First off, apologies to everyone who was waiting for this review to up yesterday, as expected. I ended up going to a cousin’s birthday party in the evening and that took up a huge chunk of my reading time. And when I sat down to read the issues again for the review, I was just way too tired and kept dozing off in the middle. So once again, apologies.
Now, for the review. Given the immense proliferation of Batman-related titles in the New 52, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run is the only one I stuck with when I begin reading comics again last year. It was a maze of titles and I was unsure what to pick up. Recently, my fellow The Founding Fields reviewer Bane of Kings was talking quite highly about John Layman’s run on the title so I decided to pick it up from its fourth volume arc, starting on the special #19 issue which commemorates what would have been the 900th issue of Detective Comics had DC not renumbered their titles for the New 52.
And I found that I quite enjoyed these issues. Layman’s writing is fantastic, easily a match for Snyder’s and the same can be said for Fabok’s art, which is just as good as Capullo’s but is stylistically different. Whether its the special, or the conclusion of the Emperor Penguin saga or the League of Assassins one-shot or the three-issue arc with the villain Wrath, I enjoyed both the writing and the artwork. Fabok is already a favourite and now I’m a Layman fan as well.
Note: Some minor spoilers for the backups are mentioned in this review.
DC’s Forever Evil is hitting its stride as the main-event and the four tie-ins across some seven titles get off to a rollicking start and move into their meatier moments. There is absolute chaos in the world right now and in Tomasi’s Arkham War mini-series, we see how that chaos is mirrored in the no-holds barred chaos in Gotham, where two criminal factions are going full-out at each other. Bane, powered by the Venom super-serum is leading one side, while the Society-backed Scarecrow is leading the other side, defined by the majority of the freak villains that call the city their playground.
The first issue of the series was quite promising. It was slightly better than I expected and the way that Tomasi wrote all the character interactions and sprinkled the hints of his longer plan for the series was really engaging. Of course, I didn’t get the big all-out fight I expected but the issue gave me enough to come back for this issue, which does involve some big splash scenes between the villains (and supervillains) of both sides. But, there are a few missteps made that I find really, really odd.
After all the heavy build-up in the Villain’s Month issues, we finally get around to the first Forever Evil tie-in. It is slightly disappointing that Trinity War didn’t turn into a full-blown event but turned into a “road to…” kind of prequel, but the “main” event is still pretty fun. Villain’s Month gave us week after week of villainous one-shots and the Gotham-centric issues all were prequels to this, the crazy inmates of Arkham against the regular soldiers under the command of Bane himself.
I wasn’t too taken with the Scarecrow #1 and Bane #1 issues, and they were primarily a case of the writing being a letdown instead of the art, but still, Arkham War is something I was looking forward to. It has a really cool concept and it features some of Batman’s most iconic villains, so what’s not to love?
At this point, I think its quite safe to say that Frank Tieri is another of my favourite comic writers working in the industry right now. Before DC’s Villain’s Month, I’d never heard of him, which is not surprising since I wasn’t really reading comics until last year and even then I was pretty limited in my reading. However, with last week’s Penguin issue, and this week’s Man-Bat issue, not to mention his Infinity: Heist #1 (review tonight!), Frank keeps impressing me.
I remember coming across the Man-Bat for the first time in Batman: The Animated Series, and then, just last month as I began to read the current arc of John Layman’s Detective Comics, which features backups that go into some depth with the character. Suffice to say, I think Man-Bat is a fun supervillain for Gotham, thematically and otherwise, and I’ve definitely enjoyed all the outings of the character that I have come across. Frank’s Detective Comics #23.4 is no different in that regard.