Alex Lynch Reviews: AQUAMAN #23.2, SUPERMAN #23.4, BATMAN #23.4 & More [Part 2]
I know this arrived late this week, but I'm back with my final batch of comic reviews for this week! Pulled an all-nighter just so you guys can get my opinions on Aquaman, Superman, Batman, Justice League, Wonder Woman and more!
Batman 23.4 – Bane
This issue was unfortunate as well. Now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Bane growing up and as I became older I never really sought out to read all of Knightfall because of how long it was, but I read enough of it to know what happens and I know just how sadistic he is, but this book really stretches that. I mean, it’s also full of Forever Evil continuity errors as well. With that aside, this issue is pretty…bad and just tries to show how ruthless Bane is. With a quick look back at his origin, it’s just slightly better than the Scarecrow Villain’s Month one-shot that was released previously to set up Arkham War. I feel like nothing happens in this book besides one or two fight sequences.
For example, when talking about continuity errors, Bane is on a ship heading towards Gotham when Ultraman’s artificial eclipse happens despite in Forever Evil #1, Bane was at that meeting which happened, who knows, minutes, hours before the eclipse? However, in Batman 23.4, Bane has yet to be invited to the Secret Society and better yet, the eclipse has no effect on the water/ocean that Bane is currently travelling in which scientifically, should’ve really affected them (as seen in the Black Manta tie-in). Another thing I didn’t like about this issue was the over saturation of dialogue, especially as Bane’s origin was quickly told through some thug dying before Bane killed him. Literally almost nothing happens in this book and it’s filled with plenty of meaningless conversations or speeches between Bane in his henchmen. Also, it’s felt that as though Bane’s back-breaking has become far too gimmicky. I get that it’s his trademark thing, but you don’t need it with every issue he’s in. I think that Bane breaking the backs of every unknown thug sort-of cheapens the great history behind it. Overall, it was just really hard to find something to like about the story in this book even as a Batman fan. Hopefully, Bane is written much better in Arkham War which I am NOT looking forward to.
I can’t really say there’s much to love in this book except for the pencils by Graham Nolan, but I just wish his talents were used on a proper Bane book, hell, I would rather get the version of Bane used in The Dark Knight Rises in the comics rather than this book. Even a Bane fan, Gregg Katzman at ComicVine, was disappointed in this issue. The final week hasn’t been good so far.
Batman and Robin 23.4 – Killer Croc
Now this book was VERY good. A nice, short one-shot about Killer Croc that almost has no ties to Forever Evil or the current situation, which for a change, was a nice break because they were not restricted to telling a good story but it fit right in with the context as well.
The story follows a SWAT team looking for a key that they need that coincidentally is in the same sewer that Killer Croc lives in as he decides to play a game of hide-and-seek with them and cause the most terror. Early on in the book, he jumps out and tears apart the majority of the SWAT team. Now, this really isn’t shown for obvious reasons, but two SWAT officers finally make it out only to be agitated and teased by Killer Croc’s sewer followers who play horrific games with them such as chanting terrifying rhymes about Croc and turning off the lights, prompting the male to use Night Vision goggles. Over the course of the book, we see flashbacks from the last couple weeks of the SWAT teams’ meetings as well as Killer Croc’s origins as a young Waylon as he struggles to scrub off his lizard-esque skin so he isn’t a freak to the neighbourhood kids of Gotham City. The majority of the issue and how it ties into the SWAT team is very well done and the reveal at the end isn’t shocking or anything, but it’s quite nice to know how everything connects. Tim Seeley’s writing in this book is shockingly awesome and I hope he writes Killer Croc again one day. Aside from the writing, the pencils by Francis Portela are absolutely incredible and do wonders for the book, especially in telling the character’s facial expressions. The amount of detail Portela puts on Killer Croc is fantastic and definitely help bring the character to life. I felt the coloring on the artwork could have been darker in tone and more varied considering the atmosphere that the book takes place in, but overall the artwork was more than satisfying to look at.
There aren’t many flaws I can point out in this book, really. Going from a character I nearly used to hate before the Arkham games, I now fully appreciate this version of Killer Croc, especially considering I wasn’t the biggest fan of the version in Batwoman despite that book being incredibly written. Overall, Killer Croc’s “Villain’s Month” one-shot is a must-have for anyone.
Justice League 23.4 – The Secret Society
This issue introduces us to the origins of The Secret Society and Alfred Pennyworth of Earth-3 and how it ties into Forever Evil. This book is by Sterling Gates and Geoff Johns and you can definitely feel the DNA of both those writers all over it. They’re a great team! Regardless, this book tells quite the tale of how Alfred had to leave Owlman behind and come to Earth-1 in an attempt to refuge from their own dimension. There are some problems in this book that I’ll get to in a second, but I actually really enjoyed it even if it did start off a little slow.
The main thing I liked about this book is that it brought us a new twist on the Batman/Joker story, but in a way it was very similar to the Flashpoint tie-in; Batman: Knight Of Vengeance. Either way, we learn a lot about their worlds’ Dick Grayson and it adds quite a bit more background info on why they captured Nightwing in Forever Evil #1 and how it could possibly connect to Alfred, The Society and Owlman. And that’s why I liked about the book, how it all ties into Owlman and how his final encounter with The Joker is so incredibly tragic that it just, gives a really, really good insight into why Nightwing was captured on the night the Crime Syndicate took over the Earth. Sterling Gates is a great writer and combine him with Geoff Johns and you get some good stuff going on, and this is a prime example of that. Does the Alfred Pennyworth of Earth-3 have any deeper motivations? What do they plan to do with Nightwing? All in good time, we’ll find out.
There are some few flaws with this book, such as the “red sky” in Earth-3 which we don’t find out about and seemed very rushed. To further elaborate, the author of the book tell a fantastic tale about Owlman taking on The Joker for the final time and after that is complete, the police target Owl Man, but then the sky suddenly turns red. Unless this is set to be told later (which it probably will be), like most of Gates’ oneshots, the ending was quite rushed.
Besides a few panels being too dark or not having the proper contrast, I really thought that the artwork in this book was really well done and perfectly portrayed an alternate Gotham City that, despite having a different hero, is still dark. However, the sequences/action was somewhat unclear and I had to investigate panels to get a sense of what was really happening, which was somewhat distracting. Overall, it was a great book!
Aquaman 23.2 – Ocean MasterGeoff Johns once again teams up with the fantastic Tony Bedard to bring us another spectacular Villain’s Month issue of Aquaman, starring the title character’s brother, Orm, who we last saw in the major event; Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis (which is now available in trade form, look for our review very soon). So, how was a solo issue that harkens back to Orm The Ocean Master?
This issue takes place directly during the events of Forever Evil when all the prisons are broken into. Eventually, Ocean Master escapes and assembles his gear together and requests to know where the water is so he can eventually return to Atlantis and leave the surface world. What I found was interesting is that they were considering putting Ocean Master on Death Row or in other words, giving him the death penalty for killing thousands in the Atlantean War (as shown in Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis). This is an interesting topic of discussion because you have to wonder if we, humans, have the right to kill another intelligent species for a crime they mistakenly committed. They don’t below to our society, who are we to give those rules, y’know? Regardless, upon wandering towards the sea, Orm encounters a woman about to be…manhandled…by two thugs, which Orm finds disgusting and does away with that kind of human filth. The rest of the book features a nice tale about Orm debating his moral code and what he is obligated to do for the humans. I really like that Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard didn’t make him a simple Surface-World hater and killer that was somewhat previously shown in the pages of Throne Of Atlantis and the final page is a very nice cliffhanger that doesn’t leave you starving for more, but it’s ambiguous enough that you beg to know what Orm’s true intentions are.
The artwork by Geraldo Borges is absolutely incredible and does almost nothing but wonders to the book, especially the sea scenes that look spectacular in their own rights. The double-page spread at the beginning of the issue stands out as some of the most above-average artwork you’ll see in comics these days. Mixed in with wonderful colors by Rod Reis, they really get the “Ocean Master is from Atlantis” feel with the deep shade of blue this book has. It’s gorgeous. Overall, I’d say it’s a crime NOT to buy this book this week wherever you can.
Green Lantern 23.4 – Sinestro
You remember when I reviewed Matt Kindt’s Harley Quinn #1? Well, this book isn’t so bad, but let’s just say I’m glad that Kindt is off that Forever Evil tie-in because I have, so far, absolutely hated almost every single one of these Villain’s Month books he’s written, but I will say that the Sinestro tie-in in an improvement.
He doesn’t mangle the origins of the character to the point of unrecognizability, but he does, indeed, use a terrible narration device and skips over or rushes through some pivotal plot points that the artwork fails to show, whether or not this is due to the artist or the writer’s communication, the issue was still incredibly jarring and hard to follow due to the excessive narration bubbles telling too much at once. Now, instead of an interesting look back at Sinestro’s origins, we’re treated to a woman, who is the “Book Of Parallax” and knows the complete history of Sinestro, telling us detail-by-detail the origins of Sinestro, except the stuff that we already know that’s been told -- such as the stories in Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern series -- isn’t necessarily skipped over, but rushed by. For example, the book details Abin Sur and Sinestro’s friendship, but quickly jumps to “Abin Sur goes to Earth and dies and Hal Jordan gets the ring”. I understand that this isn’t necessarily important to Sinestro’s story, but since Abin and Sinestro were friends and he married Abin’s sister, I feel obligated to know just one detail behind his death for closure reasons. Hell, they don’t even show it within the artwork. The story is basically written as a novel retelling of Sinestro’s origins and it feels like some artist picked up that novel and drew a couple images that popped into their head. However, because the story is told in an awful way, that doesn’t necessarily mean the story itself is awful, because it was actually really decent, but again, rushed.
There may be a misconception, but I’m not bashing the artwork in this issue because it was really, really creative. I’m not sure where the seemingly communication mishap happened and whose fault it was for the portrayal of events, but hot-damn, the archeology concept that Dale Eaglesham worked into it was absolutely brilliant. I can’t even describe it properly, but once you start reading the book you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m a sucker for creative comic panels when they’re done right and this is exactly what I love. Too bad the story wasn’t great, but Sinestro was one of Matt Kindt’s better one-shots. Overall, only spend your time on this if you’re a Sinestro fan.
Wonder Woman 23.2 – The First BornI actually really liked this issue, guys, and usually I’m not the biggest fan of this kind of stuff with Zeus and all of that, but this issue was fantastic. Why? Because, for one, Brian Azzarello wonderfully tells a great story through a unique narrative that uses modern slang instead of older, more descriptive and badass sounding words which offers a fresh take, but ACO and Matthew Wilson are absolutely fantastic artists who help pop this book to life in a great fashion.
Basically, The First Born is dropped in front of his brother, the other son of Zeus, so basically, these three girls are possessed or something and they can look into the past, so he asks them to kindly explain the origins of the First Born and who exactly he is, and what I liked about this book is that it made absolutely perfect sense, mostly, and I didn’t get lost at all. However, to fully understand this book, you have to know that one small (well, major) change in Wonder Woman’s origins and then you’re good to go. Regardless, this book does a fantastic job at telling First Born’s origins through wonderfully drawn art that really exemplifies the story told, or maybe it’s the fact that Azzarello uses modern slang in the narration instead of “descriptive and badass” sounding words, but even as someone who has yet to fully read through the New 52 Wonder Woman series, I had no trouble catching on to this story and I have never even heard of the First Born before this book. From the stylistic streets to the thousand year-old lands with mammoths and warriors that looked like they came out of the popular video game Skyrim, First Born’s artwork is absolutely beautiful and stunning in almost every page and it’s fortunate to know that in today’s comic book market, we can still find unique artwork like this. Overall, I’d just like to say that this is a fantastic book and I quite think it is my “Pick of The Week” (there is no POTW this week due to the batch review process). Anyway, if you’ve been reading Wonder Woman or want to know about one of her new enemies, I highly recommend this book. It’s a damn-near perfect one-shot and I can’t think of any book this week that’s better. Great props to Azarrello and his team at DC Comics for making me tempted to buy each and every Wonder Woman trade on the market right now!
Superman 23.4 – ParasiteWhat’s interesting about this is that I never read an origin story for Parasite, yet I’m a big fan of the character. I loved most of his appearances in animated television series and I love his powerset, basically draining someone of energy and stealing their powers but most notably, I loved his design and unfortunately I can’t get behind his New 52 design, but let’s talk about the book, shall we?
What I especially liked about the book was Aaron Kuder’s fantastic, short narration bubbles that tell the story as it’s going on. It’s not like other Villain’s Month books that give us a gigantic block of text explaining the entire scene in detail, but instead giving us short little blurbs such as “Damn it, I hate Metropolis” instead of “Man, Metropolis is such a really bad city and I hate it for these reasons”. The book is more SHOW instead of TELL and the great page layouts that Kuder creates are eccentric and unique.
What I also like about this version of Parasite is that his origin story has no criminal intent behind it, he doesn’t hate anyone and he isn’t looking for revenge on anyone, this story is similar to that of Killer Frost’s. It was just a very unfortunate event that leads Parasite to becoming what he is, and quite frankly, it was completely his fault. Anyway, this version of Parastie is really likeable and his origin is very relatable, I think, to some people as he goes to others but all he does is hurt them and he only wants to make things right. Come to think of it, this book is pretty much the male version of Killer Frost’s JLA one-shot…weird.
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