Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have been on kind of a roll with their Harley Quinn series. Starting with the #0 anthology issue and then the main series itself, Harley Quinn has quickly become one of DC’s quirkiest characters. Of course, she was quite a loon before, but under Conner-Palmiotti’s pen she has become something else entirely. I never thought that there could be a book from DC that was so off its rocker and packed with so much madcap humour. But Conner-Palmiotti have managed to do just that exactly, and it has been one hell of a read so far.
Harley Quinn #5 is all about Harley’s adventures with the old and retired agent Sy-borg, who has a vendetta against some old Russian gangbosses he thought he took down ages ago. Now he finally has all the intel he needed and he has drafted in Harley because of her history and her present problems. Unlike previous issues, this new one doesn’t advance the meta-story at all, but it tells a fairly decent one-shot story. And we have Chad Hardin back on the series now. The art is decent but that’s it.
Last week DC began its first weekly title of the New 52, Batman: Eternal. This is a story that affects the entire Bat-family and has some deep repercussions for all the heroes involved here. The first issue, penned by the Snyder-Tynion duo, was a fairly good look at a brand-new crossover in Gotham that sees the GCPD go up against Professor Pyg and come out with one of its best and brightest brought down in a shocking way. The two writers started the series on a bang and the art was also quite good, which helped a great deal. Now its time to look at what comes after.
In Batman: Eternal #2 we see a very focused story as Batman seeks to learn the mystery behind what happened in the last issue, and the other Bat-family members begin to get drawn in. What happened has some major consequences for them all, including Catwoman, because one of Gotham’s greatest criminal masterminds is returning to the city. Snyder-Tynion are still the ones to pen this issue as well, with the other contributing writers to the series serving as consultants. The same team from the previous issue is back basically, and they are all just as good as they were in the last issue, if not better. It is all about the big reveal at the end.
Arrow‘s season 2, which has been quite spectacular all through its run and also significantly better than the debut season, is now in its final stages. We started off with a familiar Starling City and a familiar core cast of characters, but along the way many things have changed. Many new characters have joined the cast and the map of Starling has been redrawn by several new villains, all looking to make their mark on the city. But, there has always been a master-plan in place and in the last few episodes we have seen how all of that has played out as we get one revelation after another, revelations that have shocked the lives of the core characters.
In the last couple of episodes we saw Deathstroke and his allies take the fight to Team Arrow and humiliate them again and again. We’ve seen the good guys brought low and have watched as the bad guys became ascendant. Oliver Queen clearly thinks that it is time for the good guys to go on the offensive and that’s what much of this episode is about. Team Arrow has had it with Deathstroke dictating their moves and they strike back this time. And all the usual character drama and action follows, except of course that every performance is at the top of the actors’ games.
With their first arc of Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo delivered something wonderful. With their second arc, it felt as if they had kind of lost their way a little bit since it felt less focused and less… immediate. While their entire run on Batman thus far has been nothing short of spectacular, with Zero Year they went big and delivered some amazing stories and dealt with some classic Batman villains. I loved the first arc, second arc not so much. But I remain a fan because Scott is usually a damn good writer and because Greg Capullo and Co. are all similarly amazing, usually.
With Batman #30 the creative team begins its third and final arc of Zero Year: Savage City. The Riddler is now in control of Gotham and things have changed big time. No more heroes. Gotham is an island, cut off from the rest of country and struggling to survive. This is the Gotham that Batman aka Bruce Wayne wakes up to after the disastrous events of the previous arc, and things are gonna get a whole lot worse before there is even a slimmer of hope that they will get better. And as always, the art is good, but it felt a bit too colourful and overdone in some places.
Another great week this time. Lots of fun new tiles and old ones returning for new installments. The highlight of the week had to be the upcoming graphic novel by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones Jr. for which I managed to get a review copy. Long live NetGalley! And the graphic novel definitely delivered on its promise too, although there were a few things that I didn’t like so much.
With all the new series coming out, its definitely a good time to be in comics, and most of all if you have been a fan of certain series like Daredevil and Unity. I’m still behind on certain series though and there are a lot of comics that I am behind on, as I was painfully made aware this past week. And the pile is mounting every week. Just too many things to stay current with.
Before we go any further, it is important to point out that this post will contain full spoilers about DC’s Forever Evil event, so if you have been tradewaiting on it, or waiting until all issues are out, or any such thing, then you might want to give this a pass. However, if you don’t mind spoilers and/or you already know what’s happened in the event so far with Dick Grayson aka Nightwing, then read on and find out! The announcement-context of this post is from this article that was put up on the USA Today site a couple days ago (spoiler warning!).
Before the New 52, I didn’t really have that much of an interest in Dick Grayson and his Nightwing persona. I knew of him through the Batman: The Animated Series cartoons but that’s really about it. But when I got back into comics in 2012, among the first books I started reading was Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows’ Nightwing. It proved to be a surprisingly awesome read and I’ve stuck with the title ever since. I’ve fallen off in recent times, mostly because my pull lists have gotten too big and I had to cut corners somewhere. But with this new announcement about Nightwing’s fate, I anticipate that I’ll be getting caught up with the main series in short order and then jump on board with Grayson #1 when it debuts later this year.
After Justice League 3000 #4, I found myself in an odd place. This was a title that I kind of wanted to continue reading, but the story and the art just weren’t clicking together for me. I kind of love all the twists and turns of the book but the story just isn’t all that interesting. There are some good bits of course, like the alien vistas and what not, but mostly none of it is really working for me. And yet I keep coming back, month after month, for something I know not what. A guilty pleasure? Probably that’s the reason.
Justice League 3000 #5, released this week, exemplifies and typifies my problems with this series. It introduces (and reintroduces) two new characters and builds up on all the revelations from the previous issue, revelations which were hinted at earlier but never really formalised. And now the Justice League of the 31st century has more troubles on its hands than it can handle, and none of it is pretty in any way. Compounding the problems is that Howard Porter is not on this issue, instead we have two guest artists with writer Keith Giffen doing art breakdowns. Big, big jump in the art styles and again, none of it worked for me.
When you’ve been with a series for a while, getting on into the full swing of things, and then a fill-in issue happens out of the blue, you really ask yourself what on earth happened. For some inexplicable reason, last year’s Zero Year issue for Batgirl wasn’t done by the series regular Gail Simone who has been on the title from the start, but new writer Marguerite Bennett. Like most other Zero Year tie-in issues it was a total filler story, and now Marguerite is back with another one-shot that breaks the overall flow of the story that Gail has had going for some time now.
Whereas before we’ve seen some excellent stories like the Wanted arc and the recent 2-issue arc featuring a vampire hunter in Gotham, this week’s new release sees Batgirl tangling with a Gotham-homegrown boogey monster, something straight out of an urban legend (how many of those does Gotham have again?). It follows a very predictable and set path, without deviation and the story overall is boring. The art, also by fill-in artists, does its best to work with the story, but since the story isn’t all that good, the art suffers from the resultant feedback. Its decent, but nowhere near as good as what we’ve been getting from the regular team.
When it comes to Batman in the New 52, DC is all about jumping up and down like crazy puppet. The New 52 launched with multiple books featuring Batman or Batman-related heroes and over the two and a half years of the new continuity, the entire line has been among DC’s top books, with an occasional dip here and there for some of the lower tier books. And now, with the character’s 75th anniversary in sights and to fill-out its 52 books a month roster, DC is adding a new weekly series to the mix, which will be anthology-styled and feature no less than four different creative teams.
Batman: Eternal #1 came out today and it kickstarts the whole deal. Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with the other writers involved credited as consultants, and drawn by Jason Fabok, this first issue lays the groundwork for some pretty big changes in the status quo as the Bat-world moves on. Scott and James introduce a couple new characters into the mix, highlight some of the older ones, and bring about a pretty major twist into the story. Fabok, who has previous experience working on Detective Comics in the New 52, does a stellar job of showing the dark and seedy side of the city and the Bat-world.
Last month, John Layman‘s run on Detective Comics came to an end with the final installment of his Gothtopia arc. It was a great issue to end his spectacular run on, and this month we see Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato take up the reins from him and Aaron Lopresti. The duo are coming fresh off of The Flash, which they co-wrote and co-drew since the start of the New 52 and made into one of DC’s top titles. They certainly did for me! Now, as they begin their run on Detective Comics, I can only hope that they bring the same excellence over the long term.
Detective Comics #30 is their first issue on the series and it is a pretty weird issue at that. The art style is different, very different to what we’ve seen before, and even Batman’s “voice” is quite different. But there’s still that dynamism to this issue that Brian and Francis brought to The Flash and they put up the Dark Knight against crime lords instead of souped-up supervillains and assassins. This could just be the fresh breath that Batman comics have needed for a while, following the death of Damian Wayne last year and the general grimness that has surrounded the franchise in New 52.
A few days ago I finally finished my read-through of the Forever Evil: Blight event, all 18 issues of it, which ran across no less than four books, two of which (Justice League Dark and The Phantom Stranger) were written by J. M. DeMatteis and two (Pandora and Constantine) by Ray Fawkes. With the event now over, it is time for these books to go their own way and The Phantom Stranger is right at the forefront, being the first book to get launched after the end of the event in the previous week. DeMatteis’ run on the title has been nothing short of stellar and with his new arc on this title, he looks set to continue that streak.
The Phantom Stranger #18 deals with a mystic breach in Metropolis and we have the titular character dragged into the event, along with his compatriots Doctor Thirteen and the wingless Angel of Heaven, Zauriel. Coming off an event as heady as Forever Evil: Blight, I’d wondered how DeMatteis would approach the title and he hasn’t disappointed. He plays on all the existing characters and even brings in Superman for a great cameo that heralds some really big things. Usual penciller Fernando Blanco is joined by Norm Breyfogle on the pencils and between the two of them they turn out a great looking book.
Knowing that The Movement is coming to a close next month doesn’t exactly fill me with joy. This is something I have touched on before, and it is still something that I cannot get over. A most unconventional series it has been, and I love it for that. But more than that, I love it because it has given me such awesome characters as the members of The Movement, each with a different personality and each with a different story that all comes together. Gail Simone and Freddie Williams and Chris Sotomayor and everyone else really do need to be commended for all their work on this title.
Sadly, The Movement #11 shows what this book really could have been like. Up until now we have seen the group tackle some pretty big challenges as they took on the entire Coral City Police Department and corruption in their city. They’ve been beaten black and blue and they have given as good as they got. And now, in the penultimate issue, we go back to a very personal story, something we’ve only seen glimpses of before. Stories like these are why I love Gail’s work, and I really wish that The Movement had at least twelve more issues in it.