

Diana attempts to take a vacation day with Steve Trevor in this issue. Bad call. That’s always when the bad guys strike. In fact, Wondie then has an extremely busy couple of days stopping a meteor from colliding with Earth, then solving a murder mystery in Gorilla City. It’s all very nicely drawn by Daniel Sampere.

I always thought the Gorilla City idea was a better fit for Wonder Woman and the Amazons, rather than the Flash. Both are more or less primitive societies. But we get the best of womankind against the worst of mankind’s primate impulses.

TITLE: Superman: Man of Tomorrow #3
AUTHOR:
Robert Venditti
ARTISTS:
Paul Pelletier, Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Dan Mora.
RELEASED:
May 4, 2020

Dan Mora drawing Superman? Yes please.

Yet another awesome “shirt opening” sequence by Pelletier and the team this week. This one actually lasts a page and a half.

I don’t know if it’s because I have a baby girl now and it hit me in the feels to see Big Blue save a mom and daughter, but I can’t get enough of “boy scout” Superman.

Though at one point while dismantling a robot he gives us, “This game will cost you an arm and a leg!” Even I have my limits, folks.

TITLE: X-Men #2
AUTHOR:
Jonathan Hickman
ARTISTS:
Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan (Inker), Sunny Gho (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer).
RELEASED:
November 13, 2019

I haven’t done the research yet on how a teenage (?) Rachel and Nathan Summers are with Cyclops in he present so that they can “help your old man beat up some monsters”. I’m just going with it. That’s pretty much what you have to do with most X-Men books.

Some cool creature art from Leinil Yu in here, though. Along with an awesome line from Cyclops: “I’ve got more hours in a cockpit than I do in therapy, son, and let me tell you…I have done the work.”

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

Weekly Comic 100s: X-Men #1 For the Heck of It, Plus DC Digitals

***”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
Calls it Soda. Not Pop.

The other day I said I wanted to feature the X-Men a little more. So this week I tossed in X-Men #1 from back in November. Along with DC’s digital-first stuff, of course.

TITLE: X-Men #1
AUTHOR: Jonathan Hickman
ARTISTS: Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan (Inker), Sunny Gho (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer).
RELEASED: November 14, 2019

Jonathan Hickman intimidates me. He tends to go a little too far out of this world, and I get lost.

Thankfully, X-Men #1 is relatively straightforward. Mutants have established their own nation on the island of Krakoa. And of course, there’s a group of humans that don’t like mutants that are trying to destroy them.

Had do to a Marvel Wiki search on Cyclops to see how the hell he could be leading the team again. He’s a more interesting character than most casual fans give him credit for.

TITLE: The Flash: Fastest Man Alive #2
AUTHOR:
Gail Simone
ARTISTS:
Clayton Henry, Marcelo Maiolo (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by Cully Hamner and Dave McCaig.
RELEASED:
May 1, 2020

Clayton Henry’s style, let’s call it moderately cartoony, is a perfect fit for Flash. When Barry’s zipping around in the costume, Henry stretches his body just a bit for effect. But at the same time, all the scenes about his civilian life have the weight they need. He can exaggerate, but he doesn’t overdo it.

Once again Simone gives us a scene that’s unintentionally poignant given the times, as Flash saves a pair of kids whose mom is a nurse.

Cool time-travel shenanigans make this the highlight of DC’s digital releases this week. (Or at least the ones here.)

TITLE: Aquaman: Deep Dives #2
AUTHOR:
Michael Grey
ARTISTS:
Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan (Inker), Hi-Fi (Colors), Wes Abbott (Letters). Cover by Philip Tan and Elmer Santos.
RELEASED:
April 30, 2020

Aquaman vs. Russian Mobsters? Not a pairing I expected, I’ll give you that. But it works.

The Sea Devils make an appearance in this issue. If you have no idea who they are, I was right there with you. Somehow they’re in one of the few corners of the DCU I haven’t explored yet.

Not an amazing issue from a story perspective. But mad respect to Aaron Lopresti, who’s low key one of my favorites, for drawing fish deformed by poison dumped into the sea. Legit creepy.

TITLE: Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2
AUTHORS: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
ARTISTS: Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran (Inker), Hi-Fi (Colors), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Conner and Paul Mounts.
RELEASED: April 29, 2020

So here we have Diana in another team-up issue, this time with Lois Lane. I’m curious if this is just a coincidence, of if they wanted to throw another big name character in there to help support her. With the Gal Gadot movie under her belt, and another one coming out in the near future, I’m not sure Wondie needs it right now.

We get a really nice fight sequence between her and what basically amounts to a demonic abominable snowman who spouts textbook supervillain speak. (“Give up impudent morsel! Death awaits!”) Steve Orlando gets Wonder Woman and knows how to write her. But from a story perspective, I haven’t been overly impressed by these last two outings.

TITLE: Batman: Gotham Nights #2
AUTHOR: Michael Grey
ARTISTS: Ryan Benjamin, Richard Friend (Inker), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Troy Peteri (Letterer). Cover by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Lucas.
RELEASED: April 28, 2020

Pretty standard Batman stuff here. It’s not bad, but it’s not overly remarkable either. Crime involving an old theater, theater lead traces back to…well, you can probably guess based on the cover.

My favorite line in this issue: “Who was it that said every villain is the hero of their own story? Probably a villain.”

TITLE: Superman: Man of Tomorrow #2
AUTHOR: Robert Venditti
ARTISTS:
Paul Pelletier, Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona and Tomeu Morey.
RELEASED:
April 27, 2020

Another great issue from Venditti, Pelletier, and the crew as our Man of Steel faces off against a new villain called the Gambler.

In addition to a great “shirt opening” sequence, this issue contains a panel reminiscent of a famous Alex Ross painting where Superman is sitting in a chair with his shoulders slumped a bit. Like he can feel the weight of the world on his shoulders. Only in this issue, he’s holding what looks like a beer bottle. It’s soda, of course. I love that.

He’s got a few great one-liners too. “Don’t bet on it, Gambler!”

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

Alex Ross Spotlight: Very Early Marvel Art

By Rob Siebert
Not An Artist. At All.

You know what’s sad? Alex Ross drew better as a seven-year-old than I probably could as a 30-something-year-old.

Still, we all did this, right? Those of us who were into superheroes, anyway. We’d get a pencil and some crayons and go to town. I have vivid memories of sitting down and drawing Batman and Robin, the Power Rangers, the Ninja Turtles, etc. It’s just that Alex Ross took things several steps further.

That’s why he is who he is.

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