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Convergence – Batman: Shadow of the Bat #2 [Review]

convergence_batmanshadowofthebat002Home is the Sailor

Words: Larry Hama
Pencils: Rick Leonardi
Inks: Dan Green
Colors: Elmer Santos
Lettering: Steve Wands
Cover: Philip Tan, Elmer Santos
Assistant Editors: Holzherr & Kraiger
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Batman and Azbats…er…Azrael, vs. Wetworks, for the fate of the city? Yeah, but I don’t even know WHICH city they’re in from this. The previous issue was several weeks ago and this one lacks anything to bring one up to speed. Sure, it’s ONLY the 2nd issue of two, but…really? So the Batmen fight Wetworks while befriending a woman and her son as the notion of getting the Wetworks team to slow down long enough for a teamup to be proposed, to endeavor to save BOTH cities. And while both cities are still around at the end of the issue, there’s no truly definitive ending.

We get the "conclusion" of a story that is NOT a conclusion. At best it’s the first act in a larger arc…but there’s no To Be Continued note, no "continued in Convergence #7," no "for the final fate of BOTH CITIES, check out Convergence #8 on sale in TWO WEEKS!" note, just some ridiculous, cliché stopping point because we’re out of pages.

And I really feel like I should have gone with my initial instinct and left this thing on the shelf. But in a fairly rare instance of it happening, the cover sold me, just by its weird coloring, and the title logo…and the strength of the previous issue’s cover (which I liked SO MUCH that I made it my phone’s lock screen, so have been seeing it several times a day for the past month or so).

I was further sold, again, by Hama‘s name on the cover…though sadly, that (and the interior credits) are the only place I have anything to truly suggest to me that Hama‘s even involved. Nothing about this "feels" like some kind of GI Joe thing, nothing reminds me of 1993-ish Wolverine, and nothing about this otherwise screams "I’m by Larry Hama!" to me.

I blame that not on Hama, but on the lack of room for anything to truly develop. And having soured CONSIDERABLY on Convergence in general since its start, having allowed myself some general enjoyment of Marvel’s version of stuff in Secret Wars, this just pales all the more as an issue.

This felt paced to be the opening of a larger story, and if this were a six-issue arc, it would seem on track to be a good story overall, having spent the first issue (re)introducing us to Zero Hour-era Batman and Azrael and setting up the Wetworks fight; this issue gave us the actual fight and leaves us with the two groups seeming about to team up; leaving several issues to show them interacting and preparing a plan; putting the plan into action and the plan going awry; an issue to refocus or have some significant change to the Batmen at least, and lead into some cataclysmic or miraculous event for one/both of the cities and a possible lead-back into some core event series.

So in a way, this is like a 6-issue mini getting canned after only 2 issues; or checking out a couple episodes of some tv show, being somewhat interested, but then told "oh, no, they just never put any more episodes out" or some such.

I’m irked at the length (technically, the lack thereof); irked at the Deathstroke "preview," that I don’t care about especially for not caring about the title or character, I’m irked at the $3.99 cover price vs. $2.99; and I’m irked that I bought this thing at all as a single issue.

This totally feels like it’s something destined for bargain bins; whether dollar bins or cheaper I don’t know. The entirety of Convergence does, for that matter. I’d bought the Superman #2 issue last week and now this; I’m wrestling with OCD on the STEEL issue as well as the handful of other #2s still pending. Consciously I know I should wait for the bargain bin appearances, but there’s part of me that just HAS TO "experience" what’s happening real-time with some of these ‘key’ issues, that is not content to just sit back and get it second-hand.

As long as you’re not feeling that way, I’d say this issue is totally skippable and inconsequential…to whatever the main story has gotten to and in general. There’s no #3 and no new #1 for Batman: Shadow of the Bat that I am aware of; no new pending title debuting starring Jean-Paul Valley, any incarnation of Azrael, or a Zero Hour era Batman, so…if the cover doesn’t suck you in or some other sentimentality grab you, wait for the bargain bins or an attractive collected volume that includes this.

X-O Manowar #5 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Batman and Robin #5 [Review]

Quick Rating: Not Wonderful
Story Title: Revenge of the Red Hood part two: Scarlet

Batman and Robin vs. Red Hood and Scarlet.

batmanandrobin005Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Philip Tan
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Frank Quitely and Philip Tan
Publisher: DC Comics

I really enjoyed the first issue of this series. It had a sense of excitement and freshness, and just that great sense of things being new and much better than the recent past. However, at this point, even some of what I liked in that first issue is wearing thin…and the "honeymoon" is definitely over.

This issue picks up with Red Hood and Scarlett confronting Batman and Robin. Red Hood’s determined to kill all of Gotham’s criminals and doing so while replacing the "Batman brand" with his own "brand." Scarlet–a girl the duo tried to save earlier in this series–has been manipulated into playing Jason Todd’s game, serving as his "sidekick." We continue to see the Gotham populace react to the bloody vigilantism as well as a more specific reaction from Jim Gordon.

I don’t know what it is, exactly–perhaps Morrison‘s writing style–but this story feels like it got rather convoluted in a hurry. I’ve never liked Jason Todd…I always thought the best story with him was the one in which he "died." The character seemed so much more effective in that tragic role. Now, it seems the character is little more than a bloodthirsty psycho.

Not liking the character, and not feeling much "connect" to the story, this story’s quickly growing stale for me.

The art for this issue doesn’t really do it for me, either. It’s not bad, but it’s somehow just not to my liking, at least not in this issue. It does a good enough job overall of getting things across, but other points I find myself doubling back to try to figure something out. Though I’m not caring for the style lately, Tan does do quite a good job of keeping a visual style similar to Quitely‘s opening arc. There’s a different look and it’s easy to tell that it’s not Quitely…but the style is not some huge departure visually.

All in all…if you like Morrison‘s denser writing style, if the art appeals to you, and/or you like seeing Jason Todd as portrayed of late…this issue’ll be well worth it. If not…you’ll probably enjoy one of the other Bat-books more.

Ratings:

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Batman and Robin #5 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Green Lantern #42 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Green Lantern #41 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Green Lantern #40 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Green Lantern #39 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Final Crisis: Revelations #5 [Review]

Final Crisis: Revelations part five

Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Philip Tan
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Lettering: John J. Hill
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Covers: Tan, Glapion & Ruffino
Publisher: DC Comics

As the Radiant fades, Renee and the Huntress decide to make their stand against Cain (Vandal Savage). While they fight Anti-Life posessed Gothamites, Crispus Allen finds that he is dead again, and faced with a “choice” of involvement with the Spectre. Taking a huge risk and willing to sacrifice all, Renee’s gambit pays off, with deep ramifications.

I have no complaints with the art on this issue–it fits perfectly with the story, with some very nice panels that particularly stand out–particularly Crispus and the Spear. I wouldn’t suggest picking this up for the art alone…but the art is definitely a bonus point to the issue’s story.

The story comes to a rather satisfactory conclusion. With forces like Cain and the Spectre at odds, and the introduction/development of the Radiant character, and stuff that’s apparently been built up since 52 with Renee as the new Question and Crispus as the Spectre’s host since Infinite Crisis, this has made for a great ride that moves these stories forward and really serves to cap stuff off, solidifying characters’ places in the DCU.

As a mini-series, it would seem pointless to jump in with a 5th/final issue–if you’ve already been following the series, don’t skip this issue. If you missed the series, this one is certainly worth getting as a collected volume! (This series FELT to me like it has more importance for its characters than the core Final Crisis series did for the DCU as a whole.)

Very much recommended.

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

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 [Review]

Final Crisis: Revelations part four

Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Philip Tan
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Lettering: John J. Hill
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Covers: Tan, Glapion & Ruffino
Publisher: DC Comics

Opening where the previous issue left off, we see a horribly wounded Spectre at Savage/Cain’s mercy, while the spirit of Mercy finds herself unable or unwilling to act, as Montoya and the Huntress seek just to survive this encounter. Retreating to a church to regroup, theology is debated as things spiral downhill for the heroes. The Spectre continues to be a powerful figure at the heart of this story’s conflict, with potentially vast repercussions to come as Savage/Cain makes his move.

I’m not entirely sure what to think on certain points in this issue. I can say that while it can be good to see some stuff brought up here–we don’t see characters discussing actual religion and theology all that often–I personally find a lot of faulty stuff here that–while it may work in context of the DCU–puts me off a bit.

It’s interesting to see the development of Mercy here; I’ve long been aware of and somewhat familiar with the Spectre; seeing a counterpart does make sense based on what I know of the Spectre character. At the same time, given the apparent scope of this story, it feels almost like THIS should have been the core book–this feels much more like some unverse-impacting crisis situation than what I’ve gotten out of the main Final Crisis book.

The art in this issue is quite good….I have no complaint with it. I like the way the Huntress and Question are portrayed here, and all the characters carry a certain detail that works quite well in giving visuals to the story.

All told, this is a nice, solid issue and as with some of the other tie-ins, I found this far more enjoyable and satisfying than the main title. Whether you’re reading Final Crisis itself or not, this is well worth picking up if you’re following the Spectre or Question characters, or have been following this series anyway.

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

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