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The Phantom Stranger #15 (Comics Review)

The new year might have come but comics are still dealing with ongoing events that began last year, and one of these events is Forever Evil by DC in which the world has been taken over by the supervillains and evil is everywhere. Tying into this larger event is an 18-part mini-event Forever Evil: Blight which deals with the goings on in the supernatural world and concerns the remnants of the Justice League Dark as per their reformation since October last year and DC’s mythological (New 52) heavyweights Pandora and the Phantom Stranger. Till now, I’ve read only the Phantom Stranger and Justice League Dark issues of the crossover, both written by J. M. Dematteis but I have to say its been quite a fun time and Phantom Stranger #14 ended in a really good place.

Phantom Starnger #15 carries on directly from the ending of Justice League Dark #26 from the previous week, and its actually quite exciting to see this entire story develop. Having read the new issue, I do feel that I should really catch up on Ray Fawkes’ Pandora and Constantine since there is finally a lot of crossover between the books, with references being thrown back and forth, but still, I feel that if you are reading both Phantom Stranger and Justice League Dark then you are good. You’ll get the story here and you won’t be lost. Plus Fernando Blanco, Miguel Sepulveda, Brad Anderson and Travis Lanham’s art is pretty good too.

Note: This review contains some minor spoilers about the issue.

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The Phantom Stranger #14 (Comics Review)

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.

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Damian: Son of Batman #2 (Comics Review)

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.

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The Phantom Stranger #10-13 by J. M. DeMatteis (Comics Review)

Part of DC’s third wave of launch titles for its New 52 reboot from 2011 was The Phantom Stranger, written by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio and drawn by Brett Anderson. I picked up the zero issue (which was the first of the new ongoing) in September last year but I wasn’t too taken with it. The story just didn’t work for me, and I ended up ignoring the title altogether. But then came the Trinity War event this year and since a different writer was on the series at the time, I decided to read the tie-in issues and see if things had gotten better. They had.

I’ve been reading The Phantom Stranger since issue #10 (July), and I have to say that I’m really enjoying. There’s something about DeMatteis’ writing that really draws you in, presents a compelling character that you can really follow, with some great premises in each issue and a great build-up of all the mysteries in Phantom Stranger’s life. It also helps that Fernando Blanco is an excellent artist. All of which means that, first with Trinity War and now with the Forever Evil: Blight arcs, I’m really enjoying this series.

Note: This review contains spoilers for Trinity War and possibly the Forever Evil story so far.

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Damian: Son of Batman #1 by Andy Kubert (Comics Review)

Over the years, Batman has had several sidekicks, three of them being Robins, and a Batgirl. At least, that’s what I knew until I began reading the New 52 branded comics. And suddenly, as I started to read more comics and read the wiki-lore, I understood that Batman even had a son, and that there have been two more Batgirls and even a Robin in the far future when Bruce is all old and retired. The one thing that really stuck out at me was that Batman had a son, Damian, from Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Talia.

Despite my interest in the character I didn’t really read any of the comics related to him, except for the first volume of Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman and Robin for the New 52, which I found to be mediocre at best. Damian just didn’t work for me as a character.

Earlier this year, Damian was killed off in the pages of Batman, Inc which was written by Grant Morrison, the man who had created the character several years ago. In the midst of all the hype surrounding the death, DC announced a 4-issue “what if?” mini-series that would bring the character back. I was mildly interested. After reading it, I’m just completely disappointed.

Note: This contains some spoilers about the issue.

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