Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things….from 2012

Christmas is right around the corner, and after that, it’s all over for 2012 (and possibly the world?). Anyways, with the end of the year comes time to reflect on all of the big nerd events of the year, and In what has become somewhat a tradition for me in this column is the annual “Best of”/”Worst of” lists that I like to construct for…well, myself really. So, we’ll start things off this week with a look at the good side of all things nerdery for 2012, then next week we’ll look at the bad side of 2012. So, without further ado, may I present my favorite nerd things of 2012!!!

hawkeye-fraction-aja-hollingsworth-2Hawkeye

If you had told me a year ago that one of my favorite ongoing titles was going to be starring Clint Barton, I would’ve laughed in your face. But amazingly, the book focusing on the Avenging Archer’s adventures when he’s not with the Avengers has become one of the top books on my pull, and much of it is thanks to writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja. The two work perfectly in sync with one another to give us some of the best single and double issues stories of the year, something that there’s not enough of on the stands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquamanaquaman_01_04_aksjdfh7asdfa2

Speaking of books that I never in a million years would’ve thought I’d enjoy, Aquaman continued to pick up steam in its second year of the New 52. While some titles started to lose focus or experience creative changes, Geoff Johns focused his story on Arthur Curry and the team he formed BEFORE he was a member of the Justice League. After spending the opening 6 issues showing us how badass Aquaman is, he was able to cut loose and expand on the back-story that many people thought they already knew. Between the revelations of his time with The Others, to the awesome battle with Black Manta, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis not only made Aquaman a top tier book, they made it a continually GOOD top tier book.

 

 

 

 

MV5BMTk2NTI1MTU4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg0OTY0Nw@@._V1._SY317_CR0,0,214,317_Marvel’s The Avengers

What’s there to be said about The Avengers that hasn’t already been said? Easily the king4 of the summer (sorry Dark Knight Rises…I still love you though), it was proof positive that Marvel Studios’ plan worked, and exposed the team to an even larger fan base than it’s ever seen before. Joss Whedon was such a perfect choice to direct this event that it’s impossible to now think of anyone BUT him who could’ve pulled it off, not to mention the fact that his backlog of material has also benefitted because of the film’s success. With a deal struck with Whedon for not only the sequel, but as creative consultant for the rest of the films Marvel will be producing, it’s a safe bet that the Marvel cinematic universe is in good hands.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Death Of The Family”batman-death-of-the-family-teaser1

Yes, some of the tie-ins haven’t been great (looking at you, Catwoman), but the main story playing out in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s second Batman arc is proving to be one of the best Joker stories of all time. From Snyder’s horrific story to Capullo’s haunting artwork, the Joker’s return to the bat-universe has made the Clown Prince Of Crime a seemingly unstoppable omniscient malevolent force, and I couldn’t love it more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MV5BMTk4ODQzNDY3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODA0NTM4Nw@@._V1._SY317_The Dark Knight Rises

Many people have problems with Christopher Nolan’s finale to his “Dark Knight Trilogy”, and I completely understand. In fact, if you think I’m praising him just because he’s Christopher Nolan, check back next week. Despite some minor gripes, Christopher Nolan gave comic book fans the one thing they will never see in a Batman comic: an ending. In a day and age when film studios screw over their creative departments left and right to make as much money as possible, it was refreshing to see a director not only stay on a superhero franchise for the entire trilogy, but not be interfered with the by the studio.

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel NOW!2448775-marvelnow

No one is more surprised than me to find this on the list. I’ll admit, when I first heard of Marvel’s new relaunch, I was EXTREMELY skeptical. What seemed like an attempt to streamline the Marvel comic universe to look more like the movie one turned out to not only be true, but also to be extremely kick ass. Books like Indestructible Hulk and Deadpool have me picking up titles that I had given up on two years ago, and writers like Jonathan Hickman and Brian Michael Bendis have started planting seeds for some interesting plot points for the years ahead. Sure, there are a few duds (X-Men: Legacy or Iron Man anyone?) but by and large, I’ve enjoyed more of the NOW! books that I’ve picked up than not.

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing_Spider-Man_Film_April_2012_PosterThe Amazing Spider-Man

Yet another film that people have a problem with, The Amazing Spider-Man was the reboot of Peter Parker on the big screen. Yes, it was too early to reboot. Yes, we didn’t need to see the origin again. Yes, that after credit scene made NO SENSE. But you know what? None of that springs to mind when I think of the movie. What I think of are the fantastic performances by Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Garfield was light years better than Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, and anyone who tries to argue that Kirsten Dunst is good in anything will get a web punch in the face. Amazing Spider-Man got more right when it comes to Spider-Man than the previous trilogy did, and just because it stumbled a few times out of the gate doesn’t mean I don’t have high hopes that the next one will truly soar.

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man AND Avenging Spider-Man!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

ASM_700_CoverAmazing Spider-Man #700

This is it. The big one. The whole shebang. The culmination of Doc Ock body swapping with Spider-Man. Amazing Spider-Man ends here, and if you somehow haven’t gotten it spoiled by almost every major news outlet, you may be surprised by how the issue plays out.

Or not, if you’ve read the previous issues of the story, or seen Marvel’s solicitations for Superior Spider-Man, or read their Marvel NOW! Preview book they released last week.  Regardless, I’ll throw a SPOILER warning here just in case you somehow missed it and use a seeing eye dog to read your comics:

Doc Ock is the new Spider-Man. Peter Parker fails to undo the brain swap from two issues ago, and dies in Otto Octavius’ frail body.

The lead up to this event is done fairly well by writer Dan Slott, and certainly sticks the landing better than any of the previous Spidey events of this year. Leading his own band of villains, PeterOck attempts to get the attention of OckSpidey, knowing that Dr. Octopus would have to use his new body to fight off one of Spider-Man’s enemies.  Ock, on the other hand, has some nefarious ideas of his own, mainly involving getting all of Peter’s friends and family in the same “safe” zone and dealing with them later.

With time running out, PeterOck and OckSpidey eventually have their showdown at Avengers tower, the very place where Mary Jane, Aunt May, and others are being held. The two throw down, with Spider-Man acting very uncharacteristically nasty to his loved ones, and Dr. Octopus trying to protect people he’d never before think of.  PeterOck, with his crippled frail body dying out on him, makes one final stab at reversing the brain swap, and fails. As he lays dying, Dr. Octopus is suddenly swarmed with all of Peter Parker’s memories (Dr. Octopus has all of Peter’s memories since he’s in Peter’s body). Seeing as how the two enemies now have almost a shared consciousness now, Ock seemingly relives Peter’s memories as his life flashes before his eyes.. This causes him to see the error of his ways, and, motivated by the same things that motivated Peter to do good, inspire him to be a better hero than Peter Parker ever was. And thus, Superior Spider-Man is born.

Perhaps my indifference towards the big revelation regarding the identity of “Superior” Spider-Man stems from the fact that I know this will all be reversed by the time Amazing Spider-Man 2 is released in theaters (so in roughly 2 years). While the idea of a villain assuming the body and powers of a hero is an intriguing one, it’s kind of hard to believe in Ock’s sudden nobility. It seems to come out of left field, and in all honesty, felt a little rushed. I don’t completely buy the fact that Otto would have such a quick change of heart. In fact, it’s pretty hypocritical that Dr. Octopus, in trying to be a better person and not be a villain, stole the body of his greatest enemy (a hero), and is NOW trying to be a better person.  Perhaps Slott should’ve cut short one of the earlier action set pieces, or lengthened this story.

Speaking of Ock, while I may not be entirely sold on his new outlook on life, I do have to admit, Dan Slott writes the hell out of him.  You can practically feel the hatred he has for Spider-Man at the beginning of the book, and you really believe that just because he’s taken over Peter Parker’s body, he’s not going to stop there. I do have a problem with the fact that none of Peter’s friends call him out for calling them “simpletons”.  He calls MJ “woman!”, and she doesn’t even bat an eyelash at it. Seriously? No one suspects ANYTHING is up with Peter being uncharacteristically rude to them, not even the girl who dated him for years?

Humberto Ramos returns to the pencils with this issue, and I found this to be better than some of his more recent stints on the book. There’s still some wonky faces and poses (poor MJ’s chin), but for the most part, Ramos does a solid job here. I may not be entirely okay with the way Marvel is treating my favorite superhero, (in fact, I wonder what Peter Parker did to Marvel to make them hate him so much), but the fact that this “new status quo” will definitely be over within a year (two tops) makes the ending sit a little better than it should.

I guess.

 

Avenging Spider-Man #15.1MOCT120625

Picking up directly where Amazing Spider-Man #700 leaves off, Avenging Spider-Man‘s point one issue follows the first few days of Dr. Octopus in Peter Parker’s body. Where Amazing left off with Ock showing remorse and vowing to carry on as Spider-Man in Peter’s place, this book reads more like Ock is going to use his body to gloat and show how much smarter and better he is when compared to Spider-Man.

This disconnect really does take away from Amazing’s ending, and at times I felt that maybe writer Chris Yost didn’t fully understand what Slott was attempting with 700. Despite this, there are some fun moments, like when OckSpidey breaks into his old lab and hears his old voice over the alarm.  Aside from that, this serves more as a lead up to next month’s Superior Spider-Man than anything else. Ock is hellbent on using his intellect to make improvements that Parker never dreamed of, and I have to admit, I do like the redesigned costume.

Paco Medina’s art is probably the highlight of this issue. In fact, there’s a part of me that wishes he had drawn Amazing Spider-Man #700 instead of Ramos. He really nails the fact that even though this guy looks like Peter Parker, he certainly isn’t the REAL Peter Parker. As a coda to Amazing, Avenging Spider-Man 15.1 is pretty good, even if it doesn’t connect 100% with what Slott had seemingly established at the end of the Ock/Spidey battle. 

 

 

Comic Reviews: Uncanny X-Force, Red Hood & The Outlaws, and Happy!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

139093_s0Uncanny X-Force #35

And just like that, Marvel’s best title ends. Rick Remender’s phenomenal Uncanny X-Force has concluded, with an issue that goes out not really with a bang, but more like a soft whimper. That’s not bad at all, as we get some huge revelations regarding previous storylines, as well as some really touching moments from our cast of characters.

Following their harrowing battle with the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Wolverine decides to disband this X-Force team. Following the individual members in quick vignettes, the issue highlights just how unique this series was, taking over and under exposed characters and shedding a new light on them. While all of the vignettes are great, the standout is the one between Deadpool and Genesis, which is both hilarious and heartwarming, and easily proves that Remender should take over Deadpool if Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan leave the book.

Remender, who was already one of my favorite writers of the year, really outdoes himself with this issue. He even takes the return of a fan-favorite character and spins it completely on its head, giving us a very entertaining new status quo for the character. Couple this with the revelation of what Wolverine’s older self told him a few issues ago, and you have the markings of some fine long form writing here. Seeing characters like Wolverine, Deadpool, and especially Fantomex change from the first issue is truly remarkable feat, and I hope some of these changes that Remender has brought to the table stick around.

Phil Noto handles the art duties, and he does a stellar job with this character heavy issue. For a book known for it’s out there ideas and kick ass violence, it’s good to see that Noto is able to handle the quieter moments that this issue required. For those of you waiting for a complete run before diving in, be warned: like those of us following it from issue to issue, you’ll wish it didn’t end.

 

Red Hood & The Outlaws #15Red-Hood-and-the-Outlaws_15

Jason Todd finally confronts the Joker in this month’s issue of Red Hood & The Outlaws, and despite some awkward scene changes to Red Arrow and Starfire, this tie-in pretty much hits the mark. While not as good as last week’s Batman & Robin tie-in, it’s still nowhere near as bad as the Catwoman issue.

After seemingly murdering Jason Todd’s new girlfriend (?) , Joker kidnaps him before he can start his hunt. Waking up dazed, the Joker starts taunting Jason, leading him down a horrific maze filled with clues and memorabilia of Todd’s life. He turns one corner and sees the bullet casing that was removed from his Dad. He turns another, and sees a mock diorama of the night he found his mother dead in an alley. Writer Scott Lobdell really hits home the fact that Joker not only knows who Jason Todd is, but that he essentially set up Todd to become the second Robin (for details, see the zero issue of Red Hood & The Outlaws). I’m still not 100% sold on the idea of Joker planning EVERY aspect of Todd’s life to make him be Robin, but I did enjoy his dialogue with Jason. As he makes his way through the maze, Joker taunts him at every turn, calling him “son”. It all ends with an interesting, if out of left field, tie-in to Teen Titans‘ “Death Of The Family” crossover, which allegedly will have Jason Todd going up against Tim Drake.

While the Joker and Jason moments were great, the few moments with Red Arrow and Starfire…weren’t. Maybe it’s because I was so intrigued by the Joker’s torment of Jason Todd, but every time Lobdell decided to show us what Kori and Roy were up to, I felt like I was just waiting to get back to the main story. Of course, their “B plot” quickly intercepts with the main story of the book, and after one of the weirdest sequences in comics this year, they join up with the Teen Titans, ending the issue…even if it reads like they’re going to fight them.

Timothy Green II’s art at times almost mimics Kenneth Rocafort’s, but at the same time, it’s uniquely it’s own. His line work and figures fit perfectly with Lobdell’s script, and if he stays on the book for the time being, he may make great waves on the title.  As it stands right now, Jason Todd’s experience with the Joker is pretty cool, and thankfully nowhere near as dismal as Mr. J’s visit to Selina earlier this month.

 

Happy_3Happy! #3 (of 4)

Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s Happy! clips along at such a quick pace in this issue that it was almost a struggle to keep up with everything it threw at me. We get some huge revelations about Nick Sax’s life when he was cop, as well as a MASSIVE one regarding the Santa killer’s victim.  Perhaps having the setting be on a train was an intentional one, as it’s only when the train is forced to stop that we learn of Sax’s painful backstory. After that, it’s back to the races as the race heats up, and with only one issue left, there’s not much time to waste. Those who like their Grant Morrison comics more on the “real world” side and less in the psychedelic would be a fool to miss this series.

Bye, Bye, Batgirl

batgirl-vol-4-20110907042407375-000Well, this sucks.

As of yesterday, Gail Simone is done writing the adventures of Barbara Gordon, the new 52 Batgirl. While this news had been rumored for a while on many comic sites, the fact that it is now a reality is very disappointing. Simone’s love for the character practically bleeds off the page, and from her heartbreaking twitter feed the other day, you can tell it wasn’t a move she was planning on making anytime soon.

When Barbara Gordon was announced as the Batgirl of the New 52, I’ll admit, I was pretty pissed. However, once I heard that Gail Simone would be writing it, I knew I’d immediately be buying it. At the time I was devouring her Secret Six trades, and since that book wasn’t going to be a part of the DC relaunch, I figured I’d at least pick up the first issue of Batgirl and check it out. While I didn’t get any answers revolving around Barbara being out of the wheelchair she was confined to for 20+ years, Simone’s characterization of the Gordon as a “survivor” had me hooked. As someone who never saw Barbara Gordon really be Batgirl in the comics, it was refreshing to see her on the page, and watching Barbara overcome this incredible injury was really inspiring, and lead to Batgirl being one of the best titles of the DC relaunch.

Just as upsetting (but not as surprising) is the news that Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette will be leaving Swamp Thing with issue 18. I’m extremely sad to see Snyder leave the book, but he has a full load with Batman, Swamp Thing, American Vampire, a Vertigo book with Sean Murphy, and the upcoming Man Of Steel with Jim Lee. Instead of taking on too much and having his work suffer, he’s decided to bow out of Swampy at the end of “Rotworld”. In a tweet from the other day, Snyder said that he and Paquette always had an ending to their run, and that they believe they’ve found the best place to bow out. It’s the complete opposite of what happened to Simone, who was informed via e-mail that she would no longer be writing Batgirl.

Simone is a great writer, one of the best in the business, and she does not deserve to be taken off the book in this fashion. There’s no way DC could have pulled off Barbara Gordon returning as Batgirl without her, and it’s a shame that she’s leaving a character she obviously loves. While I’m sad to see Batgirl dropped from my pull list, I do know that wherever Simone goes, I’m likely to follow.

Up Next on CW: (should be) Gotham Central!

gotham-spotlightSurprise, surprise. Not only is CW’s Arrow a hit, but it’s the biggest hit the network has had since the premiere of Supernatural. It’s also surprisingly well done. Sure, the acting leaves a lot to be desired, and everyone is too pretty, but the “Christopher Nolan light” tone of the series works really well for Green Arrow, and the fight scenes are pretty entertaining.

However, I want more. Specifically more DC universe shows on CW. And even more specifically, I want Gotham Central airing on Wednesday nights after Arrow next season.

What’s Gotham Central, you ask? Only one of the best, most original takes on the Batman universe in the past decade. Written by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, the series shined a light on the police officers working in the worst city on Earth, under the shadow of a vigilante who undermines them at literally every turn. On top of all this, they have to deal with not only a city with more than it’s fair share of crime, but also with the likes of Mr. Freeze, Clayface, and of course, The Joker. It’s an idea so incredibly brilliant that when you read it you’re stunned that it hadn’t already been done before. And it’s a creative goldmine that CW is completely missing out on.

The beauty of Gotham Central is that it hardly focuses on Batman, if ever. This would allow television producers and directors access to one of the best fictional locations in history, but also won’t break the bank. There’d be no need to show the Batcave, Batmobile, or complex fight scenes between Batman and his foes because he’s not the focus: the men and women of the Gotham PD are. There are whole arcs where Batman never shows up except for brief moments to clean up the cops’ messes, and even then those scenes are rarely shown. It’s the type of show that’s tailor made for TV: a great, unique concept based around an extremely well known property.

So who would fill out the Gotham Major Crimes Unit? I for one think that Lance Reddick of The Wire and Fringe fame would make an awesome Crispus Allen, and I even think that Michelle Rodriguez would be a good Renee Montoya (which is saying something, cause I am not a fan of hers at all). Hell, I’d even throw Keith Mars himself, the awesome Enrico Colantoni (Just watch Veronica Mars and you’ll see) into the mix as either corrupt cop Jim Corrigan or a character created entirely for the show. You could even have Kristen Bell show up as Stacy, the MCU Temp who turns on the Bat Signal when the police (begrudgingly) call on Batman.

Gotham Central is such a no brainer for a show that it KILLS me that it doesn’t exist. Batman is still riding high from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and police procedurals will always be popular. Factor in the success of comic based shows like Arrow and The Walking Dead, and Warner Bros. would be a fool not to try and revive their initial plans for the show. As long as they involve Rucka and Brubaker in some capacity, there’s no way that Warner Bros. wouldn’t have a hit on their hands. They’ve sat on Justice League for too long, I just hope they learn their lesson and give us Gotham Central before it’s too late.

Comic Reviews: Batman, The Walking Dead, and Before Watchmen: Rorschach!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

bm_cov15-321x500Batman #15

Light on SPOILERS, but there may be some!

A slower issue than the previous two, Batman #15 still continues to drive the main plot of “Death of The Family”, and gives us our lead in to the crossovers that have been happening in the numerous Bat-books. Following the revelation that The Joker knows the identities of Batman and his allies, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo turn down the action just a tad to give us some necessary exposition, namely how it would be possible for The Joker to know their identities.

By having Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl, Red Hood, and Damien all confront Bruce at once and demand to know the story behind Joker possibly knowing their identities, Snyder not only provides us with the backstory, but strengthens the pull that Joker has on not only  Batman’s allies, but himself as well. Bruce is so sure that the Joker is bluffing that he nearly refuses to tell them the story behind Joker’s claims, and even then he tells them that he left them in the dark for their own good. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that it definitely leaves Joker’s claim open to interpretation, and I side with Bruce on his take that the Joker is bluffing (for now).  Snyder really sells the fear behind the Joker possibly knowing his worst enemies’ identities, and more importantly, he really sells the idea that Nightwing and Co. not only want to help Bruce take on Mr. J, but that they are ready as well.

Greg Capullo, as always, continues to dominate this series. His opening page is single-handedly one of the scariest images of the Joker I’ve ever seen. It’s downright horrific, yet at he same time you can’t look away.  You can practically smell the dead flesh falling off of his face. It’s sure to cause many a nightmare among Bat-fans and young readers. Equally as cool is the final page, whose imagery harkens back to Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum. 

Once again, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have added another home run to their phenomenal run on the series. While it’s not as action packed as issues 13 and 14, there’s plenty to like here, and I can’t wait for next issue.

 

The Walking Dead #105Walking-Dead-105-Cover

Man, Negan is one f%$&(#d up S.O.B.  Picking up exactly where the last issue left off, Carl has infiltrated Negan’s stronghold, and he is not happy.  What follows is really unsettling, mainly because you know from  past experiences that Robert Kirkman is not afraid to go places with “untouchable” characters. At first, you start to wonder what Negan’s plans really are with Carl. He seems to act almost like a cool uncle, not like the guy who just bashed in a certain survivor’s skull a few issues ago. Just when you start to think things will be okay for Carl, things get weird. BUT, then when things start to look really, really weird and horrifying, Kirkman switches gears and shows us something else that’s just as bad. By issue’s end, we don’t know what will happen to Carl, or if Rick has even realized where he’s gone.

Kirkman does a good job showcasing the interior of Negan’s stronghold, and his strange “point system” that his people use to get goods and services. Charlie Adlard’s character work remains as reliable as always, and when he needs to turn it up for the gore, he does it in spades. The Walking Dead is picking up steam and building to something big once again, I just hope everyone I love in the series survives this time.

 

BW_RORSC_Cv3Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3 (of 4)

Well, that was quite the delay, DC.  The third issue of Rorschach’s pre-Watchmen tale has finally arrived, and even though I barely remember what happened in the last issue, this one left me hungry for more (in a good way). Rorschach is still on the trail of “The Bard”, and insane serial killer who’s been carving messages into the bodies of the women he kills. Of course, “on the trail” for Rorschach means “brutally beating/killing any scumbag I see”.

The issue isn’t all action though. There’s a nice, awkward scene between Walter Kovacs and the waitress at the Gunga Diner, which unfortunately doesn’t look like it’ll work out too well by the end of the issue. Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo give us more action and plot in this one issue than in the previous two, I just hope we don’t have to wait another 2+ months for the finale.

 

 

Comic Reviews: The Avengers, Detective Comics, and The Legend of Luther Strode!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

avengenowAvengers  #1

Jonathan Hickman has moved from one major Marvel team to an even bigger one.  Teaming with Uncanny X-Force artist Jerome Opena, Hickman’s plan for the book is to go bigger, in every sense of the word: bigger team, bigger stakes, and bigger scope. By and large, this issue works incredibly well, and is possibly Hickman’s most accessible book in a while.

Opening with a flash forward that evokes memories of Grant Morrison’s Batman storyline,  we learn of a massive battle that is to come, and then flash back to focus on two men: Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers. Tony awakens from a dream, and explains to Steve that he has a feeling. Something big is coming, and they need to be prepared for it. They need to go bigger, in case that day arrives. Flash forward 3 months, and it seems that day has arrived. After tracking a mysterious biochemical bomb that attacked Earth to Mars, Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye (so the movie team), arrive on the red planet, which has now gone green.  A crew of mysterious villains have landed on Mars, and desire to recreate life on our sister planet. After a spectacular battle that unfortunately ends with our heroes defeated, a battered Captain America is sent back to Earth as a message to the planet.  Thankfully Captain America and Iron Man acted on Tony’s premonition 3 months ago, and had been quietly recruiting more people to join the Avengers ranks. Now, readying to launch a rescue mission, Cap puts out the call to the reserves, leaving us with a cliffhanger that has me salivating for issue 2!

Thankfully this opening issue of Avengers is an accessible Jonathan Hickman issue. While I enjoy his writing a lot, there are times where I’ve found myself scratching my head while reading some of his past stories. However, this issue is the best balance of crazy, epic ideas and accessibility. Using the “movie” team as the first team to head to Mars is a great idea to get new readers into this book. While a group of demi-godish creatures recreating life on Mars is extremely out there, but having those characters is the hook new readers need to effectively set up the stakes, and get us to where we need to be by issue’s end. Hickman gives us just enough information on these enemies to understand what they’re doing, yet he still keeps much of their background a mystery as well.

Equally as important in this issue, Jerome Opena’s art is fantastic. The battle between the Avengers and their new foes is suitably large and grandiose, but there’s also plenty of quieter moments that stand out, like Tony at his computer in the beginning of the issue, or Banner right before the Avengers leave the quinjet on Mars (which was hands down my favorite panel of the week).  Avengers  is one of the stand out premiere issues of the Marvel NOW! relaunch, and looks to be one of the biggest runs on the team ever.

 

Detective Comics #15Detective-Comics-15

I’ll SPOIL this one thing for all of you expecting Joker to feature prominently in this “Death Of The Family” tie in: he doesn’t. Despite having one of the sweet die cut covers, the latest issue of Detective Comics shows the Clown Prince twice. However, that doesn’t mean that this issue is bad. Not in the slightest. In fact, ever since John Layman and Jason Fabok took over this title from Tony Daniels, Detective Comics has easily become one of the top Batman books that DC is publishing currently.

Concluding the Clayface/Poison Ivy story,  this issue finds Batman attempting to subdue Clayface, and more importantly, find out Poison Ivy has been able to control him.  Layman’s script is very solid, and features lots of funny asides, something that you wouldn’t expect to find in a Batman book. When it comes to that art, where has Jason Fabok been my entire life? It seems like this guy showed up out of nowhere, but if you look at his pencils, it looks like the work of seasoned pros. He’s quickly becoming not only one of my favorite Batman artists, but one of my favorite artists, period. For those turned off by Daniels’ start on the series,  they’d be wise to check this book out. 

 

 

lowlegendi1coverjpg-9d929d_800wThe Legend Of Luther Strode #1 (of 6)

One of the most anticipated titles of 2012, The Legend Of Luther Strode is the sequel to Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore’s awesome (and awesomely violent) debut series, The Strange Talent Of Luther Strode. Picking up five years after the original story, the first issue of the sequel series serves as both an excellent continuation of the story of Luther Strode, but at the same time is a great jumping on point for people who’ve never heard of the original story.  It’s book that’s not for the squeamish (ever wanted to see a guy’s head get punched so hard it explodes?), but it captures the feelings of loss, loneliness, and vengeance that Luther Strode has dealt with in the years since the previous story’s finale.  He lost everything the last time we saw him, and now that he has nothing left to lose, he’s even more dangerous than ever.

Writer Justin Jordan and artist Tradd Moore have made a lot of headway in the year since they started the original Luther Strode series. Jordan is currently writing Shadowman for Valiant and Team 7 for DC (where he’ll soon start on Deathstroke as well), and Moore was featured in the digital Legends of The Dark Knight series. It’s awesome to see that even though these guys are starting to get some notice from bigger publishers that they’re still returning to the series that started it all for them. The Strange Talent of Luther Strode was one of my favorite titles of the year, and I’m happy to say that the first issue of the sequel is just as good, if not better. Seriously, buy it.

The Justice League “Rises”

WARNING: Spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises are in this article! If you somehow still haven’t seen it, get the blu ray, watch it, and then read this!

It’s no secret that Marvel’s cinematic success has caught Warner Bros. with their pants down. Having owned the license for the DC universe’s stable of characters for years, they could’ve done what Marvel has in their films years before Iron Man, Thor, and The Avengers were even dreamed of. But they didn’t, and are now scrambling to catch up and create their own rival series to Marvel’s box office behemoths. How will they create their own universe? Will they start with Man Of Steel? Or create a Justice League film that stands on its own and branch characters off of that (kind of like a reverse of what Marvel Studios has accomplished)?

Well, if the rumors circulating on the Internet are true, the Justice League movies won’t start with Man Of Steel. It’ll start with something we’ve already seen. In fact, you could argue it’s already begun. According to Hitflix, Warner Bros. has decided to continue on with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and include that version of Batman in Justice League. “But wait,” you say, “I thought Dark Knight Rises ended with Bruce Wayne faking his death, and alluded to John Blake finding the Batcave, presumably to become the new Batman?” Why yes, yes it did.

This rumor fills me with a lot of mixed emotions. For one, the Nolan Batman films are very much rooted in reality. It’s a “hyper reality” yes, but there’s a ton of things in the Nolan trilogy that could conceivably happen in real life if someone had the resources to fight crime on a nightly basis. Throwing the Nolanverse Batman into a world that features a flying Kryptonian, an Amazonian princess, and a (badass) guy who can talk to fish is too sudden of a change for a character that has had three movies establishing a realistic tone and world. Now, you can argue that since there’s never been any mention of Superman, Wonder Woman, or Aquaman (or even other DC characters for that matter) that this argument is moot, but at the same time, if someone like Superman was around at the same time that a crazy masked terrorist blew up a football field and took over a major city, don’t you think he would’ve taken time out of his schedule to swing by and lend a hand? (Unless, of course, we find out Superman didn’t make his presence known until after the events of TDKR.)

Yet another feeling of uneasiness over this rumor is the role Batman will play in it. Well, not so much Batman, as who will be the man behind the cowl. Now here’s where we get into major, super duper SPOILER territory. I warned you at the beginning of this column, and I’m warning you again here. If you still (somehow) haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, go no further.

Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman at the end of TDKR. If Warner Bros. rumor is true, they have Joseph Gordon Leavitt signed up to presumably be the new Batman. So, we would have a Justice League film with Batman, but without Bruce Wayne behind the cowl.

Now, I really enjoyed the ending to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. It tied up his version of the character wonderfully, as well as handled the themes he wanted to handle really well. As a Batman fan, I like seeing the legacy of the character, and the different ways the mantle is handed down, whether it’s in Batman Beyond, Dick Grayson taking over like in the past few years of the comic, or even at the end of this recent trilogy. But, Bruce Wayne IS Batman. The creation of the Batman originates from a horrific tragedy that happened to him, and only him. Yes, characters like Terry McGinnis and Dick Grayson also suffer personal tragedies that would justify their reasons for becoming Batman, but to honest, I don’t feel that John Blake had that in Rises. Bruce Wayne dedicated his life to the extreme for this idea, traveling the world, honing his mind and body to absolute human perfection, whereas if you want to get really technical about it, Blake has next to zero training to be able to do what Batman is expected to do.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this rumor (which, for the record, has already been refuted by Joseph Gordon Leavitt’s representatives). There are interesting aspects to Blake being Batman (like possibly Blake’s death forcing Bruce out his retirement?), but I would rather that not be focused on in a Justice League film. I completely understand why DC would want to connect their previous films (especially with how profitable the Dark Knight trilogy has been), but lets face it, even after Rises, an overwhelming amount of the general public views Bruce Wayne as Batman. Besides, Marvel had their Avengers plan laid out back with Iron Man, it’s not like they just suddenly decided to make Avengers after they had Iron Man 1 and 2 and Thor released. So Warners cut your losses and create a new Batman to put in Justice League. You’ll save yourself and Batman fans like me a big headache.