Category Archives: Batman

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: February 7 – 13, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

Untitled

The best comic I read last week was Batman #40

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Joelle Jones

Batman #36 is the best Valentine’s Day comic book I have ever read. No, strike that: it is the best comic about love I have ever read. No kidding.

Joelle Jones’ work is all but perfect and she is comfortable with characters in costume and out. The choices she makes in staging her scenes are ever inventive and compelling. Her figures have scope and scale. They look like she wants them to look and their appearances do not alter panel-to-panel. I would love to see her on a big-team book, a top tier title. She deserves that kind of exposure.

Tom King continues his love letter to Batman and his love letter to, well, love in the “Super Friends” arc. I am so heavily invested in things working out for Batman and Catwoman that I am surprised. He has such a handle on both of them and they speak in distinct voices. One could read his scripts without attribution and know whose dialogue is whose. That is not something one can say of every book on the market. This is impressive.

The storyline itself is compelling, but the themes raise King’s Batman to an entirely different level. If he is not the best writer working in comics today, he is in the top five.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: January 17 – 23, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

One

The best comic I read last week was Batman #39

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Joelle Jones 

It is all Tom King all the time around these parts… but let us begin with the beautiful work of Joelle Jones. Her pencils in Batman have been simply breathtaking. She renders an impressive main character and her work on Selina Kyle and guest star Wonder Woman is equally impressive. Also powerful, dynamic and creative are the action scenes she creates and there is plenty of action in this issue.

The issue itself features a new character (Gentle Man – King has a knack for character names) who is involved an what amounts to an eternal struggle against evil and he hopes to tap out for a bit of a break. Wonder Woman and Batman step in for him and face battle-after-battle in his stead.

As it turns out, time in the dimension in which Gentle Man has been striving passes differently than time in ours, so Batman and Wonder Woman have ample opportunity to get to know one another better setting up a most intriguing cliffhanger. This development is played off the night-on-the-town Catwoman treats Gentle Man to and all of it is in service of the Batman and Catwoman getting married story line.

And, as I have come to expect from King and his collaborators, it is all incredibly well done.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: January 3 – 9, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

One

 

The best comic I read last week was Batman and the Signal #1

Writers:  Scott Snyder, Tony Patrick

Artist: Cully Hamner

There is a reason Cully Hamner was tapped to redesign many of the iconic looks of DC’s heroes in the recent re-booting craze: he is simply a terrific designer and artist and his mastery is on full display in Batman and the Signal #1. His design for The Signal’s costume is in perfect keeping with the subject of the book. His Batman is somehow realistic and vulnerable, hulking and invulnerable at the same time. With fine action and solid characterization, Hamner’s work makes me wish he was on monthly titles more often (or that I followed him more closely … which I will!).

The Signal is a (kind of) new hero in the DC Universe. He is Duke Thomas who has been in Batman’s orbit for a few years now. Rather than make Duke another Robin, Batman mastermind Scott Snyder (one of the writers here) has made him something different: a member of the “Bat-Family” who specifically confronts issues in the daytime. That is a nice twist.

Also very nice is the work on Duke as a character. Time has been taken with him, time to build a unique and distinct backstory and one that has legs. He is not a copy of anyone or anything else going on in comics and that is a good thing. Also good is that DC is launching him in a good, old-fashioned limited series. If he connects, we will see more of him in a solo book.

This is a well-handled debut that has me looking forward to more.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: December 20 – 26, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

 

One

The best comic I read last week was a TIE between Batman #37 and Marvel Two-in-One #1.

BATMAN:

Writer:  Tom King

Artist: Clay Mann

No shock here, I have selected Batman again but, hey, I told you I would! The double date between Bruce Wayne/Selina Kyle and Clark Kent/Lois Lane was even better than I thought it would be. When the hero couples show up at “Super Fair” at which everyone must wear costumes they realize they have three costumes among them. How ever will they get in? The solution? Bruce as Superman, Clark as Batman (complete with glasses over the top of the cowl!), Lois as Catwoman and Selina as… well, who in their right mind would try to keep Selina Kyle out of an event? That humorous start leads to a brilliant and, dare I write, beautiful story highlighting the new dynamic duo of the DC Universe: Lois and Selina. Give me more of these two! What a terrific issue (bracketing, for the second installment in a row, the overly sexualized interpretations of women by otherwise stellar Clay Mann)! What a great team, and by this I mean King and Mann, Bruce and Clark and, of course, Selina and Lois!

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE

Writer: Chip Zdarksky

Artist: Jim Cheung

The other dynamic duo of the week was the Human Torch and the Thing as written by Chip Zdarsky and illustrated by Jim Cheung. I so much want Marvel Two-and-One to be the Fantastic Four reboot we deserve. In this heartfelt, moving and pitch-perfect first issue, Johnny and Ben are back together (so we have the Fantastic Two!) and so well handled that I believe I can certainly take a series of arcs with just these two. Zdarsky’s style is well suited here. He has a light touch that is just what this book needs. Cheung is one of the best pencillers in the business and his work is just as good here as it Zdarsky’s. I loved this book and I cannot wait for more… and for FOUR!

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: December 6 – 12, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

Untitled

The best comic I read last week was Batman #36.

Writer:  Tom King

Artist:  Clay Mann

I do not often regale The Cinnamon Girl, my lovely wife, with what happened in my comic books in the course of any given week. For me to say something to her about any book I have read means something very clever or very special happened in the given issue.

I told The Cinnamon Girl  about Batman #36. I told her with enthusiasm.

Batman #36 follows more of the story of the engagement of Batman and Catwoman.

And let us pause for a moment and note that writer Tom King is putting together a significant story arc featuring DC Comics’ most famous character which deals, not with a super villain’s nefarious plan or a crisis facing Gotham City, but with the wedding plans of the main character. Bold choice.

And this particular issue deals with something that happens in all engagements: best friends must be told life is about to change. In this case, Batman and Superman must come to grips with the fact that Batman is about to wed Catwoman and all that means for their friendship.

The issue is brilliant. It is funny and touching. It delves into the insecurities of powerful men and illustrates the power of secure women. Lois and Selina are far more than supporting characters here. They are main players and they are, clearly, more emotionally developed than their beaus.

Clay Mann’s pencils are solid and support the story nicely. There is a super villain to fight and he handles that work very well. What is less impressive, unfortunately, is the way he illustrates women. His women simply do not look like they could exist in any kind of real life and, while one can argue that is not the point of comic books and argue that convincingly, it seems to me that we have come to a point in which illustrations of women ought to be viewed differently than they have been or, perhaps, they are. Overall, however, Mann is on point and this issue is delightful.

Given that Batman #37 will feature a date night with Lois, Clark, Bruce and Selina, I think I can predict that #37 might find its way into the Best Sequential Art in two weeks…

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: November 29 – December 5, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

One

 

The best comic I read last week was Batman Annual #2.

Writer:  Tom King

Artist:  Lee Weeks and Michael Lark

The cover of Batman Annual #2 reads “Date Nights | Last Rites” and it should be taken literally. Writer Tom King continues his engrossing exploration of the Batman/Catwoman relationship which has, recently, taken a turn toward marriage. This annual reframes the beginnings of the conflict between the two characters as a budding flirtation centered on the idea that they both fill in pieces for the other, that each fits in the other’s life.

It is a compelling premise and the “joke” at the center of it – that they cannot agree on when they actually first met – plays out effectively and fulfillingly throughout the issue.

Broken into two parts, the Date Night portion and the Last Rites section, this issue is remarkably satisfying and surprisingly affecting. If the Last Rites chapter represents the “true” history of Batman and Catwoman, there is much for which to root and much for which to despair.

Lee Weeks handles the Date Nights section and Michael Lark the Last Rites piece. Both are terrific pencilers and have very complimentary styles. Both hew closer to the realistic than the cartoon-ish and, in that, they are perfect for writer King whose most absurd tendencies as a plotter remain anchored in the real world. And Lark draws the cutest black kitten you are likely to ever see in a comic book.

King and collaborators continue to make Batman a must, must, must read. This annual was no exception to that rule.

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Justice League: A (Spoiler Free) Movie Review


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justice-league-poster-fandango

Batman smiles!

But more on that later…

If one were to peruse my prior reviews of DC movies, one would find that I have been far more generous in my appraisal of their quality than widespread opinion has been. I have also enjoyed them more, it seems, than much of the movie-going public (though, for the negative reputations these movies have, someone is seeing them – they make a lot of dough!). It should come as no surprise, then, that I very much enjoyed Justice League. There is a Seven Samurai, bring the heroes together quality to the film that is intentional and that works very, very well. Each of the five (six?) heroes of the Justice League are spotlighted quite nicely as they determine whether or not to band together against, you know, ultimate evil.

Let us begin with that self-same ultimate evil. The glaring disappointment in the movie is Steppenwolf, the antagonist whose actions bring together the League. Like many (most?) superhero movies, Justice League has a difficult time establishing Steppenwolf as more than a powerful force bent on destroying the world. He is powerful. He might destroy the world. His motivation beyond that is murky as is the CGI that realizes him on screen. There are some breathtaking CGI scenes in Justice League – very cool, very fun visualizations. Steppenwolf, unfortunately, is not one of them. He is just another generic, superhero movie villain with very little, visually or otherwise, to distinguish him.

The members of the League itself, however? Not generic. At all.

Justice League has a tonally different feel from the prior movies of the DC universe. Where those movies, in my opinion, delved surprisingly deeply into the implications of heroes living in the “real world” and the ramifications of their presence, Justice League end-runs any significant thematic rumblings in favor of save-the-world dynamics. And the dynamics are engaging, exciting and fun.

Batman (Ben Affleck having much fun in the cowl) knows something is coming for the Earth. He learned this at the end of Batman v Superman and he is aware that his actions have left the earth vulnerable, aware that Superman’s death is, at least partially, his responsibility. He and Wonder Woman (the again terrific Gal Gadot) embark on a quest to bring together other meta-humans to face the coming crisis. These are the meta-humans Batman and Wonder Woman learned of from Lex Luthor’s jump drive in Batman v Superman and the fun kicks into high gear when the team starts to come together.

Say what you wish about Zack Snyder as a director. I believe it is difficult to fault his casting choices. Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (the Flash) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg) are all terrific and bring much to the party. Miller’s Barry Allen is a particular delight and he had a challenging task to differentiate himself from Grant Gustin’s popular turn as the Flash on television. His performance more than does that. He is hilarious and endearing. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg is the surprising heart of the movie and the depths that could be mined with the character point to great potential. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman has a bit more going on than the tough-guy images shared in the previews might suggest. Individually they are good.

Together, they are great.

The fun of Justice League is found in the well drawn interplay among the leaguers. Director Zack Snyder, writer Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, who came into the movie very late in the process (and it is very difficult to tell where Whedon picked up from where Snyder left off) know that their stars will carry the day, so much so that the plot of the movie, which is more than serviceable, is less important than the players. It is difficult to single out any combination of the Leaguers as the best combination and that is a credit to cast and director.

If the DC movies (save the almost universally well received Wonder Woman) have been bleak, humorless, gray and meandering, Justice League set out to and succeeded in rising above those critiques. The movie begins briskly and does not take its foot off the gas until the final stinger scene (at the far end of the credits… stick around, people). It is rumored that Warner Bros. mandated a running time of no more than two hours. While I would have loved to have seen a bit more (and a long run time may have addressed some of the Steppenwolf issues), I understand the choice. And it works.

Justice League is a big, fun, superhero team origin story. It is a story of redemption for Batman who lightens up in this one, who cracks jokes and smiles and, through whom, perhaps the upcoming DC movie slate is changed. Future DC movies are well positioned following Justice League.

And, hey, let’s get Justice League II on the schedule.

Now, that the team is in place, I want to see what happens next.

JUSTICE LEAGUE receives FOUR AND A HALF BAT SMILES out of a possible FIVE.

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