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Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #4 [Review]

Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Coloring: Joey Mason
Editor: Jann Jones
Cover: Eric Jones
Publisher: Johnny DC/DC Comics

This series just keeps getting better and better.

We begin this issue with an ominous scene of a student running from some clawed beast in the dark of the school’s halls, and then flip back to earlier in the day. We see that Kara is trying to solve her vulnerability-to-Kryptonite problem so that she could be of better use to her older cousin (visualized by a glimpse of her imaginary Moon Supergirl persona). Snapped back to other things she has to deal with, she inadvertantly exposes a cat to the Kryptonite she’s been working on. After Kara, Lena, and Belinda find themselves in a mostly empty school and begin to investigate, they come across a cat that seems to have Supergirl’s powers–and who they discover to have access to an underground lab where other students are being held. Amidst their tussel with the cat, Lena discovers Kara’s dual identity which puts a bit of a strain on their relationship.

This is my favorite issue yet. We wouldn’t be to this point if we didn’t have the earlier issues, as they introduced us to characters and concepts that play roles in this issue’s story. But this issue was just so thoroughly enjoyable that I’m quite sad to realize there are only two issues left. If ever a mini-series should be updgraded to an ongoing, this is one of ’em!

The art is strongly consistent with earlier issues–the primary characters are completely recognizeable, and the style of other smaller/newer characters fit in seamlessly with the established characters. The style puts me (as usual) very much in mind of contemporary animated series one might find on the Cartoon Network, while maintaining the feel of the intended media–this is a comic book, after all, and not a cartoon. The depiction of the cat is particularly amusing.

The story–as said–builds on what’s already been established. Though this is slated to be only a 6-issue mini-series, we have all the trappings of an ongoing series. Characters are changing and developing as we go along, with still loads of potential for continued growth beyond a mere two more issues. The story in this issue is at once self-contained and yet continues to develop over-arching themes.

All in all, this is one of the most enjoyable comics I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended!

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Batman: Cacophony #3 [Review]


Writer: Kevin Smith
Penciller: Walt Flanagan
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colorist: Guy Major
Lettering: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Jann Jones
Editor: Dan Didio
Cover: Adam Kubert (variants by Bill Sienkiewicz)
Publisher: DC Comics

This is one of very few mini-series that I’ve actually bought in this day ‘n age of virtually guaranteed collected-volumes. I’m also largely avoiding $3.99 books, but have allowed this as an exception given that it has a full 30 pages of actual story rather than being standard-size. That said, I’m not convinced this was worth it.

This issue picks up with the Batman/Joker/Onomatopoeia standoff on the roof. The Joker behaves typically, and we see what steps Batman has taken for dealing with Onomatopoeia. The story then derails when that villain turns on the Joker, and Batman struggles with a decision that will affect both himself and the citizens of Gotham.

The art is very good, and I really found nothing to take issue with. The characters are shown rather iconically (or “generic,” if you prefer that term). This is a fairly timeless sort of story, with no apparent ties to main continuity–unless it can be found to tie to a version of the characters found in Superman/Batman and Brave and the Bold. Flanagan, Hope, and Major seem to make a great team for Batman visuals that carry a great deal of detail without being overly realistic.

The story wasn’t much to my liking, though I really wanted to like it, being a fan of much of Smith’s past work in the DCU. However, this issue felt like it was trying too hard to be THE “Batman/Joker” confrontation or “conversation.” Their conversation while the Joker was on anti-psychotic drugs felt forced and more than a little (much as I hate to use the term) “fanboyish.” I really didn’t buy the condition of the characters, and can’t help but compare this to The Killing Joke, which I feel sees the characters have it out in a much more satisfying way. Though typical Smith (injecting often crude, but realistic comments everyday people in certain conditions might make), I also did NOT buy Joker’s comment about what he saw, nor that Bruce would repeat it in conversation with Alfred.

All in all, this isn’t a bad issue, but it is a letdown from what I’d expected–whatever it was–from a Smith Batman story. If you’ve snagged the first couple issues, or are able to get all 3 in one go, it ought to be worthwhile as an out-of-continuity/stand-alone story (or if there’s a reasonably-priced collected volume). If you’re on a budget and trying only to stick to “essential” stuff right now, I can’t recommend this. Dinged a half-point as it was a letdown as a whole.

Story: 7/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Gotham Gazette: Batman Dead? #1 [Review]

The Veil, Vicki Vale, Stephanie Brown, Leslie Thompkins, Harvey Bullock

Written by: Fabian Nicieza
Art by: Dustin Nguyen, Guillem March, ChrisCross, Jamie McKelvie, Alex Konat, Mark McKenna
Letters: Swands
Colors: Guy Major, Guillem March
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: DC Comics

This one-shot takes a quick look to check in with several major characters operating in Gotham City, and how they are impacted by the apparent death of Batman. The opening/closing is from the point of view of The Veil, who I’m pretty sure is the character introduced in a recent Detective/Batman two-parter. The scene shifts from her to the other characters. Vicki Vale is back in town, working for the Gotham Gazette again, rather than a tv studio; she finds herself needing to re-proove her abilities at the paper, and seeks to contact Bruce Wayne who also seems to be gone, though there have been a number of sightings of the man around the world. At the same time, Stephanie Brown–Spoiler/Robin IV–looks at the city from her (apparent) new role as she observes Robin (Tim Drake) in action. Leslie Thompkins returns to the city, and seeks to get a feel for herself of what the city is like now, minus its caped crusader. Harvey Bullock has his hands full with a new partner as he himself continues working back from his recent “fall from grace.”

We have a number of artists on this issue, each providing the visuals for the different characters’ chapters. Nothing really stood out to me…which is both good and bad here: bad because hey, nothing blew me away. But it’s good as nothing stood out that I’ve any real complaint with. That each artist contributed to a specific chapter speaks to me of intention rather than “fill-in” work. Having different artists also helps to separate the characters involved, injecting just a bit of a difference or personality to them that could be lost with a single artist.

The story is solid if a bit choppy, since there’s no singular through narrative; we’re checking in on a numerous characters in different contexts and situations, unified simply by being in Gotham and not knowing if there is still a Batman. Nicieza, though I’ve not read much of his Batman work, seems to have a feel for the characters much as I associate with Chuck Dixon’s work on the same, which certainly is for the positive in my eyes.

This issue I believe is to serve as a prologue of sorts to the Battle for the Cowl mini and its tie-ins. This does a pretty good job of showing situations characters are in at present, giving them some facetime that may not be found in the main Battle for the Cowl series.

I’m not sure that this is essential to that story except to add context, but it is probably worth getting if you’re planning on following the entirety of the story.

Story: 8/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Superman: World of New Krypton #1 [Review]

Superman: World of New Krypton #1 CoverFull review posted to comixtreme.com.

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