After all the build-up in the previous issues of Justice League Dark and The Phantom Stranger, writer J. M. DeMatteis gets things into gear finally with this week’s issue of the latter series. We’ve seen how the manifestation of pure evil that crossed over from Earth 3 to Earth 1 with the Crime Syndicate has begun to effect the supernatural-oriented heroes of the DC Universe and we’ve seen how Constantine and his allies have tried to take the fight to this manifestation, Blight, and failed. Now, Constantine has rebounded from that defeat by doing the impossible: bringing the Trinity of Sin to his doorstep in chains in order to solicit their help, essentially at the point of a gun.
Ever since DeMatteis took over on the series he has been turning out one great issue after another and this new issue follows that trend. It is moody, it has character drama, it has tension, it has action. Its got everything, in short, and DeMatteis has been incredibly consistent with his writing along with Fernando Blanco and Brad Anderson on the artwork. Issue #14 is where the status quo for all these characters really shifts and where a new (temporary) Justice League Dark is born.
This week, to acknowledge that his Facebook page hit 400,000 likes, Arrow lead actor Stephen Amell posted a 14min Q&A video in which he answered some fan questions that he had taken on his page. In response to one of them, he said that he believes a show should get better, should improve, as it went along in the season. And he firmly believes that every episode this season has been better than the one before. And I agree. It so happened that right after I saw that video, I saw this week’s episode of the show, with a ton of excitement locked in because it was going to debut one of my favourite superheroes, Barry Allen, in a pre-origin role.
And it was good. Good. GOOD more like it. Aside from a few small things that I found problematic, this episode is true to the spirit of the show, particularly this season where Starling City is transformed into the City of Heroes. More great scenes on the Island, more character drama, more top-notch action, a commitment to the idea of superheroes, and supervillains, and more on the epic cliffhanger that we had with the previous episode, something that is going to become a much more intrinsic part of this season.
Note: this review contains some minor spoilers.
In the New 52, DC has tried to take a lot of gambles and few of them have paid off, if at all. Launched earlier this year, Gail Simone’s The Movement is one of those gambles and for me, it is one that has definitely worked enough to keep bringing me back every month and caring about the characters. Gail and artist Freddie Williams have done some great work on the series for its first arc and their second arc continues apace with the release of the seventh issue this week, which does one thing that the first arc was, of necessity, missing: consequences.
In any superhero story, there are always consequences for the powers that a hero has. And given that these stories are written to get us to identify with, associate with, and get invested in these characters, there need to be consequences for their actions and their nature. This is at the core of this new issue and once again the execution is pretty brilliant. For me, The Movement has been DC’s break-out hit of the year and there’s no stopping this train ride.
Despite the fact that I liked Green Arrow in Justice League Unlimited and the portrayal of Oliver Queen in CW’s Arrow last year, I never really got on the character bandwagon to start reading the comics. Part of that was how he was handled in his guest appearances in Geoff Johns’ Justice League last year, and part general disinterest. But after fellow TFF reviewer Bane of Kings started talking very highly of the series from when Jeff Lemire took over, that interest started to grow and now Green Arrow is one of my favourite books in the New 52.
With this week’s issue, Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino begin a new arc, The Outsiders War, and are set to explore much more of the character’s mythology than we’ve seen before. I still haven’t caught up to Lemire’s issues (its in the cards!!) but I have to say that across the last four issues, he has done some impressive work, and the artwork by Sorrentino and colourist Maiolo has been quite amazing. The new arc gets off to a really strong start and I am quite liking where things are going with respect to the various characters involved. If the future issues are anything like the previous issues, then this is definitely going to be a great arc.
This was a really busy comics reading week, primarily because I read two graphic novels this time around, both of them for Marvel no less. I have finally dipped my toes in full in Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man and the first taste has been quite interesting and fun. On the flip side, the somewhat older Immortal Iron Fist proved to be a bit of a mediocre book, but no less intriguing for that fact and I’m quite interested in the character now. Other than, a lot of the DC comics this week were really good and this is quite pleasing in fact. And Zero Year tie-ins are finally over so I look forward to a month of no such tie-ins.
I still have a big backlog of graphic novels to burn through, so I have that to keep me busy further I suppose. More on that as it happens.
Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. One of the most annoying young characters I’ve read in comics to date. I came across him for the first time in Scott Snyder’s Batman #1 and since then I’ve seen him around in various books, especially Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman and Robin Volume 1, where he was extremely irritating and angsty like hell. Grant Morrison killed off the character earlier this year, ending a long arc that began when he first introduced him a few years back and in the wake of that… tragedy, DC first announced and then began publishing this “what if?” mini-series that takes a look at what and who Damian could have been if he had survived.
I read the first issue last month and I was extremely disappointed with it. The story was quite weak and the art followed suit. I’ve read some of Andy Kubert’s writing before, and he’s quite an unimpressive writer, fairly mediocre from my experience. This issue, and the previous one, both show that Kubert’s strengths are definitely not in telling a story with words, or even basic plotting, because both issues are seriously out of whack with what’s happening in the New 52, and even in terms of internal consistency.
Note: This contains some major spoilers about the issue.
By now this month, its absolutely not a secret what’s going on in Gotham. In last month’s Batman #24, the Riddler turned off the city’s main power supply and with a mother-of-all-storms coming to the city, people are in desperate need of the most basic things. Like batteries, batteries are worth more than expensive mountain climbing gear right now in fact! And that’s where this (one of) latest tie-ins to Scott Snyder’s Zero Year comes in. This is almost an origin story for Selina Kyle, Gotham’s master thief, and it is pretty damn good.
I’ve never read a Catwoman issue before, whether in the New 52 or before that, so this was very much my first solo introduction to the character. She’s popped in a few times in other books, like Geoff Johns’ Justice League of America in which she was a part of the team that ARGUS Director Amanda Waller put together, but other than that I know her only through the movies (Anne Hathaway’s portrayal rocked) and whatever animated stuff I’ve come across. As a first issue, this was a great issue and if the rest of the series is this good, both in terms of the art and the story, then I’d love to read more.
After twenty-six months on the relaunched title, Geoff Johns’ run finally comes to an end with this issue. Responsible for reintroducing the character to comics fans everywhere and making him as big a character as he could, Geoff revamped Aquaman and made him into one of DC’s definite heavy-weights. The title has recorded some high sales and the collected editions have even made it to the New York Times Bestseller’s List. Now that is impressive for a character who was largely relegated to suffering fish-jokes, despite always being a mainstream DC hero.
As is appropriate, Geoff closes out his run on the title by closing out his current arc as well, Death of A King. He created some wonderful mythology for the character, giving his backstory an epic scope that I definitely did not expect. Even with this final issue, he goes some places that I didn’t expect and he wowed me. He goes out with a definitive bang and leaves a teaser for his next crossover arc that is coming next year, Rise of The Seven Seas, which will unfold in the pages of Aquaman (under Jeff Parker) and Geoff’s own Justice League. Exciting times!
Last month J. M. DeMatteis kicked off the Forever Evil: Blight arc, the fourth tie-in story to DC’s current mega-event, Forever Evil. Blight is an 18-part arc that will run through most of DC’s supernatural books all through March. Forever Evil was already DC’s biggest crossover in the New 52 relaunch, but with the addition of Blight, it has grown significantly, and for me, it definitely conveys a sense of scale that the event requires with all its involved internal complications.
Justice League Dark #24 was an excellent issue, the best in the entire series so far I have to say. Topping it would have been a tough job but I trusted DeMatteis to prove equal to the task. And he almost does. While Justice League Dark #25 isn’t as excellent as its predecessor, it is still a damn fine comic. J. M. DeMatteis continues to impress with each issue and this one is no exception at all. I enjoyed his Phantom Stranger #13 earlier this month as well and DeMatteis is definitely on a good streak right now (as long as the new Larfleeze holds up, which I’m sure it will!).
Slightly slow comic-reading week again, but not by all that much since I got to read a graphic novel as well, so that balances things out a little bit. Really interesting week this one, particularly with the launch of a Harley Quinn ongoing from DC Comics and some really good second issues or the start of new arcs for some of the other regular books.
The month is closing out now though, not all that much time left, just a handful of days, and I’d like to end the month on a good high. TO that end, I might well be reading two graphic novels at least this weekend to catch up on things a little since that particular reading pile creeps higher every week or two weeks. Getting almost scary now!
Arrow has been building up a lot of steam for a while now. Till now we’ve been exposed to a lot of character drama in the show and season 2 has given us some new characters and situations to wrap our heads around. Season 2 has proven to be far superior to season 1 in pretty much every single way that matters and its been a hell of a ride. New characters like Brother Blood, Dr. Ivo, Black Canary and others have done really good work, while older characters like Detective Lance and Roy Harper have exceeded themselves. But nothing compares to what this week’s episode did with Moira Queen.
In the previous episodes there’s been an undercurrent of a mystery about the Queen family, something so bad that it could destroy the Queen family. Well guess what, State vs Queen reveals that episode in all its glory, and it pretty much throws Moira Queen’s court case for her complicity in the destruction of the Glades into turmoil. It was a rather unexpected twist, but not all that unexpected either since I had kind of been thinking along the same lines, I just got the scale of the whole thing wrong. And that’s not all that happens in this episode. We get to see kick-ass action on the Island too. And an old character from season 1 makes a return as well. Now that was a cliffhanger.
Well, they’ve gone and done it. First the Rogues decided to see what the Crime Syndicate was all about. They went to the big meeting at the location of the crashed Justice League Watchtower, they heard the spiel, they were mildly interested. They came back to Central City, only to find it pretty much wrecked and the heads of humans and apes mounted on sticks. Then the Deathstorm and Power Ring showed up and told them to destroy the city. Captain Cold said no. And that, as they say, was that.
Brian Buccellato’s take on the Rogues has been one of the best things about his work. Whether it is in the recent issues of The Flash or in the recent one-shots and the new mini-series Rogues Rebellion, he’s made the characters into a really interesting team, characters that you can get along with and be invested in. He continues that in the second issue of this Forever Evil tie-in mini-series, and he does it with style. The one big kicker though is that the first half of the issue was already done in Geoff Johns’ Forever Evil #3, and so half this issue is just recap material unfortunately. Entertaining though!